Machine translation systems achieve near human-level performance on some languages, yet their effectiveness strongly relies on the availability of large amounts of bitexts, 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 automatic generation of parallel data by backtranslating with a backward model operating in the other direction, and the denoising effect of a language model trained on the target side. These models are significantly better than methods from the literature, while being simpler and having fewer hyper-parameters. On the widely used WMT14 English-French and WMT16 German-English benchmarks, our models respectively obtain 27.1 and 23.6 BLEU points without using a single parallel sentence, outperforming the state of the art by more than 11 BLEU points.
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.
Multi-source translation is an approach to exploit multiple inputs (e.g. in two different languages) to increase translation accuracy. In this paper, we examine approaches for multi-source neural machine translation (NMT) using an incomplete multilingual corpus in which some translations are missing. In practice, many multilingual corpora are not complete due to the difficulty to provide translations in all of the relevant languages (for example, in TED talks, most English talks only have subtitles for a small portion of the languages that TED supports). Existing studies on multi-source translation did not explicitly handle such situations. This study focuses on the use of incomplete multilingual corpora in multi-encoder NMT and mixture of NMT experts and examines a very simple implementation where missing source translations are replaced by a special symbol <NULL>. These methods allow us to use incomplete corpora both at training time and test time. In experiments with real incomplete multilingual corpora of TED Talks, the multi-source NMT with the <NULL> tokens achieved higher translation accuracies measured by BLEU than those by any one-to-one NMT systems.
Sequence to sequence learning models still require several days to reach state of the art performance on large benchmark datasets using a single machine. This paper shows that reduced precision and large batch training can speedup training by nearly 5x on a single 8-GPU machine with careful tuning and implementation. On WMT'14 English-German translation, we match the accuracy of (Vaswani et al 2017) in under 5 hours when training on 8 GPUs and we obtain a new state of the art of 29.3 BLEU after training for 91 minutes on 128 GPUs. We further improve these results to 29.8 BLEU by training on the much larger Paracrawl dataset.
Unsupervised neural machine translation (NMT) is a recently proposed approach for machine translation which aims to train the model without using any labeled data. The models proposed for unsupervised NMT often use only one shared encoder to map the pairs of sentences from different languages to a shared-latent space, which is weak in keeping the unique and internal characteristics of each language, such as the style, terminology, and sentence structure. To address this issue, we introduce an extension by utilizing two independent encoders but sharing some partial weights which are responsible for extracting high-level representations of the input sentences. Besides, two different generative adversarial networks (GANs), namely the local GAN and global GAN, are proposed to enhance the cross-language translation. With this new approach, we achieve significant improvements on English-German, English-French and Chinese-to-English translation tasks.
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.
Machine translation has recently achieved impressive performance thanks to recent advances in deep learning and the availability of large-scale parallel corpora. There have been numerous attempts to extend these successes to low-resource language pairs, yet requiring tens of thousands of parallel sentences. In this work, we take this research direction to the extreme and investigate whether it is possible to learn to translate even without any parallel data. We propose a model that takes sentences from monolingual corpora in two different languages and maps them into the same latent space. By learning to reconstruct in both languages from this shared feature space, the model effectively learns to translate without using any labeled data. We demonstrate our model on two widely used datasets and two language pairs, reporting BLEU scores of 32.8 and 15.1 on the Multi30k and WMT English-French datasets, without using even a single parallel sentence at training time.
Homographs, words with different meanings but the same surface form, have long caused difficulty for machine translation systems, as it is difficult to select the correct translation based on the context. However, with the advent of neural machine translation (NMT) systems, which can theoretically take into account global sentential context, one may hypothesize that this problem has been alleviated. In this paper, we first provide empirical evidence that existing NMT systems in fact still have significant problems in properly translating ambiguous words. We then proceed to describe methods, inspired by the word sense disambiguation literature, that model the context of the input word with context-aware word embeddings that help to differentiate the word sense be- fore feeding it into the encoder. Experiments on three language pairs demonstrate that such models improve the performance of NMT systems both in terms of BLEU score and in the accuracy of translating homographs.
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.
State-of-the-art methods for learning cross-lingual word embeddings have relied on bilingual dictionaries or parallel corpora. Recent studies showed that the need for parallel data supervision can be alleviated with character-level information. While these methods showed encouraging results, they are not on par with their supervised counterparts and are limited to pairs of languages sharing a common alphabet. In this work, we show that we can build a bilingual dictionary between two languages without using any parallel corpora, by aligning monolingual word embedding spaces in an unsupervised way. Without using any character information, our model even outperforms existing supervised methods on cross-lingual tasks for some language pairs. Our experiments demonstrate that our method works very well also for distant language pairs, like English-Russian or English-Chinese. We finally describe experiments on the English-Esperanto low-resource language pair, on which there only exists a limited amount of parallel data, to show the potential impact of our method in fully unsupervised machine translation. Our code, embeddings and dictionaries are publicly available.