2019-01675 - PhD Position F/M Robust audio event detection

Contract type : Public service fixed-term contract

Level of qualifications required : Graduate degree or equivalent

Fonction : PhD Position


This PhD is funded by the ANR project "LEAUDS" involving the Multispeech team at Inria Nancy - Grand Est, the machine learning team at INSA Rouen, and Netatmo. It will be co-supervised by Emmanuel Vincent and Gilles Gasso. The successful applicant will have the opportunity to visit the machine learning team at INSA Rouen for extended periods of time, in order to benefit from the complementary scientific environment offered.


We are constantly surrounded by a complex audio stream carrying information about our environment. Hearing is a privileged way to detect and identify events that may require quick action (ambulance siren, baby cries…). Indeed, audition offers several advantages compared to vision: it allows for omnidirectional detection, up to a few tens of meters and independently of the lighting conditions. For these reasons, automatic ambient audio analysis has become increasingly popular over the past five years [1, 2].

One of the main degradations encountered when moving from lab conditions to the real world is due to the fact that ambient audio scenes are not composed of isolated audio events but of multiple events occurring simultaneously. Differences between training and test conditions also typically arise due to distant microphone capture, to the intrinsic variability of audio events, and to different acquisition hardware and settings. These problems have gained interest in the past few years, yet they remain an obstacle towards the deployment of audio event detection systems in real-world settings.

The goal of this PhD is to design an automatic audio event detection system robust to the variabilities and degradations encountered in real conditions.

[1] T. Virtanen, M. D. Plumbley and D. Ellis. Computational Analysis of audio Scenes and Events, Springer, 2017.

[2] A. Mesaros, A. Diment, B. Elizalde, T. Heittola, E. Vincent, B. Raj and T. Virtanen. Sound event detection in the DCASE 2017 Challenge. IEEE/ACM Transactions on Audio, Speech and Language Processing, 27(6), 2019, pp. 992-1006.

Main activities

Starting from the existing deep learning based system developed at Inria [3], the following complementary directions may be explored.

  1. Design an audio event detection system that takes the complex temporal structure (temporal coherence, duration, co-occurrence) of audio events in the scene into account. One approach to move beyond the simple model in [4] is to train an adversarial network to discriminate estimated vs. real structures and to optimize a decision function that accounts both for the predicted class(es) in each time frame and for the global structure.
  2. Following the temporal attention-based algorithm in [5], develop a multiple-pass detection algorithm based on a spectro-temporal attention model. The attention model will iteratively discard the time-frequency zones corresponding to the detected events and focus on the remaining time-frequency zones. In addition, the detected events may be removed from the mixture signal by means of source separation [6]. The challenge will be to train a single neural network based system able to separate hundreds of audio classes and to exploit long-range contextual information. Robust integration and interaction between the source separation system and the above audio event detection system will also be studied.
  3. Augment and transform the training data in order to increase its size and its similarity with the test domain. Heuristic approaches based on signal transformations [7] and/or generative adversarial neural networks are often used but they poorly account for the temporal structure of ambient audio scenes and they lack theoretical guarantees. The challenge will be to develop a principled data augmentation/transformation method, e.g., inspired from [8,9], that maximizes performance on the test data.

[3] N. Turpault, R. Serizel and E. Vincent. Semi-supervised triplet loss based learning of ambient audio embeddings. In Proc. ICASSP, 2019.

[4] E. Benetos, G. Lafay, M. Lagrange and M. D. Plumbley. Detection of overlapping acoustic events using a temporally-constrained probabilistic model. In Proc. ICASSP, 2016, pp. 6450–6454.

[5] Y. Xu, Q. Kong, W. Wang and M. D. Plumbley. A joint detection-classification model for audio tagging of weakly labelled data. In Proc. ICASSP, 2017, pp.641-645.

[6] E. Vincent, T. Virtanen and S. Gannot. Audio source separation and speech enhancement. Wiley, 2018.

[7] J. Salamon, D. MacConnell, M. Cartwright, P. Li and J. P. Bello. Scaper: A library for soundscape synthesis and augmentation. In Proc. WASPAA, 2017, pp. 344-348.

[8] N. Courty, R. Flamary, D. Tuia and A. Rakotomamonjy. Optimal transport for domain adaptation. IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence, 39(9), 2016, pp. 1853-1865.

[9] S. Sivasankaran, E. Vincent and I. Illina. Discriminative importance weighting of augmented training data for acoustic model training. In Proc. ICASSP, 2017, pp. 4885-4889.


Master degree in computer science, machine learning, or audio signal processing
Experience with programming in Python
Experience with PyTorch is a plus

Benefits package

  • Subsidised catering service
  • Partially-reimbursed public transport
  • Social security
  • Paid leave
  • Flexible working hours
  • Sports facilities


Gross Salary per month: 1982€ brut per month (year 1 & 2) and 2085€ brut/month (year 3)