Vivek Iyer


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Exploring Very Low-Resource Translation with LLMs: The University of Edinburgh’s Submission to AmericasNLP 2024 Translation Task
Vivek Iyer | Bhavitvya Malik | Wenhao Zhu | Pavel Stepachev | Pinzhen Chen | Barry Haddow | Alexandra Birch
Proceedings of the 4th Workshop on Natural Language Processing for Indigenous Languages of the Americas (AmericasNLP 2024)

This paper describes the University of Edinburgh’s submission to the AmericasNLP 2024 shared task on the translation of Spanish into 11 indigenous American languages. We explore the ability of multilingual Large Language Models (LLMs) to model low-resource languages by continued pre-training with LoRA, and conduct instruction fine-tuning using a variety of datasets, demonstrating that this improves LLM performance. Furthermore, we demonstrate the efficacy of checkpoint averaging alongside decoding techniques like beam search and sampling, resulting in further improvements. We participate in all 11 translation directions.


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Exploring Enhanced Code-Switched Noising for Pretraining in Neural Machine Translation
Vivek Iyer | Arturo Oncevay | Alexandra Birch
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EACL 2023

Multilingual pretraining approaches in Neural Machine Translation (NMT) have shown that training models to denoise synthetic code-switched data can yield impressive performance gains — owing to better multilingual semantic representations and transfer learning. However, they generated the synthetic code-switched data using non-contextual, one-to-one word translations obtained from lexicons - which can lead to significant noise in a variety of cases, including the poor handling of polysemes and multi-word expressions, violation of linguistic agreement and inability to scale to agglutinative languages. To overcome these limitations, we propose an approach called Contextual Code-Switching (CCS), where contextual, many-to-many word translations are generated using a ‘base’ NMT model. We conduct experiments on 3 different language families - Romance, Uralic, and Indo-Aryan - and show significant improvements (by up to 5.5 spBLEU points) over the previous lexicon-based SOTA approaches. We also observe that small CCS models can perform comparably or better than massive models like mBART50 and mRASP2, depending on the size of data provided. We empirically analyse several key factors responsible for these - including context, many-to-many substitutions, code-switching language count etc. - and prove that they all contribute to enhanced pretraining of multilingual NMT models.

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Code-Switching with Word Senses for Pretraining in Neural Machine Translation
Vivek Iyer | Edoardo Barba | Alexandra Birch | Jeff Pan | Roberto Navigli
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2023

Lexical ambiguity is a significant and pervasive challenge in Neural Machine Translation (NMT), with many state-of-the-art (SOTA) NMT systems struggling to handle polysemous words (Campolungo et al., 2022). The same holds for the NMT pretraining paradigm of denoising synthetic “code-switched” text (Pan et al., 2021; Iyer et al., 2023), where word senses are ignored in the noising stage – leading to harmful sense biases in the pretraining data that are subsequently inherited by the resulting models. In this work, we introduce Word Sense Pretraining for Neural Machine Translation (WSP-NMT) - an end-to-end approach for pretraining multilingual NMT models leveraging word sense-specific information from Knowledge Bases. Our experiments show significant improvements in overall translation quality. Then, we show the robustness of our approach to scale to various challenging data and resource-scarce scenarios and, finally, report fine-grained accuracy improvements on the DiBiMT disambiguation benchmark. Our studies yield interesting and novel insights into the merits and challenges of integrating word sense information and structured knowledge in multilingual pretraining for NMT.

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Towards Effective Disambiguation for Machine Translation with Large Language Models
Vivek Iyer | Pinzhen Chen | Alexandra Birch
Proceedings of the Eighth Conference on Machine Translation

Resolving semantic ambiguity has long been recognised as a central challenge in the field of Machine Translation. Recent work on benchmarking translation performance on ambiguous sentences has exposed the limitations of conventional Neural Machine Translation (NMT) systems, which fail to handle many such cases. Large language models (LLMs) have emerged as a promising alternative, demonstrating comparable performance to traditional NMT models while introducing new paradigms for controlling the target outputs. In this paper, we study the capabilities of LLMs to translate “ambiguous sentences” - i.e. those containing highly polysemous words and/or rare word senses. We also propose two ways to improve their disambiguation capabilities, through a) in-context learning and b) fine-tuning on carefully curated ambiguous datasets. Experiments show that our methods can match or outperform state-of-the-art systems such as DeepL and NLLB in four out of five language directions. Our research provides valuable insights into effectively adapting LLMs to become better disambiguators during Machine Translation. We release our curated disambiguation corpora and resources at


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The University of Edinburgh’s Submission to the WMT22 Code-Mixing Shared Task (MixMT)
Faheem Kirefu | Vivek Iyer | Pinzhen Chen | Laurie Burchell
Proceedings of the Seventh Conference on Machine Translation (WMT)

The University of Edinburgh participated in the WMT22 shared task on code-mixed translation. This consists of two subtasks: i) generating code-mixed Hindi/English (Hinglish) text generation from parallel Hindi and English sentences and ii) machine translation from Hinglish to English. As both subtasks are considered low-resource, we focused our efforts on careful data generation and curation, especially the use of backtranslation from monolingual resources. For subtask 1 we explored the effects of constrained decoding on English and transliterated subwords in order to produce Hinglish. For subtask 2, we investigated different pretraining techniques, namely comparing simple initialisation from existing machine translation models and aligned augmentation. For both subtasks, we found that our baseline systems worked best. Our systems for both subtasks were one of the overall top-performing submissions.


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VeeAlign: Multifaceted Context Representation Using Dual Attention for Ontology Alignment
Vivek Iyer | Arvind Agarwal | Harshit Kumar
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Ontology Alignment is an important research problem applied to various fields such as data integration, data transfer, data preparation, etc. State-of-the-art (SOTA) Ontology Alignment systems typically use naive domain-dependent approaches with handcrafted rules or domain-specific architectures, making them unscalable and inefficient. In this work, we propose VeeAlign, a Deep Learning based model that uses a novel dual-attention mechanism to compute the contextualized representation of a concept which, in turn, is used to discover alignments. By doing this, not only is our approach able to exploit both syntactic and semantic information encoded in ontologies, it is also, by design, flexible and scalable to different domains with minimal effort. We evaluate our model on four different datasets from different domains and languages, and establish its superiority through these results as well as detailed ablation studies. The code and datasets used are available at


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A Survey on Ontology Enrichment from Text
Vivek Iyer | Lalit Mohan | Mehar Bhatia | Y. Raghu Reddy
Proceedings of the 16th International Conference on Natural Language Processing

Increased internet bandwidth at low cost is leading to the creation of large volumes of unstructured data. This data explosion opens up opportunities for the creation of a variety of data-driven intelligent systems, such as the Semantic Web. Ontologies form one of the most crucial layers of semantic web, and the extraction and enrichment of ontologies given this data explosion becomes an inevitable research problem. In this paper, we survey the literature on semi-automatic and automatic ontology extraction and enrichment and classify them into four broad categories based on the approach. Then, we proceed to narrow down four algorithms from each of these categories, implement and analytically compare them based on parameters like context relevance, efficiency and precision. Lastly, we propose a Long Short Term Memory Networks (LSTM) based deep learning approach to try and overcome the gaps identified in these approaches.