Saleh Soltan


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Recipes for Sequential Pre-training of Multilingual Encoder and Seq2Seq Models
Saleh Soltan | Andy Rosenbaum | Tobias Falke | Qin Lu | Anna Rumshisky | Wael Hamza
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2023

Pre-trained encoder-only and sequence-to-sequence (seq2seq) models each have advantages, however training both model types from scratch is computationally expensive. We explore recipes to improve pre-training efficiency by initializing one model from the other. (1) Extracting the encoder from a seq2seq model, we show it under-performs a Masked Language Modeling (MLM) encoder, particularly on sequence labeling tasks. Variations of masking during seq2seq training, reducing the decoder size, and continuing with a small amount of MLM training do not close the gap. (2) Conversely, using an encoder to warm-start seq2seq training, we show that by unfreezing the encoder partway through training, we can match task performance of a from-scratch seq2seq model. Overall, this two-stage approach is an efficient recipe to obtain both a multilingual encoder and a seq2seq model, matching the performance of training each model from scratch while reducing the total compute cost by 27%.


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CLASP: Few-Shot Cross-Lingual Data Augmentation for Semantic Parsing
Andy Rosenbaum | Saleh Soltan | Wael Hamza | Marco Damonte | Isabel Groves | Amir Saffari
Proceedings of the 2nd Conference of the Asia-Pacific Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 12th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (Volume 2: Short Papers)

A bottleneck to developing Semantic Parsing (SP) models is the need for a large volume of human-labeled training data. Given the complexity and cost of human annotation for SP, labeled data is often scarce, particularly in multilingual settings. Large Language Models (LLMs) excel at SP given only a few examples, however LLMs are unsuitable for runtime systems which require low latency. In this work, we propose CLASP, a simple method to improve low-resource SP for moderate-sized models: we generate synthetic data from AlexaTM 20B to augment the training set for a model 40x smaller (500M parameters). We evaluate on two datasets in low-resource settings: English PIZZA, containing either 348 or 16 real examples, and mTOP cross-lingual zero-shot, where training data is available only in English, and the model must generalize to four new languages. On both datasets, we show significant improvements over strong baseline methods.

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LINGUIST: Language Model Instruction Tuning to Generate Annotated Utterances for Intent Classification and Slot Tagging
Andy Rosenbaum | Saleh Soltan | Wael Hamza | Yannick Versley | Markus Boese
Proceedings of the 29th International Conference on Computational Linguistics

We present LINGUIST, a method for generating annotated data for Intent Classification and Slot Tagging (IC+ST), via fine-tuning AlexaTM 5B, a 5-billion-parameter multilingual sequence-to-sequence (seq2seq) model, on a flexible instruction prompt. In a 10-shot novel intent setting for the SNIPS dataset, LINGUIST surpasses state-of-the-art approaches (Back-Translation and Example Extrapolation) by a wide margin, showing absolute improvement for the target intents of +1.9 points on IC Recall and +2.5 points on ST F1 Score. In the zero-shot cross-lingual setting of the mATIS++ dataset, LINGUIST out-performs a strong baseline of Machine Translation with Slot Alignment by +4.14 points absolute on ST F1 Score across 6 languages, while matching performance on IC. Finally, we verify our results on an internal large-scale multilingual dataset for conversational agent IC+ST and show significant improvements over a baseline which uses Back-Translation, Paraphrasing and Slot Catalog Resampling. To our knowledge, we are the first to demonstrate instruction fine-tuning of a large-scale seq2seq model to control the outputs of multilingual intent- and slot-labeled data generation.

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A Hybrid Approach to Cross-lingual Product Review Summarization
Saleh Soltan | Victor Soto | Ke Tran | Wael Hamza
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing: Industry Track

We present a hybrid approach for product review summarization which consists of: (i) an unsupervised extractive step to extract the most important sentences out of all the reviews, and (ii) a supervised abstractive step to summarize the extracted sentences into a coherent short summary. This approach allows us to develop an efficient cross-lingual abstractive summarizer that can generate summaries in any language, given the extracted sentences out of thousands of reviews in a source language. In order to train and test the abstractive model, we create the Cross-lingual Amazon Reviews Summarization (CARS) dataset which provides English summaries for training, and English, French, Italian, Arabic, and Hindi summaries for testing based on selected English reviews. We show that the summaries generated by our model are as good as human written summaries in coherence, informativeness, non-redundancy, and fluency.

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CGF: Constrained Generation Framework for Query Rewriting in Conversational AI
Jie Hao | Yang Liu | Xing Fan | Saurabh Gupta | Saleh Soltan | Rakesh Chada | Pradeep Natarajan | Chenlei Guo | Gokhan Tur
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing: Industry Track

In conversational AI agents, Query Rewriting (QR) plays a crucial role in reducing user frictions and satisfying their daily demands. User frictions are caused by various reasons, such as errors in the conversational AI system, users’ accent or their abridged language. In this work, we present a novel Constrained Generation Framework (CGF) for query rewriting at both global and personalized levels. It is based on the encoder-decoder framework, where the encoder takes the query and its previous dialogue turns as the input to form a context-enhanced representation, and the decoder uses constrained decoding to generate the rewrites based on the pre-defined global or personalized constrained decoding space. Extensive offline and online A/B experiments show that the proposed CGF significantly boosts the query rewriting performance.


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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.