Pre-training language models have achieved thriving success in numerous natural language understanding and autoregressive generation tasks, but non-autoregressive generation in applications such as machine translation has not sufficiently benefited from the pre-training paradigm. In this work, we establish the connection between a pre-trained masked language model (MLM) and non-autoregressive generation on machine translation. From this perspective, we present XLM-D, which seamlessly transforms an off-the-shelf cross-lingual pre-training model into a non-autoregressive translation (NAT) model with a lightweight yet effective decorator. Specifically, the decorator ensures the representation consistency of the pre-trained model and brings only one additional trainable parameter. Extensive experiments on typical translation datasets show that our models obtain state-of-the-art performance while realizing the inference speed-up by 19.9x. One striking result is that on WMT14 En-De, our XLM-D obtains 29.80 BLEU points with multiple iterations, which outperforms the previous mask-predict model by 2.77 points.
Non-Autoregressive machine Translation (NAT) models have demonstrated significant inference speedup but suffer from inferior translation accuracy. The common practice to tackle the problem is transferring the Autoregressive machine Translation (AT) knowledge to NAT models, e.g., with knowledge distillation. In this work, we hypothesize and empirically verify that AT and NAT encoders capture different linguistic properties of source sentences. Therefore, we propose to adopt multi-task learning to transfer the AT knowledge to NAT models through encoder sharing. Specifically, we take the AT model as an auxiliary task to enhance NAT model performance. Experimental results on WMT14 En-De and WMT16 En-Ro datasets show that the proposed Multi-Task NAT achieves significant improvements over the baseline NAT models. Furthermore, the performance on large-scale WMT19 and WMT20 En-De datasets confirm the consistency of our proposed method. In addition, experimental results demonstrate that our Multi-Task NAT is complementary to knowledge distillation, the standard knowledge transfer method for NAT.
Large-scale training datasets lie at the core of the recent success of neural machine translation (NMT) models. However, the complex patterns and potential noises in the large-scale data make training NMT models difficult. In this work, we explore to identify the inactive training examples which contribute less to the model performance, and show that the existence of inactive examples depends on the data distribution. We further introduce data rejuvenation to improve the training of NMT models on large-scale datasets by exploiting inactive examples. The proposed framework consists of three phases. First, we train an identification model on the original training data, and use it to distinguish inactive examples and active examples by their sentence-level output probabilities. Then, we train a rejuvenation model on the active examples, which is used to re-label the inactive examples with forward- translation. Finally, the rejuvenated examples and the active examples are combined to train the final NMT model. Experimental results on WMT14 English-German and English-French datasets show that the proposed data rejuvenation consistently and significantly improves performance for several strong NMT models. Extensive analyses reveal that our approach stabilizes and accelerates the training process of NMT models, resulting in final models with better generalization capability.
Although neural machine translation (NMT) has advanced the state-of-the-art on various language pairs, the interpretability of NMT remains unsatisfactory. In this work, we propose to address this gap by focusing on understanding the input-output behavior of NMT models. Specifically, we measure the word importance by attributing the NMT output to every input word through a gradient-based method. We validate the approach on a couple of perturbation operations, language pairs, and model architectures, demonstrating its superiority on identifying input words with higher influence on translation performance. Encouragingly, the calculated importance can serve as indicators of input words that are under-translated by NMT models. Furthermore, our analysis reveals that words of certain syntactic categories have higher importance while the categories vary across language pairs, which can inspire better design principles of NMT architectures for multi-lingual translation.