Attention is all you need in speech separation!
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Abstract: Recurrent Neural Networks (RNNs) have long been the dominant architecture in sequence-to-sequence learning. RNNs, however, are inherently sequential models that do not allow parallelization of their computations. Transformers are emerging as a natural alternative to standard RNNs, replacing recurrent computations with a multi-head attention mechanism. In this paper, we propose the `SepFormer', a novel RNN-free Transformer-based neural network for speech separation. The SepFormer learns short and long-term dependencies with a multi-scale approach that employs transformers. The proposed model matches or overtakes the state-of-the-art (SOTA) performance on the standard WSJ0-2/3mix datasets. It indeed achieves an SI-SNRi of 20.2 dB on WSJ0-2mix matching the SOTA, and an SI-SNRi of 17.6 dB on WSJ0-3mix, a SOTA result. The SepFormer inherits the parallelization advantages of Transformers and achieves a competitive performance even when downsampling the encoded representation by a factor of 8. It is thus significantly faster and it is less memory-demanding than the latest RNN-based systems. Authors: Cem Subakan, Mirco Ravanelli, Samuele Cornell, Mirko Bronzi, Jianyuan Zhong (Mila-Quebec AI Institute, Universita Politecnica delle Marche,, University of Rochester)

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