In this paper, we present Neural Phrase-based Machine Translation (NPMT). Our method explicitly models the phrase structures in output sequences using Sleep-WAke Networks (SWAN), a recently proposed segmentation-based sequence modeling method. To mitigate the monotonic alignment requirement of SWAN, we introduce a new layer to perform (soft) local reordering of input sequences. Different from existing neural machine translation (NMT) approaches, NPMT does not use attention-based decoding mechanisms. Instead, it directly outputs phrases in a sequential order and can decode in linear time. Our experiments show that NPMT achieves superior performances on IWSLT 2014 German-English/English-German and IWSLT 2015 English-Vietnamese machine translation tasks compared with strong NMT baselines. We also observe that our method produces meaningful phrases in output languages.

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GPT-2 and BERT demonstrate the effectiveness of using pre-trained language models (LMs) on various natural language processing tasks. However, LM fine-tuning often suffers from catastrophic forgetting when applied to resource-rich tasks. In this work, we introduce a concerted training framework (\method) that is the key to integrate the pre-trained LMs to neural machine translation (NMT). Our proposed Cnmt consists of three techniques: a) asymptotic distillation to ensure that the NMT model can retain the previous pre-trained knowledge; b) a dynamic switching gate to avoid catastrophic forgetting of pre-trained knowledge; and c) a strategy to adjust the learning paces according to a scheduled policy. Our experiments in machine translation show \method gains of up to 3 BLEU score on the WMT14 English-German language pair which even surpasses the previous state-of-the-art pre-training aided NMT by 1.4 BLEU score. While for the large WMT14 English-French task with 40 millions of sentence-pairs, our base model still significantly improves upon the state-of-the-art Transformer big model by more than 1 BLEU score.

This work investigates the alignment problem in state-of-the-art multi-head attention models based on the transformer architecture. We demonstrate that alignment extraction in transformer models can be improved by augmenting an additional alignment head to the multi-head source-to-target attention component. This is used to compute sharper attention weights. We describe how to use the alignment head to achieve competitive performance. To study the effect of adding the alignment head, we simulate a dictionary-guided translation task, where the user wants to guide translation using pre-defined dictionary entries. Using the proposed approach, we achieve up to $3.8$ % BLEU improvement when using the dictionary, in comparison to $2.4$ % BLEU in the baseline case. We also propose alignment pruning to speed up decoding in alignment-based neural machine translation (ANMT), which speeds up translation by a factor of $1.8$ without loss in translation performance. We carry out experiments on the shared WMT 2016 English$\to$Romanian news task and the BOLT Chinese$\to$English discussion forum task.

Machine translation systems achieve near human-level performance on some languages, yet their effectiveness strongly relies on the availability of large amounts of parallel sentences, which hinders their applicability to the majority of language pairs. This work investigates how to learn to translate when having access to only large monolingual corpora in each language. We propose two model variants, a neural and a phrase-based model. Both versions leverage a careful initialization of the parameters, the denoising effect of language models and automatic generation of parallel data by iterative back-translation. These models are significantly better than methods from the literature, while being simpler and having fewer hyper-parameters. On the widely used WMT'14 English-French and WMT'16 German-English benchmarks, our models respectively obtain 28.1 and 25.2 BLEU points without using a single parallel sentence, outperforming the state of the art by more than 11 BLEU points. On low-resource languages like English-Urdu and English-Romanian, our methods achieve even better results than semi-supervised and supervised approaches leveraging the paucity of available bitexts. Our code for NMT and PBSMT is publicly available.

Neural machine translation (NMT) systems are usually trained on a large amount of bilingual sentence pairs and translate one sentence at a time, ignoring inter-sentence information. This may make the translation of a sentence ambiguous or even inconsistent with the translations of neighboring sentences. In order to handle this issue, we propose an inter-sentence gate model that uses the same encoder to encode two adjacent sentences and controls the amount of information flowing from the preceding sentence to the translation of the current sentence with an inter-sentence gate. In this way, our proposed model can capture the connection between sentences and fuse recency from neighboring sentences into neural machine translation. On several NIST Chinese-English translation tasks, our experiments demonstrate that the proposed inter-sentence gate model achieves substantial improvements over the baseline.

Machine translation systems require semantic knowledge and grammatical understanding. Neural machine translation (NMT) systems often assume this information is captured by an attention mechanism and a decoder that ensures fluency. Recent work has shown that incorporating explicit syntax alleviates the burden of modeling both types of knowledge. However, requiring parses is expensive and does not explore the question of what syntax a model needs during translation. To address both of these issues we introduce a model that simultaneously translates while inducing dependency trees. In this way, we leverage the benefits of structure while investigating what syntax NMT must induce to maximize performance. We show that our dependency trees are 1. language pair dependent and 2. improve translation quality.

The word order between source and target languages significantly influences the translation quality in machine translation. Preordering can effectively address this problem. Previous preordering methods require a manual feature design, making language dependent design costly. In this paper, we propose a preordering method with a recursive neural network that learns features from raw inputs. Experiments show that the proposed method achieves comparable gain in translation quality to the state-of-the-art method but without a manual feature design.

In NMT, words are sometimes dropped from the source or generated repeatedly in the translation. We explore novel strategies to address the coverage problem that change only the attention transformation. Our approach allocates fertilities to source words, used to bound the attention each word can receive. We experiment with various sparse and constrained attention transformations and propose a new one, constrained sparsemax, shown to be differentiable and sparse. Empirical evaluation is provided in three languages pairs.

In neural machine translation, a source sequence of words is encoded into a vector from which a target sequence is generated in the decoding phase. Differently from statistical machine translation, the associations between source words and their possible target counterparts are not explicitly stored. Source and target words are at the two ends of a long information processing procedure, mediated by hidden states at both the source encoding and the target decoding phases. This makes it possible that a source word is incorrectly translated into a target word that is not any of its admissible equivalent counterparts in the target language. In this paper, we seek to somewhat shorten the distance between source and target words in that procedure, and thus strengthen their association, by means of a method we term bridging source and target word embeddings. We experiment with three strategies: (1) a source-side bridging model, where source word embeddings are moved one step closer to the output target sequence; (2) a target-side bridging model, which explores the more relevant source word embeddings for the prediction of the target sequence; and (3) a direct bridging model, which directly connects source and target word embeddings seeking to minimize errors in the translation of ones by the others. Experiments and analysis presented in this paper demonstrate that the proposed bridging models are able to significantly improve quality of both sentence translation, in general, and alignment and translation of individual source words with target words, in particular.

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.

In spite of the recent success of neural machine translation (NMT) in standard benchmarks, the lack of large parallel corpora poses a major practical problem for many language pairs. There have been several proposals to alleviate this issue with, for instance, triangulation and semi-supervised learning techniques, but they still require a strong cross-lingual signal. In this work, we completely remove the need of parallel data and propose a novel method to train an NMT system in a completely unsupervised manner, relying on nothing but monolingual corpora. Our model builds upon the recent work on unsupervised embedding mappings, and consists of a slightly modified attentional encoder-decoder model that can be trained on monolingual corpora alone using a combination of denoising and backtranslation. Despite the simplicity of the approach, our system obtains 15.56 and 10.21 BLEU points in WMT 2014 French-to-English and German-to-English translation. The model can also profit from small parallel corpora, and attains 21.81 and 15.24 points when combined with 100,000 parallel sentences, respectively. Our implementation is released as an open source project.

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