Semantically Meaningful Metrics for Norwegian ASR Systems
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Evaluation metrics are important for quanitfying the performance of Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) systems. However, the widely used word error rate (WER) captures errors at the word-level only and weighs each error equally, which makes it insufficient to discern ASR system performance for downstream tasks such as Natural Language Understanding (NLU) or information retrieval. We explore in this paper a more robust and discriminative evaluation metric for Norwegian ASR systems through the use of semantic information modeled by a transformer-based language model. We propose Aligned Semantic Distance (ASD) which employs dynamic programming to quantify the similarity between the reference and hypothesis text. First, embedding vectors are generated using the NorBERT model. Afterwards, the minimum global distance of the optimal alignment between these vectors is obtained and normalized by the sequence length of the reference embedding vector. In addition, we present results using Semantic Distance (SemDist), and compare them with ASD. Results show that for the same WER, ASD and SemDist values can vary significantly, thus, exemplifying that not all recognition errors can be considered equally important. We investigate the resulting data, and present examples which demonstrate the nuances of both metrics in evaluating various transcription errors.