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Supervised Speech Separation Using Deep Neural Networks
Wang, Yuxuan

2015, Doctor of Philosophy, Ohio State University, Computer Science and Engineering.
Speech is crucial for human communication. However, speech communication for both humans and automatic devices can be negatively impacted by background noise, which is common in real environments. Due to numerous applications, such as hearing prostheses and automatic speech recognition, separation of target speech from sound mixtures is of great importance. Among many techniques, speech separation using a single microphone is most desirable from an application standpoint. The resulting monaural speech separation problem has been a central problem in speech processing for several decades. However, its success has been limited thus far.

Time-frequency (T-F) masking is a proven way to suppress background noise. With T-F masking as the computational goal, speech separation reduces to a mask estimation problem, which can be cast as a supervised learning problem. This opens speech separation to a plethora of machine learning techniques. Deep neural networks (DNN) are particularly suitable to this problem due to their strong representational capacity. This dissertation presents a systematic effort to develop monaural speech separation systems using DNNs.

We start by presenting a comparative study on acoustic features for supervised separation. In this relatively early work, we use support vector machine as classifier to predict the ideal binary mask (IBM), which is a primary goal in computational auditory scene analysis. We found that traditional speech and speaker recognition features can actually outperform previously used separation features. Furthermore, we present a feature selection method to systematically select complementary features. The resulting feature set is used throughout the dissertation.

DNN has shown success across a range of tasks. We then study IBM estimation using DNN, and show that it is significantly better than previous systems. Once properly trained, the system generalizes reasonably well to unseen conditions. We demonstrate that our system can improve speech intelligibility for hearing-impaired listeners. Furthermore, by considering the structure in the IBM, we show how to improve IBM estimation by employing sequence training and optimizing a speech intelligibility predictor.

The IBM is used as the training target in previous work due to its simplicity. DNN based separation is not limited to binary masking, and choosing a suitable training target is obviously important. We study the performance of a number of targets and found that ratio masking can be preferable, and T-F masking in general outperforms spectral mapping. In addition, we propose a new target that encodes structure into ratio masks.


Generalization to noises not seen during training is key to supervised separation. A simple and effective way to improve generalization is to train on multiple noisy conditions. Along this line, we demonstrate that the noise mismatch problem can be well remedied by large-scale training. This important result substantiates the practicability of DNN based supervised separation.

Aside from speech intelligibility, perceptual quality is also important. In the last part of the dissertation, we propose a new DNN architecture that directly reconstructs time-domain clean speech signal. The resulting system significantly improves objective speech quality over standard mask estimators.
DeLiang Wang (Advisor)
Eric Fosler-Lussier (Committee Member)
Mikhail Belkin (Committee Member)
Eric Healy (Committee Member)
195 p.

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Wang, Y. (2015). Supervised Speech Separation Using Deep Neural Networks. (Electronic Thesis or Dissertation). Retrieved from https://etd.ohiolink.edu/

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Wang, Yuxuan. "Supervised Speech Separation Using Deep Neural Networks." Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. Ohio State University, 2015. OhioLINK Electronic Theses and Dissertations Center. 24 Jul 2017.

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Wang, Yuxuan "Supervised Speech Separation Using Deep Neural Networks." Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. Ohio State University, 2015. https://etd.ohiolink.edu/

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