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Category: Labs

An acoustic model, a language model, and a lexicon walk into a bar

When I tell people that I work with speech recognition, they sometimes ask, “Like Siri?” Or they tell me a phone call horror story with interactive voice response. (“Reservations.” “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you.” “RESERVATIONS!!”) But as one of my professors was fond of saying, “Speech recognition is just the preprocessing.” What does that mean? We must turn sounds into information and meaning.

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Using topics to make sense of podcasts

Over the last several years, the podcast space has grown to encompass a wide and varied range of content. On iTunes, there are nearly 300,000 shows; it’s easy for the casual listener to get lost in all the options. Here at we’ve made it our mission to chart and map out the world of podcasts by looking at different ways of connecting, organizing, and uncovering good shows.

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Unlocking the secrets of the podcastsphere*

*not a real word

Podcast enthusiasts have a hard time talking about the thing they love. There is even disagreement about whether to use the Apple-centric term “podcast,” or the too-broad term “radio,” or the vague and generic-sounding “digital radio,” to describe, precisely, digital spoken audio on the internet. Another problem is that this medium is still relatively new and only recently gaining popularity, so the discourse surrounding it is unsettled. In spite of its newness, there are over 250,000 podcasts in the iTunes store, comprising more than 8,000,000 episodes, and almost all of that content is opaque and unsearchable. So, if you want to know what’s happening right now in the “podcastphere” (for lack of a better word), you are pretty much out of luck.

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