Google Research

Multilingual Mix: Example Interpolation Improves Multilingual Neural Machine Translation

Abstract

Multilingual neural machine translation (NMT) typically learns to maximize the likelihood of training examples from a combination set of multiple language pairs. However, this mechanical combination only relies on the basic sharing to learn the inductive bias, which undermines the generalization and transferability of multilingual NMT models. In this paper, we introduce a multilingual crossover encoder-decoder (mXEnDec) to fuse language pairs at instance level to exploit cross-lingual signals. For better fusions on multilingual data, we propose several techniques to deal with the language interpolation, dissimilar language fusion and heavy data imbalance. Experimental results on a large-scale WMT multilingual data set show that our approach significantly improves model performance on general multilingual test sets and the model transferability on zero-shot test sets (up to $+5.53$ BLEU). Results on noisy inputs demonstrates the capability of our approach to improve model robustness against the code-switching noise. We also conduct qualitative and quantitative representation comparisons to analyze the advantages of our approach at the representation level.

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