Decoder-only Large Language Models (LLMs) have demonstrated potential in machine translation (MT), albeit with performance slightly lagging behind traditional encoder-decoder Neural Machine Translation (NMT) systems. However, LLMs offer a unique advantage: the ability to control the properties of the output through prompts. In this study, we harness this flexibility to explore LLaMa's capability to produce gender-specific translations for languages with grammatical gender. Our results indicate that LLaMa can generate gender-specific translations with competitive accuracy and gender bias mitigation when compared to NLLB, a state-of-the-art multilingual NMT system. Furthermore, our experiments reveal that LLaMa's translations are robust, showing significant performance drops when evaluated against opposite-gender references in gender-ambiguous datasets but maintaining consistency in less ambiguous contexts. This research provides insights into the potential and challenges of using LLMs for gender-specific translations and highlights the importance of in-context learning to elicit new tasks in LLMs.
We present Belebele, a multiple-choice machine reading comprehension (MRC) dataset spanning 122 language variants. Significantly expanding the language coverage of natural language understanding (NLU) benchmarks, this dataset enables the evaluation of text models in high-, medium-, and low-resource languages. Each question is based on a short passage from the Flores-200 dataset and has four multiple-choice answers. The questions were carefully curated to discriminate between models with different levels of general language comprehension. The English dataset on its own proves difficult enough to challenge state-of-the-art language models. Being fully parallel, this dataset enables direct comparison of model performance across all languages. We use this dataset to evaluate the capabilities of multilingual masked language models (MLMs) and large language models (LLMs). We present extensive results and find that despite significant cross-lingual transfer in English-centric LLMs, much smaller MLMs pretrained on balanced multilingual data still understand far more languages. We also observe that larger vocabulary size and conscious vocabulary construction correlate with better performance on low-resource languages. Overall, Belebele opens up new avenues for evaluating and analyzing the multilingual capabilities of NLP systems.
As increasingly sophisticated language models emerge, their trustworthiness becomes a pivotal issue, especially in tasks such as summarization and question-answering. Ensuring their responses are contextually grounded and faithful is challenging due to the linguistic diversity and the myriad of possible answers. In this paper, we introduce a novel approach to evaluate faithfulness of machine-generated text by computing the longest noncontinuous substring of the claim that is supported by the context, which we refer to as the Longest Supported Subsequence (LSS). Using a new human-annotated dataset, we finetune a model to generate LSS. We introduce a new method of evaluation and demonstrate that these metrics correlate better with human ratings when LSS is employed, as opposed to when it is not. Our proposed metric demonstrates an 18% enhancement over the prevailing state-of-the-art metric for faithfulness on our dataset. Our metric consistently outperforms other metrics on a summarization dataset across six different models. Finally, we compare several popular Large Language Models (LLMs) for faithfulness using this metric. We release the human-annotated dataset built for predicting LSS and our fine-tuned model for evaluating faithfulness.
Translate-test is a popular technique to improve the performance of multilingual language models. This approach works by translating the input into English using an external machine translation system, and running inference over the translated input. However, these improvements can be attributed to the use of a separate translation system, which is typically trained on large amounts of parallel data not seen by the language model. In this work, we introduce a new approach called self-translate, which overcomes the need of an external translation system by leveraging the few-shot translation capabilities of multilingual language models. Experiments over 5 tasks show that self-translate consistently outperforms direct inference, demonstrating that language models are unable to leverage their full multilingual potential when prompted in non-English languages. Our code is available at https://github.com/juletx/self-translate.
Pretrained language models (PLMs) are today the primary model for natural language processing. Despite their impressive downstream performance, it can be difficult to apply PLMs to new languages, a barrier to making their capabilities universally accessible. While prior work has shown it possible to address this issue by learning a new embedding layer for the new language, doing so is both data and compute inefficient. We propose to use an active forgetting mechanism during pretraining, as a simple way of creating PLMs that can quickly adapt to new languages. Concretely, by resetting the embedding layer every K updates during pretraining, we encourage the PLM to improve its ability of learning new embeddings within a limited number of updates, similar to a meta-learning effect. Experiments with RoBERTa show that models pretrained with our forgetting mechanism not only demonstrate faster convergence during language adaptation but also outperform standard ones in a low-data regime, particularly for languages that are distant from English.
Machine Translation (MT) has been widely used for cross-lingual classification, either by translating the test set into English and running inference with a monolingual model (translate-test), or translating the training set into the target languages and finetuning a multilingual model (translate-train). However, most research in the area focuses on the multilingual models rather than the MT component. We show that, by using a stronger MT system and mitigating the mismatch between training on original text and running inference on machine translated text, translate-test can do substantially better than previously assumed. The optimal approach, however, is highly task dependent, as we identify various sources of cross-lingual transfer gap that affect different tasks and approaches differently. Our work calls into question the dominance of multilingual models for cross-lingual classification, and prompts to pay more attention to MT-based baselines.
Methods for adapting language models (LMs) to new tasks and domains have traditionally assumed white-box access to the model, and work by modifying its parameters. However, this is incompatible with a recent trend in the field, where the highest quality models are only available as black-boxes through inference APIs. Even when the model weights are available, the computational cost of fine-tuning large LMs can be prohibitive for most practitioners. In this work, we present a lightweight method for adapting large LMs to new domains and tasks, assuming no access to their weights or intermediate activations. Our approach fine-tunes a small white-box LM and combines it with the large black-box LM at the probability level through a small network, learned on a small validation set. We validate our approach by adapting a large LM (OPT-30B) to several domains and a downstream task (machine translation), observing improved performance in all cases, of up to 9%, while using a domain expert 23x smaller.
Prior work has shown that it is possible to expand pretrained Masked Language Models (MLMs) to new languages by learning a new set of embeddings, while keeping the transformer body frozen. Despite learning a small subset of parameters, this approach is not compute-efficient, as training the new embeddings requires a full forward and backward pass over the entire model. In this work, we propose mini-model adaptation, a compute-efficient alternative that builds a shallow mini-model from a fraction of a large model's parameters. New language-specific embeddings can then be efficiently trained over the mini-model, and plugged into the aligned large model for rapid cross-lingual transfer. We explore two approaches to learn mini-models: MiniJoint, which jointly pretrains the primary model and the mini-model using a single transformer with a secondary MLM head at a middle layer; and MiniPost, where we start from a regular pretrained model and build a mini-model by extracting and freezing a few layers and learning a small number of parameters on top. Experiments on XNLI, MLQA and PAWS-X show that mini-model adaptation matches the performance of the standard approach using up to 2.4x less compute.
While prior work has established that the use of parallel data is conducive for cross-lingual learning, it is unclear if the improvements come from the data itself, or if it is the modeling of parallel interactions that matters. Exploring this, we examine the usage of unsupervised machine translation to generate synthetic parallel data, and compare it to supervised machine translation and gold parallel data. We find that even model generated parallel data can be useful for downstream tasks, in both a general setting (continued pretraining) as well as the task-specific setting (translate-train), although our best results are still obtained using real parallel data. Our findings suggest that existing multilingual models do not exploit the full potential of monolingual data, and prompt the community to reconsider the traditional categorization of cross-lingual learning approaches.
Scaling up language models has led to unprecedented performance gains, but little is understood about how the training dynamics change as models get larger. How do language models of different sizes learn during pre-training? Why do larger language models demonstrate more desirable behaviors? In this paper, we analyze the intermediate training checkpoints of differently sized OPT models (Zhang et al.,2022)--from 125M to 175B parameters--on next-token prediction, sequence-level generation, and downstream tasks. We find that 1) at a given perplexity and independent of model sizes, a similar subset of training tokens see the most significant reduction in loss, with the rest stagnating or showing double-descent behavior; 2) early in training, all models learn to reduce the perplexity of grammatical sequences that contain hallucinations, with small models halting at this suboptimal distribution and larger ones eventually learning to assign these sequences lower probabilities; 3) perplexity is a strong predictor of in-context learning performance on 74 multiple-choice tasks from BIG-Bench, and this holds independent of the model size. Together, these results show that perplexity is more predictive of model behaviors than model size or training computation.