Yulong Li


2022

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Learning Cross-Lingual IR from an English Retriever
Yulong Li | Martin Franz | Md Arafat Sultan | Bhavani Iyer | Young-Suk Lee | Avirup Sil
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

We present DR.DECR (Dense Retrieval with Distillation-Enhanced Cross-Lingual Representation), a new cross-lingual information retrieval (CLIR) system trained using multi-stage knowledge distillation (KD). The teacher of DR.DECR relies on a highly effective but computationally expensive two-stage inference process consisting of query translation and monolingual IR, while the student, DR.DECR, executes a single CLIR step. We teach DR.DECR powerful multilingual representations as well as CLIR by optimizing two corresponding KD objectives. Learning useful representations of non-English text from an English-only retriever is accomplished through a cross-lingual token alignment algorithm that relies on the representation capabilities of the underlying multilingual encoders. In both in-domain and zero-shot out-of-domain evaluation, DR.DECR demonstrates far superior accuracy over direct fine-tuning with labeled CLIR data. It is also the best single-model retriever on the XOR-TyDi benchmark at the time of this writing.