Investigating Multilingual NMT Representations at Scale

Sneha Kudugunta, Ankur Bapna, Isaac Caswell, Orhan Firat


Abstract
Multilingual Neural Machine Translation (NMT) models have yielded large empirical success in transfer learning settings. However, these black-box representations are poorly understood, and their mode of transfer remains elusive. In this work, we attempt to understand massively multilingual NMT representations (with 103 languages) using Singular Value Canonical Correlation Analysis (SVCCA), a representation similarity framework that allows us to compare representations across different languages, layers and models. Our analysis validates several empirical results and long-standing intuitions, and unveils new observations regarding how representations evolve in a multilingual translation model. We draw three major results from our analysis, with implications on cross-lingual transfer learning: (i) Encoder representations of different languages cluster based on linguistic similarity, (ii) Representations of a source language learned by the encoder are dependent on the target language, and vice-versa, and (iii) Representations of high resource and/or linguistically similar languages are more robust when fine-tuning on an arbitrary language pair, which is critical to determining how much cross-lingual transfer can be expected in a zero or few-shot setting. We further connect our findings with existing empirical observations in multilingual NMT and transfer learning.
Anthology ID:
D19-1167
Volume:
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing and the 9th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (EMNLP-IJCNLP)
Month:
November
Year:
2019
Address:
Hong Kong, China
Venues:
EMNLP | IJCNLP
SIG:
SIGDAT
Publisher:
Association for Computational Linguistics
Note:
Pages:
1565–1575
Language:
URL:
https://www.aclweb.org/anthology/D19-1167
DOI:
10.18653/v1/D19-1167
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http://aclanthology.lst.uni-saarland.de/D19-1167.pdf
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