Text matching is a fundamental research problem in natural language understanding. Interaction-based approaches treat the text pair as a single sequence and encode it through cross encoders, while representation-based models encode the text pair independently with siamese or dual encoders. Interaction-based models require dense computations and thus are impractical in real-world applications. Representation-based models have become the mainstream paradigm for efficient text matching. However, these models suffer from severe performance degradation due to the lack of interactions between the pair of texts. To remedy this, we propose a Virtual InteRacTion mechanism (VIRT) for improving representation-based text matching while maintaining its efficiency. In particular, we introduce an interactive knowledge distillation module that is only applied during training. It enables deep interaction between texts by effectively transferring knowledge from the interaction-based model. A light interaction strategy is designed to fully leverage the learned interactive knowledge. Experimental results on six text matching benchmarks demonstrate the superior performance of our method over several state-of-the-art representation-based models. We further show that VIRT can be integrated into existing methods as plugins to lift their performances.
In this work, we build a dense retrieval based semantic search engine on scientific articles from Elsevier. The major challenge is that there is no labeled data for training and testing. We apply a state-of-the-art unsupervised dense retrieval model called Generative Pseudo Labeling that generates high-quality pseudo training labels. Furthermore, since the articles are unbalanced across different domains, we select passages from multiple domains to form balanced training data. For the evaluation, we create two test sets: one manually annotated and one automatically created from the meta-information of our data. We compare the semantic search engine with the currently deployed lexical search engine on the two test sets. The results of the experiment show that the semantic search engine trained with pseudo training labels can significantly improve search performance.