A Revealing Introduction to Hidden Markov Models

Mark Stamp
January 18, 2004
1 A simple example
Suppose we want to determine the average annual temperature at a particular location on
earth over a series of years. To make it interesting, suppose the years we are concerned with
lie in the distant past, before thermometers were invented. Since we can’t go back in time,
we instead look for indirect evidence of the temperature.
To simplify the problem, we only consider two annual temperatures, “hot” and “cold”.
Suppose that modern evidence indicates that the probability of a hot year followed by another
hot year is 0.7 and the probability that a cold year is followed by another cold year is 0.6.
We’ll assume that these probabilities held in the distant past as well. The information so
far can be summarized as
H C
H
C
_
0.7 0.3
0.4 0.6
_
(1)
where H is “hot” and C is “cold”.
Also suppose that current research indicates a correlation between the size of tree growth
rings and temperature. For simplicity, we only consider three different tree ring sizes, small,
medium and large, or S, M and L. Conceivably, the probabilistic relationship between
temperature and tree ring sizes could be given by
S M L
H
C
_
0.1 0.4 0.5
0.7 0.2 0.1
_
.
(2)
For this system, the state is the average annual temperature—either H or C. The tran-
sition from one state to the next is a Markov process (of order one), since the next state
depends only on the current state and the fixed probabilities in (1). However, the actual
states are “hidden” since we can’t directly observe the temperature in the past.
Although we can’t observe the state (temperature) we can observe the size of tree rings.
From (2), tree rings provide us with probabilistic information regarding the temperature.
Since the states are hidden, this type of system is known as a Hidden Markov Model (HMM).
1
Our goal is to make effective and efficient use of the observable information in order to gain
insight into various aspects of the Markov process.
The state transition matrix
A =
_
0.7 0.3
0.4 0.6
_
(3)
comes from (1) and the observation matrix
B =
_
0.1 0.4 0.5
0.7 0.2 0.1
_
. (4)
is from (2). Perhaps there is additional evidence that the initial state distribution, denoted
by π, is
π =
_
0.6 0.4
_
. (5)
The matrices, π, A and B are row stochastic, meaning that each element is a probability
and the elements of each row sum to 1.
Now consider a particular four-year period of interest where we observe the series of tree
rings S, M, S, L. Letting 0 represent S, 1 represent M and 2 represent L, this observation
sequence is
O = (0, 1, 0, 2). (6)
We might want to determine the most likely state sequence of the Markov process given
the observations (6). This is not quite as clear-cut as it seems, since there are different
possible interpretations of “most likely”. On the one hand, we could reasonably define
most likely as the state sequence with the highest probability from among all possible state
sequences of length four. Dynamic programming (DP) efficiently finds this particular most
likely solution. On the other hand, we might reasonably define most likely as the state
sequence that maximizes the expected number of correct states. HMMs find this most likely
sequence.
The DP solution and the HMM solution are not necessarily the same. For example, the
DP solution must have valid state transitions, while this is not necessarily the case for the
HMMs. And even if all state transitions are valid, the HMM solution can still differ from
the DP solution (as we illustrate in an example below).
Next, we present one of the most challenging aspects of HMMs—the notation. Then
we discuss the three fundamental problems related to HMMs and give algorithms for their
efficient solutions. We also consider some critical computational issue that must be addressed
when writing any HMM computer program. We conclude with a substantial example that
does not require any specialized knowledge, yet nicely illustrates the strength of the HMM
approach. Rabiner [1] is the best source for further introductory information on HMMs.
2
2 Notation
Let
T = the length of the observation sequence
N = the number of states in the model
M = the number of observation symbols
Q = {q
0
, q
1
, . . . , q
N−1
} = the states of the Markov process
V = {0, 1, . . . , M −1} = set of possible observations
A = the state transition probabilities
B = the observation probability matrix
π = the initial state distribution
O = (O
0
, O
1
, . . . , O
T−1
) = observation sequence.
The observations are always denoted by {0, 1, . . . , M −1}, since this simplifies the notation
with no loss in generality. Then O
i
∈ V for i = 0, 1, . . . , T −1.
A generic hidden Markov model is illustrated in Figure 1, where the X
i
are the hidden
states and all other notation is as given above. The Markov process—which is hidden behind
the dashed line—is determined by the initial state X
0
and the A matrix. We are only able
to observe the O
i
, which are related to the actual states of the Markov process by the
matrices B and A.
Markov process:
X
0
X
1
X
2
· · · X
T−1
-
A
-
A
-
A
-
A
?
B
?
B
?
B
?
B
Observations:
O
0
O
1
O
2
· · · O
T−1
Figure 1: Hidden Markov Model
For the temperature example of the previous section—with the observations sequence
given in (6)—we have T = 4, N = 2, M = 3, Q = {H, C}, V = {0, 1, 2} (where we let 0, 1, 2
represent “small”, “medium” and “large” tree rings). In this case, the matrices A, B and π
are given by (3), (4) and (5), respectively.
The matrix A = {a
ij
} is N ×N with
a
ij
= P(state q
j
at t + 1 | state q
i
at t)
and A is row stochastic. Note that the probabilities a
ij
are independent of t. The matrix
B = {b
j
(k)} is an N ×M with
b
j
(k) = P(observation k at t | state q
j
at t).
3
As with A, the matrix B is row stochastic and the probabilities b
j
(k) are independent of t.
The unusual notation b
j
(k) is standard in the HMM world.
An HMM is defined by A, B and π (and, implicitly, by the dimensions N and M). The
HMM is denoted by λ = (A, B, π).
Consider a state generic sequence of length four
X = (x
0
, x
1
, x
2
, x
3
)
with corresponding observations
O = (O
0
, O
1
, O
2
, O
3
).
Then π
x
0
is the probability of starting in state x
0
. Also, b
x
0
(O
0
) is the probability of initially
observing O
0
and a
x
0
,x
1
is the probability of transiting from state x
0
to state x
1
. Continuing,
we see that the probability of the state sequence X is given by
P(X) = π
x
0
b
x
0
(O
0
)a
x
0
,x
1
b
x
1
(O
1
)a
x
1
,x
2
b
x
2
(O
2
)a
x
2
,x
3
b
x
3
(O
3
). (7)
Consider the temperature example in Section 1 with observation sequence O = (0, 1, 0, 2),
as given in (6). Using (7) we can compute, say,
P(HHCC) = 0.6(0.1)(0.7)(0.4)(0.3)(0.7)(0.6)(0.1) = 0.000212.
Similarly, we can compute the probability of each of the possible state sequences of length
four, assuming the fixed observation sequence (6). We have listed these results in Table 1,
where the probabilities in the last column are normalized so that they sum to 1.
To find the optimal state sequence in the dynamic programming (DP) sense, we simply
choose the sequence with the highest probability, namely, CCCH. To find the optimal
sequence in the HMM sense, we choose the most probable symbol at each position. To this
end we sum the probabilities in Table 1 that have an H in the first position. Doing so, we find
the (normalized) probability of H in the first position is 0.18817 and hence the probability
of C in the first position is 0.81183. The HMM therefore chooses the first element of the
optimal sequence to be C. We repeat this for each element of the sequence, obtaining the
probabilities in Table 2.
From Table 2 we find that the optimal sequence—in the HMM sense—is CHCH. Note
that in this example, the optimal DP sequence differs from the optimal HMM sequence, even
though all state transitions are valid.
3 The three problem
3.1 Problem 1
Given the model λ = (A, B, π) and a sequence of observations O, find P(O| λ). Here, we
want to determine the likelihood of the observed sequence O, given the model.
4
normalized
state probability probability
HHHH .000412 .042743
HHHC .000035 .003664
HHCH .000706 .073274
HHCC .000212 .021982
HCHH .000050 .005234
HCHC .000004 .000449
HCCH .000302 .031403
HCCC .000091 .009421
CHHH .001098 .113982
CHHC .000094 .009770
CHCH .001882 .195398
CHCC .000564 .058619
CCHH .000470 .048849
CCHC .000040 .004187
CCCH .002822 .293096
CCCC .000847 .087929
Table 1: State sequence probabilities
element
0 1 2 3
P(H) 0.188170 0.519432 0.228878 0.803979
P(C) 0.811830 0.480568 0.771122 0.196021
Table 2: HMM probabilities
3.2 Problem 2
Given λ = (A, B, π) and an observation sequence O, find an optimal state sequence for the
underlying Markov process. In other words, we want to uncover the hidden part of the
Hidden Markov Model. This type of problem is discussed in Section 1.
3.3 Problem 3
Given an observation sequence O and the dimensions N and M, find the model λ = (A, B, π)
that maximizes the probability of O. This can be viewed as training the model to best fit
the observed data. Alternatively, we can view this as a (discrete) hill climb on the parameter
space represented by A, B and π.
5
3.4 Discussion
Consider speech recognition—which happens to be one of the best-known applications of
HMMs. We can use the solution to Problem 3 to train an HMM, say, λ
0
to recognize the
spoken word “no” and train another HMM, say, λ
1
to recognize the spoken word “yes”.
Then given an unknown spoken word, we can use the solution to Problem 1 to score this
word against λ
0
and also λ
1
to determine whether it is more likely “no”, “yes” or neither. In
this case, we don’t need to solve Problem 2, but it is possible that such a solution—which
uncovers the hidden states—might provide additional insight into the underlying speech
model.
4 The three solutions
4.1 Solution to Problem 1
Let λ = (A, B, π) be a given model and let O = (O
0
, O
1
, . . . , O
T−1
) be a series of observations.
We want to find P(O| λ).
Let X = (x
0
, x
1
, . . . , x
T−1
) be a state sequence. Then by the definition of B we have
P(O| X, λ) = b
x
0
(O
0
)b
x
1
(O
1
) · · · b
x
T−1
(O
T−1
)
and by the definition of π and A it follows that
P(X | λ) = π
x
0
a
x
0
,x
1
a
x
1
,x
2
· · · a
x
T−2
,x
T−1
.
Since
P(O, X | λ) =
P(O ∩ X ∩ λ)
P(λ)
and
P(O| X, λ)P(X | λ) =
P(O ∩ X ∩ λ)
P(X ∩ λ)
·
P(X ∩ λ)
P(λ)
=
P(O ∩ X ∩ λ)
P(λ)
we have
P(O, X | λ) = P(O| X, λ)P(X | λ).
By summing over all possible state sequences we obtain
P(O| λ) =

X
P(O, X | λ)
=

X
P(O| X, λ)P(X | λ)
=

X
π
x
0
b
x
0
(O
0
)a
x
0
,x
1
b
x
1
(O
1
) · · · a
x
T−2
,x
T−1
b
x
T−1
(O
T−1
).
However, this direct computation is generally infeasible, since it requires about 2TN
T
multi-
plications. The strength of the HMM approach derives largely from the fact that there exist
an efficient algorithm to achieve the same result.
6
To find P(O| λ), the so-called forward algorithm, or α-pass, is used. For t = 0, 1, . . . , T−1
and i = 0, 1, . . . , N −1, define
α
t
(i) = P(O
0
, O
1
, . . . , O
t
, x
t
= q
i
| λ). (8)
Then α
t
(i) is the probability of the partial observation sequence up to time t, where the
underlying Markov process in state q
i
at time t.
The key result is that the α
t
(i) can be computed recursively as
1. Let α
0
(i) = π
i
b
i
(O
0
), for i = 0, 1, . . . , N −1
2. For t = 1, 2, . . . , T −1 and i = 0, 1, . . . , N −1, compute
α
t
(i) =
_
_
N−1

j=0
α
t−1
(j)a
ji
_
_
b
i
(O
t
)
3. Then from (8) it is clear that
P(O| λ) =
N−1

i=0
α
T−1
(i).
The α-pass computation requires N
2
T multiplications, as opposed to more than 2TN
T
for
the na¨ıve approach.
4.2 Solution to Problem 2
Given the model λ = (A, B, π) and a sequence of observations O, our goal is to find the
most likely state sequence. As mentioned above, there are different possible interpretations
of “most likely”. For HMMs we maximize the expected number of correct states. In contrast,
a dynamic program finds the highest scoring overall path. As we have seen, these solutions
are not necessarily the same.
First, we define the backward algorithm, or β-pass. This is analogous to the α-pass
discussed above, except that it starts at the end and works back toward the beginning.
For t = 0, 1, . . . , T −1 and i = 0, 1, . . . , N −1, define
β
t
(i) = P(O
t+1
, O
t+2
, . . . , O
T−1
| x
t
= q
i
, λ).
Then the β
t
(i) can be computed recursively as
1. Let β
T−1
(i) = 1, for i = 0, 1, . . . , N −1.
2. For t = T −2, T −1, . . . , 0 and i = 0, 1, . . . , N −1 compute
β
t
(i) =
N−1

j=0
a
ij
b
j
(O
t+1

t+1
(j).
7
For t = 0, 1, . . . , T −2 and i = 0, 1, . . . , N −1, define
γ
t
(i) = P(x
t
= q
i
| O, λ).
Since α
t
(i) measures the relevant probability up to time t and β
t
(i) measures the relevant
probability after time t,
γ
t
(i) =
α
t
(i)β
t
(i)
P(O| λ)
.
Recall that the denominator P(O| λ) is obtained by summing α
T−1
(i) over i. From the
definition of γ
t
(i) it follows that the most likely state at time t is the state q
i
for which γ
t
(i)
is maximum—where the maximum is taken over the index i.
4.3 Solution to Problem 3
Here we want to adjust the model parameters to best fit the observations. The sizes of the
matrices (N and M) are fixed but the elements of A, B and π are free, subject only to the
row stochastic condition. The fact that we can re-estimate the model itself is one of the
more amazing aspects of HMMs.
For t = 0, 1, . . . , T −2 and i, j ∈ {0, 1, . . . , N −1}, define “di-gammas” as
γ
t
(i, j) = P(x
t
= q
i
, x
t+1
= q
j
| O, λ).
Then γ
t
(i, j) is the probability of being in state q
i
at time t and transiting to state q
j
at
time t + 1. The di-gammas can be written in terms of α, β, A and B as
γ
t
(i, j) =
α
t
(i)a
ij
b
j
(O
t+1

t+1
(j)
P(O| λ)
.
The γ
t
(i) and γ
t
(i, j) (or di-gamma) are related by
γ
t
(i) =
N−1

j=0
γ
t
(i, j).
Given the γ and di-gamma we verify below that the model λ = (A, B, π) can be re-
estimated as
1. For i = 0, 1, . . . , N −1, let
π
i
= γ
0
(i) (9)
2. For i = 0, 1, . . . , N −1 and j = 0, 1, . . . , N −1, compute
a
ij
=
T−2

t=0
γ
t
(i, j)
_
T−2

t=0
γ
t
(i) . (10)
8
3. For j = 0, 1, . . . , N −1 and k = 0, 1, . . . , M −1, compute
b
j
(k) =

t∈{0,1,...,T−2}
O
t
=k
γ
t
(j)
_
T−2

t=0
γ
t
(j) . (11)
The numerator of the re-estimated a
ij
can be seen to give the expected number of tran-
sitions from state q
i
to state q
j
, while the denominator is the expected number of transitions
from q
i
to any state. Then the ratio is the probability of transiting from state q
i
to state q
j
,
which is the desired value of a
ij
.
The numerator of the re-estimated b
j
(k) is the expected number of times the model is
in state q
j
with observation k, while the denominator is the expected number of times the
model is in state q
j
. The ratio is the probability of observing symbol k, given that the model
is in state q
j
, which is the desired value of b
j
(k).
Re-estimation is an iterative process. First, we initialize λ = (A, B, π) with a best
guess or, if no reasonable guess is available, we choose random values such that π
i
≈ 1/N
and a
ij
≈ 1/N and b
j
(k) ≈ 1/M. It’s critical that A, B and π be randomized, since exactly
uniform values result in a local maximum from which the model cannot climb. As always, π,
A and B must be row stochastic.
The process can be summarized as
1. Initialize, λ = (A, B, π).
2. Compute α
t
(i), β
t
(i), γ
t
(i, j) and γ
t
(i).
3. Re-estimate the model λ = (A, B, π).
4. If P(O| λ) increases, goto 2.
Of course, it might be desirable to stop if P(O| λ) does not increase by at least some
predetermined threshold and/or to set a maximum number of iterations.
5 Dynamic programming
Before completing our discussion of the elementary aspects of HMMs, we make a brief detour
to show the relationship between dynamic programming (DP) and HMMs. In fact, a DP
can be viewed as an α-pass where “sum” is replaced by “max”. More precisely, for π, A
and B as above, the dynamic programming algorithm can be stated as
1. Let δ
0
(i) = π
i
b
i
(O
0
), for i = 0, 1, . . . , N −1.
2. For t = 1, 2, . . . , T −1 and i = 0, 1, . . . , N −1, compute
δ
t
(i) = max
j∈{0,1,...,N−1}

t−1
(j)a
ji
b
i
(O
t
)]
9
At each successive t, the DP determines the probability of the best path ending at each of
the states i = 0, 1, . . . , N −1. Consequently, the probability of the best overall path is
max
j∈{0,1,...,N−1}

T−1
(j)]. (12)
Be sure to note that (12) only gives the optimal probability, not the optimal path itself.
By keeping track of each preceding state, the DP procedure can be used to recover the
optimal path by tracing back from the highest-scoring final state.
For example, consider the example of Section 1. The initial probabilites are
P(H) = π
0
b
0
(0) = 0.6(0.1) = 0.06 and P(T) = π
1
b
1
(0) = 0.4(0.7) = 0.28.
The probabilities of each path of length two are
P(HH) = 0.06(0.7)(0.4) = 0.0168
P(HC) = 0.06(0.3)(0.2) = 0.0036
P(CH) = 0.28(0.4)(0.4) = 0.0448
P(CC) = 0.28(0.6)(0.2) = 0.0336
and hence the best (most probable) path of length two ending with H is CH while the
best path of length two ending with C is CC. Continuing, we construct the the diagram
in Figure 2 one “level” at a time, where each arrow points to the preceding element in the
optimal path up to that particular state. Note that at each stage, the dynamic programming
algorithm only needs to maintain the highest-scoring paths at each possible state—not a list
of all possible paths. This is the key to the efficiency of the DP algorithm.
H
.06
C
.28
H
.0448

=
C
.0336

H
.003136

C
.014112

H
.002822

=
C
.000847

Figure 2: Dynamic programming
In Figure 2, the maximum final probability is 0.002822 which occurs at the final state H.
We can use the arrows to trace back from H to find the optimal path CCCH.
Underflow is a concern with a dynamic programming problem of this form, since we
compute products of probabilities. Fortunately, underflow is easily avoided by simply taking
logarithms. The underflow-resistant DP algorithm is
1. Let
ˆ
δ
0
(i) = log[π
i
(O
0
)], for i = 0, 1, . . . , N −1.
2. For t = 1, 2, . . . , T −1 and i = 0, 1, . . . , N −1, compute
ˆ
δ
t
(i) = max
j∈{0,1,...,N−1}
_
ˆ
δ
t−1
(j) + log[a
ji
] + log[b
i
(O
t
)]
_
.
10
In this case, the optimal score is
max
j∈{0,1,...,N−1}
[
ˆ
δ
T−1
(j)].
Of course, additional bookkeeping is still required in order find the optimal path.
6 HMM Scaling
The three HMM solutions in Section 4 all require computations involving products of prob-
abilities. It is easy to see, for example, that α
t
(i) tends to 0 exponentially as T increases.
Therefore, any attempt to implement the formulae as given above will inevitably result in
underflow. The solution to this underflow problem is to scale the numbers. However, care
must be taken to insure that, for example, the re-estimation formulae remain valid.
First, consider the computation of α
t
(i). The basic recurrence is
α
t
(i) =
N−1

j=0
α
t−1
(j)a
ji
b
i
(O
t
).
It seems sensible to normalize each α
t
(i) by dividing by the sum (over j) of α
t
(j). However,
we must verify that the re-estimation formulae hold.
For t = 0, let ˜ α
0
(i) = α
0
(i) for i = 0, 1, . . . , N − 1. Then let c
0
= 1/

N−1
j=0
˜ α
0
(j) and,
finally, ˆ α
0
(i) = c
0
˜ α
0
(i) for i = 0, 1, . . . , N − 1. Then for each t = 1, 2, . . . , T − 1 do the
following.
1. For i = 0, 1, . . . , N −1, compute
˜ α
t
(i) =
N−1

j=0
ˆ α
t−1
(j)a
ji
b
i
(O
t
).
2. Let
c
t
=
1
N−1

j=0
˜ α
t
(j)
.
3. For i = 0, 1, . . . , N −1, compute
ˆ α
t
(i) = c
t
˜ α
t
(i).
Clearly, ˆ α
0
(i) = c
0
α
0
(i). Suppose that
ˆ α
t
(i) = c
0
c
1
· · · c
t
α
t
(i). (13)
11
Then
ˆ α
t+1
(i) = c
t+1
˜ α
t+1
(i)
= c
t+1
N−1

j=0
ˆ α
t
(j)a
ji
b
i
(O
t+1
)
= c
0
c
1
· · · c
t
c
t+1
N−1

j=0
α
t
(j)a
ji
b
i
(O
t+1
)
= c
0
c
1
· · · c
t+1
α
t+1
(i)
and hence (13) holds, by induction, for all t.
From (13) and the definitions of ˜ α and ˆ α it follows that
ˆ α
t
(i) =
α
t
(i)
N−1

j=0
α
t
(j)
(14)
and hence ˆ α
t
(i) are the desired scaled values of α
t
(i) for all t.
As a consequence of (14),
N−1

j=0
ˆ α
T−1
(j) = 1.
Also, from (13) we have
N−1

j=0
ˆ α
T−1
(j) = c
0
c
1
· · · c
T−1
N−1

j=0
α
T−1
(j)
= c
0
c
1
· · · c
T−1
P(O| λ).
Combining these results gives
P(O| λ) =
1
T−1

j=0
c
j
.
To avoid underflow, we instead compute
log[P(O| λ)] = −
T−1

j=0
log c
j
. (15)
The same scale factor is used for β
t
(i) as was used for α
t
(i), namely c
t
, so that
ˆ
β
t
(i) =
c
t
β
t
(i). We then compute γ
t
(i, j) and γ
t
(i) using the formulae of the previous section
with ˆ α
t
(i) and
ˆ
β
t
(i) in place of α
t
(i) and β
t
(i), respectively. These values are then used
to re-estimate π, A and B.
By writing the original re-estimation formulae (9) and (10) and (11) directly in terms
of α
t
(i) and β
t
(i), it is an easy exercise to show that the re-estimated π and A and B
12
are exact when ˆ α
t
(i) and
ˆ
β
t
(i) are used in place of α
t
(i) and β
t
(i). Furthermore, P(O| λ)
isn’t required in the re-estimation formulae, since in each case it cancels in the numerator
and denominator. Therefore, (15) can be used to verify that P(O| λ) is increasing at each
iteration. Fortunately, we have no need for the actual value of P(O| λ), the calculation of
which would inevitably result in underflow.
7 Putting it all together
Here we give complete pseudo-code for solving Problem 3, including scaling. This pseudo-
code also provides everything needed to solve Problems 1 and 2.
The values N and M are fixed and the T observations
O = (O
0
, O
1
, . . . , O
T−1
)
are assumed known.
1. Initialization:
Select initial values for the matrices A, B and π, where π is 1 ×N, while A = {a
ij
}
is N ×N and B = {b
j
(k)} is N ×M, and all three matrices are row-stochastic. If
known, use reasonable approximations for the matrix values, otherwise let π
i
≈ 1/N
and a
ij
≈ 1/N and b
j
(k) ≈ 1/M. Be sure that each row sums to 1 and the elements
of each matrix are not uniform.
Let
maxIters = maximum number of re-estimation iterations
iters = 0
oldLogProb = −∞.
2. The α-pass
// compute α
0
(i)
c
0
= 0
for i = 0 to N −1
α
0
(i) = π(i)b
i
(O
0
)
c
0
= c
0

0
(i)
next i
// scale the α
0
(i)
c
0
= 1/c
0
13
for i = 0 to N −1
α
0
(i) = c
0
α
0
(i)
next i
// compute α
t
(i)
for t = 1 to T −1
c
t
= 0
for i = 0 to N −1
α
t
(i) = 0
for j = 0 to N −1
α
t
(i) = α
t
(i) +α
t−1
(j)a
ji
next j
α
t
(i) = α
t
(i)b
i
(O
t
)
c
t
= c
t

t
(i)
next i
// scale α
t
(i)
c
t
= 1/c
t
for i = 0 to N −1
α
t
(i) = c
t
α
t
(i)
next i
next t
3. The β-pass
// Let β
T−1
(i) = 1 scaled by c
T−1
for i = 0 to N −1
β
T−1
(i) = c
T−1
next i
// β-pass
for t = T −2 to 0 by −1
for i = 0 to N −1
β
t
(i) = 0
for j = 0 to N −1
β
t
(i) = β
t
(i) +a
ij
b
j
(O
t+1

T+1
(j)
next j
// scale β
t
(i) with same scale factor as α
t
(i)
β
t
(i) = c
t
β
t
(i)
next i
14
next t
4. Compute γ
t
(i, j) and γ
t
(i)
for t = 0 to T −2
denom = 0
for i = 0 to N −1
for j = 0 to N −1
denom = denom +α
t
(i)a
ij
b
j
(O
t+1

t+1
(j)
next j
next i
for i = 0 to N −1
γ
t
(i) = 0
for j = 0 to N −1
γ
t
(i, j) = (α
t
(i)a
ij
b
j
(O
t+1

t+1
(j))/denom
γ
t
(i) = γ
t
(i) +γ
t
(i, j)
next j
next i
next t
5. Re-estimate A, B and π
// re-estimate π
for i = 0 to N −1
π
i
= γ
0
(i)
next i
// re-estimate A
for i = 0 to N −1
for j = 0 to N −1
numer = 0
denom = 0
for t = 0 to T −2
numer = numer +γ
t
(i, j)
denom = denom +γ
t
(i)
next t
a
ij
= numer/denom
next j
next i
15
// re-estimate B
for i = 0 to N −1
for j = 0 to M −1
numer = 0
denom = 0
for t = 0 to T −2
if(O
t
== j) then
numer = numer +γ
t
(i)
end if
denom = denom +γ
t
(i)
next t
b
i
(j) = numer/denom
next j
next i
6. Compute log[P(O| λ)]
logProb = 0
for i = 0 to T −1
logProb = logProb + log(c
i
)
next i
logProb = −logProb
7. To iterate or not to iterate, that is the question. . .
iters = iters + 1
if (iters < maxIters and logProb > oldLogProb) then
oldLogProb = logProb
goto 2
else
output λ = (π, A, B)
end if
8 A not-so-simple example
In this section we present a classic application of Hidden Markov Models due to Cave and
Neuwirth [2]. This application nicely illustrates the strength of HMMs and has the additional
advantage that it requires no background in any specialized field such as speech processing.
16
Suppose Marvin the Martian obtains a large body of English text, such as the “Brown
Corpus” [3], which totals about 1,000,000 words. Marvin, who has a working knowledge of
HMMs, but no knowledge of English, would like to determine some basic properties of this
mysterious writing system. A reasonable question he might ask is whether the characters can
be partitioned into sets so that the characters in each set are “different” in some statistically
significant way.
Marvin might consider attempting the following. First, remove all punctuation, numbers,
etc., and convert all letters to lower case. This leaves 26 distinct letters and word space, for
a total of 27 symbols. He could then test the hypothesis that there is an underlying Markov
process (of order one) with two states. For each of these two hidden states, he assume that
the 27 symbols are observed according to fixed probability distributions.
This defines an HMM with N = 2 and M = 27, where the state transition probabilities
of the A matrix and the observation probabilities—the B matrix—are unknown, while the
the observations are the series of characters found in the text. To find the most probable A
and B matrices, Marvin must solve Problem 3 of Section 7.
We programmed this experiment, using the first T = 50, 000 observations (letters—
converted to lower case—and word spaces) from the “Brown Corpus” [3]. We initialized
each element of π and A randomly to approximately 1/2. The precise values used were
π = [ 0.51316 0.48684 ]
and
A =
_
0.47468 0.52532
0.51656 0.48344
_
.
Each element of B was initialized to approximately 1/27. The precise values in the initial B
matrix (actually, the transpose of B) appear in the second and third columns of Figure 3.
After the initial iteration, we have
log[P(O|, λ)] = −165097.29
and after 100 iterations,
log[P(O| λ)] = −137305.28.
This shows that the model has been improved significantly.
After 100 iterations, the model λ = (A, B, π) has converged to
π =
_
0.00000 1.00000
_
and
A =
_
0.25596 0.74404
0.71571 0.28429
_
with the transpose of B appearing in the last two columns of Figure 3.
The most interesting part of this result is the B matrix. Without having made any
assumption about the two hidden states, the B matrix tells us that one hidden state contains
17
Initial Final
a 0.03735 0.03909 0.13845 0.00075
b 0.03408 0.03537 0.00000 0.02311
c 0.03455 0.03537 0.00062 0.05614
d 0.03828 0.03909 0.00000 0.06937
e 0.03782 0.03583 0.21404 0.00000
f 0.03922 0.03630 0.00000 0.03559
g 0.03688 0.04048 0.00081 0.02724
h 0.03408 0.03537 0.00066 0.07278
i 0.03875 0.03816 0.12275 0.00000
j 0.04062 0.03909 0.00000 0.00365
k 0.03735 0.03490 0.00182 0.00703
l 0.03968 0.03723 0.00049 0.07231
m 0.03548 0.03537 0.00000 0.03889
n 0.03735 0.03909 0.00000 0.11461
o 0.04062 0.03397 0.13156 0.00000
p 0.03595 0.03397 0.00040 0.03674
q 0.03641 0.03816 0.00000 0.00153
r 0.03408 0.03676 0.00000 0.10225
s 0.04062 0.04048 0.00000 0.11042
t 0.03548 0.03443 0.01102 0.14392
u 0.03922 0.03537 0.04508 0.00000
v 0.04062 0.03955 0.00000 0.01621
w 0.03455 0.03816 0.00000 0.02303
x 0.03595 0.03723 0.00000 0.00447
y 0.03408 0.03769 0.00019 0.02587
z 0.03408 0.03955 0.00000 0.00110
space 0.03688 0.03397 0.33211 0.01298
Figure 3: Initial and final B transpose
the vowels while the other hidden state contains the consonants. Curiously, word-space is
more like a vowel, while y is not even sometimes a vowel. Of course, anyone familiar with
English would not be too surprised that there is a clear distinction between vowels and
consonants. But the HMM result show us that this distinction is a statistically significant
feature inherent in the language. And, thanks to HMMs, this could easily be deduced by
Marvin the Martian, who has no other knowledge of the language.
Cave and Neuwirth [2] obtain further interesting results by allowing more than two hidden
states. In fact, they are able to obtain and sensibly interpret the results for models with up
to 12 hidden states.
18
9 Exercises
1. Write the re-estimation formulae (9), (10) and (11) directly in terms of α and β.
2. In the re-estimation formulae obtained in Exercise 1, substitute ˆ α and
ˆ
β for α and β,
respectively, and show that the resulting re-estimation formulae are exact.
3. Instead of using c
t
to scale the β
t
(i), scale each β
t
(i) by
d
t
=
1
N−1

j=0
˜
β
t
(j)
where the definition of
˜
β is similar to that of ˜ α.
a. Using the scaling factors c
t
and d
t
show that the re-estimation formulae obtained
in Exercise 1 are exact with ˆ α and
ˆ
β in place of α and β.
b. Write log[P(O| λ)] in terms of c
t
and d
t
.
4. Consider an HMM where for each t the state transition matrix is time dependent.
Then for each t, there is an N ×N row-stochastic A
t
= {a
t
ij
} that is used in place of A
in the HMM computations. For such an HMM,
a. Give pseudo-code to solve Problem 1.
b. Give pseudo-code to solve Problem 2.
5. Consider an HMM of order two, that is, an HMM where the underlying Markov process
is of order two. Then the the state at time t depends on the states at time t−1 and t−2
and a fixed set of probabilities. For an HMM of order two,
a. Give pseudo-code to solve Problem 1.
b. Give pseudo-code to solve Problem 2.
c. Give pseudo-code to solve Problem 3.
6. Write an HMM program to solve the English language problem discussed in Section 8
with
a. Three hidden states. Explain your results.
b. Four hidden states. Explain your results.
7. Write an HMM program to solve the problem discussed in Section 8, replacing English
text with
a. French.
19
b. Russian.
c.

Chinese.
8. Perform an HMM analysis similar to that discussed in Section 8, replacing English
with “Hamptonese”; see
http://www.cs.sjsu.edu/faculty/stamp/Hampton/hampton.html
for information on Hamptonese.
References
[1] L. R. Rabiner, A tutorial on hidden Markov models and selected applications
in speech recognition, Proceedings of the IEEE, Vol. 77, No. 2, February 1989,
http://www.cs.ucsb.edu/~cs281b/papers/HMMs%20-%20Rabiner.pdf
[2] R. L. Cave and L. P. Neuwirth, Hidden Markov models for English, in J. D. Ferguson,
editor, Hidden Markov Models for Speech, IDA-CRD, Princeton, NJ, October 1980.
[3] The Brown Corpus of Standard American English, available for download at
http://www.cs.toronto.edu/~gpenn/csc401/a1res.html\verb
20

Our goal is to make effective and efficient use of the observable information in order to gain insight into various aspects of the Markov process. The state transition matrix 0.7 0.3 A= (3) 0.4 0.6 comes from (1) and the observation matrix B= 0.1 0.4 0.5 0.7 0.2 0.1 . (4)

is from (2). Perhaps there is additional evidence that the initial state distribution, denoted by π, is π = 0.6 0.4 . (5) The matrices, π, A and B are row stochastic, meaning that each element is a probability and the elements of each row sum to 1. Now consider a particular four-year period of interest where we observe the series of tree rings S, M, S, L. Letting 0 represent S, 1 represent M and 2 represent L, this observation sequence is O = (0, 1, 0, 2). (6) We might want to determine the most likely state sequence of the Markov process given the observations (6). This is not quite as clear-cut as it seems, since there are different possible interpretations of “most likely”. On the one hand, we could reasonably define most likely as the state sequence with the highest probability from among all possible state sequences of length four. Dynamic programming (DP) efficiently finds this particular most likely solution. On the other hand, we might reasonably define most likely as the state sequence that maximizes the expected number of correct states. HMMs find this most likely sequence. The DP solution and the HMM solution are not necessarily the same. For example, the DP solution must have valid state transitions, while this is not necessarily the case for the HMMs. And even if all state transitions are valid, the HMM solution can still differ from the DP solution (as we illustrate in an example below). Next, we present one of the most challenging aspects of HMMs—the notation. Then we discuss the three fundamental problems related to HMMs and give algorithms for their efficient solutions. We also consider some critical computational issue that must be addressed when writing any HMM computer program. We conclude with a substantial example that does not require any specialized knowledge, yet nicely illustrates the strength of the HMM approach. Rabiner [1] is the best source for further introductory information on HMMs.

2

The matrix B = {bj (k)} is an N × M with bj (k) = P (observation k at t | state qj at t). “medium” and “large” tree rings). 1. The Markov process—which is hidden behind the dashed line—is determined by the initial state X0 and the A matrix. 2} (where we let 0. Then Oi ∈ V for i = 0. . q1 . which are related to the actual states of the Markov process by the matrices B and A. 1. . . . . M − 1} = set of possible observations the state transition probabilities the observation probability matrix the initial state distribution (O0 . . B and π are given by (3). respectively. since this simplifies the notation with no loss in generality. . Q = {H. the matrices A. . . O1 . We are only able to observe the Oi . A generic hidden Markov model is illustrated in Figure 1. . The observations are always denoted by {0. In this case. M − 1}. qN −1 } = the states of the Markov process {0. . Note that the probabilities aij are independent of t. . . . N = 2. (4) and (5). 3 . 2 represent “small”. . . . 1. 1. . . where the Xi are the hidden states and all other notation is as given above. T − 1. Markov process: X0 A X1 A X2 A ··· A XT −1 B ? B ? B ? B ? Observations: O0 O1 O2 ··· OT −1 Figure 1: Hidden Markov Model For the temperature example of the previous section—with the observations sequence given in (6)—we have T = 4. C}. V = {0. M = 3. The matrix A = {aij } is N × N with aij = P (state qj at t + 1 | state qi at t) and A is row stochastic. OT −1 ) = observation sequence.2 Let Notation T N M Q V A B π O = = = = = = = = = the length of the observation sequence the number of states in the model the number of observation symbols {q0 . 1. .

implicitly. B. 4 .x2 bx2 (O2 )ax2 . we simply choose the sequence with the highest probability. we want to determine the likelihood of the observed sequence O.18817 and hence the probability of C in the first position is 0. 0. Similarly. B. Here. Doing so. Continuing. O2 .1 The three problem Problem 1 Given the model λ = (A.As with A. x2 .7)(0.3)(0.4)(0. the optimal DP sequence differs from the optimal HMM sequence.6)(0. Using (7) we can compute. The HMM therefore chooses the first element of the optimal sequence to be C.1)(0.x1 is the probability of transiting from state x0 to state x1 . the matrix B is row stochastic and the probabilities bj (k) are independent of t. An HMM is defined by A.x1 bx1 (O1 )ax1 . O1 . we can compute the probability of each of the possible state sequences of length four. obtaining the probabilities in Table 2. 1. The unusual notation bj (k) is standard in the HMM world. 3 3.7)(0. given the model. π) and a sequence of observations O.6(0. To this end we sum the probabilities in Table 1 that have an H in the first position. Then πx0 is the probability of starting in state x0 . Note that in this example. The HMM is denoted by λ = (A. x1 . where the probabilities in the last column are normalized so that they sum to 1. find P (O | λ). we see that the probability of the state sequence X is given by P (X) = πx0 bx0 (O0 )ax0 . To find the optimal sequence in the HMM sense. we find the (normalized) probability of H in the first position is 0. To find the optimal state sequence in the dynamic programming (DP) sense. namely. bx0 (O0 ) is the probability of initially observing O0 and ax0 . π). even though all state transitions are valid. Consider a state generic sequence of length four X = (x0 .x3 bx3 (O3 ).1) = 0. by the dimensions N and M ). Also.000212. P (HHCC) = 0. as given in (6). B and π (and. assuming the fixed observation sequence (6). CCCH. We repeat this for each element of the sequence. We have listed these results in Table 1. x3 ) with corresponding observations O = (O0 . (7) Consider the temperature example in Section 1 with observation sequence O = (0. say. 2). From Table 2 we find that the optimal sequence—in the HMM sense—is CHCH. O3 ). we choose the most probable symbol at each position.81183.

811830 1 2 3 0.000302 .000091 .2 Problem 2 Given λ = (A.188170 P (C) 0.000564 .000004 . we want to uncover the hidden part of the Hidden Markov Model. Alternatively. 3. In other words.058619 .000449 .state HHHH HHHC HHCH HHCC HCHH HCHC HCCH HCCC CHHH CHHC CHCH CHCC CCHH CCHC CCCH CCCC probability .000412 . B.021982 . This can be viewed as training the model to best fit the observed data. π) that maximizes the probability of O.073274 . B and π. π) and an observation sequence O.002822 .009421 .000050 .005234 .293096 .519432 0.031403 .001882 .001098 .000847 normalized probability .195398 .004187 . find an optimal state sequence for the underlying Markov process.000040 .009770 .113982 .042743 . 5 .000470 . find the model λ = (A.000706 .803979 0.000035 .003664 .048849 .480568 0.000094 .196021 Table 2: HMM probabilities 3. we can view this as a (discrete) hill climb on the parameter space represented by A.000212 . B.771122 0.3 Problem 3 Given an observation sequence O and the dimensions N and M .228878 0.087929 Table 1: State sequence probabilities element 0 P (H) 0. This type of problem is discussed in Section 1.

λ1 to recognize the spoken word “yes”.xT −1 bxT −1 (OT −1 ). In this case. say. . λ0 to recognize the spoken word “no” and train another HMM. xT −1 ) be a state sequence. . λ)P (X | λ). By summing over all possible state sequences we obtain P (O | λ) = X P (O ∩ X ∩ λ) P (λ) P (O ∩ X ∩ λ) P (X ∩ λ) P (O ∩ X ∩ λ) · = P (X ∩ λ) P (λ) P (λ) P (O. λ) = bx0 (O0 )bx1 (O1 ) · · · bxT −1 (OT −1 ) and by the definition of π and A it follows that P (X | λ) = πx0 ax0 . x1 . Then by the definition of B we have P (O | X. 6 .xT −1 . λ)P (X | λ) = we have P (O. . . O1 . Since P (O. λ)P (X | λ) X = = X πx0 bx0 (O0 )ax0 . OT −1 ) be a series of observations. The strength of the HMM approach derives largely from the fact that there exist an efficient algorithm to achieve the same result. Let X = (x0 . say. but it is possible that such a solution—which uncovers the hidden states—might provide additional insight into the underlying speech model. “yes” or neither. B.x2 · · · axT −2 .3. we can use the solution to Problem 1 to score this word against λ0 and also λ1 to determine whether it is more likely “no”. X | λ) = and P (O | X. since it requires about 2T N T multiplications. . π) be a given model and let O = (O0 . . this direct computation is generally infeasible. We can use the solution to Problem 3 to train an HMM. Then given an unknown spoken word. X | λ) = P (O | X.x1 bx1 (O1 ) · · · axT −2 . We want to find P (O | λ). X | λ) P (O | X.4 Discussion Consider speech recognition—which happens to be one of the best-known applications of HMMs. . However.x1 ax1 . we don’t need to solve Problem 2. 4 4. .1 The three solutions Solution to Problem 1 Let λ = (A.

. . For t = 0. Ot . . . as opposed to more than 2T N T for the na¨ approach. T − 1 and i = 0. 1. . For t = 1. for i = 0. define βt (i) = P (Ot+1 . Ot+2 . . ıve 4. N − 1.2 Solution to Problem 2 Given the model λ = (A. . . . for i = 0. . . In contrast. Let α0 (i) = πi bi (O0 ). . OT −1 | xt = qi . N − 1. Let βT −1 (i) = 1. N − 1 compute N −1 βt (i) = j=0 aij bj (Ot+1 )βt+1 (j). . . xt = qi | λ). . N − 1. . . For t = T − 2. First. . . . Then from (8) it is clear that αt−1 (j)aji  bi (Ot ) N −1 P (O | λ) = i=0 αT −1 (i). our goal is to find the most likely state sequence. or α-pass. (8) Then αt (i) is the probability of the partial observation sequence up to time t. . a dynamic program finds the highest scoring overall path. 2. 7 . For HMMs we maximize the expected number of correct states. . these solutions are not necessarily the same. Then the βt (i) can be computed recursively as 1. . . . . 1. . 0 and i = 0. . B. O1 . 2. T − 1 and i = 0. The key result is that the αt (i) can be computed recursively as 1. T − 1. . there are different possible interpretations of “most likely”. 1. . . π) and a sequence of observations O. except that it starts at the end and works back toward the beginning. . define αt (i) = P (O0 . . N − 1 2. 1. . . the so-called forward algorithm. 1. The α-pass computation requires N 2 T multiplications. T −1 and i = 0. . . 1. As we have seen. . . . 1. we define the backward algorithm. For t = 0. This is analogous to the α-pass discussed above. where the underlying Markov process in state qi at time t. is used. or β-pass.To find P (O | λ). . 1. . N − 1. . . . . λ). compute  N −1 j=0  αt (i) =  3. . As mentioned above. .

A and B as γt (i.For t = 0.3 Solution to Problem 3 Here we want to adjust the model parameters to best fit the observations. 1. 1. . define “di-gammas” as γt (i. . P (O | λ) The γt (i) and γt (i. For t = 0. For i = 0. . j) (or di-gamma) are related by N −1 γt (i) = j=0 γt (i. j ∈ {0. 1. B. The fact that we can re-estimate the model itself is one of the more amazing aspects of HMMs. . (10) 8 . π) can be reestimated as 1. The sizes of the matrices (N and M ) are fixed but the elements of A. let πi = γ0 (i) 2. . . . . . j) = αt (i)aij bj (Ot+1 )βt+1 (j) . For i = 0. . j). . B and π are free. j) t=0 γt (i) . xt+1 = qj | O. . P (O | λ) Recall that the denominator P (O | λ) is obtained by summing αT −1 (i) over i. . 1. . . Then γt (i. T − 2 and i = 0. αt (i)βt (i) γt (i) = . 1. N − 1. 1. 4. Given the γ and di-gamma we verify below that the model λ = (A. j) is the probability of being in state qi at time t and transiting to state qj at time t + 1. . N − 1. . . . λ). j) = P (xt = qi . From the definition of γt (i) it follows that the most likely state at time t is the state qi for which γt (i) is maximum—where the maximum is taken over the index i. Since αt (i) measures the relevant probability up to time t and βt (i) measures the relevant probability after time t. subject only to the row stochastic condition. compute T −2 T −2 (9) aij = t=0 γt (i. . λ). . The di-gammas can be written in terms of α. N − 1. . 1. define γt (i) = P (xt = qi | O. . N − 1}. . . . β. . T − 2 and i. N − 1 and j = 0. .

.. for i = 0. compute δt (i) = j∈{0. . In fact. . A and B must be row stochastic.. which is the desired value of bj (k). 2. Initialize. B. B. Re-estimate the model λ = (A. we make a brief detour to show the relationship between dynamic programming (DP) and HMMs. .1. . j) and γt (i). N − 1 and k = 0.. which is the desired value of aij . . compute T −2 bj (k) = t∈{0. it might be desirable to stop if P (O | λ) does not increase by at least some predetermined threshold and/or to set a maximum number of iterations. since exactly uniform values result in a local maximum from which the model cannot climb. π). . we initialize λ = (A. . a DP can be viewed as an α-pass where “sum” is replaced by “max”. . If P (O | λ) increases.T −2} Ot =k γt (j) t=0 γt (j) . goto 2. 5 Dynamic programming Before completing our discussion of the elementary aspects of HMMs.. M − 1. More precisely. The numerator of the re-estimated bj (k) is the expected number of times the model is in state qj with observation k.N −1} max [δt−1 (j)aji bi (Ot )] 9 . the dynamic programming algorithm can be stated as 1. 1. 1... given that the model is in state qj . . . (11) The numerator of the re-estimated aij can be seen to give the expected number of transitions from state qi to state qj . π. Then the ratio is the probability of transiting from state qi to state qj .1. for π. while the denominator is the expected number of transitions from qi to any state. 2. It’s critical that A. . . . N − 1. A and B as above. N − 1. π). B. B and π be randomized. 3. Of course. First. while the denominator is the expected number of times the model is in state qj . λ = (A. if no reasonable guess is available. . . Re-estimation is an iterative process. γt (i. βt (i).3. 1. Let δ0 (i) = πi bi (O0 ).. Compute αt (i). . 4. The ratio is the probability of observing symbol k. For t = 1. As always. . 2. . The process can be summarized as 1. . T − 1 and i = 0. we choose random values such that πi ≈ 1/N and aij ≈ 1/N and bj (k) ≈ 1/M . π) with a best guess or. 1. For j = 0..

(12) Be sure to note that (12) only gives the optimal probability.06(0. since we compute products of probabilities.0168 0. Consequently. N − 1.2) = 0. The underflow-resistant DP algorithm is ˆ 1. we construct the the diagram in Figure 2 one “level” at a time.4)(0. .06(0.002822 which occurs at the final state H.4) = 0.1.0336 and hence the best (most probable) path of length two ending with H is CH while the best path of length two ending with C is CC.0448 0. N − 1. Note that at each stage. Underflow is a concern with a dynamic programming problem of this form. underflow is easily avoided by simply taking logarithms. . . .N −1} max [δT −1 (j)]. 1. 1. We can use the arrows to trace back from H to find the optimal path CCCH. . . consider the example of Section 1. Let δ0 (i) = log[πi (O0 )].7)(0.6(0. .N −1} max ˆ δt−1 (j) + log[aji ] + log[bi (Ot )] ..4(0. .At each successive t. not the optimal path itself.1. This is the key to the efficiency of the DP algorithm.7) = 0. the DP determines the probability of the best path ending at each of the states i = 0. the maximum final probability is 0.0336 C . the DP procedure can be used to recover the optimal path by tracing back from the highest-scoring final state. .003136 . 1. compute ˆ δt (i) = j∈{0. T − 1 and i = 0. N − 1. . The probabilities of each path of length two are P (HH) P (HC) P (CH) P (CC) = = = = 0. For example.. for i = 0. the dynamic programming algorithm only needs to maintain the highest-scoring paths at each possible state—not a list of all possible paths.4) = 0.28.. 10 ... The initial probabilites are P (H) = π0 b0 (0) = 0. 2.28 . . 2.014112 . By keeping track of each preceding state. .06 .28(0.06 and P (T ) = π1 b1 (0) = 0. Fortunately. .. . Continuing.28(0. . . For t = 1.0448  H .000847 Figure 2: Dynamic programming In Figure 2.0036 0. where each arrow points to the preceding element in the optimal path up to that particular state..002822 H H    =  C H    =  C C .2) = 0.1) = 0. .3)(0..6)(0. the probability of the best overall path is j∈{0.

For i = 0. The basic recurrence is N −1 αt (i) = j=0 αt−1 (j)aji bi (Ot ). . ˜ j=0 ˜ finally. . 1. . . α0 (i) = c0 α0 (i). Then let c0 = 1/ N −1 α0 (j) and. It seems sensible to normalize each αt (i) by dividing by the sum (over j) of αt (j). we must verify that the re-estimation formulae hold. for example. 3. Of course. 1. . . 1.N −1} max ˆ [δT −1 (j)]. . Suppose that ˆ αt (i) = c0 c1 · · · ct αt (i). First. that αt (i) tends to 0 exponentially as T increases. . . . compute αt (i) = ct αt (i). 1. .. . . ˆ ˜ Clearly. The solution to this underflow problem is to scale the numbers. . . Then for each t = 1. α0 (i) = c0 α0 (i) for i = 0. Therefore. let α0 (i) = α0 (i) for i = 0.. . any attempt to implement the formulae as given above will inevitably result in underflow. N − 1. For i = 0. . It is easy to see. 1. N − 1. care must be taken to insure that. the re-estimation formulae remain valid. compute N −1 αt (i) = ˜ j=0 αt−1 (j)aji bi (Ot ). ˆ 2. 2.In this case. For t = 0. N − 1. for example. . additional bookkeeping is still required in order find the optimal path. . 6 HMM Scaling The three HMM solutions in Section 4 all require computations involving products of probabilities. ˆ (13) 11 . N − 1. the optimal score is j∈{0. ..1. consider the computation of αt (i). T − 1 do the ˆ ˜ following. However. However. Let ct = N −1 1 αt (j) ˜ j=0 ..

so that βt (i) = ct βt (i). cj j=0 To avoid underflow. j) and γt (i) using the formulae of the previous section ˆ with αt (i) and βt (i) in place of αt (i) and βt (i). N −1 αT −1 (j) = 1. by induction. ˆ j=0 Also. We then compute γt (i. respectively. ˆ As a consequence of (14). for all t. These values are then used ˆ to re-estimate π. we instead compute T −1 log[P (O | λ)] = − j=0 log cj . From (13) and the definitions of α and α it follows that ˜ ˆ αt (i) = ˆ αt (i) N −1 (14) αt (j) j=0 and hence αt (i) are the desired scaled values of αt (i) for all t. from (13) we have N −1 N −1 αT −1 (j) = c0 c1 · · · cT −1 ˆ j=0 j=0 αT −1 (j) = c0 c1 · · · cT −1 P (O | λ). it is an easy exercise to show that the re-estimated π and A and B 12 . namely ct . (15) ˆ The same scale factor is used for βt (i) as was used for αt (i). By writing the original re-estimation formulae (9) and (10) and (11) directly in terms of αt (i) and βt (i).Then αt+1 (i) = ct+1 αt+1 (i) ˆ ˜ N −1 = ct+1 j=0 αt (j)aji bi (Ot+1 ) ˆ N −1 = c0 c1 · · · ct ct+1 j=0 αt (j)aji bi (Ot+1 ) = c0 c1 · · · ct+1 αt+1 (i) and hence (13) holds. A and B. Combining these results gives P (O | λ) = 1 T −1 .

otherwise let πi ≈ 1/N and aij ≈ 1/N and bj (k) ≈ 1/M .ˆ are exact when αt (i) and βt (i) are used in place of αt (i) and βt (i). (15) can be used to verify that P (O | λ) is increasing at each iteration. where π is 1 × N . 2. 1. we have no need for the actual value of P (O | λ). Fortunately. Let maxIters = maximum number of re-estimation iterations iters = 0 oldLogProb = −∞. O1 . P (O | λ) ˆ isn’t required in the re-estimation formulae. If known. The values N and M are fixed and the T observations O = (O0 . since in each case it cancels in the numerator and denominator. Initialization: Select initial values for the matrices A. and all three matrices are row-stochastic. . Therefore. 7 Putting it all together Here we give complete pseudo-code for solving Problem 3. . including scaling. Furthermore. This pseudocode also provides everything needed to solve Problems 1 and 2. . Be sure that each row sums to 1 and the elements of each matrix are not uniform. The α-pass // compute α0 (i) c0 = 0 for i = 0 to N − 1 α0 (i) = π(i)bi (O0 ) c0 = c0 + α0 (i) next i // scale the α0 (i) c0 = 1/c0 13 . B and π. while A = {aij } is N × N and B = {bj (k)} is N × M . the calculation of which would inevitably result in underflow. . use reasonable approximations for the matrix values. OT −1 ) are assumed known.

The β-pass // Let βT −1 (i) = 1 scaled by cT −1 for i = 0 to N − 1 βT −1 (i) = cT −1 next i // β-pass for t = T − 2 to 0 by − 1 for i = 0 to N − 1 βt (i) = 0 for j = 0 to N − 1 βt (i) = βt (i) + aij bj (Ot+1 )βT +1 (j) next j // scale βt (i) with same scale factor as αt (i) βt (i) = ct βt (i) next i 14 .for i = 0 to N − 1 α0 (i) = c0 α0 (i) next i // compute αt (i) for t = 1 to T − 1 ct = 0 for i = 0 to N − 1 αt (i) = 0 for j = 0 to N − 1 αt (i) = αt (i) + αt−1 (j)aji next j αt (i) = αt (i)bi (Ot ) ct = ct + αt (i) next i // scale αt (i) ct = 1/ct for i = 0 to N − 1 αt (i) = ct αt (i) next i next t 3.

Re-estimate A.next t 4. j) = (αt (i)aij bj (Ot+1 )βt+1 (j))/denom γt (i) = γt (i) + γt (i. j) denom = denom + γt (i) next t aij = numer/denom next j next i 15 . j) and γt (i) for t = 0 to T − 2 denom = 0 for i = 0 to N − 1 for j = 0 to N − 1 denom = denom + αt (i)aij bj (Ot+1 )βt+1 (j) next j next i for i = 0 to N − 1 γt (i) = 0 for j = 0 to N − 1 γt (i. Compute γt (i. j) next j next i next t 5. B and π // re-estimate π for i = 0 to N − 1 πi = γ0 (i) next i // re-estimate A for i = 0 to N − 1 for j = 0 to N − 1 numer = 0 denom = 0 for t = 0 to T − 2 numer = numer + γt (i.

. that is the question. 16 . .// re-estimate B for i = 0 to N − 1 for j = 0 to M − 1 numer = 0 denom = 0 for t = 0 to T − 2 if(Ot == j) then numer = numer + γt (i) end if denom = denom + γt (i) next t bi (j) = numer/denom next j next i 6. A. Compute log[P (O | λ)] logProb = 0 for i = 0 to T − 1 logProb = logProb + log(ci ) next i logProb = −logProb 7. To iterate or not to iterate. This application nicely illustrates the strength of HMMs and has the additional advantage that it requires no background in any specialized field such as speech processing. B) end if 8 A not-so-simple example In this section we present a classic application of Hidden Markov Models due to Cave and Neuwirth [2]. iters = iters + 1 if (iters < maxIters and logProb > oldLogProb) then oldLogProb = logProb goto 2 else output λ = (π.

using the first T = 50. After the initial iteration. where the state transition probabilities of the A matrix and the observation probabilities—the B matrix—are unknown.000 words. After 100 iterations. etc. and convert all letters to lower case. Marvin must solve Problem 3 of Section 7.71571 0.28.51656 0. First. log[P (O | λ)] = −137305. Marvin. but no knowledge of English. This defines an HMM with N = 2 and M = 27. π) has converged to π= and A= 0. The precise values used were π = [ 0. This leaves 26 distinct letters and word space. To find the most probable A and B matrices.. A reasonable question he might ask is whether the characters can be partitioned into sets so that the characters in each set are “different” in some statistically significant way. He could then test the hypothesis that there is an underlying Markov process (of order one) with two states.00000 with the transpose of B appearing in the last two columns of Figure 3. the B matrix tells us that one hidden state contains 17 .51316 0.29 and after 100 iterations. Each element of B was initialized to approximately 1/27.28429 0. for a total of 27 symbols. λ)] = −165097. The most interesting part of this result is the B matrix. This shows that the model has been improved significantly.25596 0. which totals about 1. 000 observations (letters— converted to lower case—and word spaces) from the “Brown Corpus” [3]. B. For each of these two hidden states. while the the observations are the series of characters found in the text. the transpose of B) appear in the second and third columns of Figure 3. remove all punctuation. we have log[P (O |. The precise values in the initial B matrix (actually.74404 0.52532 0. Marvin might consider attempting the following. such as the “Brown Corpus” [3]. he assume that the 27 symbols are observed according to fixed probability distributions. the model λ = (A. We programmed this experiment.00000 1. would like to determine some basic properties of this mysterious writing system. We initialized each element of π and A randomly to approximately 1/2.000. numbers. Without having made any assumption about the two hidden states. who has a working knowledge of HMMs.48684 ] and A= 0.48344 .Suppose Marvin the Martian obtains a large body of English text.47468 0.

thanks to HMMs.03955 0.00040 0.00703 0.04062 0.01621 0.03397 Final 0. Of course.03909 0.13845 0.04048 0.03816 0. who has no other knowledge of the language.00000 0.03490 0.03909 0.03443 0.03455 0.03875 0.00000 0.03595 0. Cave and Neuwirth [2] obtain further interesting results by allowing more than two hidden states. word-space is more like a vowel.04062 0.03735 0.03676 0.03955 0.21404 0.13156 0.00365 0.06937 0.00182 0.03735 0.03909 0.00110 0.00000 0. In fact.00000 0.03537 0. anyone familiar with English would not be too surprised that there is a clear distinction between vowels and consonants.02311 0.03537 0.03922 0.00000 0.04062 0.03408 0.03909 0.07278 0.00000 0.03408 0.00075 0.02303 0.03816 0.11042 0.00000 0.03537 0.03816 0.03595 0.00000 0. And.03548 0.04508 0.00049 0.03889 0.03397 0.33211 0.04048 0.00000 0.00000 0.02724 0.10225 0.00019 0.04062 0.03688 0.03828 0.03408 0.03559 0.03583 0.00000 0.03537 0.12275 0.00062 0. 18 .03723 0.03723 0.03674 0.03968 0. But the HMM result show us that this distinction is a statistically significant feature inherent in the language.00153 0.03537 0.01298 Figure 3: Initial and final B transpose the vowels while the other hidden state contains the consonants.05614 0.11461 0.01102 0.00000 0.03408 0.03641 0.14392 0.03735 0.00000 0.00000 0.03630 0.a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z space Initial 0.02587 0.03688 0. Curiously.03922 0. this could easily be deduced by Marvin the Martian.03548 0.07231 0.03408 0. they are able to obtain and sensibly interpret the results for models with up to 12 hidden states.03769 0.00066 0.00000 0.00081 0.03397 0.00000 0.03782 0.03455 0.00000 0.00447 0. while y is not even sometimes a vowel.

b. an HMM where the underlying Markov process is of order two. For an HMM of order two. ˜ a. substitute α and β for α and β. 6. Consider an HMM where for each t the state transition matrix is time dependent. scale each βt (i) by dt = 1 N −1 j=0 ˜ βt (j) ˜ where the definition of β is similar to that of α. Write an HMM program to solve the English language problem discussed in Section 8 with a. Give pseudo-code to solve Problem 1. a. ˆ respectively. Write the re-estimation formulae (9). a. In the re-estimation formulae obtained in Exercise 1. 3. ˆ 2. b. that is. Explain your results. Then for each t. Explain your results. For such an HMM. French. Instead of using ct to scale the βt (i). 5. 4. b. Write log[P (O | λ)] in terms of ct and dt . ˆ b. c. Using the scaling factors ct and dt show that the re-estimation formulae obtained ˆ in Exercise 1 are exact with α and β in place of α and β. there is an N × N row-stochastic At = {at } that is used in place of A ij in the HMM computations. Four hidden states. (10) and (11) directly in terms of α and β.9 Exercises 1. Give pseudo-code to solve Problem 3. Consider an HMM of order two. Write an HMM program to solve the problem discussed in Section 8. Then the the state at time t depends on the states at time t−1 and t−2 and a fixed set of probabilities. 7. Give pseudo-code to solve Problem 2. replacing English text with a. Three hidden states. Give pseudo-code to solve Problem 2. 19 . Give pseudo-code to solve Problem 1. and show that the resulting re-estimation formulae are exact.

L. editor. Cave and L. Hidden Markov Models for Speech. Proceedings of the IEEE.sjsu. No.toronto.html for information on Hamptonese. [3] The Brown Corpus of Standard American English.b. http://www. Russian. February 1989. P. 77. Rabiner. D.edu/~gpenn/csc401/a1res. NJ. Vol. see http://www. 8. Ferguson.cs. Perform an HMM analysis similar to that discussed in Section 8. October 1980. Hidden Markov models for English.edu/~cs281b/papers/HMMs%20-%20Rabiner. 2. available for download at http://www.pdf [2] R. R.edu/faculty/stamp/Hampton/hampton.cs. IDA-CRD. Neuwirth. c.html\verb 20 . in J.ucsb.cs.∗ Chinese. replacing English with “Hamptonese”. A tutorial on hidden Markov models and selected applications in speech recognition. Princeton. References [1] L.