Human brains integrate linguistic and perceptual information simultaneously to understand natural language, and hold the critical ability to render imaginations. Such abilities enable us to construct new abstract concepts or concrete objects, and are essential in involving practical knowledge to solve problems in low-resource scenarios. However, most existing methods for Natural Language Understanding (NLU) are mainly focused on textual signals. They do not simulate human visual imagination ability, which hinders models from inferring and learning efficiently from limited data samples. Therefore, we introduce an Imagination-Augmented Cross-modal Encoder (iACE) to solve natural language understanding tasks from a novel learning perspective—imagination-augmented cross-modal understanding. iACE enables visual imagination with external knowledge transferred from the powerful generative and pre-trained vision-and-language models. Extensive experiments on GLUE and SWAG show that iACE achieves consistent improvement over visually-supervised pre-trained models. More importantly, results in extreme and normal few-shot settings validate the effectiveness of iACE in low-resource natural language understanding circumstances.
Vision-and-language navigation (VLN) is a multimodal task where an agent follows natural language instructions and navigates in visual environments. Multiple setups have been proposed, and researchers apply new model architectures or training techniques to boost navigation performance. However, there still exist non-negligible gaps between machines’ performance and human benchmarks. Moreover, the agents’ inner mechanisms for navigation decisions remain unclear. To the best of our knowledge, how the agents perceive the multimodal input is under-studied and needs investigation. In this work, we conduct a series of diagnostic experiments to unveil agents’ focus during navigation. Results show that indoor navigation agents refer to both object and direction tokens when making decisions. In contrast, outdoor navigation agents heavily rely on direction tokens and poorly understand the object tokens. Transformer-based agents acquire a better cross-modal understanding of objects and display strong numerical reasoning ability than non-Transformer-based agents. When it comes to vision-and-language alignments, many models claim that they can align object tokens with specific visual targets. We find unbalanced attention on the vision and text input and doubt the reliability of such cross-modal alignments.
Dense video captioning aims to identify the events of interest in an input video, and generate descriptive captions for each event. Previous approaches usually follow a two-stage generative process, which first proposes a segment for each event, then renders a caption for each identified segment. Recent advances in large-scale sequence generation pretraining have seen great success in unifying task formulation for a great variety of tasks, but so far, more complex tasks such as dense video captioning are not able to fully utilize this powerful paradigm. In this work, we show how to model the two subtasks of dense video captioning jointly as one sequence generation task, and simultaneously predict the events and the corresponding descriptions. Experiments on YouCook2 and ViTT show encouraging results and indicate the feasibility of training complex tasks such as end-to-end dense video captioning integrated into large-scale pretrained models.
One of the most challenging topics in Natural Language Processing (NLP) is visually-grounded language understanding and reasoning. Outdoor vision-and-language navigation (VLN) is such a task where an agent follows natural language instructions and navigates in real-life urban environments. With the lack of human-annotated instructions that illustrate the intricate urban scenes, outdoor VLN remains a challenging task to solve. In this paper, we introduce a Multimodal Text Style Transfer (MTST) learning approach and leverage external multimodal resources to mitigate data scarcity in outdoor navigation tasks. We first enrich the navigation data by transferring the style of the instructions generated by Google Maps API, then pre-train the navigator with the augmented external outdoor navigation dataset. Experimental results show that our MTST learning approach is model-agnostic, and our MTST approach significantly outperforms the baseline models on the outdoor VLN task, improving task completion rate by 8.7% relatively on the test set.
A major challenge in visually grounded language generation is to build robust benchmark datasets and models that can generalize well in real-world settings. To do this, it is critical to ensure that our evaluation protocols are correct, and benchmarks are reliable. In this work, we set forth to design a set of experiments to understand an important but often ignored problem in visually grounded language generation: given that humans have different utilities and visual attention, how will the sample variance in multi-reference datasets affect the models’ performance? Empirically, we study several multi-reference datasets and corresponding vision-and-language tasks. We show that it is of paramount importance to report variance in experiments; that human-generated references could vary drastically in different datasets/tasks, revealing the nature of each task; that metric-wise, CIDEr has shown systematically larger variances than others. Our evaluations on reference-per-instance shed light on the design of reliable datasets in the future.
We introduce Texar, an open-source toolkit aiming to support the broad set of text generation tasks that transform any inputs into natural language, such as machine translation, summarization, dialog, content manipulation, and so forth. With the design goals of modularity, versatility, and extensibility in mind, Texar extracts common patterns underlying the diverse tasks and methodologies, creates a library of highly reusable modules and functionalities, and allows arbitrary model architectures and algorithmic paradigms. In Texar, model architecture, inference, and learning processes are properly decomposed. Modules at a high concept level can be freely assembled or plugged in/swapped out. Texar is thus particularly suitable for researchers and practitioners to do fast prototyping and experimentation. The versatile toolkit also fosters technique sharing across different text generation tasks. Texar supports both TensorFlow and PyTorch, and is released under Apache License 2.0 at https://www.texar.io.