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Eric Malmi

Eric Malmi

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    Preview abstract Text-editing models have recently become a prominent alternative to seq2seq models for monolingual natural language generation (NLG) tasks such as grammatical error correction, text simplification, and style transfer. These tasks exhibit a large amount of textual overlap between the source and target texts. Text-editing models take advantage of this trait and learn to generate the output by predicting edit operations applied to the source sequence in contrast to seq2seq models that generate the output from scratch. Text-editing models provide several benefits over seq2seq models including faster inference speed, higher sample efficiency, and better control and interpretability of the outputs. This tutorial provides a comprehensive overview of the text-edit based approaches and current state-of-the-art models, analyzing the pros and cons of different methods. We discuss challenges related to productionization and how these models can to help mitigate hallucination and bias, both pressing challenges in the field of text generation. View details
    Preview abstract We propose a new model for grammatical error correction (GEC) which builds on a very large multilingual masked language model, covering 101 languages. To adapt our model for the GEC task, we design an unsupervised, language-agnostic pretraining objective that mimics corrections typically contained in labeled data. After finetuning on gold data, we surpass the previous state-of-the-art results on the four evaluated languages (Czech, English, German and Russian). This approach shows the power of large multilingual language models. Due to these models being non-trivial to run on non-cluster infrastructure, we employ our model to clean up the labels in the popular yet noisy Lang-8 dataset. We release this dataset and hope that the community will find it useful for further advancement of GEC. View details
    Preview abstract We propose MASKER, an unsupervised text-editing method for style transfer. To tackle cases when no parallel source–target pairs are available, we train masked language models (MLMs) for both the source and the target domain. Then we find the text spans where the two models disagree the most in terms of likelihood. This allows us to identify the source tokens to delete to transform the source text to match the style of the target domain. The deleted tokens are replaced with the target MLM, and by using a padded MLM variant, we avoid having to predetermine the number of inserted tokens. Our experiments on sentence fusion and sentiment transfer demonstrate that MASKER performs competitively in a fully unsupervised setting. Moreover, in low-resource settings, it improves supervised methods’ accuracy by over 10 percentage points when pre-training them on silver training data generated by MASKER. View details
    Preview abstract We present FELIX --- a flexible text-editing approach for generation, designed to derive maximum benefit from the ideas of decoding with bi-directional contexts and self-supervised pre-training. In contrast to conventional sequence-to-sequence (seq2seq) models, FELIX is efficient in low-resource settings and fast at inference time, while being capable of modeling flexible input-output transformations. We achieve this by decomposing the text-editing task into two sub-tasks: tagging to decide on the subset of input tokens and their order in the output text and insertion to in-fill the missing tokens in the output not present in the input. The tagging model employs a novel Pointer mechanism, while the insertion model is based on a Masked Language Model. Both of these models are chosen to be non-autoregressive to guarantee faster inference. FELIX performs favourably when compared to recent text-editing methods and strong seq2seq baselines when evaluated on four NLG tasks: Sentence Fusion, Machine Translation Automatic Post-Editing, Summarization, and Text Simplification. View details
    Preview abstract Sentence fusion is the task of joining related sentences into coherent text. Current training and evaluation schemes for this task are based on single reference ground-truths and do not account for valid fusion variants. We show that this hinders models from robustly capturing the semantic relationship between input sentences. To alleviate this, we present an approach in which ground-truth solutions are automatically expanded into multiple references via curated equivalence classes of connective phrases. We apply this method to a large-scale dataset and use the augmented dataset for both model training and evaluation. To improve the learning of semantic representation using multiple references, we enrich the model with auxiliary discourse classification tasks under a multi-tasking framework. Our experiments highlight the improvements of our approach over state-of-the-art models. View details
    Preview abstract We propose LaserTagger - a sequence tagging approach that casts text generation as a text editing task. Target texts are reconstructed from the inputs using three main edit operations: keeping a token, deleting it, and adding a phrase before the token. To predict the edit operations, we propose a novel model, which combines a BERT encoder with an autoregressive Transformer decoder. This approach is evaluated on English text on four tasks: sentence fusion, sentence splitting, abstractive summarization, and grammar correction. LaserTagger achieves new state-of-the-art results on three of these tasks, performs comparably to a set of strong seq2seq baselines with a large number of training examples, and outperforms them when the number of examples is limited. Furthermore, we show that at inference time tagging can be more than two orders of magnitude faster than comparable seq2seq models, making it more attractive for running in a live environment. View details
    Preview abstract Sentence fusion is the task of joining several independent sentences into a single coherent text. Current datasets for sentence fusion are small and insufficient for training modern neural models. In this paper, we propose a method for automatically-generating fusion examples from raw text and present DISCOFUSE, a large scale dataset for discourse-based sentence fusion. We author a set of rules for identifying a diverse set of discourse phenomena in raw text, and decomposing the text into two independent sentences. We apply our approach on two document collections: Wikipedia and Sports articles, yielding 60 million fusion examples annotated with discourse information required to reconstruct the fused text. We develop a sequence-to-sequence model on DISCOFUSE and thoroughly analyze its strengths and weaknesses with respect to the various discourse phenomena, using both automatic as well as human evaluation. Finally, we conduct transfer learning experiments with WEBSPLIT, a recent dataset for text simplification. We show that pretraining on DISCOFUSE substantially improves performance on WEBSPLIT when viewed as a sentence fusion task. View details
    Preview abstract Accurate prediction of suitable discourse connectives (however, furthermore, etc.) is a key component of any system aimed at building coherent and fluent discourses from shorter sentences and passages. As an example, a dialog system might assemble a long and informative answer by sampling passages extracted from different documents retrieved from the Web. We formulate the task of discourse connective prediction and release a dataset of 2.9M sentence pairs separated by discourse connectives for this task. Then, we evaluate the hardness of the task for human raters, apply a recently proposed decomposable attention (DA) model to this task and observe that the automatic predictor has a higher F1 than human raters (32 vs. 30). Nevertheless, under specific conditions the raters still outperform the DA model, suggesting that there is headroom for future improvements. View details
    Preview abstract Conversational agents offer users a naturallanguage interface to accomplish tasks, entertain themselves, or access information. Informational dialogue is particularly challenging in that the agent has to hold a conversation on an open topic, and to achieve a reasonable coverage it generally needs to digest and present unstructured information from textual sources. Making responses based on such sources sound natural and fit appropriately into the conversation context is a topic of ongoing research, one of the key issues of which is preventing the agent’s responses from sounding repetitive. Targeting this issue, we propose a new task, known as redundancy localization, which aims to pinpoint semantic overlap between text passages. To help address it systematically, we formalize the task, prepare a public dataset with fine-grained redundancy labels, and propose a model utilizing a weak training signal defined over the results of a passage-retrieval system on web texts. The proposed model demonstrates superior performance compared to a state-of-the-art entailment model and yields encouraging results when applied to a real-world dialogue. View details
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