Peyman Passban


2022

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Dynamic Position Encoding for Transformers
Joyce Zheng | Mehdi Rezagholizadeh | Peyman Passban
Proceedings of the 29th International Conference on Computational Linguistics

Recurrent models have been dominating the field of neural machine translation (NMT) for the past few years. Transformers have radically changed it by proposing a novel architecture that relies on a feed-forward backbone and self-attention mechanism. Although Transformers are powerful, they could fail to properly encode sequential/positional information due to their non-recurrent nature. To solve this problem, position embeddings are defined exclusively for each time step to enrich word information. However, such embeddings are fixed after training regardless of the task and word ordering system of the source and target languages. In this paper, we address this shortcoming by proposing a novel architecture with new position embeddings that take the order of the target words into consideration. Instead of using predefined position embeddings, our solution generates new embeddings to refine each word’s position information. Since we do not dictate the position of the source tokens and we learn them in an end-to-end fashion, we refer to our method as dynamic position encoding (DPE). We evaluated the impact of our model on multiple datasets to translate from English to German, French, and Italian and observed meaningful improvements in comparison to the original Transformer.

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Training Mixed-Domain Translation Models via Federated Learning
Peyman Passban | Tanya Roosta | Rahul Gupta | Ankit Chadha | Clement Chung
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Training mixed-domain translation models is a complex task that demands tailored architec- tures and costly data preparation techniques. In this work, we leverage federated learning (FL) in order to tackle the problem. Our investiga- tion demonstrates that with slight modifications in the training process, neural machine trans- lation (NMT) engines can be easily adapted when an FL-based aggregation is applied to fuse different domains. Experimental results also show that engines built via FL are able to perform on par with state-of-the-art baselines that rely on centralized training techniques. We evaluate our hypothesis in the presence of five datasets with different sizes, from different domains, to translate from German into English and discuss how FL and NMT can mutually benefit from each other. In addition to provid- ing benchmarking results on the union of FL and NMT, we also propose a novel technique to dynamically control the communication band- width by selecting impactful parameters during FL updates. This is a significant achievement considering the large size of NMT engines that need to be exchanged between FL parties.

2021

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Not Far Away, Not So Close: Sample Efficient Nearest Neighbour Data Augmentation via MiniMax
Ehsan Kamalloo | Mehdi Rezagholizadeh | Peyman Passban | Ali Ghodsi
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL-IJCNLP 2021

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Revisiting Robust Neural Machine Translation: A Transformer Case Study
Peyman Passban | Puneeth Saladi | Qun Liu
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2021

Transformers have brought a remarkable improvement in the performance of neural machine translation (NMT) systems but they could be surprisingly vulnerable to noise. In this work, we try to investigate how noise breaks Transformers and if there exist solutions to deal with such issues. There is a large body of work in the NMT literature on analyzing the behavior of conventional models for the problem of noise but Transformers are relatively understudied in this context. Motivated by this, we introduce a novel data-driven technique called Target Augmented Fine-tuning (TAFT) to incorporate noise during training. This idea is comparable to the well-known fine-tuning strategy. Moreover, we propose two other novel extensions to the original Transformer: Controlled Denoising (CD) and Dual-Channel Decoding (DCD), that modify the neural architecture as well as the training process to handle noise. One important characteristic of our techniques is that they only impact the training phase and do not impose any overhead at inference time. We evaluated our techniques to translate the English–German pair in both directions and observed that our models have a higher tolerance to noise. More specifically, they perform with no deterioration where up to 10% of entire test words are infected by noise.

2020

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Why Skip If You Can Combine: A Simple Knowledge Distillation Technique for Intermediate Layers
Yimeng Wu | Peyman Passban | Mehdi Rezagholizadeh | Qun Liu
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

With the growth of computing power neural machine translation (NMT) models also grow accordingly and become better. However, they also become harder to deploy on edge devices due to memory constraints. To cope with this problem, a common practice is to distill knowledge from a large and accurately-trained teacher network (T) into a compact student network (S). Although knowledge distillation (KD) is useful in most cases, our study shows that existing KD techniques might not be suitable enough for deep NMT engines, so we propose a novel alternative. In our model, besides matching T and S predictions we have a combinatorial mechanism to inject layer-level supervision from T to S. In this paper, we target low-resource settings and evaluate our translation engines for Portuguese→English, Turkish→English, and English→German directions. Students trained using our technique have 50% fewer parameters and can still deliver comparable results to those of 12-layer teachers.

2018

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Tailoring Neural Architectures for Translating from Morphologically Rich Languages
Peyman Passban | Andy Way | Qun Liu
Proceedings of the 27th International Conference on Computational Linguistics

A morphologically complex word (MCW) is a hierarchical constituent with meaning-preserving subunits, so word-based models which rely on surface forms might not be powerful enough to translate such structures. When translating from morphologically rich languages (MRLs), a source word could be mapped to several words or even a full sentence on the target side, which means an MCW should not be treated as an atomic unit. In order to provide better translations for MRLs, we boost the existing neural machine translation (NMT) architecture with a double- channel encoder and a double-attentive decoder. The main goal targeted in this research is to provide richer information on the encoder side and redesign the decoder accordingly to benefit from such information. Our experimental results demonstrate that we could achieve our goal as the proposed model outperforms existing subword- and character-based architectures and showed significant improvements on translating from German, Russian, and Turkish into English.

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Investigating Backtranslation in Neural Machine Translation
Alberto Poncelas | Dimitar Shterionov | Andy Way | Gideon Maillette de Buy Wenniger | Peyman Passban
Proceedings of the 21st Annual Conference of the European Association for Machine Translation

A prerequisite for training corpus-based machine translation (MT) systems – either Statistical MT (SMT) or Neural MT (NMT) – is the availability of high-quality parallel data. This is arguably more important today than ever before, as NMT has been shown in many studies to outperform SMT, but mostly when large parallel corpora are available; in cases where data is limited, SMT can still outperform NMT. Recently researchers have shown that back-translating monolingual data can be used to create synthetic parallel corpora, which in turn can be used in combination with authentic parallel data to train a highquality NMT system. Given that large collections of new parallel text become available only quite rarely, backtranslation has become the norm when building state-of-the-art NMT systems, especially in resource-poor scenarios. However, we assert that there are many unknown factors regarding the actual effects of back-translated data on the translation capabilities of an NMT model. Accordingly, in this work we investigate how using back-translated data as a training corpus – both as a separate standalone dataset as well as combined with human-generated parallel data – affects the performance of an NMT model. We use incrementally larger amounts of back-translated data to train a range of NMT systems for German-to-English, and analyse the resulting translation performance.

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Improving Character-Based Decoding Using Target-Side Morphological Information for Neural Machine Translation
Peyman Passban | Qun Liu | Andy Way
Proceedings of the 2018 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies, Volume 1 (Long Papers)

Recently, neural machine translation (NMT) has emerged as a powerful alternative to conventional statistical approaches. However, its performance drops considerably in the presence of morphologically rich languages (MRLs). Neural engines usually fail to tackle the large vocabulary and high out-of-vocabulary (OOV) word rate of MRLs. Therefore, it is not suitable to exploit existing word-based models to translate this set of languages. In this paper, we propose an extension to the state-of-the-art model of Chung et al. (2016), which works at the character level and boosts the decoder with target-side morphological information. In our architecture, an additional morphology table is plugged into the model. Each time the decoder samples from a target vocabulary, the table sends auxiliary signals from the most relevant affixes in order to enrich the decoder’s current state and constrain it to provide better predictions. We evaluated our model to translate English into German, Russian, and Turkish as three MRLs and observed significant improvements.

2016

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Improving Phrase-Based SMT Using Cross-Granularity Embedding Similarity
Peyman Passban | Chris Hokamp | Andy Way | Qun Liu
Proceedings of the 19th Annual Conference of the European Association for Machine Translation

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Enriching Phrase Tables for Statistical Machine Translation Using Mixed Embeddings
Peyman Passban | Qun Liu | Andy Way
Proceedings of COLING 2016, the 26th International Conference on Computational Linguistics: Technical Papers

The phrase table is considered to be the main bilingual resource for the phrase-based statistical machine translation (PBSMT) model. During translation, a source sentence is decomposed into several phrases. The best match of each source phrase is selected among several target-side counterparts within the phrase table, and processed by the decoder to generate a sentence-level translation. The best match is chosen according to several factors, including a set of bilingual features. PBSMT engines by default provide four probability scores in phrase tables which are considered as the main set of bilingual features. Our goal is to enrich that set of features, as a better feature set should yield better translations. We propose new scores generated by a Convolutional Neural Network (CNN) which indicate the semantic relatedness of phrase pairs. We evaluate our model in different experimental settings with different language pairs. We observe significant improvements when the proposed features are incorporated into the PBSMT pipeline.

2015

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Bilingual distributed phrase representations for statistical machin translation
Peyman Passban | Chris Hokamp | Qun Li
Proceedings of Machine Translation Summit XV: Papers

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Benchmarking SMT Performance for Farsi Using the TEP++ Corpus
Peyman Passban | Andy Way | Qun Liu
Proceedings of the 18th Annual Conference of the European Association for Machine Translation

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Benchmarking SMT Performance for Farsi Using the TEP++ Corpus
Peyman Passban | Andy Way | Qun Liu
Proceedings of the 18th Annual Conference of the European Association for Machine Translation