Phillip Yoon develops better speech recognition method

Monday, Oct 21, 2019
by Sharon Adarlo

Phillip YoonPhillip Yoon, 21, Class of 2020


Yoon is studying for a bachelor’s degree in computer science while pursuing requirements for the Undergraduate Certificate Program in Statistics and Machine Learning at the Center for Statistics and Machine Learning (CSML), along with two certificate programs in engineering and management systems, and cognitive science.


When Yoon first arrived at Princeton, he was a math major, but he became hooked on computer science after taking a course on algorithms and data structures.

“I really like the autonomy of building a program by myself. Being able to build something that people will use on a daily basis is pretty cool,” he said.

He’s since taken his computer science skills to summer internship stints at Korea Institute of Science and Technology, Akamai Technologies and Facebook. At the latter, Yoon built an Instagram ads experiment manager, which allows engineers to develop and track the efficacy of experiments on Instagram ads.

As for data science and his enrollment in CSML’s certificate program, Yoon became interested in taking classes due to his exposure to YouTube and Spotify. 

“It struck me how accurate YouTube was in recommending videos to watch. I wanted to see how that works,” he said.

For his independent CSML project, which he completed last fall, he developed a method to improve speech recognition – meaning that if Yoon’s program confronts a new audio recording, it can predict the identity of the person speaking more accurately than previous models. This project won the best poster award among all independent work research projects for academic year 2018-2019.

In a slightly similar vein, he developed SpotiFeel, a program that analyzes the emotion of songs via natural language processing. It’s basically a program that creates a data visualization chart of songs – a sentiment analysis program, he said. 

When he graduates, Yoon plans to work in the tech industry as a software engineer. In the long term, Yoon said he is interested in getting involved in teaching and education targeting underserved communities who may not have access to computer science and engineering-related schooling. 

Extracurricular activities:

Yoon has been a grader for computer science courses on campus. In addition, he has been a teacher assistant and grader for a San Diego educational online company called Art of Problem Solving. He also taught English public speaking to North Korean defectors for seven months.

Yoon is a skilled piano player and is part of the Princeton Pianists Ensemble. He is also a member of the student group, Six14 Christian Dance Company, which uses various dance styles for religious worship.

For fun:

Yoon likes to play jazz piano, go to the gym, listen to music, walk around campus and drink boba with his friends.