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A survey of cross-lingual embedding models


In past blog posts, we discussed different models, objective functions, and hyperparameter choices that allow us to learn accurate word embeddings. However, these models are generally restricted to capture representations of words in the language they were trained on. The availability of resources, training data, and benchmarks in English leads to a disproportionate focus on the English language and a negligence of the plethora of other languages that are spoken around the world. In our globalised society, where national borders increasingly blur, where the Internet gives everyone equal access to information, it is thus imperative that we do not only seek to eliminate bias pertaining to gender or race inherent in our representations, but also aim to address our bias towards language. To remedy this and level the linguistic playing field, we would like to leverage our existing knowledge in English to equip our models with the capability to process other languages. Perfect machine translation (MT) would allow this. However, we do not need to actually translate examples, as long as we are able to project examples into a common subspace such as the one in Figure 1. Ultimately, our goal is to learn a shared embedding space between words in all languages. Equipped with such a vector space, we are able to train our models on data in any language. By projecting examples available in one language into this space, our model simultaneously obtains the capability to perform predictions in all other languages (we are glossing over some considerations here; for these, refer to this section). This is the promise of cross-lingual embeddings. Over the course of this blog post, I will give an overview of models and algorithms that have been used to come closer to this elusive goal of capturing the relations between words in multiple languages in a common embedding space. Note: While neural MT approaches implicitly learn a shared cross-lingual embedding space by optimizing for the MT objective, we will focus on models that explicitly learn cross-lingual word representations throughout this blog post. These methods generally do so at a much lower cost than MT and can be considered to be to MT what word embedding models (word2vec, GloVe, etc.) are to language modelling.

On the Limitations of Unsupervised Bilingual Dictionary Induction Machine Learning

Unsupervised machine translation---i.e., not assuming any cross-lingual supervision signal, whether a dictionary, translations, or comparable corpora---seems impossible, but nevertheless, Lample et al. (2018) recently proposed a fully unsupervised machine translation (MT) model. The model relies heavily on an adversarial, unsupervised alignment of word embedding spaces for bilingual dictionary induction (Conneau et al., 2018), which we examine here. Our results identify the limitations of current unsupervised MT: unsupervised bilingual dictionary induction performs much worse on morphologically rich languages that are not dependent marking, when monolingual corpora from different domains or different embedding algorithms are used. We show that a simple trick, exploiting a weak supervision signal from identical words, enables more robust induction, and establish a near-perfect correlation between unsupervised bilingual dictionary induction performance and a previously unexplored graph similarity metric.

Bilingual Distributed Word Representations from Document-Aligned Comparable Data

Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research

We propose a new model for learning bilingual word representations from non-parallel document-aligned data. Following the recent advances in word representation learning, our model learns dense real-valued word vectors, that is, bilingual word embeddings (BWEs). Unlike prior work on inducing BWEs which heavily relied on parallel sentence-aligned corpora and/or readily available translation resources such as dictionaries, the article reveals that BWEs may be learned solely on the basis of document-aligned comparable data without any additional lexical resources nor syntactic information. We present a comparison of our approach with previous state-of-the-art models for learning bilingual word representations from comparable data that rely on the framework of multilingual probabilistic topic modeling (MuPTM), as well as with distributional local context-counting models. We demonstrate the utility of the induced BWEs in two semantic tasks: (1) bilingual lexicon extraction, (2) suggesting word translations in context for polysemous words. Our simple yet effective BWE-based models significantly outperform the MuPTM-based and context-counting representation models from comparable data as well as prior BWE-based models, and acquire the best reported results on both tasks for all three tested language pairs.

Unsupervised Cross-lingual Word Embedding by Multilingual Neural Language Models Artificial Intelligence

We propose an unsupervised method to obtain cross-lingual embeddings without any parallel data or pre-trained word embeddings. The proposed model, which we call multilingual neural language models, takes sentences of multiple languages as an input. The proposed model contains bidirectional LSTMs that perform as forward and backward language models, and these networks are shared among all the languages. The other parameters, i.e. word embeddings and linear transformation between hidden states and outputs, are specific to each language. The shared LSTMs can capture the common sentence structure among all languages. Accordingly, word embeddings of each language are mapped into a common latent space, making it possible to measure the similarity of words across multiple languages. We evaluate the quality of the cross-lingual word embeddings on a word alignment task. Our experiments demonstrate that our model can obtain cross-lingual embeddings of much higher quality than existing unsupervised models when only a small amount of monolingual data (i.e. 50k sentences) are available, or the domains of monolingual data are different across languages.

Learning Bilingual Word Embeddings Using Lexical Definitions Artificial Intelligence

Bilingual word embeddings, which represent lexicons of different languages in a shared embedding space, are essential for supporting semantic and knowledge transfers in a variety of cross-lingual NLP tasks. Existing approaches to training bilingual word embeddings require often require predefined seed lexicons that are expensive to obtain, or parallel sentences that comprise coarse and noisy alignment. In contrast, we propose BilLex that leverages publicly available lexical definitions for bilingual word embedding learning. Without the need of predefined seed lexicons, BilLex comprises a novel word pairing strategy to automatically identify and propagate the precise fine-grained word alignment from lexical definitions. We evaluate BilLex in word-level and sentence-level translation tasks, which seek to find the cross-lingual counterparts of words and sentences respectively. BilLex significantly outperforms previous embedding methods on both tasks.