Using pre-trained word embeddings as input layer is a common practice in many natural language processing (NLP) tasks, but it is largely neglected for neural machine translation (NMT). In this paper, we conducted a systematic analysis on the effect of using pre-trained source-side monolingual word embedding in NMT. We compared several strategies, such as fixing or updating the embeddings during NMT training on varying amounts of data, and we also proposed a novel strategy called dual-embedding that blends the fixing and updating strategies. Our results suggest that pre-trained embeddings can be helpful if properly incorporated into NMT, especially when parallel data is limited or additional in-domain monolingual data is readily available.
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.
Neural machine translation (NMT) has a drawback in that can generate only high-frequency words owing to the computational costs of the softmax function in the output layer. In Japanese-English NMT, Japanese predicate conjugation causes an increase in vocabulary size. For example, one verb can have as many as 19 surface varieties. In this research, we focus on predicate conjugation for compressing the vocabulary size in Japanese. The vocabulary list is filled with the various forms of verbs. We propose methods using predicate conjugation information without discarding linguistic information. The proposed methods can generate low-frequency words and deal with unknown words. Two methods were considered to introduce conjugation information: the first considers it as a token (conjugation token) and the second considers it as an embedded vector (conjugation feature). The results using these methods demonstrate that the vocabulary size can be compressed by approximately 86.1% (Tanaka corpus) and the NMT models can output the words not in the training data set. Furthermore, BLEU scores improved by 0.91 points in Japanese-to-English translation, and 0.32 points in English-to-Japanese translation with ASPEC.
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.
The performance of Neural Machine Translation (NMT) systems often suffers in low-resource scenarios where sufficiently large-scale parallel corpora cannot be obtained. Pre-trained word embeddings have proven to be invaluable for improving performance in natural language analysis tasks, which often suffer from paucity of data. However, their utility for NMT has not been extensively explored. In this work, we perform five sets of experiments that analyze when we can expect pre-trained word embeddings to help in NMT tasks. We show that such embeddings can be surprisingly effective in some cases -- providing gains of up to 20 BLEU points in the most favorable setting.
We present the first real-world application of methods for improving neural machine translation (NMT) with human reinforcement, based on explicit and implicit user feedback collected on the eBay e-commerce platform. Previous work has been confined to simulation experiments, whereas in this paper we work with real logged feedback for offline bandit learning of NMT parameters. We conduct a thorough analysis of the available explicit user judgments---five-star ratings of translation quality---and show that they are not reliable enough to yield significant improvements in bandit learning. In contrast, we successfully utilize implicit task-based feedback collected in a cross-lingual search task to improve task-specific and machine translation quality metrics.
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.