Zhou Zhao


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Learning the Beauty in Songs: Neural Singing Voice Beautifier
Jinglin Liu | Chengxi Li | Yi Ren | Zhiying Zhu | Zhou Zhao
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

We are interested in a novel task, singing voice beautification (SVB). Given the singing voice of an amateur singer, SVB aims to improve the intonation and vocal tone of the voice, while keeping the content and vocal timbre. Current automatic pitch correction techniques are immature, and most of them are restricted to intonation but ignore the overall aesthetic quality. Hence, we introduce Neural Singing Voice Beautifier (NSVB), the first generative model to solve the SVB task, which adopts a conditional variational autoencoder as the backbone and learns the latent representations of vocal tone. In NSVB, we propose a novel time-warping approach for pitch correction: Shape-Aware Dynamic Time Warping (SADTW), which ameliorates the robustness of existing time-warping approaches, to synchronize the amateur recording with the template pitch curve. Furthermore, we propose a latent-mapping algorithm in the latent space to convert the amateur vocal tone to the professional one. To achieve this, we also propose a new dataset containing parallel singing recordings of both amateur and professional versions. Extensive experiments on both Chinese and English songs demonstrate the effectiveness of our methods in terms of both objective and subjective metrics. Audio samples are available at https://neuralsvb.github.io. Codes: https://github.com/MoonInTheRiver/NeuralSVB.

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Revisiting Over-Smoothness in Text to Speech
Yi Ren | Xu Tan | Tao Qin | Zhou Zhao | Tie-Yan Liu
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Non-autoregressive text to speech (NAR-TTS) models have attracted much attention from both academia and industry due to their fast generation speed. One limitation of NAR-TTS models is that they ignore the correlation in time and frequency domains while generating speech mel-spectrograms, and thus cause blurry and over-smoothed results. In this work, we revisit this over-smoothing problem from a novel perspective: the degree of over-smoothness is determined by the gap between the complexity of data distributions and the capability of modeling methods. Both simplifying data distributions and improving modeling methods can alleviate the problem. Accordingly, we first study methods reducing the complexity of data distributions. Then we conduct a comprehensive study on NAR-TTS models that use some advanced modeling methods. Based on these studies, we find that 1) methods that provide additional condition inputs reduce the complexity of data distributions to model, thus alleviating the over-smoothing problem and achieving better voice quality. 2) Among advanced modeling methods, Laplacian mixture loss performs well at modeling multimodal distributions and enjoys its simplicity, while GAN and Glow achieve the best voice quality while suffering from increased training or model complexity. 3) The two categories of methods can be combined to further alleviate the over-smoothness and improve the voice quality. 4) Our experiments on the multi-speaker dataset lead to similar conclusions as above and providing more variance information can reduce the difficulty of modeling the target data distribution and alleviate the requirements for model capacity.

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End-to-End Modeling via Information Tree for One-Shot Natural Language Spatial Video Grounding
Mengze Li | Tianbao Wang | Haoyu Zhang | Shengyu Zhang | Zhou Zhao | Jiaxu Miao | Wenqiao Zhang | Wenming Tan | Jin Wang | Peng Wang | Shiliang Pu | Fei Wu
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Natural language spatial video grounding aims to detect the relevant objects in video frames with descriptive sentences as the query. In spite of the great advances, most existing methods rely on dense video frame annotations, which require a tremendous amount of human effort. To achieve effective grounding under a limited annotation budget, we investigate one-shot video grounding and learn to ground natural language in all video frames with solely one frame labeled, in an end-to-end manner. One major challenge of end-to-end one-shot video grounding is the existence of videos frames that are either irrelevant to the language query or the labeled frame. Another challenge relates to the limited supervision, which might result in ineffective representation learning. To address these challenges, we designed an end-to-end model via Information Tree for One-Shot video grounding (IT-OS). Its key module, the information tree, can eliminate the interference of irrelevant frames based on branch search and branch cropping techniques. In addition, several self-supervised tasks are proposed based on the information tree to improve the representation learning under insufficient labeling. Experiments on the benchmark dataset demonstrate the effectiveness of our model.

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Prior Knowledge and Memory Enriched Transformer for Sign Language Translation
Tao Jin | Zhou Zhao | Meng Zhang | Xingshan Zeng
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2022

This paper attacks the challenging problem of sign language translation (SLT), which involves not only visual and textual understanding but also additional prior knowledge learning (i.e. performing style, syntax). However, the majority of existing methods with vanilla encoder-decoder structures fail to sufficiently explore all of them. Based on this concern, we propose a novel method called Prior knowledge and memory Enriched Transformer (PET) for SLT, which incorporates the auxiliary information into vanilla transformer. Concretely, we develop gated interactive multi-head attention which associates the multimodal representation and global signing style with adaptive gated functions. One Part-of-Speech (POS) sequence generator relies on the associated information to predict the global syntactic structure, which is thereafter leveraged to guide the sentence generation. Besides, considering that the visual-textual context information, and additional auxiliary knowledge of a word may appear in more than one video, we design a multi-stream memory structure to obtain higher-quality translations, which stores the detailed correspondence between a word and its various relevant information, leading to a more comprehensive understanding for each word. We conduct extensive empirical studies on RWTH-PHOENIX-Weather-2014 dataset with both signer-dependent and signer-independent conditions. The quantitative and qualitative experimental results comprehensively reveal the effectiveness of PET.


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A Study of Non-autoregressive Model for Sequence Generation
Yi Ren | Jinglin Liu | Xu Tan | Zhou Zhao | Sheng Zhao | Tie-Yan Liu
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Non-autoregressive (NAR) models generate all the tokens of a sequence in parallel, resulting in faster generation speed compared to their autoregressive (AR) counterparts but at the cost of lower accuracy. Different techniques including knowledge distillation and source-target alignment have been proposed to bridge the gap between AR and NAR models in various tasks such as neural machine translation (NMT), automatic speech recognition (ASR), and text to speech (TTS). With the help of those techniques, NAR models can catch up with the accuracy of AR models in some tasks but not in some others. In this work, we conduct a study to understand the difficulty of NAR sequence generation and try to answer: (1) Why NAR models can catch up with AR models in some tasks but not all? (2) Why techniques like knowledge distillation and source-target alignment can help NAR models. Since the main difference between AR and NAR models is that NAR models do not use dependency among target tokens while AR models do, intuitively the difficulty of NAR sequence generation heavily depends on the strongness of dependency among target tokens. To quantify such dependency, we propose an analysis model called CoMMA to characterize the difficulty of different NAR sequence generation tasks. We have several interesting findings: 1) Among the NMT, ASR and TTS tasks, ASR has the most target-token dependency while TTS has the least. 2) Knowledge distillation reduces the target-token dependency in target sequence and thus improves the accuracy of NAR models. 3) Source-target alignment constraint encourages dependency of a target token on source tokens and thus eases the training of NAR models.

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SimulSpeech: End-to-End Simultaneous Speech to Text Translation
Yi Ren | Jinglin Liu | Xu Tan | Chen Zhang | Tao Qin | Zhou Zhao | Tie-Yan Liu
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

In this work, we develop SimulSpeech, an end-to-end simultaneous speech to text translation system which translates speech in source language to text in target language concurrently. SimulSpeech consists of a speech encoder, a speech segmenter and a text decoder, where 1) the segmenter builds upon the encoder and leverages a connectionist temporal classification (CTC) loss to split the input streaming speech in real time, 2) the encoder-decoder attention adopts a wait-k strategy for simultaneous translation. SimulSpeech is more challenging than previous cascaded systems (with simultaneous automatic speech recognition (ASR) and simultaneous neural machine translation (NMT)). We introduce two novel knowledge distillation methods to ensure the performance: 1) Attention-level knowledge distillation transfers the knowledge from the multiplication of the attention matrices of simultaneous NMT and ASR models to help the training of the attention mechanism in SimulSpeech; 2) Data-level knowledge distillation transfers the knowledge from the full-sentence NMT model and also reduces the complexity of data distribution to help on the optimization of SimulSpeech. Experiments on MuST-C English-Spanish and English-German spoken language translation datasets show that SimulSpeech achieves reasonable BLEU scores and lower delay compared to full-sentence end-to-end speech to text translation (without simultaneous translation), and better performance than the two-stage cascaded simultaneous translation model in terms of BLEU scores and translation delay.


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Video Dialog via Progressive Inference and Cross-Transformer
Weike Jin | Zhou Zhao | Mao Gu | Jun Xiao | Furu Wei | Yueting Zhuang
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing and the 9th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (EMNLP-IJCNLP)

Video dialog is a new and challenging task, which requires the agent to answer questions combining video information with dialog history. And different from single-turn video question answering, the additional dialog history is important for video dialog, which often includes contextual information for the question. Existing visual dialog methods mainly use RNN to encode the dialog history as a single vector representation, which might be rough and straightforward. Some more advanced methods utilize hierarchical structure, attention and memory mechanisms, which still lack an explicit reasoning process. In this paper, we introduce a novel progressive inference mechanism for video dialog, which progressively updates query information based on dialog history and video content until the agent think the information is sufficient and unambiguous. In order to tackle the multi-modal fusion problem, we propose a cross-transformer module, which could learn more fine-grained and comprehensive interactions both inside and between the modalities. And besides answer generation, we also consider question generation, which is more challenging but significant for a complete video dialog system. We evaluate our method on two large-scale datasets, and the extensive experiments show the effectiveness of our method.


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Investigating Capsule Networks with Dynamic Routing for Text Classification
Wei Zhao | Jianbo Ye | Min Yang | Zeyang Lei | Suofei Zhang | Zhou Zhao
Proceedings of the 2018 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

In this study, we explore capsule networks with dynamic routing for text classification. We propose three strategies to stabilize the dynamic routing process to alleviate the disturbance of some noise capsules which may contain “background” information or have not been successfully trained. A series of experiments are conducted with capsule networks on six text classification benchmarks. Capsule networks achieve state of the art on 4 out of 6 datasets, which shows the effectiveness of capsule networks for text classification. We additionally show that capsule networks exhibit significant improvement when transfer single-label to multi-label text classification over strong baseline methods. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first work that capsule networks have been empirically investigated for text modeling.

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Discourse Marker Augmented Network with Reinforcement Learning for Natural Language Inference
Boyuan Pan | Yazheng Yang | Zhou Zhao | Yueting Zhuang | Deng Cai | Xiaofei He
Proceedings of the 56th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Natural Language Inference (NLI), also known as Recognizing Textual Entailment (RTE), is one of the most important problems in natural language processing. It requires to infer the logical relationship between two given sentences. While current approaches mostly focus on the interaction architectures of the sentences, in this paper, we propose to transfer knowledge from some important discourse markers to augment the quality of the NLI model. We observe that people usually use some discourse markers such as “so” or “but” to represent the logical relationship between two sentences. These words potentially have deep connections with the meanings of the sentences, thus can be utilized to help improve the representations of them. Moreover, we use reinforcement learning to optimize a new objective function with a reward defined by the property of the NLI datasets to make full use of the labels information. Experiments show that our method achieves the state-of-the-art performance on several large-scale datasets.


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Identifying and Tracking Sentiments and Topics from Social Media Texts during Natural Disasters
Min Yang | Jincheng Mei | Heng Ji | Wei Zhao | Zhou Zhao | Xiaojun Chen
Proceedings of the 2017 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

We study the problem of identifying the topics and sentiments and tracking their shifts from social media texts in different geographical regions during emergencies and disasters. We propose a location-based dynamic sentiment-topic model (LDST) which can jointly model topic, sentiment, time and Geolocation information. The experimental results demonstrate that LDST performs very well at discovering topics and sentiments from social media and tracking their shifts in different geographical regions during emergencies and disasters. We will release the data and source code after this work is published.