3-Way Composition of Weighted Finite-State Transducers

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Composition of weighted transducers is a fundamental algorithm used in many applications, including for computing complex edit-distances between automata, or string kernels in machine learning, or to combine different components of a speech recognition, speech synthesis, or information extraction system. We present a generalization of the composition of weighted transducers, 3-way composition, which is dramatically faster in practice than the standard composition algorithm when combining more than two transducers. The worst-case complexity of our algorithm for composing three transducers T 1, T 2, and T 3 resulting in T, is O(|T| Q min (d(T 1) d(T 3), d(T 2)) + |T| E ), where |·| Q denotes the number of states, |·| E the number of transitions, and d(·) the maximum out-degree. As in regular composition, the use of perfect hashing requires a pre-processing step with linear-time expected complexity in the size of the input transducers. In many cases, this approach significantly improves on the complexity of standard composition. Our algorithm also leads to a dramatically faster composition in practice. Furthermore, standard composition can be obtained as a special case of our algorithm. We report the results of several experiments demonstrating this improvement. These theoretical and empirical improvements significantly enhance performance in the applications already mentioned.