Machine translation systems are vulnerable to domain mismatch, especially in a low-resource scenario. Out-of-domain translations are often of poor quality and prone to hallucinations, due to exposure bias and the decoder acting as a language model. We adopt two approaches to alleviate this problem: lexical shortlisting restricted by IBM statistical alignments, and hypothesis re-ranking based on similarity. The methods are computationally cheap, widely known, but not extensively experimented on domain adaptation. We demonstrate success on low-resource out-of-domain test sets, however, the methods are ineffective when there is sufficient data or too great domain mismatch. This is due to both the IBM model losing its advantage over the implicitly learned neural alignment, and issues with subword segmentation of out-of-domain words.
The development of deep learning techniques has allowed Neural Machine Translation (NMT) models to become extremely powerful, given sufficient training data and training time. However, systems struggle when translating text from a new domain with a distinct style or vocabulary. Tuning on a representative training corpus allows good in-domain translation, but such data-centric approaches can cause over-fitting to new data and `catastrophic forgetting' of previously learned behaviour. We concentrate on more robust approaches to domain adaptation for NMT, particularly the case where a system may need to translate sentences from multiple domains. We divide techniques into those relating to data selection, model architecture, parameter adaptation procedure, and inference procedure. We finally highlight the benefits of domain adaptation and multi-domain adaptation techniques to other lines of NMT research.
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.
Neural machine translation (NMT) is a deep learning based approach for machine translation, which yields the state-of-the-art translation performance in scenarios where large-scale parallel corpora are available. Although the high-quality and domain-specific translation is crucial in the real world, domain-specific corpora are usually scarce or nonexistent, and thus vanilla NMT performs poorly in such scenarios. Domain adaptation that leverages both out-of-domain parallel corpora as well as monolingual corpora for in-domain translation, is very important for domain-specific translation. In this paper, we give a comprehensive survey of the state-of-the-art domain adaptation techniques for NMT.
The process of translation is ambiguous, in that there are typically many valid trans- lations for a given sentence. This gives rise to significant variation in parallel cor- pora, however, most current models of machine translation do not account for this variation, instead treating the prob- lem as a deterministic process. To this end, we present a deep generative model of machine translation which incorporates a chain of latent variables, in order to ac- count for local lexical and syntactic varia- tion in parallel corpora. We provide an in- depth analysis of the pitfalls encountered in variational inference for training deep generative models. Experiments on sev- eral different language pairs demonstrate that the model consistently improves over strong baselines.
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.
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.
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.
Machine translation is a popular test bed for research in neural sequence-to-sequence models but despite much recent research, there is still a lack of understanding of these models. Practitioners report performance degradation with large beams, the under-estimation of rare words and a lack of diversity in the final translations. Our study relates some of these issues to the inherent uncertainty of the task, due to the existence of multiple valid translations for a single source sentence, and to the extrinsic uncertainty caused by noisy training data. We propose tools and metrics to assess how uncertainty in the data is captured by the model distribution and how it affects search strategies that generate translations. Our results show that search works remarkably well but that the models tend to spread too much probability mass over the hypothesis space. Next, we propose tools to assess model calibration and show how to easily fix some shortcomings of current models. We release both code and multiple human reference translations for two popular benchmarks.
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.