# Machine Hearing

Techniques for enabling machines to interpret and understand audio signals, often used in speech recognition and audio analysis.

#### Statistical Models for Natural Sounds

Richard E. Turner, 2010. Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit, UCL,

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It is important to understand the rich structure of natural sounds in order to solve important tasks, like automatic speech recognition, and to understand auditory processing in the brain. This thesis takes a step in this direction by characterising the statistics of simple natural sounds. We focus on the statistics because perception often appears to depend on them, rather than on the raw waveform. For example the perception of auditory textures, like running water, wind, fire and rain, depends on summary-statistics, like the rate of falling rain droplets, rather than on the exact details of the physical source. In order to analyse the statistics of sounds accurately it is necessary to improve a number of traditional signal processing methods, including those for amplitude demodulation, time-frequency analysis, and sub-band demodulation. These estimation tasks are ill-posed and therefore it is natural to treat them as Bayesian inference problems. The new probabilistic versions of these methods have several advantages. For example, they perform more accurately on natural signals and are more robust to noise, they can also fill-in missing sections of data, and provide error-bars. Furthermore, free-parameters can be learned from the signal. Using these new algorithms we demonstrate that the energy, sparsity, modulation depth and modulation time-scale in each sub-band of a signal are critical statistics, together with the dependencies between the sub-band modulators. In order to validate this claim, a model containing co-modulated coloured noise carriers is shown to be capable of generating a range of realistic sounding auditory textures. Finally, we explored the connection between the statistics of natural sounds and perception. We demonstrate that inference in the model for auditory textures qualitatively replicates the primitive grouping rules that listeners use to understand simple acoustic scenes. This suggests that the auditory system is optimised for the statistics of natural sounds.

#### Probabilistic Amplitude Demodulation

Richard E. Turner, M Sahani, 2007. (In 7th International Conference on Independent Component Analysis and Signal Separation).

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Auditory scene analysis is extremely challenging. One approach, perhaps that adopted by the brain, is to shape useful representations of sounds on prior knowledge about their statistical structure. For example, sounds with harmonic sections are common and so time-frequency representations are efficient. Most current representations concentrate on the shorter components. Here, we propose representations for structures on longer time-scales, like the phonemes and sentences of speech. We decompose a sound into a product of processes, each with its own characteristic time-scale. This demodulation cascade relates to classical amplitude demodulation, but traditional algorithms fail to realise the representation fully. A new approach, probabilistic amplitude demodulation, is shown to out-perform the established methods, and to easily extend to representation of a full demodulation cascade.

#### Modeling natural sounds with modulation cascade processes

Richard E. Turner, Maneesh Sahani, 2008. (In nips20). Edited by J. C. Platt, D. Koller, Y. Singer, S. Roweis. mit.

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Natural sounds are structured on many time-scales. A typical segment of speech, for example, contains features that span four orders of magnitude: Sentences (∼1s); phonemes (∼10−1 s); glottal pulses (∼ 10−2s); and formants (∼ 10−3s). The auditory system uses information from each of these time-scales to solve complicated tasks such as auditory scene analysis [1]. One route toward understanding how auditory processing accomplishes this analysis is to build neuroscience-inspired algorithms which solve similar tasks and to compare the properties of these algorithms with properties of auditory processing. There is however a discord: Current machine-audition algorithms largely concentrate on the shorter time-scale structures in sounds, and the longer structures are ignored. The reason for this is two-fold. Firstly, it is a difficult technical problem to construct an algorithm that utilises both sorts of information. Secondly, it is computationally demanding to simultaneously process data both at high resolution (to extract short temporal information) and for long duration (to extract long temporal information). The contribution of this work is to develop a new statistical model for natural sounds that captures structure across a wide range of time-scales, and to provide efficient learning and inference algorithms. We demonstrate the success of this approach on a missing data task.

#### Statistical inference for single- and multi-band probabilistic amplitude demodulation.

Richard E. Turner, Maneesh Sahani, 2010. (In Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Acoustics, Speech, and Signal Processing (ICASSP)).

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Amplitude demodulation is an ill-posed problem and so it is natural to treat it from a Bayesian viewpoint, inferring the most likely carrier and envelope under probabilistic constraints. One such treatment is Probabilistic Amplitude Demodulation (PAD), which, whilst computationally more intensive than traditional approaches, offers several advantages. Here we provide methods for estimating the uncertainty in the PAD-derived envelopes and carriers, and for learning free-parameters like the time-scale of the envelope. We show how the probabilistic approach can naturally handle noisy and missing data. Finally, we indicate how to extend the model to signals which contain multiple modulators and carriers.

#### Demodulation as Probabilistic Inference

Richard E. Turner, Maneesh Sahani, 2011. (Transactions on Audio, Speech and Language Processing).

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Demodulation is an ill-posed problem whenever both carrier and envelope signals are broadband and unknown. Here, we approach this problem using the methods of probabilistic inference. The new approach, called Probabilistic Amplitude Demodulation (PAD), is computationally challenging but improves on existing methods in a number of ways. By contrast to previous approaches to demodulation, it satisfies five key desiderata: PAD has soft constraints because it is probabilistic; PAD is able to automatically adjust to the signal because it learns parameters; PAD is user-steerable because the solution can be shaped by user-specific prior information; PAD is robust to broad-band noise because this is modelled explicitly; and PAD’s solution is self-consistent, empirically satisfying a Carrier Identity property. Furthermore, the probabilistic view naturally encompasses noise and uncertainty, allowing PAD to cope with missing data and return error bars on carrier and envelope estimates. Finally, we show that when PAD is applied to a bandpass-filtered signal, the stop-band energy of the inferred carrier is minimal, making PAD well-suited to sub-band demodulation.

#### Probabilistic amplitude and frequency demodulation

Richard E. Turner, Maneesh Sahani, 2011. (In Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 24). The MIT Press.

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A number of recent scientific and engineering problems require signals to be decomposed into a product of a slowly varying positive envelope and a quickly varying carrier whose instantaneous frequency also varies slowly over time. Although signal processing provides algorithms for so-called amplitude- and frequency-demodulation (AFD), there are well known problems with all of the existing methods. Motivated by the fact that AFD is ill-posed, we approach the problem using probabilistic inference. The new approach, called probabilistic amplitude and frequency demodulation (PAFD), models instantaneous frequency using an auto-regressive generalization of the von Mises distribution, and the envelopes using Gaussian auto-regressive dynamics with a positivity constraint. A novel form of expectation propagation is used for inference. We demonstrate that although PAFD is computationally demanding, it outperforms previous approaches on synthetic and real signals in clean, noisy and missing data settings.

#### Decomposing signals into a sum of amplitude and frequency modulated sinusoids using probabilistic inference

Richard E. Turner, Maneesh Sahani, march 2012. (In Acoustics, Speech and Signal Processing (ICASSP), 2012 IEEE International Conference on). **DOI**: 10.1109/ICASSP.2012.6288343. **ISSN**: 1520-6149.

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There are many methods for decomposing signals into a sum of amplitude and frequency modulated sinusoids. In this paper we take a new estimation based approach. Identifying the problem as ill-posed, we show how to regularize the solution by imposing soft constraints on the amplitude and phase variables of the sinusoids. Estimation proceeds using a version of Kalman smoothing. We evaluate the method on synthetic and natural, clean and noisy signals, showing that it outperforms previous decompositions, but at a higher computational cost.