Speech-based creation and editing of mathematical content

Wigmore, Anglea Michelle (2011) Speech-based creation and editing of mathematical content. (PhD thesis), Kingston University, .


For most people, the creation and editing of mathematical text in electronic documents is a slow, tedious and error-prone activity. For people with disabilities, especially blindness or severe visual impairments, this is far more of a problem. The lack of easy access to good mathematical resources limits the educational and career opportunities for people with such disabilities.Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) could enable both able-bodied and people who are physically disabled gain better access to mathematics. However, whilst ASR has improved over recent years, most speech recognition systems do not support the input and editing of dictated mathematical expressions. In this thesis, we present results of studies of how students and staff at Kingston University, of various levels of mathematical achievement, read-out given expressions in English. Furthermore, we analyse evidence, both from our own studies, and from transcriptions of mathematics classes recorded in the British National Corpus (BNC), that people do consistently place pauses to mark the grouping of subexpressions. The results from this enabled us to create an innovative context-free attribute grammar capable of capturing a high proportion of GCSE-Ievel spoken mathematics, of which can be syntactically incorrect and/or incomplete. This attribute grammar was implemented, tested and evaluated in our prototype system TalkMaths. We also compiled statistics of "common sequences" of mathematics-related keywords from these two sources, with a view to using these to develop a "predictive model" for use in our system. We implemented and evaluated a prototype system TalkMaths, that enables the dictation of mathematical expressions, up to approximately GCSE level, and converts them into various electronic document formats Our evaluations of this system showed that people of various levels of mathematical ability can learn how to produce electronic mathematical documents by speech. These studies have demonstrated that producing mathematical documents by speech is a viable alternative to using the keyboard & mouse, especially for those who rely on speech recognition software to use a computer. A novel editing paradigm, based on a "hybrid grid" is proposed, implemented and tested in a further usability study. Although the evaluation of this editing paradigm is incomplete, it has demonstrated that it is promising and worthy of further research.

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