Luca Malagutti


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On the Efficacy of Sampling Adapters
Clara Meister | Tiago Pimentel | Luca Malagutti | Ethan Wilcox | Ryan Cotterell
Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Sampling-based decoding strategies are widely employed for generating text from probabilistic models, yet standard ancestral sampling often results in text that is degenerate or incoherent. To alleviate this issue, various modifications to a model’s sampling distribution, such as top-p or top-k sampling, have been introduced and are now ubiquitously used in language generation systems. We propose a unified framework for understanding these techniques, which we term sampling adapters. Sampling adapters often lead to qualitatively better text, which raises the question: From a formal perspective, how are they changing the token-level distributions of language generation models? And why do these local changes lead to higher-quality text? We argue that the shift they enforce can be viewed as a trade-off between precision and recall: while the model loses its ability to produce certain strings, its precision rate on desirable text increases. While this trade-off is not reflected in standard metrics of distribution quality (such as perplexity), we find that several precision-emphasizing measures indeed indicate that sampling adapters can lead to probability distributions more aligned with the true distribution. Further, these measures correlate with higher sequence-level quality scores, specifically, Mauve.

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Generating Text from Language Models
Afra Amini | Ryan Cotterell | John Hewitt | Luca Malagutti | Clara Meister | Tiago Pimentel
Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 6: Tutorial Abstracts)

An increasingly large percentage of natural language processing (NLP) tasks center around the generation of text from probabilistic language models. Despite this trend, techniques for improving or specifying preferences in these generated texts rely mostly on intuition-based heuristics. Further, there lacks a unified presentation of their motivations, practical implementation, successes and pitfalls. Practitioners must, therefore, choose somewhat blindly between generation algorithms—like top-p sampling or beam search—which can lead to wildly different results. At the same time, language generation research continues to criticize and improve the standard toolboxes, further adding entropy to the state of the field. In this tutorial, we will provide a centralized and cohesive discussion of critical considerations when choosing how to generate from a language model. We will cover a wide range of empirically-observed problems (like degradation, hallucination, repetition) and their corresponding proposed algorithmic solutions from recent research (like top-p sampling and its successors). We will then discuss a subset of these algorithms under a unified light; most stochastic generation strategies can be framed as locally adapting the probabilities of a model to avoid failure cases. Finally, we will then cover methods in controlled generation, that go beyond just ensuring coherence to ensure text exhibits specific desired properties. We aim for NLP practitioners and researchers to leave our tutorial with a unified framework which they can use to evaluate and contribute to the latest research in language generation.