Kai Fan


2023

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Better Simultaneous Translation with Monotonic Knowledge Distillation
Shushu Wang | Jing Wu | Kai Fan | Wei Luo | Jun Xiao | Zhongqiang Huang
Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Simultaneous machine translation (SiMT) presents a unique challenge as it requires generating target tokens before the source sentence is fully consumed. This can lead to the hallucination problem, where target tokens are generated without support from the source sentence. The prefix-to-prefix training data used to train SiMT models are not always parallel, due to divergent word order between the source and target languages, and can contribute to the problem. In this paper, we propose a novel approach that leverages traditional translation models as teachers and employs a two-stage beam search algorithm to generate monotonic yet accurate reference translations for sequence-level knowledge distillation. Experimental results demonstrate the significant improvements achieved by our approach over multiple strong SiMT baselines, leading to new state-of-the-art performance across various language pairs. Notably, when evaluated on a monotonic version of the WMT15 De-En test set, which includes references generated in a more monotonic style by professional translators, our approach achieves even more substantial improvement over the baselines. The source code and data are publicly available for further exploration.

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A Simple Concatenation can Effectively Improve Speech Translation
Linlin Zhang | Kai Fan | Boxing Chen | Luo Si
Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 2: Short Papers)

A triple speech translation data comprises speech, transcription, and translation. In the end-to-end paradigm, text machine translation (MT) usually plays the role of a teacher model for the speech translation (ST) via knowledge distillation. Parameter sharing with the teacher is often adopted to construct the ST model architecture, however, the two modalities are independently fed and trained via different losses. This situation does not match ST’s properties across two modalities and also limits the upper bound of the performance. Inspired by the works of video Transformer, we propose a simple unified cross-modal ST method, which concatenates speech and text as the input, and builds a teacher that can utilize both cross-modal information simultaneously. Experimental results show that in our unified ST framework, models can effectively utilize the auxiliary information from speech and text, and achieve compelling results on MuST-C datasets.

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Translate the Beauty in Songs: Jointly Learning to Align Melody and Translate Lyrics
Chengxi Li | Kai Fan | Jiajun Bu | Boxing Chen | Zhongqiang Huang | Zhi Yu
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2023

Song translation requires both translation of lyrics and alignment of music notes so that the resulting verse can be sung to the accompanying melody, which is a challenging problem that has attracted some interests in different aspects of the translation process. In this paper, we propose Lyrics-Melody Translation with Adaptive Grouping (LTAG), a holistic solution to automatic song translation by jointly modeling lyric translation and lyrics-melody alignment. It is a novel encoder-decoder framework that can simultaneously translate the source lyrics and determine the number of aligned notes at each decoding step through an adaptive note grouping module. To address data scarcity, we commissioned a small amount of training data annotated specifically for this task and used large amounts of automatic training data through back-translation. Experiments conducted on an English-Chinese song translation data set show the effectiveness of our model in both automatic and human evaluations.

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Towards Zero-shot Learning for End-to-end Cross-modal Translation Models
Jichen Yang | Kai Fan | Minpeng Liao | Boxing Chen | Zhongqiang Huang
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2023

One of the main problems in speech translation is the mismatches between different modalities. The second problem, scarcity of parallel data covering multiple modalities, means that the end-to-end multi-modal models tend to perform worse than cascade models, although there are exceptions under favorable conditions. To address these problems, we propose an end-to-end zero-shot speech translation model, connecting two pre-trained uni-modality modules via word rotator’s distance. The model retains the ability of zero-shot, which is like cascade models, and also can be trained in an end-to-end style to avoid error propagation. Our comprehensive experiments on the MuST-C benchmarks show that our end-to-end zero-shot approach performs better than or as well as those of the CTC-based cascade models and that our end-to-end model with supervised training also matches the latest baselines.

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Adaptive Policy with Wait-k Model for Simultaneous Translation
Libo Zhao | Kai Fan | Wei Luo | Wu Jing | Shushu Wang | Ziqian Zeng | Zhongqiang Huang
Proceedings of the 2023 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Simultaneous machine translation (SiMT) requires a robust read/write policy in conjunction with a high-quality translation model. Traditional methods rely on either a fixed wait-k policy coupled with a standalone wait-k translation model, or an adaptive policy jointly trained with the translation model. In this study, we propose a more flexible approach by decoupling the adaptive policy model from the translation model. Our motivation stems from the observation that a standalone multi-path wait-k model performs competitively with adaptive policies utilized in state-of-the-art SiMT approaches. Specifically, we introduce DaP, a divergence-based adaptive policy, that makes read/write decisions for any translation model based on the potential divergence in translation distributions resulting from future information. DaP extends a frozen wait-k model with lightweight parameters, and is both memory and computation efficient. Experimental results across various benchmarks demonstrate that our approach offers an improved trade-off between translation accuracy and latency, outperforming strong baselines.

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Training Simultaneous Speech Translation with Robust and Random Wait-k-Tokens Strategy
Linlin Zhang | Kai Fan | Jiajun Bu | Zhongqiang Huang
Proceedings of the 2023 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Simultaneous Speech Translation (SimulST) is a task focused on ensuring high-quality translation of speech in low-latency situations. Despite this, the modality gap (e.g., unknown word boundaries) between audio and text presents a challenge. This gap hinders the effective application of policies from simultaneous text translation (SimulMT) and compromises the performance of offline speech translation. To address this issue, we first leverage the Montreal Forced Aligner (MFA) and utilize audio transcription pairs in pre-training the acoustic encoder, and introduce a token-level cross-modal alignment that allows the wait-k policy from SimulMT to better adapt to SimulST. This token-level boundary alignment simplifies the decision-making process for predicting read/write actions, as if the decoder were directly processing text tokens. Subsequently, to optimize the SimulST task, we propose a robust and random wait-k-tokens strategy. This strategy allows a single model to meet various latency requirements and minimizes error accumulation of boundary alignment during inference. Our experiments on the MuST-C dataset show that our method achieves better trade-off between translation quality and latency.

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Adapting Offline Speech Translation Models for Streaming with Future-Aware Distillation and Inference
Biao Fu | Minpeng Liao | Kai Fan | Zhongqiang Huang | Boxing Chen | Yidong Chen | Xiaodong Shi
Proceedings of the 2023 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

A popular approach to streaming speech translation is to employ a single offline model with a wait-k policy to support different latency requirements, which is simpler than training multiple online models with different latency constraints. However, there is a mismatch problem in using a model trained with complete utterances for streaming inference with partial input. We demonstrate that speech representations extracted at the end of a streaming input are significantly different from those extracted from a complete utterance. To address this issue, we propose a new approach called Future-Aware Streaming Translation (FAST) that adapts an offline ST model for streaming input. FAST includes a Future-Aware Inference (FAI) strategy that incorporates future context through a trainable masked embedding, and a Future-Aware Distillation (FAD) framework that transfers future context from an approximation of full speech to streaming input. Our experiments on the MuST-C EnDe, EnEs, and EnFr benchmarks show that FAST achieves better trade-offs between translation quality and latency than strong baselines. Extensive analyses suggest that our methods effectively alleviate the aforementioned mismatch problem between offline training and online inference.

2022

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Efficient Cluster-Based k-Nearest-Neighbor Machine Translation
Dexin Wang | Kai Fan | Boxing Chen | Deyi Xiong
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

k-Nearest-Neighbor Machine Translation (kNN-MT) has been recently proposed as a non-parametric solution for domain adaptation in neural machine translation (NMT). It aims to alleviate the performance degradation of advanced MT systems in translating out-of-domain sentences by coordinating with an additional token-level feature-based retrieval module constructed from in-domain data. Previous studies (Khandelwal et al., 2021; Zheng et al., 2021) have already demonstrated that non-parametric NMT is even superior to models fine-tuned on out-of-domain data. In spite of this success, kNN retrieval is at the expense of high latency, in particular for large datastores. To make it practical, in this paper, we explore a more efficient kNN-MT and propose to use clustering to improve the retrieval efficiency. Concretely, we first propose a cluster-based Compact Network for feature reduction in a contrastive learning manner to compress context features into 90+% lower dimensional vectors. We then suggest a cluster-based pruning solution to filter out 10% 40% redundant nodes in large datastores while retaining translation quality. Our proposed methods achieve better or comparable performance while reducing up to 57% inference latency against the advanced non-parametric MT model on several machine translation benchmarks. Experimental results indicate that the proposed methods maintain the most useful information of the original datastore and the Compact Network shows good generalization on unseen domains. Codes are available at https://github.com/tjunlp-lab/PCKMT.

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Competency-Aware Neural Machine Translation: Can Machine Translation Know its Own Translation Quality?
Pei Zhang | Baosong Yang | Hao-Ran Wei | Dayiheng Liu | Kai Fan | Luo Si | Jun Xie
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Neural machine translation (NMT) is often criticized for failures that happenwithout awareness. The lack of competency awareness makes NMT untrustworthy. This is in sharp contrast to human translators who give feedback or conduct further investigations whenever they are in doubt about predictions. To fill this gap, we propose a novel competency-aware NMT by extending conventional NMT with a self-estimator, offering abilities to translate a source sentence and estimate its competency. The self-estimator encodes the information of the decoding procedure and then examines whether it can reconstruct the original semantics of the source sentence. Experimental results on four translation tasks demonstrate that the proposed method not only carries out translation tasks intact but also delivers outstanding performance on quality estimation. Without depending on any reference or annotated data typically required by state-of-the-art metric and quality estimation methods, our model yields an even higher correlation with human quality judgments than a variety of aforementioned methods, such as BLEURT, COMET, and BERTScore. Quantitative and qualitative analyses show better robustness of competency awareness in our model.

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Structural Supervision for Word Alignment and Machine Translation
Lei Li | Kai Fan | Hongjia Li | Chun Yuan
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2022

Syntactic structure has long been argued to be potentially useful for enforcing accurate word alignment and improving generalization performance of machine translation. Unfortunately, existing wisdom demonstrates its significance by considering only the syntactic structure of source tokens, neglecting the rich structural information from target tokens and the structural similarity between the source and target sentences. In this work, we propose to incorporate the syntactic structure of both source and target tokens into the encoder-decoder framework, tightly correlating the internal logic of word alignment and machine translation for multi-task learning. Particularly, we won’t leverage any annotated syntactic graph of the target side during training, so we introduce Dynamic Graph Convolution Networks (DGCN) on observed target tokens to sequentially and simultaneously generate the target tokens and the corresponding syntactic graphs, and further guide the word alignment. On this basis, Hierarchical Graph Random Walks (HGRW) are performed on the syntactic graphs of both source and target sides, for incorporating structured constraints on machine translation outputs. Experiments on four publicly available language pairs verify that our method is highly effective in capturing syntactic structure in different languages, consistently outperforming baselines in alignment accuracy and demonstrating promising results in translation quality.

2021

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Manifold Adversarial Augmentation for Neural Machine Translation
Guandan Chen | Kai Fan | Kaibo Zhang | Boxing Chen | Zhongqiang Huang
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL-IJCNLP 2021

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Probing Multi-modal Machine Translation with Pre-trained Language Model
Kong Yawei | Kai Fan
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL-IJCNLP 2021

2020

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Long-Short Term Masking Transformer: A Simple but Effective Baseline for Document-level Neural Machine Translation
Pei Zhang | Boxing Chen | Niyu Ge | Kai Fan
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

Many document-level neural machine translation (NMT) systems have explored the utility of context-aware architecture, usually requiring an increasing number of parameters and computational complexity. However, few attention is paid to the baseline model. In this paper, we research extensively the pros and cons of the standard transformer in document-level translation, and find that the auto-regressive property can simultaneously bring both the advantage of the consistency and the disadvantage of error accumulation. Therefore, we propose a surprisingly simple long-short term masking self-attention on top of the standard transformer to both effectively capture the long-range dependence and reduce the propagation of errors. We examine our approach on the two publicly available document-level datasets. We can achieve a strong result in BLEU and capture discourse phenomena.

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Alibaba’s Submission for the WMT 2020 APE Shared Task: Improving Automatic Post-Editing with Pre-trained Conditional Cross-Lingual BERT
Jiayi Wang | Ke Wang | Kai Fan | Yuqi Zhang | Jun Lu | Xin Ge | Yangbin Shi | Yu Zhao
Proceedings of the Fifth Conference on Machine Translation

The goal of Automatic Post-Editing (APE) is basically to examine the automatic methods for correcting translation errors generated by an unknown machine translation (MT) system. This paper describes Alibaba’s submissions to the WMT 2020 APE Shared Task for the English-German language pair. We design a two-stage training pipeline. First, a BERT-like cross-lingual language model is pre-trained by randomly masking target sentences alone. Then, an additional neural decoder on the top of the pre-trained model is jointly fine-tuned for the APE task. We also apply an imitation learning strategy to augment a reasonable amount of pseudo APE training data, potentially preventing the model to overfit on the limited real training data and boosting the performance on held-out data. To verify our proposed model and data augmentation, we examine our approach with the well-known benchmarking English-German dataset from the WMT 2017 APE task. The experiment results demonstrate that our system significantly outperforms all other baselines and achieves the state-of-the-art performance. The final results on the WMT 2020 test dataset show that our submission can achieve +5.56 BLEU and -4.57 TER with respect to the official MT baseline.

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Computer Assisted Translation with Neural Quality Estimation and Automatic Post-Editing
Ke Wang | Jiayi Wang | Niyu Ge | Yangbin Shi | Yu Zhao | Kai Fan
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2020

With the advent of neural machine translation, there has been a marked shift towards leveraging and consuming the machine translation results. However, the gap between machine translation systems and human translators needs to be manually closed by post-editing. In this paper, we propose an end-to-end deep learning framework of the quality estimation and automatic post-editing of the machine translation output. Our goal is to provide error correction suggestions and to further relieve the burden of human translators through an interpretable model. To imitate the behavior of human translators, we design three efficient delegation modules – quality estimation, generative post-editing, and atomic operation post-editing and construct a hierarchical model based on them. We examine this approach with the English–German dataset from WMT 2017 APE shared task and our experimental results can achieve the state-of-the-art performance. We also verify that the certified translators can significantly expedite their post-editing processing with our model in human evaluation.

2019

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Lattice Transformer for Speech Translation
Pei Zhang | Niyu Ge | Boxing Chen | Kai Fan
Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Recent advances in sequence modeling have highlighted the strengths of the transformer architecture, especially in achieving state-of-the-art machine translation results. However, depending on the up-stream systems, e.g., speech recognition, or word segmentation, the input to translation system can vary greatly. The goal of this work is to extend the attention mechanism of the transformer to naturally consume the lattice in addition to the traditional sequential input. We first propose a general lattice transformer for speech translation where the input is the output of the automatic speech recognition (ASR) which contains multiple paths and posterior scores. To leverage the extra information from the lattice structure, we develop a novel controllable lattice attention mechanism to obtain latent representations. On the LDC Spanish-English speech translation corpus, our experiments show that lattice transformer generalizes significantly better and outperforms both a transformer baseline and a lattice LSTM. Additionally, we validate our approach on the WMT 2017 Chinese-English translation task with lattice inputs from different BPE segmentations. In this task, we also observe the improvements over strong baselines.

2018

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Alibaba Speech Translation Systems for IWSLT 2018
Nguyen Bach | Hongjie Chen | Kai Fan | Cheung-Chi Leung | Bo Li | Chongjia Ni | Rong Tong | Pei Zhang | Boxing Chen | Bin Ma | Fei Huang
Proceedings of the 15th International Conference on Spoken Language Translation

This work describes the En→De Alibaba speech translation system developed for the evaluation campaign of the International Workshop on Spoken Language Translation (IWSLT) 2018. In order to improve ASR performance, multiple ASR models including conventional and end-to-end models are built, then we apply model fusion in the final step. ASR pre and post-processing techniques such as speech segmentation, punctuation insertion, and sentence splitting are found to be very useful for MT. We also employed most techniques that have proven effective during the WMT 2018 evaluation, such as BPE, back translation, data selection, model ensembling and reranking. These ASR and MT techniques, combined, improve the speech translation quality significantly.

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Alibaba Submission for WMT18 Quality Estimation Task
Jiayi Wang | Kai Fan | Bo Li | Fengming Zhou | Boxing Chen | Yangbin Shi | Luo Si
Proceedings of the Third Conference on Machine Translation: Shared Task Papers

The goal of WMT 2018 Shared Task on Translation Quality Estimation is to investigate automatic methods for estimating the quality of machine translation results without reference translations. This paper presents the QE Brain system, which proposes the neural Bilingual Expert model as a feature extractor based on conditional target language model with a bidirectional transformer and then processes the semantic representations of source and the translation output with a Bi-LSTM predictive model for automatic quality estimation. The system has been applied to the sentence-level scoring and ranking tasks as well as the word-level tasks for finding errors for each word in translations. An extensive set of experimental results have shown that our system outperformed the best results in WMT 2017 Quality Estimation tasks and obtained top results in WMT 2018.

2012

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A Novel Burst-based Text Representation Model for Scalable Event Detection
Xin Zhao | Rishan Chen | Kai Fan | Hongfei Yan | Xiaoming Li
Proceedings of the 50th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 2: Short Papers)