Abstract: Dramatic advances in language processing, speech recognition and synthesis technology have opened up a range of applications that involve understanding speech. This talk describes the challenges, methods and opportunities for integrating speech and language technology with an emphasis on conversational speech, the next frontier for speech systems. Conveniently, both speech and language processing now leverage neural representations, including similar algorithms. However, conversational speech is quite different from the written text that underlies most language technology. It lacks punctuation and is often disfluent. Handling these issues, and recognizing speaker intent and sentiment, requires attending to the intonation and timing of words and phrases, which links speech to conversational understanding.

Mari Ostendorf

Mari Ostendorf joined the University of Washington in 1999. She is an Endowed Professor of System Design Methodologies in the Electrical & Computer Engineering Department, an Adjunct Professor in Linguistics and in Computer Science & Engineering, and Associate Vice Provost for Research. She is a Fellow of the IEEE, ISCA and ACL, a former Australian-American Fulbright Scholar, and a member of the Washington State Academy of Sciences. In 2017, Prof. Ostendorf served as a faculty advisor for the student team winning the inaugural Alexa Prize competition to build a socialbot, and conversational AI is a focus of her current work. Her research explores dynamic models for understanding and generating speech and text, particularly in multi-party contexts, and it contributes to a variety of applications, from education to clinical and scientific information extraction.

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