The Transformer architecture has become increasingly popular over the past couple of years, owing to its impressive performance on a number of natural language processing (NLP) tasks. However, it may be argued that the Transformer architecture lacks an explicit hierarchical representation, as all computations occur on word-level representations alone, and therefore, learning structure poses a challenge for Transformer models. In the present work, we introduce hierarchical processing into the Transformer model, taking inspiration from the U-Net architecture, popular in computer vision for its hierarchical view of natural images. We propose a novel architecture that combines ideas from Transformer and U-Net models to incorporate hierarchy at multiple levels of abstraction. We empirically demonstrate that the proposed architecture outperforms the vanilla Transformer and strong baselines in the chit-chat dialogue and machine translation domains.
The encoder-decoder framework has achieved promising process for many sequence generation tasks, such as neural machine translation and text summarization. Such a framework usually generates a sequence token by token from left to right, hence (1) this autoregressive decoding procedure is time-consuming when the output sentence becomes longer, and (2) it lacks the guidance of future context which is crucial to avoid under translation. To alleviate these issues, we propose a synchronous bidirectional sequence generation (SBSG) model which predicts its outputs from both sides to the middle simultaneously. In the SBSG model, we enable the left-to-right (L2R) and right-to-left (R2L) generation to help and interact with each other by leveraging interactive bidirectional attention network. Experiments on neural machine translation (En-De, Ch-En, and En-Ro) and text summarization tasks show that the proposed model significantly speeds up decoding while improving the generation quality compared to the autoregressive Transformer.
Most machine translation systems generate text autoregressively, by sequentially predicting tokens from left to right. We, instead, use a masked language modeling objective to train a model to predict any subset of the target words, conditioned on both the input text and a partially masked target translation. This approach allows for efficient iterative decoding, where we first predict all of the target words non-autoregressively, and then repeatedly mask out and regenerate the subset of words that the model is least confident about. By applying this strategy for a constant number of iterations, our model improves state-of-the-art performance levels for constant-time translation models by over 3 BLEU on average. It is also able to reach 92-95% of the performance of a typical left-to-right transformer model, while decoding significantly faster.
Recent years have seen remarkable progress of text generation in different contexts, such as the most common setting of generating text from scratch, and the emerging paradigm of retrieval-and-rewriting. Text infilling, which fills missing text portions of a sentence or paragraph, is also of numerous use in real life, yet is under-explored. Previous work has focused on restricted settings by either assuming single word per missing portion or limiting to a single missing portion to the end of the text. This paper studies the general task of text infilling, where the input text can have an arbitrary number of portions to be filled, each of which may require an arbitrary unknown number of tokens. We study various approaches for the task, including a self-attention model with segment-aware position encoding and bidirectional context modeling. We create extensive supervised data by masking out text with varying strategies. Experiments show the self-attention model greatly outperforms others, creating a strong baseline for future research.
Pre-training and fine-tuning, e.g., BERT, have achieved great success in language understanding by transferring knowledge from rich-resource pre-training task to the low/zero-resource downstream tasks. Inspired by the success of BERT, we propose MAsked Sequence to Sequence pre-training (MASS) for the encoder-decoder based language generation tasks. MASS adopts the encoder-decoder framework to reconstruct a sentence fragment given the remaining part of the sentence: its encoder takes a sentence with randomly masked fragment (several consecutive tokens) as input, and its decoder tries to predict this masked fragment. In this way, MASS can jointly train the encoder and decoder to develop the capability of representation extraction and language modeling. By further fine-tuning on a variety of zero/low-resource language generation tasks, including neural machine translation, text summarization and conversational response generation (3 tasks and totally 8 datasets), MASS achieves significant improvements over the baselines without pre-training or with other pre-training methods. Specially, we achieve the state-of-the-art accuracy (37.5 in terms of BLEU score) on the unsupervised English-French translation, even beating the early attention-based supervised model.