Victor O.K. Li

Also published as: Victor O. K. Li


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Improved Zero-shot Neural Machine Translation via Ignoring Spurious Correlations
Jiatao Gu | Yong Wang | Kyunghyun Cho | Victor O.K. Li
Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Zero-shot translation, translating between language pairs on which a Neural Machine Translation (NMT) system has never been trained, is an emergent property when training the system in multilingual settings. However, naive training for zero-shot NMT easily fails, and is sensitive to hyper-parameter setting. The performance typically lags far behind the more conventional pivot-based approach which translates twice using a third language as a pivot. In this work, we address the degeneracy problem due to capturing spurious correlations by quantitatively analyzing the mutual information between language IDs of the source and decoded sentences. Inspired by this analysis, we propose to use two simple but effective approaches: (1) decoder pre-training; (2) back-translation. These methods show significant improvement (4 22 BLEU points) over the vanilla zero-shot translation on three challenging multilingual datasets, and achieve similar or better results than the pivot-based approach.


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A Stable and Effective Learning Strategy for Trainable Greedy Decoding
Yun Chen | Victor O.K. Li | Kyunghyun Cho | Samuel Bowman
Proceedings of the 2018 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Beam search is a widely used approximate search strategy for neural network decoders, and it generally outperforms simple greedy decoding on tasks like machine translation. However, this improvement comes at substantial computational cost. In this paper, we propose a flexible new method that allows us to reap nearly the full benefits of beam search with nearly no additional computational cost. The method revolves around a small neural network actor that is trained to observe and manipulate the hidden state of a previously-trained decoder. To train this actor network, we introduce the use of a pseudo-parallel corpus built using the output of beam search on a base model, ranked by a target quality metric like BLEU. Our method is inspired by earlier work on this problem, but requires no reinforcement learning, and can be trained reliably on a range of models. Experiments on three parallel corpora and three architectures show that the method yields substantial improvements in translation quality and speed over each base system.

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Meta-Learning for Low-Resource Neural Machine Translation
Jiatao Gu | Yong Wang | Yun Chen | Victor O. K. Li | Kyunghyun Cho
Proceedings of the 2018 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

In this paper, we propose to extend the recently introduced model-agnostic meta-learning algorithm (MAML, Finn, et al., 2017) for low-resource neural machine translation (NMT). We frame low-resource translation as a meta-learning problem where we learn to adapt to low-resource languages based on multilingual high-resource language tasks. We use the universal lexical representation (Gu et al., 2018b) to overcome the input-output mismatch across different languages. We evaluate the proposed meta-learning strategy using eighteen European languages (Bg, Cs, Da, De, El, Es, Et, Fr, Hu, It, Lt, Nl, Pl, Pt, Sk, Sl, Sv and Ru) as source tasks and five diverse languages (Ro,Lv, Fi, Tr and Ko) as target tasks. We show that the proposed approach significantly outperforms the multilingual, transfer learning based approach (Zoph et al., 2016) and enables us to train a competitive NMT system with only a fraction of training examples. For instance, the proposed approach can achieve as high as 22.04 BLEU on Romanian-English WMT’16 by seeing only 16,000 translated words (~600 parallel sentences)

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Universal Neural Machine Translation for Extremely Low Resource Languages
Jiatao Gu | Hany Hassan | Jacob Devlin | Victor O.K. Li
Proceedings of the 2018 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies, Volume 1 (Long Papers)

In this paper, we propose a new universal machine translation approach focusing on languages with a limited amount of parallel data. Our proposed approach utilizes a transfer-learning approach to share lexical and sentence level representations across multiple source languages into one target language. The lexical part is shared through a Universal Lexical Representation to support multi-lingual word-level sharing. The sentence-level sharing is represented by a model of experts from all source languages that share the source encoders with all other languages. This enables the low-resource language to utilize the lexical and sentence representations of the higher resource languages. Our approach is able to achieve 23 BLEU on Romanian-English WMT2016 using a tiny parallel corpus of 6k sentences, compared to the 18 BLEU of strong baseline system which uses multi-lingual training and back-translation. Furthermore, we show that the proposed approach can achieve almost 20 BLEU on the same dataset through fine-tuning a pre-trained multi-lingual system in a zero-shot setting.


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A Teacher-Student Framework for Zero-Resource Neural Machine Translation
Yun Chen | Yang Liu | Yong Cheng | Victor O.K. Li
Proceedings of the 55th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

While end-to-end neural machine translation (NMT) has made remarkable progress recently, it still suffers from the data scarcity problem for low-resource language pairs and domains. In this paper, we propose a method for zero-resource NMT by assuming that parallel sentences have close probabilities of generating a sentence in a third language. Based on the assumption, our method is able to train a source-to-target NMT model (“student”) without parallel corpora available guided by an existing pivot-to-target NMT model (“teacher”) on a source-pivot parallel corpus. Experimental results show that the proposed method significantly improves over a baseline pivot-based model by +3.0 BLEU points across various language pairs.

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Trainable Greedy Decoding for Neural Machine Translation
Jiatao Gu | Kyunghyun Cho | Victor O.K. Li
Proceedings of the 2017 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Recent research in neural machine translation has largely focused on two aspects; neural network architectures and end-to-end learning algorithms. The problem of decoding, however, has received relatively little attention from the research community. In this paper, we solely focus on the problem of decoding given a trained neural machine translation model. Instead of trying to build a new decoding algorithm for any specific decoding objective, we propose the idea of trainable decoding algorithm in which we train a decoding algorithm to find a translation that maximizes an arbitrary decoding objective. More specifically, we design an actor that observes and manipulates the hidden state of the neural machine translation decoder and propose to train it using a variant of deterministic policy gradient. We extensively evaluate the proposed algorithm using four language pairs and two decoding objectives and show that we can indeed train a trainable greedy decoder that generates a better translation (in terms of a target decoding objective) with minimal computational overhead.

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Learning to Translate in Real-time with Neural Machine Translation
Jiatao Gu | Graham Neubig | Kyunghyun Cho | Victor O.K. Li
Proceedings of the 15th Conference of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Volume 1, Long Papers

Translating in real-time, a.k.a.simultaneous translation, outputs translation words before the input sentence ends, which is a challenging problem for conventional machine translation methods. We propose a neural machine translation (NMT) framework for simultaneous translation in which an agent learns to make decisions on when to translate from the interaction with a pre-trained NMT environment. To trade off quality and delay, we extensively explore various targets for delay and design a method for beam-search applicable in the simultaneous MT setting. Experiments against state-of-the-art baselines on two language pairs demonstrate the efficacy of the proposed framework both quantitatively and qualitatively.


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Incorporating Copying Mechanism in Sequence-to-Sequence Learning
Jiatao Gu | Zhengdong Lu | Hang Li | Victor O.K. Li
Proceedings of the 54th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)


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Efficient Learning for Undirected Topic Models
Jiatao Gu | Victor O.K. Li
Proceedings of the 53rd Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 7th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (Volume 2: Short Papers)