Robert Flynn


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MTCue: Learning Zero-Shot Control of Extra-Textual Attributes by Leveraging Unstructured Context in Neural Machine Translation
Sebastian Vincent | Robert Flynn | Carolina Scarton
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2023

Efficient utilisation of both intra- and extra-textual context remains one of the critical gaps between machine and human translation. Existing research has primarily focused on providing individual, well-defined types of context in translation, such as the surrounding text or discrete external variables like the speaker’s gender. This work introduces MTCue, a novel neural machine translation (NMT) framework that interprets all context (including discrete variables) as text. MTCue learns an abstract representation of context, enabling transferability across different data settings and leveraging similar attributes in low-resource scenarios. With a focus on a dialogue domain with access to document and metadata context, we extensively evaluate MTCue in four language pairs in both translation directions. Our framework demonstrates significant improvements in translation quality over a parameter-matched non-contextual baseline, as measured by BLEU (+0.88) and Comet (+1.58). Moreover, MTCue significantly outperforms a “tagging” baseline at translating English text. Analysis reveals that the context encoder of MTCue learns a representation space that organises context based on specific attributes, such as formality, enabling effective zero-shot control. Pre-training on context embeddings also improves MTCue’s few-shot performance compared to the “tagging” baseline. Finally, an ablation study conducted on model components and contextual variables further supports the robustness of MTCue for context-based NMT.


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Manchester Metropolitan at SemEval-2021 Task 1: Convolutional Networks for Complex Word Identification
Robert Flynn | Matthew Shardlow
Proceedings of the 15th International Workshop on Semantic Evaluation (SemEval-2021)

We present two convolutional neural networks for predicting the complexity of words and phrases in context on a continuous scale. Both models utilize word and character embeddings alongside lexical features as inputs. Our system displays reasonable results with a Pearson correlation of 0.7754 on the task as a whole. We highlight the limitations of this method in properly assessing the context of the target text, and explore the effectiveness of both systems across a range of genres. Both models were submitted as part of LCP 2021, which focuses on the identification of complex words and phrases as a context dependent, regression based task.