Julian Salazar


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Align-Refine: Non-Autoregressive Speech Recognition via Iterative Realignment
Ethan A. Chi | Julian Salazar | Katrin Kirchhoff
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Non-autoregressive encoder-decoder models greatly improve decoding speed over autoregressive models, at the expense of generation quality. To mitigate this, iterative decoding models repeatedly infill or refine the proposal of a non-autoregressive model. However, editing at the level of output sequences limits model flexibility. We instead propose *iterative realignment*, which by refining latent alignments allows more flexible edits in fewer steps. Our model, Align-Refine, is an end-to-end Transformer which iteratively realigns connectionist temporal classification (CTC) alignments. On the WSJ dataset, Align-Refine matches an autoregressive baseline with a 14x decoding speedup; on LibriSpeech, we reach an LM-free test-other WER of 9.0% (19% relative improvement on comparable work) in three iterations. We release our code at https://github.com/amazon-research/align-refine.


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Don’t Use English Dev: On the Zero-Shot Cross-Lingual Evaluation of Contextual Embeddings
Phillip Keung | Yichao Lu | Julian Salazar | Vikas Bhardwaj
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

Multilingual contextual embeddings have demonstrated state-of-the-art performance in zero-shot cross-lingual transfer learning, where multilingual BERT is fine-tuned on one source language and evaluated on a different target language. However, published results for mBERT zero-shot accuracy vary as much as 17 points on the MLDoc classification task across four papers. We show that the standard practice of using English dev accuracy for model selection in the zero-shot setting makes it difficult to obtain reproducible results on the MLDoc and XNLI tasks. English dev accuracy is often uncorrelated (or even anti-correlated) with target language accuracy, and zero-shot performance varies greatly at different points in the same fine-tuning run and between different fine-tuning runs. These reproducibility issues are also present for other tasks with different pre-trained embeddings (e.g., MLQA with XLM-R). We recommend providing oracle scores alongside zero-shot results: still fine-tune using English data, but choose a checkpoint with the target dev set. Reporting this upper bound makes results more consistent by avoiding arbitrarily bad checkpoints.

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Masked Language Model Scoring
Julian Salazar | Davis Liang | Toan Q. Nguyen | Katrin Kirchhoff
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Pretrained masked language models (MLMs) require finetuning for most NLP tasks. Instead, we evaluate MLMs out of the box via their pseudo-log-likelihood scores (PLLs), which are computed by masking tokens one by one. We show that PLLs outperform scores from autoregressive language models like GPT-2 in a variety of tasks. By rescoring ASR and NMT hypotheses, RoBERTa reduces an end-to-end LibriSpeech model’s WER by 30% relative and adds up to +1.7 BLEU on state-of-the-art baselines for low-resource translation pairs, with further gains from domain adaptation. We attribute this success to PLL’s unsupervised expression of linguistic acceptability without a left-to-right bias, greatly improving on scores from GPT-2 (+10 points on island effects, NPI licensing in BLiMP). One can finetune MLMs to give scores without masking, enabling computation in a single inference pass. In all, PLLs and their associated pseudo-perplexities (PPPLs) enable plug-and-play use of the growing number of pretrained MLMs; e.g., we use a single cross-lingual model to rescore translations in multiple languages. We release our library for language model scoring at https://github.com/awslabs/mlm-scoring.

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Unsupervised Bitext Mining and Translation via Self-Trained Contextual Embeddings
Phillip Keung | Julian Salazar | Yichao Lu | Noah A. Smith
Transactions of the Association for Computational Linguistics, Volume 8

We describe an unsupervised method to create pseudo-parallel corpora for machine translation (MT) from unaligned text. We use multilingual BERT to create source and target sentence embeddings for nearest-neighbor search and adapt the model via self-training. We validate our technique by extracting parallel sentence pairs on the BUCC 2017 bitext mining task and observe up to a 24.5 point increase (absolute) in F1 scores over previous unsupervised methods. We then improve an XLM-based unsupervised neural MT system pre-trained on Wikipedia by supplementing it with pseudo-parallel text mined from the same corpus, boosting unsupervised translation performance by up to 3.5 BLEU on the WMT’14 French-English and WMT’16 German-English tasks and outperforming the previous state-of-the-art. Finally, we enrich the IWSLT’15 English-Vietnamese corpus with pseudo-parallel Wikipedia sentence pairs, yielding a 1.2 BLEU improvement on the low-resource MT task. We demonstrate that unsupervised bitext mining is an effective way of augmenting MT datasets and complements existing techniques like initializing with pre-trained contextual embeddings.


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Transformers without Tears: Improving the Normalization of Self-Attention
Toan Q. Nguyen | Julian Salazar
Proceedings of the 16th International Conference on Spoken Language Translation

We evaluate three simple, normalization-centric changes to improve Transformer training. First, we show that pre-norm residual connections (PRENORM) and smaller initializations enable warmup-free, validation-based training with large learning rates. Second, we propose l2 normalization with a single scale parameter (SCALENORM) for faster training and better performance. Finally, we reaffirm the effectiveness of normalizing word embeddings to a fixed length (FIXNORM). On five low-resource translation pairs from TED Talks-based corpora, these changes always converge, giving an average +1.1 BLEU over state-of-the-art bilingual baselines and a new 32.8 BLEU on IWSLT '15 English-Vietnamese. We ob- serve sharper performance curves, more consistent gradient norms, and a linear relationship between activation scaling and decoder depth. Surprisingly, in the high-resource setting (WMT '14 English-German), SCALENORM and FIXNORM remain competitive but PRENORM degrades performance.