Welcome Message by the General Chairs
on behalf of the organising team, it is with great personal pleasure that we welcome you to Florence and to INTERSPEECH-2011: the 12th Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association (ISCA).
The theme of this year’s conference is “Speech science and technology for real life”, and the city of Florence is an ideal location for stimulating discussions and creativity on this theme. In fact, Florence is the source of the Italian spoken and written language thanks to extraordinary talent of Dante Alighieri, author of the masterpiece, la Divina Commedia. Furthermore, in the region around Florence were born and worked eminent scientists, such as Leonardo da Vinci and Galileo Galiei who contributed with impressive discoveries to the development of science and technology for real life.
Florence stands on the banks of the Arno River, in a hollow surrounded by the first Chianti hills to the south and the Fiesole hills to the north; these hills are green and undulating dotted with small towns and isolated home characteristic villages. As city of art and culture, Florence is the destination of a high proportion of International tourism. Originally a Roman centre (Florentia), it began to acquire a certain importance under the Carolingians but its fortunes date from the time (1115) of its constitution as a Republic.
In the 13th beginning 14th centuries, aided by increasing economic importance it starts a policy of expansion directed at the largest Tuscan towns. In 1406, once Pisa had fallen, only Siena and Lucca remained free of Florentine rule.
Shortly after (1434), the Republic became a Signoria under the Medici family. Under this Signoria the town gained great masterpieces by the foremost artists of the time (Brunelleschi, Donatello, Botticelli, Masaccio, etc.) becoming the most important European centre of Renaissance culture. The Renaissance was a rebirth that occurred throughout most of Europe. However, the changes that we associate with the Renaissance first occurred in Florence and continued to be more pervasive there than anywhere else. The city's economy and its writers, painters, architects, and philosophers all made Florence a model of Renaissance culture. Fifteenth century Florence was an exciting place to be. In 1425 the city had a population of 60,000 and was a self-governed, independent city-state.
Twelve artist guilds that regulated the trades were the basis of Florence's commercial success. Members of the guilds, who were wealthy and held positions in government, were some of Florence's most influential people in society and politics. Because of its strong economy and a political philosophy that was dedicated to the welfare of the city, Florence thrived. The most powerful guilds were those that represented textile workers. Much of Florence's wealth was dependent on the manufacture or trade of cloth, primarily wool. Wool of superior quality was often purchased unfinished and untreated from England and Iberia. Florentine textile workers then cleaned, carded, spun, dyed, and wove the wool into cloth of excellent quality. They sold the finished material in Italy, northern European cities, and even in eastern countries. Other textile experts purchased inferior cloth from northern cities and refinished it to create a superior product.
Because Florence was not a port city like Venice, sea trade was not a primary source of its income. Banking, however, was. Many families of Florence, beginning in the thirteenth century, were successful bankers. The Florentine gold coin known as the florin was of such reliable purity that it was the standard coinage throughout Europe. Florentine bankers were known throughout Europe as well, for they established banking houses in other important cities such as London, Geneva, and Bruges (Belgium).
The Palazzo Vecchio, constructed in 1299, was the home of the Florentine guilds. Then, as well as today, it functioned as the seat of municipal government and the heart of Florentine culture. It was here that the city's 5,000 guild members, who had the power of the vote, gathered to discuss and determine city issues. In addition to textile workers and bankers, the guild members included masons and builders, sculptors, lawyers, and solicitors.
When the Medici family died out, the Lorenas gained power in 1737 and, apart from the Napoleonic period (1800-1815), governed Florence and the region until 1859, the year in which Duke Leopold II was expelled and Tuscany became part of the Kingdom of Italy. Florence contains an exceptional artistic patrimony, glorious testimony to its secular civilization. Cimabue and Giotto, the fathers of Italian painting, lived here, along with Arnolfo and Andrea Pisano, reformists of architecture and sculpture; Brunelleschi, Donatello and Masaccio, founders of the Renaissance; Ghiberti and the Della Robbia; Filippo Lippi and l'Angelico; Botticelli and Paolo Uccello; the universal geniuses Leonardo and Michelangelo.
Their works, along with those of many generations of artists up to the masters of the present century, are gathered in the city's many museums. In Florence, thanks to Dante, the Italian language was born; with Petrarch and Boccaccio literary studies were affirmed; with Humanism the philosophy and values of classical civilization were revived; with Machiavelli modern political science was born; with Guicciardini, historical prose; and with Galileo, modern experimental science. Since the time of Charlemagne, Florence was a university town. Today it includes many specialized institutes and is an International cultural center. Academies, art schools, scientific institutes and cultural centres all contribute to the city's intense activity.
In harmony with the Conference theme, the 2011 ISCA medallist The Interspeech 2011 Organising committee is pleased to announce the following distinguished keynote speakers to give plenary talks at the conference, professor Julia Hirschberg will deliver a keynote speech entitled Speaking More Like You: Entrainment in Conversational Speech, professor Tom Mitchell will talk about Neural Representations of Word Meanings and professor Sandy Pentland will talk about Honest Signals.
In a round-table organized by professor Giuseppe Riccardi, plenary and keynote chair, the theme Future and Applications of Speech and Language Technologies for the Good Health of Society will be discussed. The following distinguished keynote speakers will share their research and vision: professor Gabriele Miceli: Language disorders: viewpoints on a complex object, professor Björn Granström: Speech technology in (re)habilitation of persons with communication disabilities, professor Hiroshi Ishiguro: From teleoperated androids to cellphones as surrogates.
The following special sessions, organized by the chairs Amanda Stent and Mauro Falcone, on topics related to the conference theme will take place:
Speech and language processing based assistive technologies and health applications, Crowdsourcing for speech processing, Spoken language processing of human-human conversations, Speech and audio processing for human-robot interaction, Speech Technology for Under-Resourced Languages.
In addition to a wide-scope tutorial program prepared by the chair Maurizio Omologo, there will be two special events: Speech Processing Tools and Speaker State Challenge. A show and tell session will be rich of state of the art prototype demonstrations.
This year we received an almost record number of submissions: 1438. These were carefully reviewed under the control of the 24 Area Coordinators so that the final accept/reject decisions could be made at the Technical Programme Committee chaired by Roberto Pieraccini and Giuseppe Di fabbrizio in the meeting held in Rome at the end of May. This careful selection process resulted in the acceptance of 848 papers (746 in the main programme and 102 in special sessions).
As well as the scientific programme, we have also arranged a series of social events and activities.
An event the size of INTERSPEECH cannot take place without the help and support of large a number of individuals, many of whom give their services freely despite the many other calls on their time. We would particularly like to thank Roberto Pieraccini and Giuseppe Di Fabbrizio, Technical Programme Chairs for handling smoothly a large amount of revisions, the communication with the Area Chairs, the reviewers and the authors as well as other technical and logistic problems.
We would also like to thank the other chairs mentioned above for performing their duties ina professional way and providing valuable help and advice.
We would particularly like to thank the fund raising chair Andrea Paoloni and our generous sponsors for their substantial contribution.
We are especially grateful to the to the whole Italian Speech Communication Community and in particular to the Italian National Research Council (CNR) and to the Italian ISCA-SIG Group AISV (Associazione Italiana di Scienze della Voce) for their contribution in bringing a large conference such as INTERSPEECH to Italy.
Finally, we would like to thank the Authors who submitted a paper to this conference, the Reviewers for diligently evaluating the submissions, the Area Chairs for putting together a varied and high-quality programme, and the Session Chairs and Student Helpers for ensuring a smooth running of the event itself.
We do hope that you will have an enjoyable and productive time here in Florence.
Piero Cosi and Renato De Mori,
Interspeech 2011, Conference Chairs