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Advisor: Barkana, Buket D.
Speaker age and gender classification is one of the most challenging problems in speech processing. Recently with developing technologies, identifying a speaker age and gender has become a necessity for speaker verification and identification systems such as identifying suspects in criminal cases, improving human-machine interaction, and adapting music for awaiting people queue. Although many studies have been carried out focusing on feature extraction and classifier design for improvement, classification accuracies are still not satisfactory. The key issue in identifying speaker’s age and gender is to generate robust features and to design an in-depth classifier. Age and gender information is concealed in speaker’s speech, which is liable for many factors such as, background noise, speech contents, and phonetic divergences.
In this work, different methods are proposed to enhance the speaker age and gender classification based on the deep neural networks (DNNs) as a feature extractor and classifier. First, a model for generating new features from a DNN is proposed. The proposed method uses the Hidden Markov Model toolkit (HTK) tool to find tied-state triphones for all utterances, which are used as labels for the output layer in the DNN. The DNN with a bottleneck layer is trained in an unsupervised manner for calculating the initial weights between layers, then it is trained and tuned in a supervised manner to generate transformed mel-frequency cepstral coefficients (T-MFCCs). Second, the shared class labels method is introduced among misclassified classes to regularize the weights in DNN. Third, DNN-based speakers models using the SDC feature set is proposed. The speakers-aware model can capture the characteristics of the speaker age and gender more effectively than a model that represents a group of speakers. In addition, AGender-Tune system is proposed to classify the speaker age and gender by jointly fine-tuning two DNN models; the first model is pre-trained to classify the speaker age, and second model is pre-trained to classify the speaker gender. Moreover, the new T-MFCCs feature set is used as the input of a fusion model of two systems. The first system is the DNN-based class model and the second system is the DNN-based speaker model. Utilizing the T-MFCCs as input and fusing the final score with the score of a DNN-based class model enhanced the classification accuracies. Finally, the DNN-based speaker models are embedded into an AGender-Tune system to exploit the advantages of each method for a better speaker age and gender classification.
The experimental results on a public challenging database showed the effectiveness of the proposed methods for enhancing the speaker age and gender classification and achieved the state of the art on this database.
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