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When comparing the difficulty of two recognition tasks, the perplexity is only a first approximation. For such a purpose, it is helpful to remember that there are a number of important details to be checked. This is even more true when a direct comparison of two language models for the same corpus is performed. In comparing perplexities, the following points should be checked:

  1. What is the exact vocabulary,  and above all, what is the exact size of the vocabulary? 
  2. How are punctuation marks  and in particular sentence boundaries treated? Often, in text dictation , punctuation  marks are included in the vocabulary. 
  3. How is the unknown or out-of-vocabulary word   handled? Is it included in the calculation of the perplexity, or is the perplexity calculated only by averaging over the spoken words?
  4. What are the conventions for representing numbers and dates?
  5. It makes a difference whether the probabilities or their logarithms are averaged. To avoid potential confusions, the corpus perplexity  should be computed for the corpus as a whole. If it is computed on a sentence-by-sentence basis, it should be done by using the log-perplexities rather than the perplexities themselves.


EAGLES SWLG SoftEdition, May 1997. Get the book...