David Adelani


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Pre-Trained Multilingual Sequence-to-Sequence Models: A Hope for Low-Resource Language Translation?
En-Shiun Lee | Sarubi Thillainathan | Shravan Nayak | Surangika Ranathunga | David Adelani | Ruisi Su | Arya McCarthy
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2022

What can pre-trained multilingual sequence-to-sequence models like mBART contribute to translating low-resource languages? We conduct a thorough empirical experiment in 10 languages to ascertain this, considering five factors: (1) the amount of fine-tuning data, (2) the noise in the fine-tuning data, (3) the amount of pre-training data in the model, (4) the impact of domain mismatch, and (5) language typology. In addition to yielding several heuristics, the experiments form a framework for evaluating the data sensitivities of machine translation systems. While mBART is robust to domain differences, its translations for unseen and typologically distant languages remain below 3.0 BLEU. In answer to our title’s question, mBART is not a low-resource panacea; we therefore encourage shifting the emphasis from new models to new data.

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Is BERT Robust to Label Noise? A Study on Learning with Noisy Labels in Text Classification
Dawei Zhu | Michael A. Hedderich | Fangzhou Zhai | David Adelani | Dietrich Klakow
Proceedings of the Third Workshop on Insights from Negative Results in NLP

Incorrect labels in training data occur when human annotators make mistakes or when the data is generated via weak or distant supervision. It has been shown that complex noise-handling techniques - by modeling, cleaning or filtering the noisy instances - are required to prevent models from fitting this label noise. However, we show in this work that, for text classification tasks with modern NLP models like BERT, over a variety of noise types, existing noise-handling methods do not always improve its performance, and may even deteriorate it, suggesting the need for further investigation. We also back our observations with a comprehensive analysis.

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A Few Thousand Translations Go a Long Way! Leveraging Pre-trained Models for African News Translation
David Adelani | Jesujoba Alabi | Angela Fan | Julia Kreutzer | Xiaoyu Shen | Machel Reid | Dana Ruiter | Dietrich Klakow | Peter Nabende | Ernie Chang | Tajuddeen Gwadabe | Freshia Sackey | Bonaventure F. P. Dossou | Chris Emezue | Colin Leong | Michael Beukman | Shamsuddeen Muhammad | Guyo Jarso | Oreen Yousuf | Andre Niyongabo Rubungo | Gilles Hacheme | Eric Peter Wairagala | Muhammad Umair Nasir | Benjamin Ajibade | Tunde Ajayi | Yvonne Gitau | Jade Abbott | Mohamed Ahmed | Millicent Ochieng | Anuoluwapo Aremu | Perez Ogayo | Jonathan Mukiibi | Fatoumata Ouoba Kabore | Godson Kalipe | Derguene Mbaye | Allahsera Auguste Tapo | Victoire Memdjokam Koagne | Edwin Munkoh-Buabeng | Valencia Wagner | Idris Abdulmumin | Ayodele Awokoya | Happy Buzaaba | Blessing Sibanda | Andiswa Bukula | Sam Manthalu
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Recent advances in the pre-training for language models leverage large-scale datasets to create multilingual models. However, low-resource languages are mostly left out in these datasets. This is primarily because many widely spoken languages that are not well represented on the web and therefore excluded from the large-scale crawls for datasets. Furthermore, downstream users of these models are restricted to the selection of languages originally chosen for pre-training. This work investigates how to optimally leverage existing pre-trained models to create low-resource translation systems for 16 African languages. We focus on two questions: 1) How can pre-trained models be used for languages not included in the initial pretraining? and 2) How can the resulting translation models effectively transfer to new domains? To answer these questions, we create a novel African news corpus covering 16 languages, of which eight languages are not part of any existing evaluation dataset. We demonstrate that the most effective strategy for transferring both additional languages and additional domains is to leverage small quantities of high-quality translation data to fine-tune large pre-trained models.

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MCSE: Multimodal Contrastive Learning of Sentence Embeddings
Miaoran Zhang | Marius Mosbach | David Adelani | Michael Hedderich | Dietrich Klakow
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Learning semantically meaningful sentence embeddings is an open problem in natural language processing. In this work, we propose a sentence embedding learning approach that exploits both visual and textual information via a multimodal contrastive objective. Through experiments on a variety of semantic textual similarity tasks, we demonstrate that our approach consistently improves the performance across various datasets and pre-trained encoders. In particular, combining a small amount of multimodal data with a large text-only corpus, we improve the state-of-the-art average Spearman’s correlation by 1.7%. By analyzing the properties of the textual embedding space, we show that our model excels in aligning semantically similar sentences, providing an explanation for its improved performance.


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Preventing Author Profiling through Zero-Shot Multilingual Back-Translation
David Adelani | Miaoran Zhang | Xiaoyu Shen | Ali Davody | Thomas Kleinbauer | Dietrich Klakow
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Documents as short as a single sentence may inadvertently reveal sensitive information about their authors, including e.g. their gender or ethnicity. Style transfer is an effective way of transforming texts in order to remove any information that enables author profiling. However, for a number of current state-of-the-art approaches the improved privacy is accompanied by an undesirable drop in the down-stream utility of the transformed data. In this paper, we propose a simple, zero-shot way to effectively lower the risk of author profiling through multilingual back-translation using off-the-shelf translation models. We compare our models with five representative text style transfer models on three datasets across different domains. Results from both an automatic and a human evaluation show that our approach achieves the best overall performance while requiring no training data. We are able to lower the adversarial prediction of gender and race by up to 22% while retaining 95% of the original utility on downstream tasks.

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The Effect of Domain and Diacritics in Yoruba–English Neural Machine Translation
David Adelani | Dana Ruiter | Jesujoba Alabi | Damilola Adebonojo | Adesina Ayeni | Mofe Adeyemi | Ayodele Esther Awokoya | Cristina España-Bonet
Proceedings of Machine Translation Summit XVIII: Research Track

Massively multilingual machine translation (MT) has shown impressive capabilities and including zero and few-shot translation between low-resource language pairs. However and these models are often evaluated on high-resource languages with the assumption that they generalize to low-resource ones. The difficulty of evaluating MT models on low-resource pairs is often due to lack of standardized evaluation datasets. In this paper and we present MENYO-20k and the first multi-domain parallel corpus with a especially curated orthography for Yoruba–English with standardized train-test splits for benchmarking. We provide several neural MT benchmarks and compare them to the performance of popular pre-trained (massively multilingual) MT models both for the heterogeneous test set and its subdomains. Since these pre-trained models use huge amounts of data with uncertain quality and we also analyze the effect of diacritics and a major characteristic of Yoruba and in the training data. We investigate how and when this training condition affects the final quality of a translation and its understandability.Our models outperform massively multilingual models such as Google (+8.7 BLEU) and Facebook M2M (+9.1) when translating to Yoruba and setting a high quality benchmark for future research.


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Massive vs. Curated Embeddings for Low-Resourced Languages: the Case of Yorùbá and Twi
Jesujoba Alabi | Kwabena Amponsah-Kaakyire | David Adelani | Cristina España-Bonet
Proceedings of the Twelfth Language Resources and Evaluation Conference

The success of several architectures to learn semantic representations from unannotated text and the availability of these kind of texts in online multilingual resources such as Wikipedia has facilitated the massive and automatic creation of resources for multiple languages. The evaluation of such resources is usually done for the high-resourced languages, where one has a smorgasbord of tasks and test sets to evaluate on. For low-resourced languages, the evaluation is more difficult and normally ignored, with the hope that the impressive capability of deep learning architectures to learn (multilingual) representations in the high-resourced setting holds in the low-resourced setting too. In this paper we focus on two African languages, Yorùbá and Twi, and compare the word embeddings obtained in this way, with word embeddings obtained from curated corpora and a language-dependent processing. We analyse the noise in the publicly available corpora, collect high quality and noisy data for the two languages and quantify the improvements that depend not only on the amount of data but on the quality too. We also use different architectures that learn word representations both from surface forms and characters to further exploit all the available information which showed to be important for these languages. For the evaluation, we manually translate the wordsim-353 word pairs dataset from English into Yorùbá and Twi. We extend the analysis to contextual word embeddings and evaluate multilingual BERT on a named entity recognition task. For this, we annotate with named entities the Global Voices corpus for Yorùbá. As output of the work, we provide corpora, embeddings and the test suits for both languages.

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Transfer Learning and Distant Supervision for Multilingual Transformer Models: A Study on African Languages
Michael A. Hedderich | David Adelani | Dawei Zhu | Jesujoba Alabi | Udia Markus | Dietrich Klakow
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

Multilingual transformer models like mBERT and XLM-RoBERTa have obtained great improvements for many NLP tasks on a variety of languages. However, recent works also showed that results from high-resource languages could not be easily transferred to realistic, low-resource scenarios. In this work, we study trends in performance for different amounts of available resources for the three African languages Hausa, isiXhosa and on both NER and topic classification. We show that in combination with transfer learning or distant supervision, these models can achieve with as little as 10 or 100 labeled sentences the same performance as baselines with much more supervised training data. However, we also find settings where this does not hold. Our discussions and additional experiments on assumptions such as time and hardware restrictions highlight challenges and opportunities in low-resource learning.