We describe a span-level supervised attention loss that improves compositional generalization in semantic parsers. Our approach builds on existing losses that encourage attention maps in neural sequence-to-sequence models to imitate the output of classical word alignment algorithms. Where past work has used word-level alignments, we focus on spans; borrowing ideas from phrase-based machine translation, we align subtrees in semantic parses to spans of input sentences, and encourage neural attention mechanisms to mimic these alignments. This method improves the performance of transformers, RNNs, and structured decoders on three benchmarks of compositional generalization.
Conversational semantic parsers map user utterances to executable programs given dialogue histories composed of previous utterances, programs, and system responses. Existing parsers typically condition on rich representations of history that include the complete set of values and computations previously discussed. We propose a model that abstracts over values to focus prediction on type- and function-level context. This approach provides a compact encoding of dialogue histories and predicted programs, improving generalization and computational efficiency. Our model incorporates several other components, including an atomic span copy operation and structural enforcement of well-formedness constraints on predicted programs, that are particularly advantageous in the low-data regime. Trained on the SMCalFlow and TreeDST datasets, our model outperforms prior work by 7.3% and 10.6% respectively in terms of absolute accuracy. Trained on only a thousand examples from each dataset, it outperforms strong baselines by 12.4% and 6.4%. These results indicate that simple representations are key to effective generalization in conversational semantic parsing.
Current state-of-the-art NMT systems use large neural networks that are not only slow to train, but also often require many heuristics and optimization tricks, such as specialized learning rate schedules and large batch sizes. This is undesirable as it requires extensive hyperparameter tuning. In this paper, we propose a curriculum learning framework for NMT that reduces training time, reduces the need for specialized heuristics or large batch sizes, and results in overall better performance. Our framework consists of a principled way of deciding which training samples are shown to the model at different times during training, based on the estimated difficulty of a sample and the current competence of the model. Filtering training samples in this manner prevents the model from getting stuck in bad local optima, making it converge faster and reach a better solution than the common approach of uniformly sampling training examples. Furthermore, the proposed method can be easily applied to existing NMT models by simply modifying their input data pipelines. We show that our framework can help improve the training time and the performance of both recurrent neural network models and Transformers, achieving up to a 70% decrease in training time, while at the same time obtaining accuracy improvements of up to 2.2 BLEU.
We propose a simple modification to existing neural machine translation (NMT) models that enables using a single universal model to translate between multiple languages while allowing for language specific parameterization, and that can also be used for domain adaptation. Our approach requires no changes to the model architecture of a standard NMT system, but instead introduces a new component, the contextual parameter generator (CPG), that generates the parameters of the system (e.g., weights in a neural network). This parameter generator accepts source and target language embeddings as input, and generates the parameters for the encoder and the decoder, respectively. The rest of the model remains unchanged and is shared across all languages. We show how this simple modification enables the system to use monolingual data for training and also perform zero-shot translation. We further show it is able to surpass state-of-the-art performance for both the IWSLT-15 and IWSLT-17 datasets and that the learned language embeddings are able to uncover interesting relationships between languages.