Lidia Sam Chao


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Rethinking the Exploitation of Monolingual Data for Low-Resource Neural Machine Translation
Jianhui Pang | Baosong Yang* | Derek Fai Wong* | Yu Wan | Dayiheng Liu | Lidia Sam Chao | Jun Xie
Computational Linguistics, Volume 50, Issue 1 - March 2024

The utilization of monolingual data has been shown to be a promising strategy for addressing low-resource machine translation problems. Previous studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of techniques such as back-translation and self-supervised objectives, including masked language modeling, causal language modeling, and denoise autoencoding, in improving the performance of machine translation models. However, the manner in which these methods contribute to the success of machine translation tasks and how they can be effectively combined remains an under-researched area. In this study, we carry out a systematic investigation of the effects of these techniques on linguistic properties through the use of probing tasks, including source language comprehension, bilingual word alignment, and translation fluency. We further evaluate the impact of pre-training, back-translation, and multi-task learning on bitexts of varying sizes. Our findings inform the design of more effective pipelines for leveraging monolingual data in extremely low-resource and low-resource machine translation tasks. Experiment results show consistent performance gains in seven translation directions, which provide further support for our conclusions and understanding of the role of monolingual data in machine translation.


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Challenges of Neural Machine Translation for Short Texts
Yu Wan | Baosong Yang | Derek Fai Wong | Lidia Sam Chao | Liang Yao | Haibo Zhang | Boxing Chen
Computational Linguistics, Volume 48, Issue 2 - June 2022

Short texts (STs) present in a variety of scenarios, including query, dialog, and entity names. Most of the exciting studies in neural machine translation (NMT) are focused on tackling open problems concerning long sentences rather than short ones. The intuition behind is that, with respect to human learning and processing, short sequences are generally regarded as easy examples. In this article, we first dispel this speculation via conducting preliminary experiments, showing that the conventional state-of-the-art NMT approach, namely, Transformer (Vaswani et al. 2017), still suffers from over-translation and mistranslation errors over STs. After empirically investigating the rationale behind this, we summarize two challenges in NMT for STs associated with translation error types above, respectively: (1) the imbalanced length distribution in training set intensifies model inference calibration over STs, leading to more over-translation cases on STs; and (2) the lack of contextual information forces NMT to have higher data uncertainty on short sentences, and thus NMT model is troubled by considerable mistranslation errors. Some existing approaches, like balancing data distribution for training (e.g., data upsampling) and complementing contextual information (e.g., introducing translation memory) can alleviate the translation issues in NMT for STs. We encourage researchers to investigate other challenges in NMT for STs, thus reducing ST translation errors and enhancing translation quality.