Isaac Caswell


2020

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Learning a Multi-Domain Curriculum for Neural Machine Translation
Wei Wang | Ye Tian | Jiquan Ngiam | Yinfei Yang | Isaac Caswell | Zarana Parekh
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Most data selection research in machine translation focuses on improving a single domain. We perform data selection for multiple domains at once. This is achieved by carefully introducing instance-level domain-relevance features and automatically constructing a training curriculum to gradually concentrate on multi-domain relevant and noise-reduced data batches. Both the choice of features and the use of curriculum are crucial for balancing and improving all domains, including out-of-domain. In large-scale experiments, the multi-domain curriculum simultaneously reaches or outperforms the individual performance and brings solid gains over no-curriculum training.

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Translationese as a Language in “Multilingual” NMT
Parker Riley | Isaac Caswell | Markus Freitag | David Grangier
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Machine translation has an undesirable propensity to produce “translationese” artifacts, which can lead to higher BLEU scores while being liked less by human raters. Motivated by this, we model translationese and original (i.e. natural) text as separate languages in a multilingual model, and pose the question: can we perform zero-shot translation between original source text and original target text? There is no data with original source and original target, so we train a sentence-level classifier to distinguish translationese from original target text, and use this classifier to tag the training data for an NMT model. Using this technique we bias the model to produce more natural outputs at test time, yielding gains in human evaluation scores on both accuracy and fluency. Additionally, we demonstrate that it is possible to bias the model to produce translationese and game the BLEU score, increasing it while decreasing human-rated quality. We analyze these outputs using metrics measuring the degree of translationese, and present an analysis of the volatility of heuristic-based train-data tagging.

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Language ID in the Wild: Unexpected Challenges on the Path to a Thousand-Language Web Text Corpus
Isaac Caswell | Theresa Breiner | Daan van Esch | Ankur Bapna
Proceedings of the 28th International Conference on Computational Linguistics

Large text corpora are increasingly important for a wide variety of Natural Language Processing (NLP) tasks, and automatic language identification (LangID) is a core technology needed to collect such datasets in a multilingual context. LangID is largely treated as solved in the literature, with models reported that achieve over 90% average F1 on as many as 1,366 languages. We train LangID models on up to 1,629 languages with comparable quality on held-out test sets, but find that human-judged LangID accuracy for web-crawl text corpora created using these models is only around 5% for many lower-resource languages, suggesting a need for more robust evaluation. Further analysis revealed a variety of error modes, arising from domain mismatch, class imbalance, language similarity, and insufficiently expressive models. We propose two classes of techniques to mitigate these errors: wordlist-based tunable-precision filters (for which we release curated lists in about 500 languages) and transformer-based semi-supervised LangID models, which increase median dataset precision from 5.5% to 71.2%. These techniques enable us to create an initial data set covering 100K or more relatively clean sentences in each of 500+ languages, paving the way towards a 1,000-language web text corpus.

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BLEU might be Guilty but References are not Innocent
Markus Freitag | David Grangier | Isaac Caswell
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

The quality of automatic metrics for machine translation has been increasingly called into question, especially for high-quality systems. This paper demonstrates that, while choice of metric is important, the nature of the references is also critical. We study different methods to collect references and compare their value in automated evaluation by reporting correlation with human evaluation for a variety of systems and metrics. Motivated by the finding that typical references exhibit poor diversity, concentrating around translationese language, we develop a paraphrasing task for linguists to perform on existing reference translations, which counteracts this bias. Our method yields higher correlation with human judgment not only for the submissions of WMT 2019 English to German, but also for Back-translation and APE augmented MT output, which have been shown to have low correlation with automatic metrics using standard references. We demonstrate that our methodology improves correlation with all modern evaluation metrics we look at, including embedding-based methods.To complete this picture, we reveal that multi-reference BLEU does not improve the correlation for high quality output, and present an alternative multi-reference formulation that is more effective.

2019

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Investigating Multilingual NMT Representations at Scale
Sneha Kudugunta | Ankur Bapna | Isaac Caswell | Orhan Firat
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing and the 9th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (EMNLP-IJCNLP)

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.

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Dynamically Composing Domain-Data Selection with Clean-Data Selection by “Co-Curricular Learning” for Neural Machine Translation
Wei Wang | Isaac Caswell | Ciprian Chelba
Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Noise and domain are important aspects of data quality for neural machine translation. Existing research focus separately on domain-data selection, clean-data selection, or their static combination, leaving the dynamic interaction across them not explicitly examined. This paper introduces a “co-curricular learning” method to compose dynamic domain-data selection with dynamic clean-data selection, for transfer learning across both capabilities. We apply an EM-style optimization procedure to further refine the “co-curriculum”. Experiment results and analysis with two domains demonstrate the effectiveness of the method and the properties of data scheduled by the co-curriculum.

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APE at Scale and Its Implications on MT Evaluation Biases
Markus Freitag | Isaac Caswell | Scott Roy
Proceedings of the Fourth Conference on Machine Translation (Volume 1: Research Papers)

In this work, we train an Automatic Post-Editing (APE) model and use it to reveal biases in standard MT evaluation procedures. The goal of our APE model is to correct typical errors introduced by the translation process, and convert the “translationese” output into natural text. Our APE model is trained entirely on monolingual data that has been round-trip translated through English, to mimic errors that are similar to the ones introduced by NMT. We apply our model to the output of existing NMT systems, and demonstrate that, while the human-judged quality improves in all cases, BLEU scores drop with forward-translated test sets. We verify these results for the WMT18 English to German, WMT15 English to French, and WMT16 English to Romanian tasks. Furthermore, we selectively apply our APE model on the output of the top submissions of the most recent WMT evaluation campaigns. We see quality improvements on all tasks of up to 2.5 BLEU points.

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Tagged Back-Translation
Isaac Caswell | Ciprian Chelba | David Grangier
Proceedings of the Fourth Conference on Machine Translation (Volume 1: Research Papers)

Recent work in Neural Machine Translation (NMT) has shown significant quality gains from noised-beam decoding during back-translation, a method to generate synthetic parallel data. We show that the main role of such synthetic noise is not to diversify the source side, as previously suggested, but simply to indicate to the model that the given source is synthetic. We propose a simpler alternative to noising techniques, consisting of tagging back-translated source sentences with an extra token. Our results on WMT outperform noised back-translation in English-Romanian and match performance on English-German, redefining the state-of-the-art on the former.