Junxian He


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Efficient Nearest Neighbor Language Models
Junxian He | Graham Neubig | Taylor Berg-Kirkpatrick
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Non-parametric neural language models (NLMs) learn predictive distributions of text utilizing an external datastore, which allows them to learn through explicitly memorizing the training datapoints. While effective, these models often require retrieval from a large datastore at test time, significantly increasing the inference overhead and thus limiting the deployment of non-parametric NLMs in practical applications. In this paper, we take the recently proposed k-nearest neighbors language model as an example, exploring methods to improve its efficiency along various dimensions. Experiments on the standard WikiText-103 benchmark and domain-adaptation datasets show that our methods are able to achieve up to a 6x speed-up in inference speed while retaining comparable performance. The empirical analysis we present may provide guidelines for future research seeking to develop or deploy more efficient non-parametric NLMs.

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The Source-Target Domain Mismatch Problem in Machine Translation
Jiajun Shen | Peng-Jen Chen | Matthew Le | Junxian He | Jiatao Gu | Myle Ott | Michael Auli | Marc’Aurelio Ranzato
Proceedings of the 16th Conference of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Main Volume

While we live in an increasingly interconnected world, different places still exhibit strikingly different cultures and many events we experience in our every day life pertain only to the specific place we live in. As a result, people often talk about different things in different parts of the world. In this work we study the effect of local context in machine translation and postulate that this causes the domains of the source and target language to greatly mismatch. We first formalize the concept of source-target domain mismatch, propose a metric to quantify it, and provide empirical evidence for its existence. We conclude with an empirical study of how source-target domain mismatch affects training of machine translation systems on low resource languages. While this may severely affect back-translation, the degradation can be alleviated by combining back-translation with self-training and by increasing the amount of target side monolingual data.

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Dependency Induction Through the Lens of Visual Perception
Ruisi Su | Shruti Rijhwani | Hao Zhu | Junxian He | Xinyu Wang | Yonatan Bisk | Graham Neubig
Proceedings of the 25th Conference on Computational Natural Language Learning

Most previous work on grammar induction focuses on learning phrasal or dependency structure purely from text. However, because the signal provided by text alone is limited, recently introduced visually grounded syntax models make use of multimodal information leading to improved performance in constituency grammar induction. However, as compared to dependency grammars, constituency grammars do not provide a straightforward way to incorporate visual information without enforcing language-specific heuristics. In this paper, we propose an unsupervised grammar induction model that leverages word concreteness and a structural vision-based heuristic to jointly learn constituency-structure and dependency-structure grammars. Our experiments find that concreteness is a strong indicator for learning dependency grammars, improving the direct attachment score (DAS) by over 50% as compared to state-of-the-art models trained on pure text. Next, we propose an extension of our model that leverages both word concreteness and visual semantic role labels in constituency and dependency parsing. Our experiments show that the proposed extension outperforms the current state-of-the-art visually grounded models in constituency parsing even with a smaller grammar size.


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On the Sentence Embeddings from Pre-trained Language Models
Bohan Li | Hao Zhou | Junxian He | Mingxuan Wang | Yiming Yang | Lei Li
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

Pre-trained contextual representations like BERT have achieved great success in natural language processing. However, the sentence embeddings from the pre-trained language models without fine-tuning have been found to poorly capture semantic meaning of sentences. In this paper, we argue that the semantic information in the BERT embeddings is not fully exploited. We first reveal the theoretical connection between the masked language model pre-training objective and the semantic similarity task theoretically, and then analyze the BERT sentence embeddings empirically. We find that BERT always induces a non-smooth anisotropic semantic space of sentences, which harms its performance of semantic similarity. To address this issue, we propose to transform the anisotropic sentence embedding distribution to a smooth and isotropic Gaussian distribution through normalizing flows that are learned with an unsupervised objective. Experimental results show that our proposed BERT-flow method obtains significant performance gains over the state-of-the-art sentence embeddings on a variety of semantic textual similarity tasks. The code is available at https://github.com/bohanli/BERT-flow.


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A Surprisingly Effective Fix for Deep Latent Variable Modeling of Text
Bohan Li | Junxian He | Graham Neubig | Taylor Berg-Kirkpatrick | Yiming Yang
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing and the 9th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (EMNLP-IJCNLP)

When trained effectively, the Variational Autoencoder (VAE) is both a powerful language model and an effective representation learning framework. In practice, however, VAEs are trained with the evidence lower bound (ELBO) as a surrogate objective to the intractable marginal data likelihood. This approach to training yields unstable results, frequently leading to a disastrous local optimum known as posterior collapse. In this paper, we investigate a simple fix for posterior collapse which yields surprisingly effective results. The combination of two known heuristics, previously considered only in isolation, substantially improves held-out likelihood, reconstruction, and latent representation learning when compared with previous state-of-the-art methods. More interestingly, while our experiments demonstrate superiority on these principle evaluations, our method obtains a worse ELBO. We use these results to argue that the typical surrogate objective for VAEs may not be sufficient or necessarily appropriate for balancing the goals of representation learning and data distribution modeling.

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Choosing Transfer Languages for Cross-Lingual Learning
Yu-Hsiang Lin | Chian-Yu Chen | Jean Lee | Zirui Li | Yuyan Zhang | Mengzhou Xia | Shruti Rijhwani | Junxian He | Zhisong Zhang | Xuezhe Ma | Antonios Anastasopoulos | Patrick Littell | Graham Neubig
Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Cross-lingual transfer, where a high-resource transfer language is used to improve the accuracy of a low-resource task language, is now an invaluable tool for improving performance of natural language processing (NLP) on low-resource languages. However, given a particular task language, it is not clear which language to transfer from, and the standard strategy is to select languages based on ad hoc criteria, usually the intuition of the experimenter. Since a large number of features contribute to the success of cross-lingual transfer (including phylogenetic similarity, typological properties, lexical overlap, or size of available data), even the most enlightened experimenter rarely considers all these factors for the particular task at hand. In this paper, we consider this task of automatically selecting optimal transfer languages as a ranking problem, and build models that consider the aforementioned features to perform this prediction. In experiments on representative NLP tasks, we demonstrate that our model predicts good transfer languages much better than ad hoc baselines considering single features in isolation, and glean insights on what features are most informative for each different NLP tasks, which may inform future ad hoc selection even without use of our method.

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Cross-Lingual Syntactic Transfer through Unsupervised Adaptation of Invertible Projections
Junxian He | Zhisong Zhang | Taylor Berg-Kirkpatrick | Graham Neubig
Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Cross-lingual transfer is an effective way to build syntactic analysis tools in low-resource languages. However, transfer is difficult when transferring to typologically distant languages, especially when neither annotated target data nor parallel corpora are available. In this paper, we focus on methods for cross-lingual transfer to distant languages and propose to learn a generative model with a structured prior that utilizes labeled source data and unlabeled target data jointly. The parameters of source model and target model are softly shared through a regularized log likelihood objective. An invertible projection is employed to learn a new interlingual latent embedding space that compensates for imperfect cross-lingual word embedding input. We evaluate our method on two syntactic tasks: part-of-speech (POS) tagging and dependency parsing. On the Universal Dependency Treebanks, we use English as the only source corpus and transfer to a wide range of target languages. On the 10 languages in this dataset that are distant from English, our method yields an average of 5.2% absolute improvement on POS tagging and 8.3% absolute improvement on dependency parsing over a direct transfer method using state-of-the-art discriminative models.

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Texar: A Modularized, Versatile, and Extensible Toolkit for Text Generation
Zhiting Hu | Haoran Shi | Bowen Tan | Wentao Wang | Zichao Yang | Tiancheng Zhao | Junxian He | Lianhui Qin | Di Wang | Xuezhe Ma | Zhengzhong Liu | Xiaodan Liang | Wanrong Zhu | Devendra Sachan | Eric Xing
Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics: System Demonstrations

We introduce Texar, an open-source toolkit aiming to support the broad set of text generation tasks that transform any inputs into natural language, such as machine translation, summarization, dialog, content manipulation, and so forth. With the design goals of modularity, versatility, and extensibility in mind, Texar extracts common patterns underlying the diverse tasks and methodologies, creates a library of highly reusable modules and functionalities, and allows arbitrary model architectures and algorithmic paradigms. In Texar, model architecture, inference, and learning processes are properly decomposed. Modules at a high concept level can be freely assembled or plugged in/swapped out. Texar is thus particularly suitable for researchers and practitioners to do fast prototyping and experimentation. The versatile toolkit also fosters technique sharing across different text generation tasks. Texar supports both TensorFlow and PyTorch, and is released under Apache License 2.0 at https://www.texar.io.


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Unsupervised Learning of Syntactic Structure with Invertible Neural Projections
Junxian He | Graham Neubig | Taylor Berg-Kirkpatrick
Proceedings of the 2018 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Unsupervised learning of syntactic structure is typically performed using generative models with discrete latent variables and multinomial parameters. In most cases, these models have not leveraged continuous word representations. In this work, we propose a novel generative model that jointly learns discrete syntactic structure and continuous word representations in an unsupervised fashion by cascading an invertible neural network with a structured generative prior. We show that the invertibility condition allows for efficient exact inference and marginal likelihood computation in our model so long as the prior is well-behaved. In experiments we instantiate our approach with both Markov and tree-structured priors, evaluating on two tasks: part-of-speech (POS) induction, and unsupervised dependency parsing without gold POS annotation. On the Penn Treebank, our Markov-structured model surpasses state-of-the-art results on POS induction. Similarly, we find that our tree-structured model achieves state-of-the-art performance on unsupervised dependency parsing for the difficult training condition where neither gold POS annotation nor punctuation-based constraints are available.

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StructVAE: Tree-structured Latent Variable Models for Semi-supervised Semantic Parsing
Pengcheng Yin | Chunting Zhou | Junxian He | Graham Neubig
Proceedings of the 56th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Semantic parsing is the task of transducing natural language (NL) utterances into formal meaning representations (MRs), commonly represented as tree structures. Annotating NL utterances with their corresponding MRs is expensive and time-consuming, and thus the limited availability of labeled data often becomes the bottleneck of data-driven, supervised models. We introduce StructVAE, a variational auto-encoding model for semi-supervised semantic parsing, which learns both from limited amounts of parallel data, and readily-available unlabeled NL utterances. StructVAE models latent MRs not observed in the unlabeled data as tree-structured latent variables. Experiments on semantic parsing on the ATIS domain and Python code generation show that with extra unlabeled data, StructVAE outperforms strong supervised models.

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Texar: A Modularized, Versatile, and Extensible Toolbox for Text Generation
Zhiting Hu | Zichao Yang | Tiancheng Zhao | Haoran Shi | Junxian He | Di Wang | Xuezhe Ma | Zhengzhong Liu | Xiaodan Liang | Lianhui Qin | Devendra Singh Chaplot | Bowen Tan | Xingjiang Yu | Eric Xing
Proceedings of Workshop for NLP Open Source Software (NLP-OSS)

We introduce Texar, an open-source toolkit aiming to support the broad set of text generation tasks. Different from many existing toolkits that are specialized for specific applications (e.g., neural machine translation), Texar is designed to be highly flexible and versatile. This is achieved by abstracting the common patterns underlying the diverse tasks and methodologies, creating a library of highly reusable modules and functionalities, and enabling arbitrary model architectures and various algorithmic paradigms. The features make Texar particularly suitable for technique sharing and generalization across different text generation applications. The toolkit emphasizes heavily on extensibility and modularized system design, so that components can be freely plugged in or swapped out. We conduct extensive experiments and case studies to demonstrate the use and advantage of the toolkit.