Intermediate training of pre-trained transformer-based language models on domain-specific data leads to substantial gains for downstream tasks. To increase efficiency and prevent catastrophic forgetting alleviated from full domain-adaptive pre-training, approaches such as adapters have been developed. However, these require additional parameters for each layer, and are criticized for their limited expressiveness. In this work, we introduce TADA, a novel task-agnostic domain adaptation method which is modular, parameter-efficient, and thus, data-efficient. Within TADA, we retrain the embeddings to learn domain-aware input representations and tokenizers for the transformer encoder, while freezing all other parameters of the model. Then, task-specific fine-tuning is performed. We further conduct experiments with meta-embeddings and newly introduced meta-tokenizers, resulting in one model per task in multi-domain use cases. Our broad evaluation in 4 downstream tasks for 14 domains across single- and multi-domain setups and high- and low-resource scenarios reveals that TADA is an effective and efficient alternative to full domain-adaptive pre-training and adapters for domain adaptation, while not introducing additional parameters or complex training steps.
Demographic factors (e.g., gender or age) shape our language. Previous work showed that incorporating demographic factors can consistently improve performance for various NLP tasks with traditional NLP models. In this work, we investigate whether these previous findings still hold with state-of-the-art pretrained Transformer-based language models (PLMs). We use three common specialization methods proven effective for incorporating external knowledge into pretrained Transformers (e.g., domain-specific or geographic knowledge). We adapt the language representations for the demographic dimensions of gender and age, using continuous language modeling and dynamic multi-task learning for adaptation, where we couple language modeling objectives with the prediction of demographic classes. Our results when employing a multilingual PLM show substantial performance gains across four languages (English, German, French, and Danish), which is consistent with the results of previous work. However, controlling for confounding factors -- primarily domain and language proficiency of Transformer-based PLMs -- shows that downstream performance gains from our demographic adaptation do not actually stem from demographic knowledge. Our results indicate that demographic specialization of PLMs, while holding promise for positive societal impact, still represents an unsolved problem for (modern) NLP.
Sociodemographic factors (e.g., gender or age) shape our language. Previous work showed that incorporating specific sociodemographic factors can consistently improve performance for various NLP tasks in traditional NLP models. We investigate whether these previous findings still hold with state-of-the-art pretrained Transformers. We use three common specialization methods proven effective for incorporating external knowledge into pretrained Transformers (e.g., domain-specific or geographic knowledge). We adapt the language representations for the sociodemographic dimensions of gender and age, using continuous language modeling and dynamic multi-task learning for adaptation, where we couple language modeling with the prediction of a sociodemographic class. Our results when employing a multilingual model show substantial performance gains across four languages (English, German, French, and Danish). These findings are in line with the results of previous work and hold promise for successful sociodemographic specialization. However, controlling for confounding factors like domain and language shows that, while sociodemographic adaptation does improve downstream performance, the gains do not always solely stem from sociodemographic knowledge. Our results indicate that sociodemographic specialization, while very important, is still an unresolved problem in NLP.
This paper introduces our proposed system for the MIA Shared Task on Cross-lingual Open-retrieval Question Answering (COQA). In this challenging scenario, given an input question the system has to gather evidence documents from a multilingual pool and generate from them an answer in the language of the question. We devised several approaches combining different model variants for three main components: Data Augmentation, Passage Retrieval, and Answer Generation. For passage retrieval, we evaluated the monolingual BM25 ranker against the ensemble of re-rankers based on multilingual pretrained language models (PLMs) and also variants of the shared task baseline, re-training it from scratch using a recently introduced contrastive loss that maintains a strong gradient signal throughout training by means of mixed negative samples. For answer generation, we focused on language- and domain-specialization by means of continued language model (LM) pretraining of existing multilingual encoders. Additionally, for both passage retrieval and answer generation, we augmented the training data provided by the task organizers with automatically generated question-answer pairs created from Wikipedia passages to mitigate the issue of data scarcity, particularly for the low-resource languages for which no training data were provided. Our results show that language- and domain-specialization as well as data augmentation help, especially for low-resource languages.
Research on (multi-domain) task-oriented dialog (TOD) has predominantly focused on the English language, primarily due to the shortage of robust TOD datasets in other languages, preventing the systematic investigation of cross-lingual transfer for this crucial NLP application area. In this work, we introduce Multi2WOZ, a new multilingual multi-domain TOD dataset, derived from the well-established English dataset MultiWOZ, that spans four typologically diverse languages: Chinese, German, Arabic, and Russian. In contrast to concurrent efforts, Multi2WOZ contains gold-standard dialogs in target languages that are directly comparable with development and test portions of the English dataset, enabling reliable and comparative estimates of cross-lingual transfer performance for TOD. We then introduce a new framework for multilingual conversational specialization of pretrained language models (PrLMs) that aims to facilitate cross-lingual transfer for arbitrary downstream TOD tasks. Using such conversational PrLMs specialized for concrete target languages, we systematically benchmark a number of zero-shot and few-shot cross-lingual transfer approaches on two standard TOD tasks: Dialog State Tracking and Response Retrieval. Our experiments show that, in most setups, the best performance entails the combination of (I) conversational specialization in the target language and (ii) few-shot transfer for the concrete TOD task. Most importantly, we show that our conversational specialization in the target language allows for an exceptionally sample-efficient few-shot transfer for downstream TOD tasks.
Recent work has shown that self-supervised dialog-specific pretraining on large conversational datasets yields substantial gains over traditional language modeling (LM) pretraining in downstream task-oriented dialog (TOD). These approaches, however, exploit general dialogic corpora (e.g., Reddit) and thus presumably fail to reliably embed domain-specific knowledge useful for concrete downstream TOD domains. In this work, we investigate the effects of domain specialization of pretrained language models (PLMs) for task-oriented dialog. Within our DS-TOD framework, we first automatically extract salient domain-specific terms, and then use them to construct DomainCC and DomainReddit -- resources that we leverage for domain-specific pretraining, based on (i) masked language modeling (MLM) and (ii) response selection (RS) objectives, respectively. We further propose a resource-efficient and modular domain specialization by means of domain adapters -- additional parameter-light layers in which we encode the domain knowledge. Our experiments with two prominent TOD tasks -- dialog state tracking (DST) and response retrieval (RR) -- encompassing five domains from the MultiWOZ TOD benchmark demonstrate the effectiveness of our domain specialization approach. Moreover, we show that the light-weight adapter-based specialization (1) performs comparably to full fine-tuning in single-domain setups and (2) is particularly suitable for multi-domain specialization, in which, besides advantageous computational footprint, it can offer better downstream performance.