Humans learn language at an early age by simply observing the world around them. Why can't computers do the same? Conventional automatic speech recognition systems have a long history and have recently made great strides thanks to the revival of deep neural networks. However, their reliance on highly supervised (and therefore expensive) training paradigms has restricted their application to the major languages of the world, accounting for a small fraction of the more than 7,000 human languages spoken worldwide. This thesis introduces datasets, models, and methodologies for grounding continuous speech signals at the raw waveform level to natural image scenes. The context and constraint provided by the visual information enables our models to efficiently learn linguistic units, such as words, along with their visual semantics. For example, our models are able to recognize instances of the spoken word ``water" within spoken captions and associate them with image regions containing bodies of water. Further, we demonstrate that our models are capable of learning cross-lingual semantics by using the visual space as an interlingua to perform speech-to-speech retrieval between English and Hindi. In all cases, this learning is done without linguistic transcriptions or conventional speech recognition. This offers a promising new direction for speech processing that only requires speakers to provide narrations of what they see.
Thesis Supervisor: Jim Glass
Thesis Committee: Victor Zue, Antonio Torralba