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Dual Transfer Learning for Neural Machine Translation with Marginal Distribution Regularization

AAAI Conferences

Neural machine translation (NMT) heavily relies on parallel bilingual data for training. Since large-scale, high-quality parallel corpora are usually costly to collect, it is appealing to exploit monolingual corpora to improve NMT. Inspired by the law of total probability, which connects the probability of a given target-side monolingual sentence to the conditional probability of translating from a source sentence to the target one, we propose to explicitly exploit this connection to learn from and regularize the training of NMT models using monolingual data. The key technical challenge of this approach is that there are exponentially many source sentences for a target monolingual sentence while computing the sum of the conditional probability given each possible source sentence. We address this challenge by leveraging the dual translation model (target-to-source translation) to sample several mostly likely source-side sentences and avoid enumerating all possible candidate source sentences. That is, we transfer the knowledge contained in the dual model to boost the training of the primal model (source-to-target translation), and we call such an approach dual transfer learning. Experiment results on English-French and German-English tasks demonstrate that dual transfer learning achieves significant improvement over several strong baselines and obtains new state-of-the-art results.


Back-translation for Large-Scale Multilingual Machine Translation

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

This paper illustrates our approach to the shared task on large-scale multilingual machine translation in the sixth conference on machine translation (WMT-21). This work aims to build a single multilingual translation system with a hypothesis that a universal cross-language representation leads to better multilingual translation performance. We extend the exploration of different back-translation methods from bilingual translation to multilingual translation. Better performance is obtained by the constrained sampling method, which is different from the finding of the bilingual translation. Besides, we also explore the effect of vocabularies and the amount of synthetic data. Surprisingly, the smaller size of vocabularies perform better, and the extensive monolingual English data offers a modest improvement. We submitted to both the small tasks and achieved the second place.


Neural Machine Translation with Monolingual Translation Memory

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

Prior work has proved that Translation memory (TM) can boost the performance of Neural Machine Translation (NMT). In contrast to existing work that uses bilingual corpus as TM and employs source-side similarity search for memory retrieval, we propose a new framework that uses monolingual memory and performs learnable memory retrieval in a cross-lingual manner. Our framework has unique advantages. First, the cross-lingual memory retriever allows abundant monolingual data to be TM. Second, the memory retriever and NMT model can be jointly optimized for the ultimate translation goal. Experiments show that the proposed method obtains substantial improvements. Remarkably, it even outperforms strong TM-augmented NMT baselines using bilingual TM. Owning to the ability to leverage monolingual data, our model also demonstrates effectiveness in low-resource and domain adaptation scenarios.


Reciprocal Supervised Learning Improves Neural Machine Translation

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

Despite the recent success on image classification, self-training has only achieved limited gains on structured prediction tasks such as neural machine translation (NMT). This is mainly due to the compositionality of the target space, where the far-away prediction hypotheses lead to the notorious reinforced mistake problem. In this paper, we revisit the utilization of multiple diverse models and present a simple yet effective approach named Reciprocal-Supervised Learning (RSL). RSL first exploits individual models to generate pseudo parallel data, and then cooperatively trains each model on the combined synthetic corpus. RSL leverages the fact that different parameterized models have different inductive biases, and better predictions can be made by jointly exploiting the agreement among each other. Unlike the previous knowledge distillation methods built upon a much stronger teacher, RSL is capable of boosting the accuracy of one model by introducing other comparable or even weaker models. RSL can also be viewed as a more efficient alternative to ensemble. Extensive experiments demonstrate the superior performance of RSL on several benchmarks with significant margins.


Unsupervised Statistical Machine Translation

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

While modern machine translation has relied on large parallel corpora, a recent line of work has managed to train Neural Machine Translation (NMT) systems from monolingual corpora only (Artetxe et al., 2018c; Lample et al., 2018). Despite the potential of this approach for low-resource settings, existing systems are far behind their supervised counterparts, limiting their practical interest. In this paper, we propose an alternative approach based on phrase-based Statistical Machine Translation (SMT) that significantly closes the gap with supervised systems. Our method profits from the modular architecture of SMT: we first induce a phrase table from monolingual corpora through cross-lingual embedding mappings, combine it with an n-gram language model, and fine-tune hyperparameters through an unsupervised MERT variant. In addition, iterative backtranslation improves results further, yielding, for instance, 14.08 and 26.22 BLEU points in WMT 2014 English-German and English-French, respectively, an improvement of more than 7-10 BLEU points over previous unsupervised systems, and closing the gap with supervised SMT (Moses trained on Europarl) down to 2-5 BLEU points. Our implementation is available at https://github.com/artetxem/monoses