Xiaoxi Mao


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Easy and Efficient Transformer: Scalable Inference Solution For Large NLP Model
Gongzheng Li | Yadong Xi | Jingzhen Ding | Duan Wang | Ziyang Luo | Rongsheng Zhang | Bai Liu | Changjie Fan | Xiaoxi Mao | Zeng Zhao
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies: Industry Track

Recently, large-scale transformer-based models have been proven to be effective over various tasks across many domains. Nevertheless, applying them in industrial production requires tedious and heavy works to reduce inference costs. To fill such a gap, we introduce a scalable inference solution: Easy and Efficient Transformer (EET), including a series of transformer inference optimization at the algorithm and implementation levels. First, we design highly optimized kernels for long inputs and large hidden sizes. Second, we propose a flexible CUDA memory manager to reduce the memory footprint when deploying a large model. Compared with the state-of-the-art transformer inference library (Faster Transformer v4.0), EET can achieve an average of 1.40-4.20x speedup on the transformer decoder layer with an A100 GPU.

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QiuNiu: A Chinese Lyrics Generation System with Passage-Level Input
Le Zhang | Rongsheng Zhang | Xiaoxi Mao | Yongzhu Chang
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics: System Demonstrations

Lyrics generation has been a very popular application of natural language generation. Previous works mainly focused on generating lyrics based on a couple of attributes or keywords, rendering very limited control over the content of the lyrics. In this paper, we demonstrate the QiuNiu, a Chinese lyrics generation system which is conditioned on passage-level text rather than a few attributes or keywords. By using the passage-level text as input, the content of generated lyrics is expected to reflect the nuances of users’ needs. The QiuNiu system supports various forms of passage-level input, such as short stories, essays, poetry. The training of it is conducted under the framework of unsupervised machine translation, due to the lack of aligned passage-level text-to-lyrics corpus. We initialize the parameters of QiuNiu with a custom pretrained Chinese GPT-2 model and adopt a two-step process to finetune the model for better alignment between passage-level text and lyrics. Additionally, a postprocess module is used to filter and rerank the generated lyrics to select the ones of highest quality. The demo video of the system is available at https://youtu.be/OCQNzahqWgM.

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LOT: A Story-Centric Benchmark for Evaluating Chinese Long Text Understanding and Generation
Jian Guan | Zhuoer Feng | Yamei Chen | Ruilin He | Xiaoxi Mao | Changjie Fan | Minlie Huang
Transactions of the Association for Computational Linguistics, Volume 10

Standard multi-task benchmarks are essential for developing pretraining models that can generalize to various downstream tasks. Existing benchmarks for natural language processing (NLP) usually focus only on understanding or generating short texts. However, long text modeling requires many distinct abilities in contrast to short texts, such as the modeling of long-range discourse and commonsense relations, and the coherence and controllability of generation. The lack of standardized benchmarks makes it difficult to assess these abilities of a model and fairly compare different models, especially Chinese models. Therefore, we propose a story-centric benchmark named LOT for evaluating Chinese long text modeling, which aggregates two understanding tasks and two generation tasks. We construct new datasets for these tasks based on human-written Chinese stories with hundreds of words. Furthermore, we release an encoder-decoder-based Chinese long text pretraining model named LongLM with up to 1 billion parameters. We pretrain LongLM on 120G Chinese novels with two generative tasks including text infilling and conditional continuation. Extensive experiments show that LongLM outperforms similar-sized pretraining models substantially on both the understanding and generation tasks in LOT.

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DecBERT: Enhancing the Language Understanding of BERT with Causal Attention Masks
Ziyang Luo | Yadong Xi | Jing Ma | Zhiwei Yang | Xiaoxi Mao | Changjie Fan | Rongsheng Zhang
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: NAACL 2022

Since 2017, the Transformer-based models play critical roles in various downstream Natural Language Processing tasks. However, a common limitation of the attention mechanism utilized in Transformer Encoder is that it cannot automatically capture the information of word order, so explicit position embeddings are generally required to be fed into the target model. In contrast, Transformer Decoder with the causal attention masks is naturally sensitive to the word order. In this work, we focus on improving the position encoding ability of BERT with the causal attention masks. Furthermore, we propose a new pre-trained language model DecBERT and evaluate it on the GLUE benchmark. Experimental results show that (1) the causal attention mask is effective for BERT on the language understanding tasks; (2) our DecBERT model without position embeddings achieve comparable performance on the GLUE benchmark; and (3) our modification accelerates the pre-training process and DecBERT w/ PE achieves better overall performance than the baseline systems when pre-training with the same amount of computational resources.


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Transferable Persona-Grounded Dialogues via Grounded Minimal Edits
Chen Henry Wu | Yinhe Zheng | Xiaoxi Mao | Minlie Huang
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Grounded dialogue models generate responses that are grounded on certain concepts. Limited by the distribution of grounded dialogue data, models trained on such data face the transferability challenges in terms of the data distribution and the type of grounded concepts. To address the challenges, we propose the grounded minimal editing framework, which minimally edits existing responses to be grounded on the given concept. Focusing on personas, we propose Grounded Minimal Editor (GME), which learns to edit by disentangling and recombining persona-related and persona-agnostic parts of the response. To evaluate persona-grounded minimal editing, we present the PersonaMi-nEdit dataset, and experimental results show that GME outperforms competitive baselines by a large margin. To evaluate the transferability, we experiment on the test set of BlendedSkillTalk and show that GME can edit dialogue models’ responses to largely improve their persona consistency while preserving the use of knowledge and empathy.

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Positional Artefacts Propagate Through Masked Language Model Embeddings
Ziyang Luo | Artur Kulmizev | Xiaoxi Mao
Proceedings of the 59th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 11th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (Volume 1: Long Papers)

In this work, we demonstrate that the contextualized word vectors derived from pretrained masked language model-based encoders share a common, perhaps undesirable pattern across layers. Namely, we find cases of persistent outlier neurons within BERT and RoBERTa’s hidden state vectors that consistently bear the smallest or largest values in said vectors. In an attempt to investigate the source of this information, we introduce a neuron-level analysis method, which reveals that the outliers are closely related to information captured by positional embeddings. We also pre-train the RoBERTa-base models from scratch and find that the outliers disappear without using positional embeddings. These outliers, we find, are the major cause of anisotropy of encoders’ raw vector spaces, and clipping them leads to increased similarity across vectors. We demonstrate this in practice by showing that clipped vectors can more accurately distinguish word senses, as well as lead to better sentence embeddings when mean pooling. In three supervised tasks, we find that clipping does not affect the performance.

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Long Text Generation by Modeling Sentence-Level and Discourse-Level Coherence
Jian Guan | Xiaoxi Mao | Changjie Fan | Zitao Liu | Wenbiao Ding | Minlie Huang
Proceedings of the 59th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 11th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Generating long and coherent text is an important but challenging task, particularly for open-ended language generation tasks such as story generation. Despite the success in modeling intra-sentence coherence, existing generation models (e.g., BART) still struggle to maintain a coherent event sequence throughout the generated text. We conjecture that this is because of the difficulty for the decoder to capture the high-level semantics and discourse structures in the context beyond token-level co-occurrence. In this paper, we propose a long text generation model, which can represent the prefix sentences at sentence level and discourse level in the decoding process. To this end, we propose two pretraining objectives to learn the representations by predicting inter-sentence semantic similarity and distinguishing between normal and shuffled sentence orders. Extensive experiments show that our model can generate more coherent texts than state-of-the-art baselines.

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OpenMEVA: A Benchmark for Evaluating Open-ended Story Generation Metrics
Jian Guan | Zhexin Zhang | Zhuoer Feng | Zitao Liu | Wenbiao Ding | Xiaoxi Mao | Changjie Fan | Minlie Huang
Proceedings of the 59th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 11th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Automatic metrics are essential for developing natural language generation (NLG) models, particularly for open-ended language generation tasks such as story generation. However, existing automatic metrics are observed to correlate poorly with human evaluation. The lack of standardized benchmark datasets makes it difficult to fully evaluate the capabilities of a metric and fairly compare different metrics. Therefore, we propose OpenMEVA, a benchmark for evaluating open-ended story generation metrics. OpenMEVA provides a comprehensive test suite to assess the capabilities of metrics, including (a) the correlation with human judgments, (b) the generalization to different model outputs and datasets, (c) the ability to judge story coherence, and (d) the robustness to perturbations. To this end, OpenMEVA includes both manually annotated stories and auto-constructed test examples. We evaluate existing metrics on OpenMEVA and observe that they have poor correlation with human judgments, fail to recognize discourse-level incoherence, and lack inferential knowledge (e.g., causal order between events), the generalization ability and robustness. Our study presents insights for developing NLG models and metrics in further research.

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KuiLeiXi: a Chinese Open-Ended Text Adventure Game
Yadong Xi | Xiaoxi Mao | Le Li | Lei Lin | Yanjiang Chen | Shuhan Yang | Xuhan Chen | Kailun Tao | Zhi Li | Gongzheng Li | Lin Jiang | Siyan Liu | Zeng Zhao | Minlie Huang | Changjie Fan | Zhipeng Hu
Proceedings of the 59th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 11th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing: System Demonstrations

There is a long history of research related to automated story generation, dating back as far as the 1970s. Recently, the rapid development of pre-trained language models has spurred great progresses in this field. Equipped with GPT-2 and the latest GPT-3, AI Dungeon has been seen as a famous example of the powerful text generation capabilities of large-scale pre-trained language models, and a possibility for future games. However, as a game, AI Dungeon lacks incentives to players and relies entirely on players to explore on their own. This makes players’ enthusiasm decline rapidly. In this paper, we present an open-ended text adventure game in Chinese, named as KuiLeiXi. In KuiLeiXi, players need to interact with the AI until the pre-determined plot goals are reached. By introducing the plot goals, players have a stronger incentive to explore ways to reach plot goals, while the AI’s abilities are not abused to generate harmful contents. This limited freedom allows this game to be integrated as a part of a romance simulation mobile game, Yu Jian Love. Since KuiLeiXi was launched, it has received a lot of positive feedbacks from more than 100,000 players. A demo video is available at https://youtu.be/DyYZhxMRrkk.


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Dialogue Distillation: Open-Domain Dialogue Augmentation Using Unpaired Data
Rongsheng Zhang | Yinhe Zheng | Jianzhi Shao | Xiaoxi Mao | Yadong Xi | Minlie Huang
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

Recent advances in open-domain dialogue systems rely on the success of neural models that are trained on large-scale data. However, collecting large-scale dialogue data is usually time-consuming and labor-intensive. To address this data dilemma, we propose a novel data augmentation method for training open-domain dialogue models by utilizing unpaired data. Specifically, a data-level distillation process is first proposed to construct augmented dialogues where both post and response are retrieved from the unpaired data. A ranking module is employed to filter out low-quality dialogues. Further, a model-level distillation process is employed to distill a teacher model trained on high-quality paired data to augmented dialogue pairs, thereby preventing dialogue models from being affected by the noise in the augmented data. Automatic and manual evaluation indicates that our method can produce high-quality dialogue pairs with diverse contents, and the proposed data-level and model-level dialogue distillation can improve the performance of competitive baselines.

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Youling: an AI-assisted Lyrics Creation System
Rongsheng Zhang | Xiaoxi Mao | Le Li | Lin Jiang | Lin Chen | Zhiwei Hu | Yadong Xi | Changjie Fan | Minlie Huang
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing: System Demonstrations

Recently, a variety of neural models have been proposed for lyrics generation. However, most previous work completes the generation process in a single pass with little human intervention. We believe that lyrics creation is a creative process with human intelligence centered. AI should play a role as an assistant in the lyrics creation process, where human interactions are crucial for high-quality creation. This paper demonstrates Youling, an AI-assisted lyrics creation system, designed to collaborate with music creators. In the lyrics generation process, Youling supports traditional one pass full-text generation mode as well as an interactive generation mode, which allows users to select the satisfactory sentences from generated candidates conditioned on preceding context. The system also provides a revision module which enables users to revise undesired sentences or words of lyrics repeatedly. Besides, Youling allows users to use multifaceted attributes to control the content and format of generated lyrics. The demo video of the system is available at https://youtu.be/DFeNpHk0pm4.