Chengyuan Ma


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CL-QR: Cross-Lingual Enhanced Query Reformulation for Multi-lingual Conversational AI Agents
Zhongkai Sun | Zhengyang Zhao | Sixing Lu | Chengyuan Ma | Xiaohu Liu | Xing Fan | Wei Shen | Chenlei Guo
Proceedings of the 2023 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing: Industry Track

The growing popularity of conversational AI agents such as Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri rely on accurate spoken language comprehension. The query reformulation (QR) method, which reformulates defective user queries, has been broadly adopted to mitigate the challenges posed by understanding user’s intent from imperfect spoken recognition result. However, due to the scarcity of non-English QR labels, providing high-quality QR for non-English users still remains a challenge. This work proposes a novel cross-lingual QR framework, CL-QR, to leverage the abundant reformulation resources in English to improve non-English QR performance. The proposed work also proposes a Module-wise Mutually-supervised Feedback learning (MMF) algorithm to enable the continually self-improving of the CL-QR, which alleviates the lack of cross-lingual QR training data and enhances the delivery of high-quality reformulations learned in English for multilingual queries. Both offline evaluation and online A/B testing demonstrates the effectiveness of the proposed method.

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Improving Contextual Query Rewrite for Conversational AI Agents through User-preference Feedback Learning
Zhongkai Sun | Yingxue Zhou | Jie Hao | Xing Fan | Yanbin Lu | Chengyuan Ma | Wei Shen | Chenlei Guo
Proceedings of the 2023 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing: Industry Track

Contextual query rewriting (CQR) is a crucial component in Conversational AI agents, leveraging the contextual information from previous user-agent conversations to improve the comprehension of current user intent. However, traditional CQR methods often concentrate on supervised fine-tuning only, neglecting the opportunities to learn from user feedback to align with user preferences. Inspired by recent advances in learning from human feedback (LHF), this paper proposes a novel Preference Aligned Contextual Query Rewriting (PA-CQR) framework to enhance the CQR model’s capability in generating user preference-aligned rewrites. This paper also investigates the efficacy of various state-of-the-art feedback learning algorithms on the CQR task, and proposes a novel Dynamic Direct Preference Optimization (Dynamic DPO) algorithm to better adapt the DPO algorithm to large-scale CQR training. Experiments on large-scale real-world CQR data set demonstrate the superiority of the proposed PA-CQR framework and the Dynamic DPO.

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KEPLET: Knowledge-Enhanced Pretrained Language Model with Topic Entity Awareness
Yichuan Li | Jialong Han | Kyumin Lee | Chengyuan Ma | Benjamin Yao | Xiaohu Liu
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2023

In recent years, Pre-trained Language Models (PLMs) have shown their superiority by pre-training on unstructured text corpus and then fine-tuning on downstream tasks. On entity-rich textual resources like Wikipedia, Knowledge-Enhanced PLMs (KEPLMs) incorporate the interactions between tokens and mentioned entities in pre-training, and are thus more effective on entity-centric tasks such as entity linking and relation classification. Although exploiting Wikipedia’s rich structures to some extent, conventional KEPLMs still neglect a unique layout of the corpus where each Wikipedia page is around a topic entity (identified by the page URL and shown in the page title). In this paper, we demonstrate that KEPLMs without incorporating the topic entities will lead to insufficient entity interaction and biased (relation) word semantics. We thus propose KEPLET, a novel Knowledge-Énhanced Pre-trained LanguagE model with Topic entity awareness. In an end-to-end manner, KEPLET identifies where to add the topic entity’s information in a Wikipedia sentence, fuses such information into token and mentioned entities representations, and supervises the network learning, through which it takes topic entities back into consideration. Experiments demonstrated the generality and superiority of KEPLET which was applied to two representative KEPLMs, achieving significant improvements on four entity-centric tasks.


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A Vocabulary-Free Multilingual Neural Tokenizer for End-to-End Task Learning
Md Mofijul Islam | Gustavo Aguilar | Pragaash Ponnusamy | Clint Solomon Mathialagan | Chengyuan Ma | Chenlei Guo
Proceedings of the 7th Workshop on Representation Learning for NLP

Subword tokenization is a commonly used input pre-processing step in most recent NLP models. However, it limits the models’ ability to leverage end-to-end task learning. Its frequency-based vocabulary creation compromises tokenization in low-resource languages, leading models to produce suboptimal representations. Additionally, the dependency on a fixed vocabulary limits the subword models’ adaptability across languages and domains. In this work, we propose a vocabulary-free neural tokenizer by distilling segmentation information from heuristic-based subword tokenization. We pre-train our character-based tokenizer by processing unique words from multilingual corpus, thereby extensively increasing word diversity across languages. Unlike the predefined and fixed vocabularies in subword methods, our tokenizer allows end-to-end task learning, resulting in optimal task-specific tokenization. The experimental results show that replacing the subword tokenizer with our neural tokenizer consistently improves performance on multilingual (NLI) and code-switching (sentiment analysis) tasks, with larger gains in low-resource languages. Additionally, our neural tokenizer exhibits a robust performance on downstream tasks when adversarial noise is present (typos and misspelling), further increasing the initial improvements over statistical subword tokenizers.

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Self-Aware Feedback-Based Self-Learning in Large-Scale Conversational AI
Pragaash Ponnusamy | Clint Solomon Mathialagan | Gustavo Aguilar | Chengyuan Ma | Chenlei Guo
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies: Industry Track

Self-learning paradigms in large-scale conversational AI agents tend to leverage user feedback in bridging between what they say and what they mean. However, such learning, particularly in Markov-based query rewriting systems have far from addressed the impact of these models on future training where successive feedback is inevitably contingent on the rewrite itself, especially in a continually updating environment. In this paper, we explore the consequences of this inherent lack of self-awareness towards impairing the model performance, ultimately resulting in both Type I and II errors over time. To that end, we propose augmenting the Markov Graph construction with a superposition-based adjacency matrix. Here, our method leverages an induced stochasticity to reactively learn a locally-adaptive decision boundary based on the performance of the individual rewrites in a bi-variate beta setting. We also surface a data augmentation strategy that leverages template-based generation in abridging complex conversation hierarchies of dialogs so as to simplify the learning process. All in all, we demonstrate that our self-aware model improves the overall PR-AUC by 27.45%, achieves a relative defect reduction of up to 31.22%, and is able to adapt quicker to changes in global preferences across a large number of customers.

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Fine-grained Multi-lingual Disentangled Autoencoder for Language-agnostic Representation Learning
Zetian Wu | Zhongkai Sun | Zhengyang Zhao | Sixing Lu | Chengyuan Ma | Chenlei Guo
Proceedings of the Massively Multilingual Natural Language Understanding Workshop (MMNLU-22)

Encoding both language-specific and language-agnostic information into a single high-dimensional space is a common practice of pre-trained Multi-lingual Language Models (pMLM). Such encoding has been shown to perform effectively on natural language tasks requiring semantics of the whole sentence (e.g., translation). However, its effectiveness appears to be limited on tasks requiring partial information of the utterance (e.g., multi-lingual entity retrieval, template retrieval, and semantic alignment). In this work, a novel Fine-grained Multilingual Disentangled Autoencoder (FMDA) is proposed to disentangle fine-grained semantic information from language-specific information in a multi-lingual setting. FMDA is capable of successfully extracting the disentangled template semantic and residual semantic representations. Experiments conducted on the MASSIVE dataset demonstrate that the disentangled encoding can boost each other during the training, thus consistently outperforming the original pMLM and the strong language disentanglement baseline on monolingual template retrieval and cross-lingual semantic retrieval tasks across multiple languages.


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VAE based Text Style Transfer with Pivot Words Enhancement Learning
Haoran Xu | Sixing Lu | Zhongkai Sun | Chengyuan Ma | Chenlei Guo
Proceedings of the 18th International Conference on Natural Language Processing (ICON)

Text Style Transfer (TST) aims to alter the underlying style of the source text to another specific style while keeping the same content. Due to the scarcity of high-quality parallel training data, unsupervised learning has become a trending direction for TST tasks. In this paper, we propose a novel VAE based Text Style Transfer with pivOt Words Enhancement leaRning (VT-STOWER) method which utilizes Variational AutoEncoder (VAE) and external style embeddings to learn semantics and style distribution jointly. Additionally, we introduce pivot words learning, which is applied to learn decisive words for a specific style and thereby further improve the overall performance of the style transfer. The proposed VT-STOWER can be scaled to different TST scenarios given very limited and non-parallel training data with a novel and flexible style strength control mechanism. Experiments demonstrate that the VT-STOWER outperforms the state-of-the-art on sentiment, formality, and code-switching TST tasks.