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overview of current speech recognition techniques by John Makhoul (BBN) and a talk on training and search methods by Fred Jelinek (IBM). Makhoul's talk emphasized the rate of progress in improving performance (as measured in terms of word accuracy) in continuous speech recognition over the past several years and the factors that led to these performance improvements. Jelinek concentrated on the mathematical procedures used to train and decode speech recognizers.
The final session of the first day, chaired by Lynette Hirschman (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), dealt with natural language understanding. Madeleine Bates (BBN) discussed models of natural language understanding and reviewed our current understanding in the areas of syntax, semantics, pragmatics, and discourse. Bob Moore (SRI) discussed the way in which speech can be integrated with natural language as the basis for a speech understanding system.
The two morning sessions on the second day were devoted to applications of the technology and were chaired by Chris Seelbach (Seelbach Associates) and John Oberteuffer (ASR News). Excellent overviews of key applications in the areas of telecommunications (Jay Wilpon, AT&T Bell Laboratories), aids for the handicapped (Harry Levitt, CUNY), the military (Cliff Weinstein, MIT Lincoln Laboratory), and consumer electronics (George Doddington, SISTO/DARPA) were given and stimulated lively discussion.
The next session, chaired by David Roe (AT&T Bell Laboratories), concentrated on technical and human requirements for successful technology deployment. Ryohei Nakatsu (NTT) discussed the hardware/ software issues, and Candace Kamm (Bellcore) discussed the user interface issues that needed to be addressed and understood.
The final session, titled "Technology 2001," was chaired by Frank Fallside (University of Cambridge) and consisted of three views of where the technology is headed over the next decade and how each speaker thought it would get there. Bishnu Atal (AT&T Bell Laboratories) looked at fundamentally new research directions. Sadaoki Furui (NTT) predicted the directions of research in synthesis and recognition systems. Finally, Mitch Marcus (University of Pennsylvania) discussed new developments in statistical modeling of semantic concepts.
A highlight of the colloquium was an after-dinner talk by Yasuo Kato (NEC) on the future of voice processing technology in the world of computers and communications. Kato, who has contributed to the field for close to 40 years, looked back at how far we have come and gave glimpses of how far we might go in the next decade.