Most Spoken Language Understanding (SLU) systems today employ a cascade approach, where the best hypothesis from Automatic Speech Recognizer (ASR) is fed into understanding modules such as slot sequence classifiers and intent detectors. The output of these modules is then further fed into downstream components such as interpreter and/or knowledge broker. These statistical models are usually trained individually to optimize the error rate of their respective output. In such approaches, errors from one module irreversibly propagates into other modules causing a serious degradation in the overall performance of the SLU system.
Thus it is desirable to jointly optimize all the statistical models together. As a first step towards this, in this paper, we propose a joint decoding framework in which we predict the optimal word as well as slot sequence (semantic tag sequence) jointly given the input acoustic stream. Furthermore, the improved recognition output is then used for an utterance classification task, specifically, we focus on intent detection task. On a SLU task, we show 1.5% absolute reduction (7.6% relative reduction) in word error rate (WER) and 1.2% absolute improvement in F measure for slot prediction when compared to a very strong cascade baseline comprising of state-of-the-art large vocabulary ASR followed by conditional random field (CRF) based slot sequence tagger. Similarly, for intent detection, we show 1.2% absolute reduction (12% relative reduction) in classification error rate.