How Does Selective Mechanism Improve Self-Attention Networks?
Xinwei Geng | Longyue Wang | Xing Wang | Bing Qin | Ting Liu | Zhaopeng Tu
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics
Self-attention networks (SANs) with selective mechanism has produced substantial improvements in various NLP tasks by concentrating on a subset of input words. However, the underlying reasons for their strong performance have not been well explained. In this paper, we bridge the gap by assessing the strengths of selective SANs (SSANs), which are implemented with a flexible and universal Gumbel-Softmax. Experimental results on several representative NLP tasks, including natural language inference, semantic role labelling, and machine translation, show that SSANs consistently outperform the standard SANs. Through well-designed probing experiments, we empirically validate that the improvement of SSANs can be attributed in part to mitigating two commonly-cited weaknesses of SANs: word order encoding and structure modeling. Specifically, the selective mechanism improves SANs by paying more attention to content words that contribute to the meaning of the sentence.
Although end-to-end neural machine translation (NMT) has achieved remarkable progress in the recent years, the idea of adopting multi-pass decoding mechanism into conventional NMT is not well explored. In this paper, we propose a novel architecture called adaptive multi-pass decoder, which introduces a flexible multi-pass polishing mechanism to extend the capacity of NMT via reinforcement learning. More specifically, we adopt an extra policy network to automatically choose a suitable and effective number of decoding passes, according to the complexity of source sentences and the quality of the generated translations. Extensive experiments on Chinese-English translation demonstrate the effectiveness of our proposed adaptive multi-pass decoder upon the conventional NMT with a significant improvement about 1.55 BLEU.