Sequence labeling aims to predict a fine-grained sequence of labels for the text. However, such formulation hinders the effectiveness of supervised methods due to the lack of token-level annotated data. This is exacerbated when we meet a diverse range of languages. In this work, we explore multilingual sequence labeling with minimal supervision using a single unified model for multiple languages. Specifically, we propose a Meta Teacher-Student (MetaTS) Network, a novel meta learning method to alleviate data scarcity by leveraging large multilingual unlabeled data. Prior teacher-student frameworks of self-training rely on rigid teaching strategies, which may hardly produce high-quality pseudo-labels for consecutive and interdependent tokens. On the contrary, MetaTS allows the teacher to dynamically adapt its pseudo-annotation strategies by the student’s feedback on the generated pseudo-labeled data of each language and thus mitigate error propagation from noisy pseudo-labels. Extensive experiments on both public and real-world multilingual sequence labeling datasets empirically demonstrate the effectiveness of MetaTS.
Nowadays, with many e-commerce platforms conducting global business, e-commerce search systems are required to handle product retrieval under multilingual scenarios. Moreover, comparing with maintaining per-country specific e-commerce search systems, having an universal system across countries can further reduce the operational and computational costs, and facilitate business expansion to new countries. In this paper, we introduce an universal end-to-end multilingual retrieval system, and discuss our learnings and technical details when training and deploying the system to serve billion-scale product retrieval for e-commerce search. In particular, we propose a multilingual graph attention based retrieval network by leveraging recent advances in transformer-based multilingual language models and graph neural network architectures to capture the interactions between search queries and items in e-commerce search. Offline experiments on five countries data show that our algorithm outperforms the state-of-the-art baselines by 35% recall and 25% mAP on average. Moreover, the proposed model shows significant increase of conversion/revenue in online A/B experiments and has been deployed in production for multiple countries.