Kai Shen


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Mask the Correct Tokens: An Embarrassingly Simple Approach for Error Correction
Kai Shen | Yichong Leng | Xu Tan | Siliang Tang | Yuan Zhang | Wenjie Liu | Edward Lin
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Text error correction aims to correct the errors in text sequences such as those typed by humans or generated by speech recognition models. Previous error correction methods usually take the source (incorrect) sentence as encoder input and generate the target (correct) sentence through the decoder. Since the error rate of the incorrect sentence is usually low (e.g., 10%), the correction model can only learn to correct on limited error tokens but trivially copy on most tokens (correct tokens), which harms the effective training of error correction. In this paper, we argue that the correct tokens should be better utilized to facilitate effective training and then propose a simple yet effective masking strategy to achieve this goal. Specifically, we randomly mask out a part of the correct tokens in the source sentence and let the model learn to not only correct the original error tokens but also predict the masked tokens based on their context information. Our method enjoys several advantages: 1) it alleviates trivial copy; 2) it leverages effective training signals from correct tokens; 3) it is a plug-and-play module and can be applied to different models and tasks. Experiments on spelling error correction and speech recognition error correction on Mandarin datasets and grammar error correction on English datasets with both autoregressive and non-autoregressive generation models show that our method improves the correctionaccuracy consistently.