Mihir Kale


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ByT5: Towards a Token-Free Future with Pre-trained Byte-to-Byte Models
Linting Xue | Aditya Barua | Noah Constant | Rami Al-Rfou | Sharan Narang | Mihir Kale | Adam Roberts | Colin Raffel
Transactions of the Association for Computational Linguistics, Volume 10

Most widely used pre-trained language models operate on sequences of tokens corresponding to word or subword units. By comparison, token-free models that operate directly on raw text (bytes or characters) have many benefits: They can process text in any language out of the box, they are more robust to noise, and they minimize technical debt by removing complex and error-prone text preprocessing pipelines. Because byte or character sequences are longer than token sequences, past work on token-free models has often introduced new model architectures designed to amortize the cost of operating directly on raw text. In this paper, we show that a standard Transformer architecture can be used with minimal modifications to process byte sequences. We characterize the trade-offs in terms of parameter count, training FLOPs, and inference speed, and show that byte-level models are competitive with their token-level counterparts. We also demonstrate that byte-level models are significantly more robust to noise and perform better on tasks that are sensitive to spelling and pronunciation. As part of our contribution, we release a new set of pre-trained byte-level Transformer models based on the T5 architecture, as well as all code and data used in our experiments.1

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Improving Compositional Generalization with Self-Training for Data-to-Text Generation
Sanket Vaibhav Mehta | Jinfeng Rao | Yi Tay | Mihir Kale | Ankur Parikh | Emma Strubell
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Data-to-text generation focuses on generating fluent natural language responses from structured meaning representations (MRs). Such representations are compositional and it is costly to collect responses for all possible combinations of atomic meaning schemata, thereby necessitating few-shot generalization to novel MRs. In this work, we systematically study the compositional generalization of the state-of-the-art T5 models in few-shot data-to-text tasks. We show that T5 models fail to generalize to unseen MRs, and we propose a template-based input representation that considerably improves the model’s generalization capability. To further improve the model’s performance, we propose an approach based on self-training using fine-tuned BLEURT for pseudo-response selection. On the commonly-used SGD and Weather benchmarks, the proposed self-training approach improves tree accuracy by 46%+ and reduces the slot error rates by 73%+ over the strong T5 baselines in few-shot settings.


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Towards Zero-Shot Multilingual Synthetic Question and Answer Generation for Cross-Lingual Reading Comprehension
Siamak Shakeri | Noah Constant | Mihir Kale | Linting Xue
Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Natural Language Generation

We propose a simple method to generate multilingual question and answer pairs on a large scale through the use of a single generative model. These synthetic samples can be used to improve the zero-shot performance of multilingual QA models on target languages. Our proposed multi-task training of the generative model only requires labeled training samples in English, thus removing the need for such samples in the target languages, making it applicable to far more languages than those with labeled data. Human evaluations indicate the majority of such samples are grammatically correct and sensible. Experimental results show our proposed approach can achieve large gains on the XQuAD dataset, reducing the gap between zero-shot and supervised performance of smaller QA models on various languages.

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TicketTalk: Toward human-level performance with end-to-end, transaction-based dialog systems
Bill Byrne | Karthik Krishnamoorthi | Saravanan Ganesh | Mihir Kale
Proceedings of the 59th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 11th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (Volume 1: Long Papers)

We present a data-driven, end-to-end approach to transaction-based dialog systems that performs at near-human levels in terms of verbal response quality and factual grounding accuracy. We show that two essential components of the system produce these results: a sufficiently large and diverse, in-domain labeled dataset, and a neural network-based, pre-trained model that generates both verbal responses and API call predictions. In terms of data, we introduce TicketTalk, a movie ticketing dialog dataset with 23,789 annotated conversations. The conversations range from completely open-ended and unrestricted to more structured, both in terms of their knowledge base, discourse features, and number of turns. In qualitative human evaluations, model-generated responses trained on just 10,000 TicketTalk dialogs were rated to “make sense” 86.5% of the time, almost the same as human responses in the same contexts. Our simple, API-focused annotation schema results in a much easier labeling task making it faster and more cost effective. It is also the key component for being able to predict API calls accurately. We handle factual grounding by incorporating API calls in the training data, allowing our model to learn which actions to take and when. Trained on the same 10,000-dialog set, the model’s API call predictions were rated to be correct 93.9% of the time in our evaluations, surpassing the ratings for the corresponding human labels. We show how API prediction and response generation scores improve as the dataset size incrementally increases from 5000 to 21,000 dialogs. Our analysis also clearly illustrates the benefits of pre-training. To facilitate future work on transaction-based dialog systems, we are publicly releasing the TicketTalk dataset at https://git.io/JL8an.

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nmT5 - Is parallel data still relevant for pre-training massively multilingual language models?
Mihir Kale | Aditya Siddhant | Rami Al-Rfou | Linting Xue | Noah Constant | Melvin Johnson
Proceedings of the 59th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 11th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (Volume 2: Short Papers)

Recently, mT5 - a massively multilingual version of T5 - leveraged a unified text-to-text format to attain state-of-the-art results on a wide variety of multilingual NLP tasks. In this paper, we investigate the impact of incorporating parallel data into mT5 pre-training. We find that multi-tasking language modeling with objectives such as machine translation during pre-training is a straightforward way to improve performance on downstream multilingual and cross-lingual tasks. However, the gains start to diminish as the model capacity increases, suggesting that parallel data might not be as essential for larger models. At the same time, even at larger model sizes, we find that pre-training with parallel data still provides benefits in the limited labelled data regime

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mT5: A Massively Multilingual Pre-trained Text-to-Text Transformer
Linting Xue | Noah Constant | Adam Roberts | Mihir Kale | Rami Al-Rfou | Aditya Siddhant | Aditya Barua | Colin Raffel
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

The recent “Text-to-Text Transfer Transformer” (T5) leveraged a unified text-to-text format and scale to attain state-of-the-art results on a wide variety of English-language NLP tasks. In this paper, we introduce mT5, a multilingual variant of T5 that was pre-trained on a new Common Crawl-based dataset covering 101 languages. We detail the design and modified training of mT5 and demonstrate its state-of-the-art performance on many multilingual benchmarks. We also describe a simple technique to prevent “accidental translation” in the zero-shot setting, where a generative model chooses to (partially) translate its prediction into the wrong language. All of the code and model checkpoints used in this work are publicly available.

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The GEM Benchmark: Natural Language Generation, its Evaluation and Metrics
Sebastian Gehrmann | Tosin Adewumi | Karmanya Aggarwal | Pawan Sasanka Ammanamanchi | Anuoluwapo Aremu | Antoine Bosselut | Khyathi Raghavi Chandu | Miruna-Adriana Clinciu | Dipanjan Das | Kaustubh Dhole | Wanyu Du | Esin Durmus | Ondřej Dušek | Chris Chinenye Emezue | Varun Gangal | Cristina Garbacea | Tatsunori Hashimoto | Yufang Hou | Yacine Jernite | Harsh Jhamtani | Yangfeng Ji | Shailza Jolly | Mihir Kale | Dhruv Kumar | Faisal Ladhak | Aman Madaan | Mounica Maddela | Khyati Mahajan | Saad Mahamood | Bodhisattwa Prasad Majumder | Pedro Henrique Martins | Angelina McMillan-Major | Simon Mille | Emiel van Miltenburg | Moin Nadeem | Shashi Narayan | Vitaly Nikolaev | Andre Niyongabo Rubungo | Salomey Osei | Ankur Parikh | Laura Perez-Beltrachini | Niranjan Ramesh Rao | Vikas Raunak | Juan Diego Rodriguez | Sashank Santhanam | João Sedoc | Thibault Sellam | Samira Shaikh | Anastasia Shimorina | Marco Antonio Sobrevilla Cabezudo | Hendrik Strobelt | Nishant Subramani | Wei Xu | Diyi Yang | Akhila Yerukola | Jiawei Zhou
Proceedings of the 1st Workshop on Natural Language Generation, Evaluation, and Metrics (GEM 2021)

We introduce GEM, a living benchmark for natural language Generation (NLG), its Evaluation, and Metrics. Measuring progress in NLG relies on a constantly evolving ecosystem of automated metrics, datasets, and human evaluation standards. Due to this moving target, new models often still evaluate on divergent anglo-centric corpora with well-established, but flawed, metrics. This disconnect makes it challenging to identify the limitations of current models and opportunities for progress. Addressing this limitation, GEM provides an environment in which models can easily be applied to a wide set of tasks and in which evaluation strategies can be tested. Regular updates to the benchmark will help NLG research become more multilingual and evolve the challenge alongside models. This paper serves as the description of the data for the 2021 shared task at the associated GEM Workshop.


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Template Guided Text Generation for Task-Oriented Dialogue
Mihir Kale | Abhinav Rastogi
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

Virtual assistants such as Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and Apple Siri enable users to interact with a large number of services and APIs on the web using natural language. In this work, we investigate two methods for Natural Language Generation (NLG) using a single domain-independent model across a large number of APIs. First, we propose a schema-guided approach which conditions the generation on a schema describing the API in natural language. Our second method investigates the use of a small number of templates, growing linearly in number of slots, to convey the semantics of the API. To generate utterances for an arbitrary slot combination, a few simple templates are first concatenated to give a semantically correct, but possibly incoherent and ungrammatical utterance. A pre-trained language model is subsequently employed to rewrite it into coherent, natural sounding text. Through automatic metrics and human evaluation, we show that our method improves over strong baselines, is robust to out-of-domain inputs and shows improved sample efficiency.

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Machine Translation Aided Bilingual Data-to-Text Generation and Semantic Parsing
Oshin Agarwal | Mihir Kale | Heming Ge | Siamak Shakeri | Rami Al-Rfou
Proceedings of the 3rd International Workshop on Natural Language Generation from the Semantic Web (WebNLG+)

We present a system for bilingual Data-ToText Generation and Semantic Parsing. We use a text-to-text generator to learn a single model that works for both languages on each of the tasks. The model is aided by machine translation during both pre-training and fine-tuning. We evaluate the system on WebNLG 2020 data 1 , which consists of RDF triples in English and natural language sentences in English and Russian for both the tasks. We achieve considerable gains over monolingual models, especially on unseen relations and Russian.

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Machine Translation Pre-training for Data-to-Text Generation - A Case Study in Czech
Mihir Kale | Scott Roy
Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Natural Language Generation

While there is a large body of research studying deep learning methods for text generation from structured data, almost all of it focuses purely on English. In this paper, we study the effectiveness of machine translation based pre-training for data-to-text generation in non-English languages. Since the structured data is generally expressed in English, text generation into other languages involves elements of translation, transliteration and copying - elements already encoded in neural machine translation systems. Moreover, since data-to-text corpora are typically small, this task can benefit greatly from pre-training. We conduct experiments on Czech, a morphologically complex language. Results show that machine translation pre-training lets us train endto-end models that significantly improve upon unsupervised pre-training and linguistically informed pipelined neural systems, as judged by automatic metrics and human evaluation. We also show that this approach enjoys several desirable properties, including improved performance in low data scenarios and applicability to low resource languages.

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Text-to-Text Pre-Training for Data-to-Text Tasks
Mihir Kale | Abhinav Rastogi
Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Natural Language Generation

We study the pre-train + fine-tune strategy for data-to-text tasks. Our experiments indicate that text-to-text pre-training in the form of T5 (Raffel et al., 2019), enables simple, end-to-end transformer based models to outperform pipelined neural architectures tailored for data-to-text generation, as well as alternatives such as BERT and GPT-2. Importantly, T5 pre-training leads to better generalization, as evidenced by large improvements on out-ofdomain test sets. We hope our work serves as a useful baseline for future research, as transfer learning becomes ever more prevalent for data-to-text tasks.