Contextual features always play an important role in Chinese word segmentation (CWS). Wordhood information, being one of the contextual features, is proved to be useful in many conventional character-based segmenters. However, this feature receives less attention in recent neural models and it is also challenging to design a framework that can properly integrate wordhood information from different wordhood measures to existing neural frameworks. In this paper, we therefore propose a neural framework, WMSeg, which uses memory networks to incorporate wordhood information with several popular encoder-decoder combinations for CWS. Experimental results on five benchmark datasets indicate the memory mechanism successfully models wordhood information for neural segmenters and helps WMSeg achieve state-of-the-art performance on all those datasets. Further experiments and analyses also demonstrate the robustness of our proposed framework with respect to different wordhood measures and the efficiency of wordhood information in cross-domain experiments.
Chinese word segmentation (CWS) and part-of-speech (POS) tagging are important fundamental tasks for Chinese language processing, where joint learning of them is an effective one-step solution for both tasks. Previous studies for joint CWS and POS tagging mainly follow the character-based tagging paradigm with introducing contextual information such as n-gram features or sentential representations from recurrent neural models. However, for many cases, the joint tagging needs not only modeling from context features but also knowledge attached to them (e.g., syntactic relations among words); limited efforts have been made by existing research to meet such needs. In this paper, we propose a neural model named TwASP for joint CWS and POS tagging following the character-based sequence labeling paradigm, where a two-way attention mechanism is used to incorporate both context feature and their corresponding syntactic knowledge for each input character. Particularly, we use existing language processing toolkits to obtain the auto-analyzed syntactic knowledge for the context, and the proposed attention module can learn and benefit from them although their quality may not be perfect. Our experiments illustrate the effectiveness of the two-way attentions for joint CWS and POS tagging, where state-of-the-art performance is achieved on five benchmark datasets.
The pre-training of text encoders normally processes text as a sequence of tokens corresponding to small text units, such as word pieces in English and characters in Chinese. It omits information carried by larger text granularity, and thus the encoders cannot easily adapt to certain combinations of characters. This leads to a loss of important semantic information, which is especially problematic for Chinese because the language does not have explicit word boundaries. In this paper, we propose ZEN, a BERT-based Chinese text encoder enhanced by n-gram representations, where different combinations of characters are considered during training, thus potential word or phrase boundaries are explicitly pre-trained and fine-tuned with the character encoder (BERT). Therefore ZEN incorporates the comprehensive information of both the character sequence and words or phrases it contains. Experimental results illustrated the effectiveness of ZEN on a series of Chinese NLP tasks, where state-of-the-art results is achieved on most tasks with requiring less resource than other published encoders. It is also shown that reasonable performance is obtained when ZEN is trained on a small corpus, which is important for applying pre-training techniques to scenarios with limited data. The code and pre-trained models of ZEN are available at https://github.com/sinovation/ZEN