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Introduction to Language Modeling. Alex Acero. Acknowledgments. Joshua Goodman, Scott MacKenzie for many slides. Outline. Prob theory intro Text prediction Intro to LM Perplexity Smoothing Caching Clustering Parsing CFG Homework. Outline. Prob theory intro Text prediction

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  • Joshua Goodman, Scott MacKenzie for many slides
  • Prob theory intro
  • Text prediction
  • Intro to LM
  • Perplexity
  • Smoothing
  • Caching
  • Clustering
  • Parsing
  • CFG
  • Homework
  • Prob theory intro
  • Text prediction
  • Intro to LM
  • Perplexity
  • Smoothing
  • Caching
  • Clustering
  • Parsing
  • CFG
  • Homework
probability definition


Baby boys


Probability – definition

P(X) means probability that X is true

P(baby is a boy)  0.5 (% of total that are boys)

P(baby is named John)  0.001 (% of total named John)

joint probabilities


Baby boys


Brown eyes

Joint probabilities
  • P(X, Y) means probability that X and Y are both true, e.g. P(brown eyes, boy)
conditional probabilities


Baby boys


Conditional probabilities
  • P(X|Y) means probability that X is true when we already know Y is true
    • P(baby is named John | baby is a boy)  0.002
    • P(baby is a boy | baby is named John )  1
bayes rule


Baby boys


Bayes rule

P(X|Y) = P(X, Y) / P(Y)

P(baby is named John | baby is a boy)

=P(baby is named John, baby is a boy) / P(baby is a boy)

= 0.001 / 0.5 = 0.002

  • Prob theory intro
  • Text prediction
  • Intro to LM
  • Perplexity
  • Smoothing
  • Caching
  • Clustering
  • Parsing
  • CFG
  • Homework
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Dark spruce forest frowned on either side the frozen waterway. The

trees had been stripped by a recent wind of their white covering of

frost, and they seemed to lean towards each other, black and

ominous, in the fading light. A vast silence reigned over the

land. The land itself was a desolation, lifeless, without

movement, so lone and cold that the spirit of it was not even that

of sadness. There was a hint in it of laughter, but of a laughter

more terrible than any sadness - a laughter that was mirthless as

the smile of the sphinx, a laughter cold as the frost and partaking

of the grimness of infallibility. It was the masterful and

incommunicable wisdom of eternity laughing at the futility of life

and the effort of life. It was the Wild, the savage, frozen-

hearted Northland Wild.

From Jack London’s “White Fang”

language as information
Language as Information
  • Information is commonly measured in “bits”
  • Since language is highly redundant, perhaps it can be viewed somewhat like information
  • Can language be measured or coded in “bits”?
  • Sure. Examples include…
    • ASCII (7 bits per “symbol”)
    • Unicode (16 bits per symbol)
    • But coding schemes, such as ASCII or Unicode, do not account for the redundancy In the language
  • Two questions:
    • Can a coding system be developed for a language (e.g., English) that accounts for the redundancy in the language?
    • If so, how may bits per symbol are required?
how many bits
How many bits?
  • ASCII codes have seven bits
  • 27 = 128 codes
  • Codes include…
    • 33 control codes
    • 95 symbols, including 26 uppercase letters, 26 lowercase letters, space, 42 “other” symbols
  • In general, if we have n symbols, the number of bits to encode them is log2n (Note: log2128 = 7)
  • What about bare bones English – 26 letters plus space?
  • How many bits?
how many bits 2
How many bits? (2)
  • It takes log227 = 4.75 bits/character to encode bare bones English
  • But, what about redundancy in English?
  • Since English is highly redundant, is there a way to encode letters in fewer bits?
    • Yes
  • How many bits?
    • The answer (drum roll please)…
how many bits 3
How many bits? (3)
  • The minimum number of bits to encode English is (approximately)…
    • 1 bit/character
  • How is this possible?
    • E.g., Huffman coding
    • ngrams
  • More importantly, how is this answer computed?
  • Want to learn how? Read…

Shannon, C. E. (1951). Prediction and entropy of printed English. TheBell System Technical Journal, 30, 51-64.

  • A special case of prediction is disambiguation
  • Consider the telephone keypad…
  • Is it possible to enter text using this keypad?
  • Yes. But the keys are ambiguous.
ambiguity continuum
Ambiguity Continuum

53 keys

27 keys

8 keys

1 key



coping with ambiguity
Coping With Ambiguity
  • There are two approaches to disambiguating the telephone keypad
    • Explicit
      • Use additional keys or keystrokes to select the desired letter
      • E.g., multitap
    • Implicit
      • Add “intelligence” (i.e., a language model) to the interface to guess the intended letter
      • E.g., T9, Letterwise

But, there is a problem. When consecutive letters are on the same key, additional disambiguation is needed. Two techniques: (i) timeout, (ii) a special “next letter” (N) key1 to explicitly segment the letters. (See above: “ps” in “jumps” and “zy” in “lazy”).

1 Nokia phones: timeout = 1.5 seconds, “next letter” = down-arrow

  • Press a key once for the 1st letter, twice for the 2nd letter, and so on
  • Example... e q u i c k b r o wn f o x

58867N7777.66688833777.84433.55529999N999.36664.ju mp s o v e r th e l az y do g

  • Product of Tegic Communications (, a subsidiary of Nuance Communications
  • Licensed to many mobile phone companies
  • The idea is simple:
    • one key = one character
  • A language model works “behind the scenes” to disambiguate
  • Example (next slide)...
guess the word









Number of word stems to consider…

= 11,664
















Guess the Word
quick brown fox using t9


the quick brown fox jumps over the jazz dog

tie stick crown lumps muds tie lazy fog

vie vie


“Quick Brown Fox” Using T9


the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog

But, there is problem. The key sequences are ambiguous and other words may exist for some sequences. See below.

keystrokes per character kspc
Keystrokes Per Character (KSPC)
  • Earlier examples used the “quick brown fox” phrase, which has 44 characters (including one character after each word)
  • Multitap and T9 require very different keystroke sequences
  • Compare…
  • Prob theory intro
  • Text prediction
  • Intro to LM
  • Perplexity
  • Smoothing
  • Caching
  • Clustering
  • Parsing
  • CFG
  • Homework
speech recognition
Speech Recognition






Acoustic Model

Input Speech

Pattern Classification (Decoding, Search)

“Hello World”

Feature Extraction

Confidence Scoring

(0.9) (0.8)

Word Lexicon

Language Model

language modeling in asr
Language Modeling in ASR
  • Some sequences of words sounds alike, but not all of them are good English sentences.
    • I went to a party
    • Eye went two a bar tea

Rudolph the red nose reindeer.

Rudolph the Red knows rain, dear.

Rudolph the Red Nose reigned here.

language modeling in asr36
Language Modeling in ASR
  • This lets the recognizer make the right guess when two different sentences sound the same.

For example:

  • It’s fun to recognize speech?
  • It’s fun to wreck a nice beach?
humans have a language model
Humans have a Language Model

Ultimate goal is that a speech recognizer performs a good as human being.

In psychology a lot of research has been done.

  • The *eel was on the shoe
  • The *eel was on the car

People capable to adjusting to right context

  • removes ambiguities
  • limits possible words

Already very good language models for dedicated applications (e.g. medical, a lot of standardization)

a bad language model40
A bad language model

Herman is reprinted with permission from LaughingStock Licensing Inc., Ottawa Canada. All rights reserved.

what s a language model
What’s a Language Model
  • A Language model is a probability distribution over word sequences
  • P(“And nothing but the truth”)  0.001
  • P(“And nuts sing on the roof”)  0
what s a language model for
What’s a language model for?
  • Speech recognition
  • Machine translation
  • Handwriting recognition
  • Spelling correction
  • Optical character recognition
  • Typing in Chinese or Japanese
  • (and anyone doing statistical modeling)
how language models work
How Language Models work

Hard to compute P(“And nothing but the truth”)

Step 1: Decompose probability

P(“And nothing but the truth” )

= P(“And”) P(“nothing” | “And”) x P(“but” | “And nothing”)

x P(“the” | “And nothing but”) x P(“truth” | “And nothing but the”)

Step 2: Approximate with trigrams

P(“And nothing but the truth” )

≈ P(“And”) P(“nothing” | “And”) x P(“but” | “And nothing”)

x P(“the” | “nothing but”) x P(“truth” | “but the”)


How do we find probabilities?

Get real text, and start counting!

P(“the | nothing but”)  C(“nothing but the”) / C(“nothing but”)

Training set:

“John read her book”

“I read a different book”

“John read a book by Mulan”


These bigram probabilities help us estimate the probability for the sentence as:

P(John read a book)

= P(John|<s>)P(read|John)P(book|a)P(</s>|book)

= 0.148

Then cross entropy: -1/4*2log(0.148) = 0.689

So perplexity = 20.689 = 1.61

Comparison: Wall street journal text (5000 words) has a bigram perplexity of 128

gram example
gram example

To calculate this probability, we need to compute both the number of times "am" is preceded by "I" and the number of times "here" is preceded by "I am."

All four sounds the same, right decision can only be made by language model.

  • Prob theory intro
  • Text prediction
  • Intro to LM
  • Perplexity
  • Smoothing
  • Caching
  • Clustering
  • Parsing
  • CFG
  • Homework
  • How can you tell a good language model from a bad one?
  • Run a machine translation system, a speech recognizer (or your application of choice), calculate word error rate
    • Slow
    • Specific to your system
evaluation perplexity intuition
Evaluation: Perplexity Intuition
  • Ask a speech recognizer to recognize digits: “0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9” – easy – perplexity 10
  • Ask a speech recognizer to recognize names at Microsoft – hard – 30,000 – perplexity 30,000
  • Ask a speech recognizer to recognize “Operator” (1 in 4), “Technical support” (1 in 4), “sales” (1 in 4), 30,000 names (1 in 120,000) each – perplexity 54
  • Perplexity is weighted equivalent branching factor.
evaluation perplexity
Evaluation: perplexity
  • “A, B, C, D, E, F, G…Z”: perplexity is 26
  • “Alpha, bravo, charlie, delta…yankee, zulu”: perplexity is 26
  • Perplexity measures language model difficulty, not acoustic difficulty
  • High perplexity means that the number of words branching from a previous word is larger on average.
  • Low perplexity does not guarantee good performance.
  • For example B,C,D,E,G,P,T has 7 but does not take into account acoustic confusability
perplexity math
Perplexity: Math
  • Perplexity is geometric average inverse probability
  • Imagine “Operator” (1 in 4),

“Technical support” (1 in 4),

“sales” (1 in 4), 30,000 names (1 in 120,000)

  • Model thinks all probabilities are equal (1/30,003)
  • Average inverse probability is 30,003
perplexity math53
Perplexity: Math
  • Imagine “Operator” (1 in 4), “Technical support” (1 in 4), “sales” (1 in 4), 30,000 names (1 in 120,000)
  • Correct model gives these probabilities
  • ¾ of time assigns probability ¼, ¼ of time assigns probability 1/120,000
  • Perplexity is 54 (compare to 30,003 for simple model)
  • Remarkable fact: the true model for data has the lowest possible perplexity
perplexity is lower better
Perplexity:Is lower better?
  • Remarkable fact: the true model for data has the lowest possible perplexity
  • Lower the perplexity, the closer we are to true model.
  • Typically, perplexity correlates well with speech recognition word error rate
    • Correlates better when both models are trained on same data
    • Doesn’t correlate well when training data changes
perplexity the shannon game
Perplexity: The Shannon Game
  • Ask people to guess the next letter, given context. Compute perplexity.
    • (when we get to entropy, the “100” column corresponds to the “1 bit per character” estimate)
  • Write a program to estimate the Entropy of written text (Shannon, 1950)
  • Input: a text document (you pick it, the larger the better)
  • Write a program that predicts the next letter given the past letters on a different text (make it interactive?)
    • Hint: use character ngrams
  • Check it does a perfect job on the training text
  • Due 5/21
evaluation entropy
Evaluation: entropy
  • Entropy =

log2 perplexity

  • Should be called “cross-entropy of model on test data.”
  • Remarkable fact: entropy is average number of bits per word required to encode test data using this probability model, and an optimal coder. Called bits.

Encode text W using –2logP(W) bits.

Then the cross-entropy H(W) is:

Where N is the length of the text.

The perplexity is then defined as:

word rank vs probability
Word Rank vs. Probability

Hmm… There appears to be a relationship between word rank and word probability. Plotting both on log scales, as above, reveals a linear, or straight line, relationship. How strong is this relation? (next slide)

  • Prob theory intro
  • Text prediction
  • Intro to LM
  • Perplexity
  • Smoothing
  • Caching
  • Clustering
  • Parsing
  • CFG
  • Homework
smoothing none
Smoothing: None
  • Called Maximum Likelihood estimate.
  • Lowest perplexity trigram on training data.
  • Terrible on test data: If no occurrences of C(xyz), probability is 0.
smoothing add one
Smoothing: Add One
  • What is P(sing|nuts)? Zero? Leads to infinite perplexity!
  • Add one smoothing:

Works very badly. DO NOT DO THIS

  • Add delta smoothing:

Still very bad. DO NOT DO THIS

smoothing simple interpolation
Smoothing: Simple Interpolation
  • Trigram is very context specific, very noisy
  • Unigram is context-independent, smooth
  • Interpolate Trigram, Bigram, Unigram for best combination
  • Find 0<<1 by optimizing on “held-out” data
  • Almost good enough
smoothing simple interpolation64
Smoothing: Simple Interpolation
  • Split data into training, “heldout”, test
  • Try lots of different values for  on heldout data, pick best
  • Test on test data
  • Sometimes, can use tricks like “EM” (estimation maximization) to find values
  • I prefer to use a generalized search algorithm, “Powell search” – see Numerical Recipes in C
smoothing simple interpolation65
Smoothing: Simple Interpolation
  • How much data for training, heldout, test?
  • Some people say things like “1/3, 1/3, 1/3” or “80%, 10%, 10%” They are WRONG
  • Heldout should have (at least) 100-1000 words per parameter.
  • Answer: enough test data to be statistically significant. (1000s of words perhaps)
smoothing simple interpolation66
Smoothing: Simple Interpolation
  • Be careful: WSJ data divided into stories. Some are easy, with lots of numbers, financial, others much harder. Use enough to cover many stories.
  • Be careful: Some stories repeated in data sets.
  • Can take data from end – better – or randomly from within training. Temporal effects like “Swine flu”
smoothing jelinek mercer
Smoothing: Jelinek-Mercer
  • Simple interpolation:
  • Better: smooth a little after “The Dow”, lots after “Adobe acquired”
smoothing jelinek mercer68
Smoothing: Jelinek-Mercer
  • Put s into buckets by count
  • Find s by cross-validation on held-out data
  • Also called “deleted-interpolation”
smoothing katz
Smoothing: Katz
  • Compute discount using “Good-Turing” estimate
  • Only use bigram if trigram is missing
  • Works pretty well, except not good for 1 counts
  •  is calculated so probabilities sum to 1
smoothing interpolated absolute discount
Smoothing: Interpolated Absolute Discount
  • JM, Simple Interpolation overdiscount large counts, underdiscount small counts
  • “San Francisco” 100 times, “San Alex” once, should we use a big discount or a small one?
    • Absolute discounting takes the same from everyone
smoothing interpolated multiple absolute discounts
Smoothing: Interpolated Multiple Absolute Discounts
  • One discount is good
  • Different discounts for different counts
  • Multiple discounts: for 1 count, 2 counts, >2
smoothing kneser ney
Smoothing: Kneser-Ney

P(Francisco | eggplant) vs P(stew | eggplant)

  • “Francisco” is common, so backoff, interpolated methods say it is likely
  • But it only occurs in context of “San”
  • “Stew” is common, and in many contexts
  • Weight backoff by number of contexts word occurs in
smoothing kneser ney73
Smoothing: Kneser-Ney
  • Interpolated Absolute-discount
  • Modified backoff distribution
  • Consistently best technique
  • Prob theory intro
  • Text prediction
  • Intro to LM
  • Perplexity
  • Smoothing
  • Caching
  • Clustering
  • Parsing
  • CFG
  • Homework
  • If you say something, you are likely to say it again later
  • Interpolate trigram with cache
caching real life
Caching: Real Life
  • Someone says “I swear to tell the truth”
  • System hears “I swerve to smell the soup”
  • Cache remembers!
  • Person says “The whole truth”, and, with cache, system hears “The whole soup.” – errors are locked in.
  • Caching works well when users correct as they go, poorly or even hurts without correction.
5 grams
  • Why stop at 3-grams?
  • If P(z|…rstuvwxy) P(z|xy) is good, then

P(z|…rstuvwxy)  P(z|vwxy) is better!

  • Very important to smooth well
  • Interpolated Kneser-Ney works much better than Katz on 5-gram, more than on 3-gram
speech recognizer mechanics
Speech recognizer mechanics
  • Keep many hypotheses alive
  • Find acoustic, language model scores
    • P(acoustics | truth = .3), P(truth | tell the) = .1
    • P(acoustics | soup = .2), P(soup | smell the) = .01

“…tell the” (.01)

“…smell the” (.01)

“…tell the truth” (.01  .3 .1)

“…smell the soup” (.01  .2 .01)

speech recognizer slowdowns
Speech recognizer slowdowns
  • Speech recognizer uses tricks (dynamic programming) to merge hypotheses

Trigram: Fivegram:

“…tell the”

“…smell the”

“…swear to tell the”

“…swerve to smell the”

“…swear too tell the”

“…swerve too smell the”

“…swerve to tell the”

“…swerve too tell the”

speech recognizer vs n gram
Speech recognizer vs. n-gram
  • Recognizer can threshold out bad hypotheses
  • Trigram works so much better than bigram, better thresholding, no slow-down
  • 4-gram, 5-gram start to become expensive
speech recognizer with language model
Speech recognizer with language model
  • In theory,
  • In practice, language model is a better predictor -- acoustic probabilities aren’t “real” probabilities
  • In practice, penalize insertions
  • P(z|…rstuvwxy)  P(z|vwxy)
  • Why not P(z|v_xy) – “skipping” n-gram – skips value of 3-back word.
  • Example: “P(time | show John a good)” ->

P(time | show ____ a good)

  • P(…rstuvwxy)  P(z|vwxy) + P(z|vw_y) + (1--)P(z|v_xy)
5 gram skipping results
5-gram Skipping Results

(Best trigram skipping result: 11% reduction)

  • Prob theory intro
  • Text prediction
  • Intro to LM
  • Perplexity
  • Smoothing
  • Caching
  • Clustering
  • Parsing
  • CFG
  • Homework
  • CLUSTERING = CLASSES (same thing)
  • What is P(“Tuesday | party on”)
  • Similar to P(“Monday | party on”)
  • Similar to P(“Tuesday | celebration on”)
  • Put words in clusters:
    • WEEKDAY = Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, …
    • EVENT=party, celebration, birthday, …
clustering overview
Clustering overview
  • Major topic, useful in many fields
  • Kinds of clustering
    • Predictive clustering
    • Conditional clustering
    • IBM-style clustering
  • How to get clusters
    • Be clever or it takes forever!
predictive clustering
Predictive clustering
  • Let “z” be a word, “Z” be its cluster
  • One cluster per word: hard clustering
    • WEEKDAY = Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, …
    • MONTH = January, February, April, May, June, …
  • P(z|xy) = P(Z|xy)  P(z|xyZ)
  • P(Tuesday | party on) = P(WEEKDAY | party on)  P(Tuesday | party on WEEKDAY)
  • Psmooth(z|xy)  Psmooth (Z|xy)  Psmooth (z|xyZ)
predictive clustering example
Predictive clustering example

Find P(Tuesday | party on)

Psmooth (WEEKDAY | party on) 

Psmooth (Tuesday | party on WEEKDAY)

C( party on Tuesday) = 0

C(party on Wednesday) = 10

C(arriving on Tuesday) = 10

C(on Tuesday) = 100

Psmooth (WEEKDAY | party on) is high

Psmooth (Tuesday | party on WEEKDAY) backs off to Psmooth (Tuesday | on WEEKDAY)

clustering how to get them
Clustering: how to get them
  • Build them by hand
    • Works ok when almost no data
  • Part of Speech (POS) tags
    • Tends not to work as well as automatic
  • Automatic Clustering
    • Swap words between clusters to minimize perplexity
clustering automatic
Clustering: automatic

Minimize perplexity of P(z|Y) Mathematical tricks speed it up

Use top-down splitting,

not bottom up merging!

two actual wsj classes
























Two actual WSJ classes
sentence mixture models
Sentence Mixture Models
  • Lots of different sentence types:
    • Numbers (The Dow rose one hundred seventy three points)
    • Quotations (Officials said “quote we deny all wrong doing ”quote)
    • Mergers (AOL and Time Warner, in an attempt to control the media and the internet, will merge)
  • Model each sentence type separately
sentence mixture models97
Sentence Mixture Models
  • Roll a die to pick sentence type, sk with probability k
  • Probability of sentence, given sk
  • Probability of sentence across types:
sentence model smoothing
Sentence Model Smoothing
  • Each topic model is smoothed with overall model
  • Sentence mixture model is smoothed with overall model (sentence type 0)
sentence clustering
Sentence Clustering
  • Same algorithm as word clustering
  • Assign each sentence to a type, sk
  • Minimize perplexity of P(z|sk ) instead of P(z|Y)
  • Prob theory intro
  • Text prediction
  • Intro to LM
  • Perplexity
  • Smoothing
  • Caching
  • Clustering
  • Parsing
  • CFG
  • Homework
structured language model
Structured Language Model

“The contract ended with a loss of 7 cents after”

Thanks to Ciprian Chelba for this figure

how to get structure data
How to get structure data?
  • Use a Treebank (a collection of sentences with structure hand annotated) like Wall Street Journal, Penn Tree Bank.
  • Problem: need a treebank.
  • Or – use a treebank (WSJ) to train a parser; then parse new training data (e.g. Broadcast News)
  • Re-estimate parameters to get lower perplexity models.
parsing vs trigram eugene charniaks s experiments
Parsing vs. Trigram Eugene Charniaks’s Experiments


All experiments are trained on one million words of Penn tree-bank data, and tested on 80,000 words.

Thanks to Eugene Charniak for this slide

structured language models
Structured Language Models
  • Promising results
  • But: time consuming; language is right branching; 5-grams, skipping, capture similar information.
  • Interesting applications to parsing
    • Combines nicely with parsing MT systems
n best lists
N-best lists
  • Make list of 100 best translation hypotheses using simple bigram or trigram
  • Rescore using any model you want
    • Cheaply apply complex models
    • Perform Source research separately from Channel
  • For long, complex sentences, need exponentially many more hypotheses
lattices for mt compact version of n best list
Lattices for MTCompact version of n-best list

From Ueffing, Och and Ney, EMNLP ‘02

tools cmu language modeling toolkit
Tools: CMU Language Modeling Toolkit
  • Can handle bigram, trigrams, more
  • Can handle different smoothing schemes
  • Many separate tools – output of one tool is input to next: easy to use
  • Free for research purposes
tools sri language modeling toolkit
Tools: SRI Language Modeling Toolkit
  • More powerful than CMU toolkit
  • Can handles clusters, lattices, n-best lists, hidden tags
  • Free for research use
small enough
Small enough
  • Real language models are often huge
  • 5-gram models typically larger than the training data
  • Use count-cutoffs (eliminate parameters with fewer counts) or, better
  • Use Stolcke pruning – finds counts that contribute least to perplexity reduction,
    • P(City | New York)  P(City | York)
    • P(Friday | God it’s)  P(Friday | it’s)
  • Remember, Kneser-Ney helped most when lots of 1 counts
combining data
Combining Data
  • Often, you have some “in domain” data and some “out of domain data”
  • Example: Microsoft is working on translating computer manuals
    • Only about 3 million words of Brazilian computer manuals
  • Can combine computer manual data with hundreds of millions of words of other data
    • Newspapers, web, encylcopedias,usenet…
how to combine
How to combine
  • Just concatenate – add them all together
    • Bad idea – need to weight the “in domain” data more heavily
  • Take out of domain data and multiple copies of in domain data (weight the counts)
    • Bad idea – doesn’t work well, and messes up most smoothing techniques
how to combine113
How to combine
  • A good way: take weighted average, e.g.

Pmanuals (z|xy) +  Pweb(z|xy) + (1- - ) Pnewspaper(z|xy)

  • Can apply to channel models too (e.g. combine Hansard with computer manuals for French translation)
  • Lots of research in other techniques
    • Maxent-inspired models, non-linear interpolation (log domain), cluster models, etc. Minimal improvement (but see work by Rukmini Iyer)
other language model uses
Other Language Model Uses
  • Handwriting Recognition
    • P(observed ink|words) 


  • Telephone Keypad input
    • P(numbers|words) 


  • Spelling Correction
    • P(observed keys|words) 


  • Chinese/Japanese text entry
    • P(phonetic representation|characters) 




some experiments
Some Experiments
  • Joshua Goodman re-implemented almost all techniques
  • Trained on 260,000,000 words of WSJ
  • Optimize parameters on heldout
  • Test on separate test section
  • Some combinations extremely time-consuming (days of CPU time)
    • Don’t try this at home, or in anything you want to ship
  • Rescored N-best lists to get results
    • Maximum possible improvement from 10% word error rate absolute to 5%
  • Prob theory intro
  • Text prediction
  • Intro to LM
  • Perplexity
  • Smoothing
  • Caching
  • Clustering
  • Parsing
  • CFG
  • Homework
lm types
LM types

Language models used in speech recognition can be classified into the following categories:

  • Uniform models: the chance a word occurs is 1 / V. V is the size of the vocabulary
  • Finite state machines
  • Grammar models: they use context free grammars
  • Stochastic models: they determine the chance of a word on it’s preceding words (eg n-grams)

A grammar is defined by:

G = (V, T, P, S) where:V contains the set of all non-terminal symbols. T contains the set of all terminal symbols. P is a set of production or production rules. S is a special symbol called the start symbol.

Example of rules:

S -> NP VP VP -> V NPNP -> NOUNNP -> NAMENOUN -> speechNAME -> Julie Ethan VERB -> loves chases



  • bottom up where you start with the input sentence and try to reach the start symbol
  • Top down, you start with the starting symbol and try to reach the input sentence by applying the appropriate rules. Left recursion is a problem. (A -> Aa)

Advantage bottom up:

“What is the weather forecast for this afternoon?”

A lot of parsing algorithms available from computer science

Problem: people don’t follow the rules of grammar strictly, especially in spoken language. Creating a grammar that covers all this constructions is unfeasible.

probabilistic cfg
probabilistic CFG

A mixture between formal language and probabilistic models is the PCFG

If there are m rules for left-hand side non terminal node

Then probability of these rules is

Where C denotes the number of times each rule is used.

  • Prob theory intro
  • Text prediction
  • Intro to LM
  • Perplexity
  • Smoothing
  • Caching
  • Clustering
  • Parsing
  • CFG
  • Homework
  • Write a program to estimate the Entropy of written text (Shannon, 1950)
  • Input: a text document (you pick it, the larger the better)
  • Write a program that predicts the next letter given the past letters on a different text (make it interactive?)
    • Hint: use character ngrams
  • Check it does a perfect job on the training text
  • Due 5/21