Text revision refers to a family of natural language generation tasks, where the source and target sequences share moderate resemblance in surface form but differentiate in attributes, such as text formality and simplicity. Current state-of-the-art methods formulate these tasks as sequence-to-sequence learning problems, which rely on large-scale parallel training corpus. In this paper, we present an iterative inplace editing approach for text revision, which requires no parallel data. In this approach, we simply fine-tune a pre-trained Transformer with masked language modeling and attribute classification. During inference, the editing at each iteration is realized by two-step span replacement. At the first step, the distributed representation of the text optimizes on the fly towards an attribute function. At the second step, a text span is masked and another new one is proposed conditioned on the optimized representation. The empirical experiments on two typical and important text revision tasks, text formalization and text simplification, show the effectiveness of our approach. It achieves competitive and even better performance than state-of-the-art supervised methods on text simplification, and gains better performance than strong unsupervised methods on text formalization.
Document interpretation and dialog understanding are the two major challenges for conversational machine reading. In this work, we propose “Discern”, a discourse-aware entailment reasoning network to strengthen the connection and enhance the understanding of both document and dialog. Specifically, we split the document into clause-like elementary discourse units (EDU) using a pre-trained discourse segmentation model, and we train our model in a weakly-supervised manner to predict whether each EDU is entailed by the user feedback in a conversation. Based on the learned EDU and entailment representations, we either reply to the user our final decision “yes/no/irrelevant” of the initial question, or generate a follow-up question to inquiry more information. Our experiments on the ShARC benchmark (blind, held-out test set) show that Discern achieves state-of-the-art results of 78.3% macro-averaged accuracy on decision making and 64.0 BLEU1 on follow-up question generation. Code and models are released at https://github.com/Yifan-Gao/Discern.
Question generation (QG) is the task of generating a question from a reference sentence and a specified answer within the sentence. A major challenge in QG is to identify answer-relevant context words to finish the declarative-to-interrogative sentence transformation. Existing sequence-to-sequence neural models achieve this goal by proximity-based answer position encoding under the intuition that neighboring words of answers are of high possibility to be answer-relevant. However, such intuition may not apply to all cases especially for sentences with complex answer-relevant relations. Consequently, the performance of these models drops sharply when the relative distance between the answer fragment and other non-stop sentence words that also appear in the ground truth question increases. To address this issue, we propose a method to jointly model the unstructured sentence and the structured answer-relevant relation (extracted from the sentence in advance) for question generation. Specifically, the structured answer-relevant relation acts as the to the point context and it thus naturally helps keep the generated question to the point, while the unstructured sentence provides the full information. Extensive experiments show that to the point context helps our question generation model achieve significant improvements on several automatic evaluation metrics. Furthermore, our model is capable of generating diverse questions for a sentence which conveys multiple relations of its answer fragment.