We present SkillNet-NLG, a sparsely activated approach that handles many natural language generation tasks with one model. Different from traditional dense models that always activate all the parameters, SkillNet-NLG selectively activates relevant parts of the parameters to accomplish a task, where the relevance is controlled by a set of predefined skills. The strength of such model design is that it provides an opportunity to precisely adapt relevant skills to learn new tasks effectively. We evaluate on Chinese natural language generation tasks. Results show that, with only one model file, SkillNet-NLG outperforms previous best performance methods on four of five tasks. SkillNet-NLG performs better than two multi-task learning baselines (a dense model and a Mixture-of-Expert model) and achieves comparable performance to task-specific models. Lastly, SkillNet-NLG surpasses baseline systems when being adapted to new tasks.
The standard BERT adopts subword-based tokenization, which may break a word into two or more wordpieces (e.g., converting "lossless" to "loss" and "less"). This will bring inconvenience in following situations: (1) what is the best way to obtain the contextual vector of a word that is divided into multiple wordpieces? (2) how to predict a word via cloze test without knowing the number of wordpieces in advance? In this work, we explore the possibility of developing BERT-style pretrained model over a vocabulary of words instead of wordpieces. We call such word-level BERT model as WordBERT. We train models with different vocabulary sizes, initialization configurations and languages. Results show that, compared to standard wordpiece-based BERT, WordBERT makes significant improvements on cloze test and machine reading comprehension. On many other natural language understanding tasks, including POS tagging, chunking and NER, WordBERT consistently performs better than BERT. Model analysis indicates that the major advantage of WordBERT over BERT lies in the understanding for low-frequency words and rare words. Furthermore, since the pipeline is language-independent, we train WordBERT for Chinese language and obtain significant gains on five natural language understanding datasets. Lastly, the analyse on inference speed illustrates WordBERT has comparable time cost to BERT in natural language understanding tasks.
Modern Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) systems can achieve high performance in terms of recognition accuracy. However, a perfectly accurate transcript still can be challenging to read due to disfluency, filter words, and other errata common in spoken communication. Many downstream tasks and human readers rely on the output of the ASR system; therefore, errors introduced by the speaker and ASR system alike will be propagated to the next task in the pipeline. In this work, we propose an ASR post-processing model that aims to transform the incorrect and noisy ASR output into a readable text for humans and downstream tasks. We leverage the Metadata Extraction (MDE) corpus to construct a task-specific dataset for our study. Since the dataset is small, we propose a novel data augmentation method and use a two-stage training strategy to fine-tune the RoBERTa pre-trained model. On the constructed test set, our model outperforms a production two-step pipeline-based post-processing method by a large margin of 13.26 on readability-aware WER (RA-WER) and 17.53 on BLEU metrics. Human evaluation also demonstrates that our method can generate more human-readable transcripts than the baseline method.
Recently, universal neural machine translation (NMT) with shared encoder-decoder gained good performance on zero-shot translation. Unlike universal NMT, jointly trained language-specific encoders-decoders aim to achieve universal representation across non-shared modules, each of which is for a language or language family. The non-shared architecture has the advantage of mitigating internal language competition, especially when the shared vocabulary and model parameters are restricted in their size. However, the performance of using multiple encoders and decoders on zero-shot translation still lags behind universal NMT. In this work, we study zero-shot translation using language-specific encoders-decoders. We propose to generalize the non-shared architecture and universal NMT by differentiating the Transformer layers between language-specific and interlingua. By selectively sharing parameters and applying cross-attentions, we explore maximizing the representation universality and realizing the best alignment of language-agnostic information. We also introduce a denoising auto-encoding (DAE) objective to jointly train the model with the translation task in a multi-task manner. Experiments on two public multilingual parallel datasets show that our proposed model achieves a competitive or better results than universal NMT and strong pivot baseline. Moreover, we experiment incrementally adding new language to the trained model by only updating the new model parameters. With this little effort, the zero-shot translation between this newly added language and existing languages achieves a comparable result with the model trained jointly from scratch on all languages.
Modern Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) systems can achieve high performance in terms of recognition accuracy. However, a perfectly accurate transcript still can be challenging to read due to grammatical errors, disfluency, and other errata common in spoken communication. Many downstream tasks and human readers rely on the output of the ASR system; therefore, errors introduced by the speaker and ASR system alike will be propagated to the next task in the pipeline. In this work, we propose a novel NLP task called ASR post-processing for readability (APR) that aims to transform the noisy ASR output into a readable text for humans and downstream tasks while maintaining the semantic meaning of the speaker. In addition, we describe a method to address the lack of task-specific data by synthesizing examples for the APR task using the datasets collected for Grammatical Error Correction (GEC) followed by text-to-speech (TTS) and ASR. Furthermore, we propose metrics borrowed from similar tasks to evaluate performance on the APR task. We compare fine-tuned models based on several open-sourced and adapted pre-trained models with the traditional pipeline method. Our results suggest that finetuned models improve the performance on the APR task significantly, hinting at the potential benefits of using APR systems. We hope that the read, understand, and rewrite approach of our work can serve as a basis that many NLP tasks and human readers can benefit from.