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XUBO LIU, XINHAO MEI, QIUSHI HUANG, JIANYUAN SUN, JINZHENG ZHAO, HAOHE LIU, Mark D. PLUMBLEY, Volkan Kılıc, WENWU WANG (2022)Leveraging Pre-trained BERT for Audio Captioning

—Audio captioning aims at using language to describe the content of an audio clip. Existing audio captioning systems are generally based on an encoder-decoder architecture, in which acoustic information is extracted by an audio encoder and then a language decoder is used to generate the captions. Training an audio captioning system often encounters the problem of data scarcity. Transferring knowledge from pre-trained audio models such as Pre-trained Audio Neural Networks (PANNs) have recently emerged as a useful method to mitigate this issue. However, there is less attention on exploiting pre-trained language models for the decoder, compared with the encoder. BERT is a pre-trained language model that has been extensively used in natural language processing tasks. Nevertheless, the potential of using BERT as the language decoder for audio captioning has not been investigated. In this study, we demonstrate the efficacy of the pre-trained BERT model for audio captioning. Specifically, we apply PANNs as the encoder and initialize the decoder from the publicly available pre-trained BERT models. We conduct an empirical study on the use of these BERT models for the decoder in the audio captioning model. Our models achieve competitive results with the existing audio captioning methods on the AudioCaps dataset.

JIANYUAN SUN, XUBO LIU, XINHAO MEI, JINZHENG ZHAO, Mark D. PLUMBLEY, Volkan Kılıc, WENWU WANG (2022)Deep Neural Decision Forest for Acoustic Scene Classification

—Acoustic scene classification (ASC) aims to classify an audio clip based on the characteristic of the recording environment. In this regard, deep learning based approaches have emerged as a useful tool for ASC problems. Conventional approaches to improving the classification accuracy include integrating auxiliary methods such as attention mechanism, pre-trained models and ensemble multiple sub-networks. However, due to the complexity of audio clips captured from different environments, it is difficult to distinguish their categories without using any auxiliary methods for existing deep learning models using only a single classifier. In this paper, we propose a novel approach for ASC using deep neural decision forest (DNDF). DNDF combines a fixed number of convolutional layers and a decision forest as the final classifier. The decision forest consists of a fixed number of decision tree classifiers, which have been shown to offer better classification performance than a single classifier in some datasets. In particular, the decision forest differs substantially from traditional random forests as it is stochastic, differentiable, and capable of using the back-propagation to update and learn feature representations in neural network. Experimental results on the DCASE2019 and ESC-50 datasets demonstrate that our proposed DNDF method improves the ASC performance in terms of classification accuracy and shows competitive performance as compared with state-of-the-art baselines.

Xinhao Mei, Xubo Liu, Jianyuan Sun, Mark D. Plumbley, Wenwu Wang (2022)On Metric Learning for Audio-Text Cross-Modal Retrieval

Audio-text retrieval aims at retrieving a target audio clip or caption from a pool of candidates given a query in another modality. Solving such cross-modal retrieval task is challenging because it not only requires learning robust feature representations for both modalities, but also requires capturing the fine-grained alignment between these two modalities. Existing cross-modal retrieval models are mostly optimized by metric learning objectives as both of them attempt to map data to an embedding space, where similar data are close together and dissimilar data are far apart. Unlike other cross-modal retrieval tasks such as image-text and video-text retrievals, audio-text retrieval is still an unexplored task. In this work, we aim to study the impact of different metric learning objectives on the audio-text retrieval task. We present an extensive evaluation of popular metric learning objectives on the AudioCaps and Clotho datasets. We demonstrate that NT-Xent loss adapted from self-supervised learning shows stable performance across different datasets and training settings, and outperforms the popular triplet-based losses. Our code is available at https://github.com/XinhaoMei/ audio-text_retrieval.

XINHAO MEI, XUBO LIU, Jianyuan Sun, Mark D. Plumbley, WENWU WANG (2022)DIVERSE AUDIO CAPTIONING VIA ADVERSARIAL TRAINING

Audio captioning aims at generating natural language descriptions for audio clips automatically. Existing audio captioning models have shown promising improvement in recent years. However, these models are mostly trained via maximum likelihood estimation (MLE), which tends to make captions generic, simple and deterministic. As different people may describe an audio clip from different aspects using distinct words and grammars, we argue that an audio captioning system should have the ability to generate diverse captions for a fixed audio clip and across similar audio clips. To address this problem, we propose an adversarial training framework for audio captioning based on a conditional generative adversarial network (C-GAN), which aims at improving the naturalness and diversity of generated captions. Unlike processing data of continuous values in a classical GAN, a sentence is composed of discrete tokens and the discrete sampling process is non-differentiable. To address this issue, policy gradient, a reinforcement learning technique, is used to back-propagate the reward to the generator. The results show that our proposed model can generate more diverse captions, as compared to state-of-the-art methods.

XINHAO MEI, XUBO LIU, QIUSHI HUANG, MARK DAVID PLUMBLEY, WENWU WANG (2021)AUDIO CAPTIONING TRANSFORMER

Audio captioning aims to automatically generate a natural language description of an audio clip. Most captioning models follow an encoder-decoder architecture, where the decoder predicts words based on the audio features extracted by the encoder. Convolutional neural networks (CNNs) and recurrent neural networks (RNNs) are often used as the audio encoder. However, CNNs can be limited in modelling temporal relationships among the time frames in an audio signal, while RNNs can be limited in modelling the long-range dependencies among the time frames. In this paper, we propose an Audio Captioning Transformer (ACT), which is a full Transformer network based on an encoder-decoder architecture and is totally convolution-free. The proposed method has a better ability to model the global information within an audio signal as well as capture temporal relationships between audio events. We evaluate our model on AudioCaps, which is the largest audio captioning dataset publicly available. Our model shows competitive performance compared to other state-of-the-art approaches.

XINHAO MEI, QIUSHI HUANG, XUBO LIU, Gengyun Chen, Jingqian Wu, Yusong Wu, Jinzheng Zhao, Shengchen Li, Tom Ko, H Lilian Tang, Xi Shao, MARK DAVID PLUMBLEY, WENWU WANG (2021)AN ENCODER-DECODER BASED AUDIO CAPTIONING SYSTEM WITH TRANSFER AND REINFORCEMENT LEARNING

Automated audio captioning aims to use natural language to describe the content of audio data. This paper presents an audio captioning system with an encoder-decoder architecture, where the decoder predicts words based on audio features extracted by the encoder. To improve the proposed system, transfer learning from either an upstream audio-related task or a large in-domain dataset is introduced to mitigate the problem induced by data scarcity. Moreover, evaluation metrics are incorporated into the optimization of the model with reinforcement learning, which helps address the problem of " exposure bias " induced by " teacher forcing " training strategy and the mismatch between the evaluation metrics and the loss function. The resulting system was ranked 3rd in DCASE 2021 Task 6. Abla-tion studies are carried out to investigate how much each component in the proposed system can contribute to final performance. The results show that the proposed techniques significantly improve the scores of the evaluation metrics, however, reinforcement learning may impact adversely on the quality of the generated captions.

XUBO LIU, QIUSHI HUANG, XINHAO MEI, Tom Ko, H Lilian Tang, MARK DAVID PLUMBLEY, WENWU WANG (2021)CL4AC: A CONTRASTIVE LOSS FOR AUDIO CAPTIONING

Automated Audio captioning (AAC) is a cross-modal translation task that aims to use natural language to describe the content of an audio clip. As shown in the submissions received for Task 6 of the DCASE 2021 Challenges, this problem has received increasing interest in the community. The existing AAC systems are usually based on an encoder-decoder architecture, where the audio signal is encoded into a latent representation, and aligned with its corresponding text descriptions, then a decoder is used to generate the captions. However, training of an AAC system often encounters the problem of data scarcity, which may lead to inaccurate representation and audio-text alignment. To address this problem, we propose a novel encoder-decoder framework called Contrastive Loss for Audio Captioning (CL4AC). In CL4AC, the self-supervision signals derived from the original audio-text paired data are used to exploit the correspondences between audio and texts by contrasting samples, which can improve the quality of latent representation and the alignment between audio and texts, while trained with limited data. Experiments are performed on the Clotho dataset to show the effectiveness of our proposed approach.