James Cross


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How Robust is Neural Machine Translation to Language Imbalance in Multilingual Tokenizer Training?
Shiyue Zhang | Vishrav Chaudhary | Naman Goyal | James Cross | Guillaume Wenzek | Mohit Bansal | Francisco Guzman
Proceedings of the 15th biennial conference of the Association for Machine Translation in the Americas (Volume 1: Research Track)

A multilingual tokenizer is a fundamental component of multilingual neural machine translation. It is trained from a multilingual corpus. Since a skewed data distribution is considered to be harmful, a sampling strategy is usually used to balance languages in the corpus. However, few works have systematically answered how language imbalance in tokenizer training affects downstream performance. In this work, we analyze how translation performance changes as the data ratios among languages vary in the tokenizer training corpus. We find that while relatively better performance is often observed when languages are more equally sampled, the downstream performance is more robust to language imbalance than we usually expected. Two features, UNK rate and closeness to the character level, can warn of poor downstream performance before performing the task. We also distinguish language sampling for tokenizer training from sampling for model training and show that the model is more sensitive to the latter.

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Tricks for Training Sparse Translation Models
Dheeru Dua | Shruti Bhosale | Vedanuj Goswami | James Cross | Mike Lewis | Angela Fan
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Multi-task learning with an unbalanced data distribution skews model learning towards high resource tasks, especially when model capacity is fixed and fully shared across all tasks. Sparse scaling architectures, such as BASELayers, provide flexible mechanisms for different tasks to have a variable number of parameters, which can be useful to counterbalance skewed data distributions. We find that that sparse architectures for multilingual machine translation can perform poorly out of the box and propose two straightforward techniques to mitigate this — a temperature heating mechanism and dense pre-training. Overall, these methods improve performance on two multilingual translation benchmarks compared to standard BASELayers and Dense scaling baselines, and in combination, more than 2x model convergence speed.

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Lifting the Curse of Multilinguality by Pre-training Modular Transformers
Jonas Pfeiffer | Naman Goyal | Xi Lin | Xian Li | James Cross | Sebastian Riedel | Mikel Artetxe
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Multilingual pre-trained models are known to suffer from the curse of multilinguality, which causes per-language performance to drop as they cover more languages. We address this issue by introducing language-specific modules, which allows us to grow the total capacity of the model, while keeping the total number of trainable parameters per language constant. In contrast with prior work that learns language-specific components post-hoc, we pre-train the modules of our Cross-lingual Modular (X-Mod) models from the start. Our experiments on natural language inference, named entity recognition and question answering show that our approach not only mitigates the negative interference between languages, but also enables positive transfer, resulting in improved monolingual and cross-lingual performance. Furthermore, our approach enables adding languages post-hoc with no measurable drop in performance, no longer limiting the model usage to the set of pre-trained languages.

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Alternative Input Signals Ease Transfer in Multilingual Machine Translation
Simeng Sun | Angela Fan | James Cross | Vishrav Chaudhary | Chau Tran | Philipp Koehn | Francisco Guzmán
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Recent work in multilingual machine translation (MMT) has focused on the potential of positive transfer between languages, particularly cases where higher-resourced languages can benefit lower-resourced ones. While training an MMT model, the supervision signals learned from one language pair can be transferred to the other via the tokens shared by multiple source languages. However, the transfer is inhibited when the token overlap among source languages is small, which manifests naturally when languages use different writing systems. In this paper, we tackle inhibited transfer by augmenting the training data with alternative signals that unify different writing systems, such as phonetic, romanized, and transliterated input. We test these signals on Indic and Turkic languages, two language families where the writing systems differ but languages still share common features. Our results indicate that a straightforward multi-source self-ensemble – training a model on a mixture of various signals and ensembling the outputs of the same model fed with different signals during inference, outperforms strong ensemble baselines by 1.3 BLEU points on both language families. Further, we find that incorporating alternative inputs via self-ensemble can be particularly effective when training set is small, leading to +5 BLEU when only 5% of the total training data is accessible. Finally, our analysis demonstrates that including alternative signals yields more consistency and translates named entities more accurately, which is crucial for increased factuality of automated systems.


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Classification-based Quality Estimation: Small and Efficient Models for Real-world Applications
Shuo Sun | Ahmed El-Kishky | Vishrav Chaudhary | James Cross | Lucia Specia | Francisco Guzmán
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Sentence-level Quality estimation (QE) of machine translation is traditionally formulated as a regression task, and the performance of QE models is typically measured by Pearson correlation with human labels. Recent QE models have achieved previously-unseen levels of correlation with human judgments, but they rely on large multilingual contextualized language models that are computationally expensive and make them infeasible for real-world applications. In this work, we evaluate several model compression techniques for QE and find that, despite their popularity in other NLP tasks, they lead to poor performance in this regression setting. We observe that a full model parameterization is required to achieve SoTA results in a regression task. However, we argue that the level of expressiveness of a model in a continuous range is unnecessary given the downstream applications of QE, and show that reframing QE as a classification problem and evaluating QE models using classification metrics would better reflect their actual performance in real-world applications.

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XLEnt: Mining a Large Cross-lingual Entity Dataset with Lexical-Semantic-Phonetic Word Alignment
Ahmed El-Kishky | Adithya Renduchintala | James Cross | Francisco Guzmán | Philipp Koehn
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Cross-lingual named-entity lexica are an important resource to multilingual NLP tasks such as machine translation and cross-lingual wikification. While knowledge bases contain a large number of entities in high-resource languages such as English and French, corresponding entities for lower-resource languages are often missing. To address this, we propose Lexical-Semantic-Phonetic Align (LSP-Align), a technique to automatically mine cross-lingual entity lexica from mined web data. We demonstrate LSP-Align outperforms baselines at extracting cross-lingual entity pairs and mine 164 million entity pairs from 120 different languages aligned with English. We release these cross-lingual entity pairs along with the massively multilingual tagged named entity corpus as a resource to the NLP community.

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Facebook AI’s WMT21 News Translation Task Submission
Chau Tran | Shruti Bhosale | James Cross | Philipp Koehn | Sergey Edunov | Angela Fan
Proceedings of the Sixth Conference on Machine Translation

We describe Facebook’s multilingual model submission to the WMT2021 shared task on news translation. We participate in 14 language directions: English to and from Czech, German, Hausa, Icelandic, Japanese, Russian, and Chinese. To develop systems covering all these directions, we focus on multilingual models. We utilize data from all available sources — WMT, large-scale data mining, and in-domain backtranslation — to create high quality bilingual and multilingual baselines. Subsequently, we investigate strategies for scaling multilingual model size, such that one system has sufficient capacity for high quality representations of all eight languages. Our final submission is an ensemble of dense and sparse Mixture-of-Expert multilingual translation models, followed by finetuning on in-domain news data and noisy channel reranking. Compared to previous year’s winning submissions, our multilingual system improved the translation quality on all language directions, with an average improvement of 2.0 BLEU. In the WMT2021 task, our system ranks first in 10 directions based on automatic evaluation.

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Improving Zero-Shot Translation by Disentangling Positional Information
Danni Liu | Jan Niehues | James Cross | Francisco Guzmán | Xian Li
Proceedings of the 59th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 11th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Multilingual neural machine translation has shown the capability of directly translating between language pairs unseen in training, i.e. zero-shot translation. Despite being conceptually attractive, it often suffers from low output quality. The difficulty of generalizing to new translation directions suggests the model representations are highly specific to those language pairs seen in training. We demonstrate that a main factor causing the language-specific representations is the positional correspondence to input tokens. We show that this can be easily alleviated by removing residual connections in an encoder layer. With this modification, we gain up to 18.5 BLEU points on zero-shot translation while retaining quality on supervised directions. The improvements are particularly prominent between related languages, where our proposed model outperforms pivot-based translation. Moreover, our approach allows easy integration of new languages, which substantially expands translation coverage. By thorough inspections of the hidden layer outputs, we show that our approach indeed leads to more language-independent representations.

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Multilingual Neural Machine Translation with Deep Encoder and Multiple Shallow Decoders
Xiang Kong | Adithya Renduchintala | James Cross | Yuqing Tang | Jiatao Gu | Xian Li
Proceedings of the 16th Conference of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Main Volume

Recent work in multilingual translation advances translation quality surpassing bilingual baselines using deep transformer models with increased capacity. However, the extra latency and memory costs introduced by this approach may make it unacceptable for efficiency-constrained applications. It has recently been shown for bilingual translation that using a deep encoder and shallow decoder (DESD) can reduce inference latency while maintaining translation quality, so we study similar speed-accuracy trade-offs for multilingual translation. We find that for many-to-one translation we can indeed increase decoder speed without sacrificing quality using this approach, but for one-to-many translation, shallow decoders cause a clear quality drop. To ameliorate this drop, we propose a deep encoder with multiple shallow decoders (DEMSD) where each shallow decoder is responsible for a disjoint subset of target languages. Specifically, the DEMSD model with 2-layer decoders is able to obtain a 1.8x speedup on average compared to a standard transformer model with no drop in translation quality.


A Survey of Qualitative Error Analysis for Neural Machine Translation Systems
Denise Díaz | James Cross | Vishrav Chaudhary | Ahmed Kishky | Philipp Koehn
Proceedings of the 14th Conference of the Association for Machine Translation in the Americas (Volume 2: User Track)

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Proceedings of the First Workshop on Automatic Simultaneous Translation
Hua Wu | Colin Cherry | Liang Huang | Zhongjun He | Mark Liberman | James Cross | Yang Liu
Proceedings of the First Workshop on Automatic Simultaneous Translation


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Simple Fusion: Return of the Language Model
Felix Stahlberg | James Cross | Veselin Stoyanov
Proceedings of the Third Conference on Machine Translation: Research Papers

Neural Machine Translation (NMT) typically leverages monolingual data in training through backtranslation. We investigate an alternative simple method to use monolingual data for NMT training: We combine the scores of a pre-trained and fixed language model (LM) with the scores of a translation model (TM) while the TM is trained from scratch. To achieve that, we train the translation model to predict the residual probability of the training data added to the prediction of the LM. This enables the TM to focus its capacity on modeling the source sentence since it can rely on the LM for fluency. We show that our method outperforms previous approaches to integrate LMs into NMT while the architecture is simpler as it does not require gating networks to balance TM and LM. We observe gains of between +0.24 and +2.36 BLEU on all four test sets (English-Turkish, Turkish-English, Estonian-English, Xhosa-English) on top of ensembles without LM. We compare our method with alternative ways to utilize monolingual data such as backtranslation, shallow fusion, and cold fusion.


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Incremental Parsing with Minimal Features Using Bi-Directional LSTM
James Cross | Liang Huang
Proceedings of the 54th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 2: Short Papers)

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Span-Based Constituency Parsing with a Structure-Label System and Provably Optimal Dynamic Oracles
James Cross | Liang Huang
Proceedings of the 2016 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing


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Optimal Incremental Parsing via Best-First Dynamic Programming
Kai Zhao | James Cross | Liang Huang
Proceedings of the 2013 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing