N-way composition of weighted finite-state transducers

Cyril Allauzen, Mehryar Mohri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Composition of weighted transducers is a fundamental algorithm used in many applications, including for computing complex edit-distances between automata, or string kernels in machine learning, or to combine different components of a speech recognition, speech synthesis, or information extraction system. We present a generalization of the composition of weighted transducers, n-way composition, which is dramatically faster in practice than the standard composition algorithm when combining more than two transducers. The worst-case complexity of our algorithm for composing three transducers T1, T2, and T3 resulting in T, is O(|T|Q min(d(T1)d(T3), d(T2)) + |T|E), where |·|Q denotes the number of states, |·| E the number of transitions, and d(·) the maximum out-degree. As in regular composition, the use of perfect hashing requires a pre-processing step with linear-time expected complexity in the size of the input transducers. In many cases, this approach significantly improves on the complexity of standard composition. Our algorithm also leads to a dramatically faster composition in practice. Furthermore, standard composition can be obtained as a special case of our algorithm. We report the results of several experiments demonstrating this improvement. These theoretical and empirical improvements significantly enhance performance in the applications already mentioned.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)613-627
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Foundations of Computer Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)


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