Learning semantically meaningful sentence embeddings is an open problem in natural language processing. In this work, we propose a sentence embedding learning approach that exploits both visual and textual information via a multimodal contrastive objective. Through experiments on a variety of semantic textual similarity tasks, we demonstrate that our approach consistently improves the performance across various datasets and pre-trained encoders. In particular, combining a small amount of multimodal data with a large text-only corpus, we improve the state-of-the-art average Spearman’s correlation by 1.7%. By analyzing the properties of the textual embedding space, we show that our model excels in aligning semantically similar sentences, providing an explanation for its improved performance.
Recently neural network based approaches to knowledge-intensive NLP tasks, such as question answering, started to rely heavily on the combination of neural retrievers and readers. Retrieval is typically performed over a large textual knowledge base (KB) which requires significant memory and compute resources, especially when scaled up. On HotpotQA we systematically investigate reducing the size of the KB index by means of dimensionality (sparse random projections, PCA, autoencoders) and numerical precision reduction. Our results show that PCA is an easy solution that requires very little data and is only slightly worse than autoencoders, which are less stable. All methods are sensitive to pre- and post-processing and data should always be centered and normalized both before and after dimension reduction. Finally, we show that it is possible to combine PCA with using 1bit per dimension. Overall we achieve (1) 100× compression with 75%, and (2) 24× compression with 92% original retrieval performance.
Documents as short as a single sentence may inadvertently reveal sensitive information about their authors, including e.g. their gender or ethnicity. Style transfer is an effective way of transforming texts in order to remove any information that enables author profiling. However, for a number of current state-of-the-art approaches the improved privacy is accompanied by an undesirable drop in the down-stream utility of the transformed data. In this paper, we propose a simple, zero-shot way to effectively lower the risk of author profiling through multilingual back-translation using off-the-shelf translation models. We compare our models with five representative text style transfer models on three datasets across different domains. Results from both an automatic and a human evaluation show that our approach achieves the best overall performance while requiring no training data. We are able to lower the adversarial prediction of gender and race by up to 22% while retaining 95% of the original utility on downstream tasks.