Google Research

Distilling weighted finite automata from arbitrary probabilistic models

Proceedings of FSMNLP (2019), pp. 87-97


Weighted finite automata (WFA) are often used to represent probabilistic models, such as n-gram language models, since they are efficient for recognition tasks in time and space. The probabilistic source to be represented as a WFA, however, may come in many forms. Given a generic probabilistic model over sequences, we propose an algorithm to approximate it as a weighted finite automaton such that the Kullback-Leibler divergence between the source model and the WFA target model is minimized. The proposed algorithm involves a counting step and a difference of convex optimization, both of which can be performed efficiently. We demonstrate the usefulness of our approach on some tasks including distilling n-gram models from neural models.

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