We propose a design pattern for tackling text ranking problems, dubbed "Expando-Mono-Duo", that has been empirically validated for a number of ad hoc retrieval tasks in different domains. At the core, our design relies on pretrained sequence-to-sequence models within a standard multi-stage ranking architecture. "Expando" refers to the use of document expansion techniques to enrich keyword representations of texts prior to inverted indexing. "Mono" and "Duo" refer to components in a reranking pipeline based on a pointwise model and a pairwise model that rerank initial candidates retrieved using keyword search. We present experimental results from the MS MARCO passage and document ranking tasks, the TREC 2020 Deep Learning Track, and the TREC-COVID challenge that validate our design. In all these tasks, we achieve effectiveness that is at or near the state of the art, in some cases using a zero-shot approach that does not exploit any training data from the target task. To support replicability, implementations of our design pattern are open-sourced in the Pyserini IR toolkit and PyGaggle neural reranking library.
The goal of text ranking is to generate an ordered list of texts retrieved from a corpus in response to a query. Although the most common formulation of text ranking is search, instances of the task can also be found in many natural language processing applications. This survey provides an overview of text ranking with neural network architectures known as transformers, of which BERT is the best-known example. The combination of transformers and self-supervised pretraining has, without exaggeration, revolutionized the fields of natural language processing (NLP), information retrieval (IR), and beyond. In this survey, we provide a synthesis of existing work as a single point of entry for practitioners who wish to gain a better understanding of how to apply transformers to text ranking problems and researchers who wish to pursue work in this area. We cover a wide range of modern techniques, grouped into two high-level categories: transformer models that perform reranking in multi-stage ranking architectures and learned dense representations that attempt to perform ranking directly. There are two themes that pervade our survey: techniques for handling long documents, beyond the typical sentence-by-sentence processing approaches used in NLP, and techniques for addressing the tradeoff between effectiveness (result quality) and efficiency (query latency). Although transformer architectures and pretraining techniques are recent innovations, many aspects of how they are applied to text ranking are relatively well understood and represent mature techniques. However, there remain many open research questions, and thus in addition to laying out the foundations of pretrained transformers for text ranking, this survey also attempts to prognosticate where the field is heading.
The notion of "in-domain data" in NLP is often over-simplistic and vague, as textual data varies in many nuanced linguistic aspects such as topic, style or level of formality. In addition, domain labels are many times unavailable, making it challenging to build domain-specific systems. We show that massive pre-trained language models implicitly learn sentence representations that cluster by domains without supervision -- suggesting a simple data-driven definition of domains in textual data. We harness this property and propose domain data selection methods based on such models, which require only a small set of in-domain monolingual data. We evaluate our data selection methods for neural machine translation across five diverse domains, where they outperform an established approach as measured by both BLEU and by precision and recall of sentence selection with respect to an oracle.
The advent of deep neural networks pre-trained via language modeling tasks has spurred a number of successful applications in natural language processing. This work explores one such popular model, BERT, in the context of document ranking. We propose two variants, called monoBERT and duoBERT, that formulate the ranking problem as pointwise and pairwise classification, respectively. These two models are arranged in a multi-stage ranking architecture to form an end-to-end search system. One major advantage of this design is the ability to trade off quality against latency by controlling the admission of candidates into each pipeline stage, and by doing so, we are able to find operating points that offer a good balance between these two competing metrics. On two large-scale datasets, MS MARCO and TREC CAR, experiments show that our model produces results that are either at or comparable to the state of the art. Ablation studies show the contributions of each component and characterize the latency/quality tradeoff space.
Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (BERT) represents the latest incarnation of pretrained language models which have recently advanced a wide range of natural language processing tasks. In this paper, we showcase how BERT can be usefully applied in text summarization and propose a general framework for both extractive and abstractive models. We introduce a novel document-level encoder based on BERT which is able to express the semantics of a document and obtain representations for its sentences. Our extractive model is built on top of this encoder by stacking several inter-sentence Transformer layers. For abstractive summarization, we propose a new fine-tuning schedule which adopts different optimizers for the encoder and the decoder as a means of alleviating the mismatch between the two (the former is pretrained while the latter is not). We also demonstrate that a two-staged fine-tuning approach can further boost the quality of the generated summaries. Experiments on three datasets show that our model achieves state-of-the-art results across the board in both extractive and abstractive settings. Our code is available at https://github.com/nlpyang/PreSumm
The celebrated Sequence to Sequence learning (Seq2Seq) technique and its numerous variants achieve excellent performance on many tasks. However, many machine learning tasks have inputs naturally represented as graphs; existing Seq2Seq models face a significant challenge in achieving accurate conversion from graph form to the appropriate sequence. To address this challenge, we introduce a novel general end-to-end graph-to-sequence neural encoder-decoder model that maps an input graph to a sequence of vectors and uses an attention-based LSTM method to decode the target sequence from these vectors. Our method first generates the node and graph embeddings using an improved graph-based neural network with a novel aggregation strategy to incorporate edge direction information in the node embeddings. We further introduce an attention mechanism that aligns node embeddings and the decoding sequence to better cope with large graphs. Experimental results on bAbI, Shortest Path, and Natural Language Generation tasks demonstrate that our model achieves state-of-the-art performance and significantly outperforms existing graph neural networks, Seq2Seq, and Tree2Seq models; using the proposed bi-directional node embedding aggregation strategy, the model can converge rapidly to the optimal performance.
Inductive transfer learning has greatly impacted computer vision, but existing approaches in NLP still require task-specific modifications and training from scratch. We propose Universal Language Model Fine-tuning (ULMFiT), an effective transfer learning method that can be applied to any task in NLP, and introduce techniques that are key for fine-tuning a language model. Our method significantly outperforms the state-of-the-art on six text classification tasks, reducing the error by 18-24% on the majority of datasets. Furthermore, with only 100 labeled examples, it matches the performance of training from scratch on 100x more data. We open-source our pretrained models and code.
In this paper, we propose a novel end-to-end neural architecture for ranking candidate answers, that adapts a hierarchical recurrent neural network and a latent topic clustering module. With our proposed model, a text is encoded to a vector representation from an word-level to a chunk-level to effectively capture the entire meaning. In particular, by adapting the hierarchical structure, our model shows very small performance degradations in longer text comprehension while other state-of-the-art recurrent neural network models suffer from it. Additionally, the latent topic clustering module extracts semantic information from target samples. This clustering module is useful for any text related tasks by allowing each data sample to find its nearest topic cluster, thus helping the neural network model analyze the entire data. We evaluate our models on the Ubuntu Dialogue Corpus and consumer electronic domain question answering dataset, which is related to Samsung products. The proposed model shows state-of-the-art results for ranking question-answer pairs.
Person re identification is a challenging retrieval task that requires matching a person's acquired image across non overlapping camera views. In this paper we propose an effective approach that incorporates both the fine and coarse pose information of the person to learn a discriminative embedding. In contrast to the recent direction of explicitly modeling body parts or correcting for misalignment based on these, we show that a rather straightforward inclusion of acquired camera view and/or the detected joint locations into a convolutional neural network helps to learn a very effective representation. To increase retrieval performance, re-ranking techniques based on computed distances have recently gained much attention. We propose a new unsupervised and automatic re-ranking framework that achieves state-of-the-art re-ranking performance. We show that in contrast to the current state-of-the-art re-ranking methods our approach does not require to compute new rank lists for each image pair (e.g., based on reciprocal neighbors) and performs well by using simple direct rank list based comparison or even by just using the already computed euclidean distances between the images. We show that both our learned representation and our re-ranking method achieve state-of-the-art performance on a number of challenging surveillance image and video datasets. The code is available online at: https://github.com/pse-ecn/pose-sensitive-embedding
Monolingual data have been demonstrated to be helpful in improving translation quality of both statistical machine translation (SMT) systems and neural machine translation (NMT) systems, especially in resource-poor or domain adaptation tasks where parallel data are not rich enough. In this paper, we propose a novel approach to better leveraging monolingual data for neural machine translation by jointly learning source-to-target and target-to-source NMT models for a language pair with a joint EM optimization method. The training process starts with two initial NMT models pre-trained on parallel data for each direction, and these two models are iteratively updated by incrementally decreasing translation losses on training data. In each iteration step, both NMT models are first used to translate monolingual data from one language to the other, forming pseudo-training data of the other NMT model. Then two new NMT models are learnt from parallel data together with the pseudo training data. Both NMT models are expected to be improved and better pseudo-training data can be generated in next step. Experiment results on Chinese-English and English-German translation tasks show that our approach can simultaneously improve translation quality of source-to-target and target-to-source models, significantly outperforming strong baseline systems which are enhanced with monolingual data for model training including back-translation.
Transfer learning has revolutionized computer vision, but existing approaches in NLP still require task-specific modifications and training from scratch. We propose Fine-tuned Language Models (FitLaM), an effective transfer learning method that can be applied to any task in NLP, and introduce techniques that are key for fine-tuning a state-of-the-art language model. Our method significantly outperforms the state-of-the-art on five text classification tasks, reducing the error by 18-24% on the majority of datasets. We open-source our pretrained models and code to enable adoption by the community.