Question answering (QA) models have shown rapid progress enabled by the availability of large, high-quality benchmark datasets. Such annotated datasets are difficult and costly to collect, and rarely exist in languages other than English, making building QA systems that work well in other languages challenging. In order to develop such systems, it is crucial to invest in high quality multilingual evaluation benchmarks to measure progress. We present MLQA, a multi-way aligned extractive QA evaluation benchmark intended to spur research in this area. MLQA contains QA instances in 7 languages, English, Arabic, German, Spanish, Hindi, Vietnamese and Simplified Chinese. MLQA has over 12K instances in English and 5K in each other language, with each instance parallel between 4 languages on average. We evaluate state-of-the-art cross-lingual models and machine-translation-based baselines on MLQA. In all cases, transfer results are shown to be significantly behind training-language performance.
Open-domain question answering relies on efficient passage retrieval to select candidate contexts, where traditional sparse vector space models, such as TF-IDF or BM25, are the de facto method. In this work, we show that retrieval can be practically implemented using dense representations alone, where embeddings are learned from a small number of questions and passages by a simple dual-encoder framework. When evaluated on a wide range of open-domain QA datasets, our dense retriever outperforms a strong Lucene-BM25 system greatly by 9%-19% absolute in terms of top-20 passage retrieval accuracy, and helps our end-to-end QA system establish new state-of-the-art on multiple open-domain QA benchmarks.
In this paper we continue experiments where neural machine translation training is used to produce joint cross-lingual fixed-dimensional sentence embeddings. In this framework we introduce a simple method of adding a loss to the learning objective which penalizes distance between representations of bilingually aligned sentences. We evaluate cross-lingual transfer using two approaches, cross-lingual similarity search on an aligned corpus (Europarl) and cross-lingual document classification on a recently published benchmark Reuters corpus, and we find the similarity loss significantly improves performance on both. Furthermore, we notice that while our Reuters results are very competitive, our English results are not as competitive, showing room for improvement in the current cross-lingual state-of-the-art. Our results are based on a set of 6 European languages.