I am interested in the variability of the speech signal –
relating its sources to its manifestations, characterizing groups of speakers,
grouping observable phenomena. Non-native speech is a specific interest within
this area, as are speaking style and lexical entrainment.
Intelligent Agents and Spoken dialogue systems is one of my
areas of interest. I am interested in systems that have real users and serve a
real purpose, such as Let’s Go. The Let’s Go system answered the phone for the
Port Authority of Allegheny County for over a decade, every evening and on
weekends since the beginning of March 2005. A system with real users provides
the ideal platform to run experiments on spoken dialogue such as timing and
lexical entrainment. When one is lucky enough to be endowed with a system that
has a constant pipeline of real users, one feels compelled to share this
treasure with the research community, freely distributing the data we collect
and giving them access to the system to conduct experiments of their own. This
is part of the mission of the Dialog Research Center. DialPort
is a portal that connects many different dialog systems from CMU and elsewhere,
gathering user data and creating a platform for research.
I am also interested in how to teach foreign languages
effectively, both by a human and by a computer. This includes curriculum
creation and navigation, interface issues and issues leading to robust
learning. Culture underlies all language and so is also an interest of mine. I
am very interested in providing just the right amount of education at just the
right time. And of course I am interested in pinpointing errors in non-native
speech (patented!) and then providing appropriate corrective feedback.
The system I created to detect and correct foreign speakers’
pronunciation errors in English was called Fluency and the basic algorithms
developed in that project were spun off into the NativeAccentTM
product sold by the company I started, Carnegie SpeechTM.
Another use of research results in use in real life! The REAP system was also
used for education – to teach vocabulary. I am the past chair of the ISCA
special interest group on Speech and Language Technology in Education (SLaTE). Please visit our website for more information