Saleh Soltan


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Limitations of Knowledge Distillation for Zero-shot Transfer Learning
Saleh Soltan | Haidar Khan | Wael Hamza
Proceedings of the Second Workshop on Simple and Efficient Natural Language Processing

Pretrained transformer-based encoders such as BERT have been demonstrated to achieve state-of-the-art performance on numerous NLP tasks. Despite their success, BERT style encoders are large in size and have high latency during inference (especially on CPU machines) which make them unappealing for many online applications. Recently introduced compression and distillation methods have provided effective ways to alleviate this shortcoming. However, the focus of these works has been mainly on monolingual encoders. Motivated by recent successes in zero-shot cross-lingual transfer learning using multilingual pretrained encoders such as mBERT, we evaluate the effectiveness of Knowledge Distillation (KD) both during pretraining stage and during fine-tuning stage on multilingual BERT models. We demonstrate that in contradiction to the previous observation in the case of monolingual distillation, in multilingual settings, distillation during pretraining is more effective than distillation during fine-tuning for zero-shot transfer learning. Moreover, we observe that distillation during fine-tuning may hurt zero-shot cross-lingual performance. Finally, we demonstrate that distilling a larger model (BERT Large) results in the strongest distilled model that performs best both on the source language as well as target languages in zero-shot settings.


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Don’t Parse, Insert: Multilingual Semantic Parsing with Insertion Based Decoding
Qile Zhu | Haidar Khan | Saleh Soltan | Stephen Rawls | Wael Hamza
Proceedings of the 24th Conference on Computational Natural Language Learning

Semantic parsing is one of the key components of natural language understanding systems. A successful parse transforms an input utterance to an action that is easily understood by the system. Many algorithms have been proposed to solve this problem, from conventional rule-based or statistical slot-filling systems to shift-reduce based neural parsers. For complex parsing tasks, the state-of-the-art method is based on an autoregressive sequence to sequence model that generates the parse directly. This model is slow at inference time, generating parses in O(n) decoding steps (n is the length of the target sequence). In addition, we demonstrate that this method performs poorly in zero-shot cross-lingual transfer learning settings. In this paper, we propose a non-autoregressive parser which is based on the insertion transformer to overcome these two issues. Our approach 1) speeds up decoding by 3x while outperforming the autoregressive model and 2) significantly improves cross-lingual transfer in the low-resource setting by 37% compared to autoregressive baseline. We test our approach on three wellknown monolingual datasets: ATIS, SNIPS and TOP. For cross-lingual semantic parsing, we use the MultiATIS++ and the multilingual TOP datasets.