Sachin Kumar


Language Generation Models Can Cause Harm: So What Can We Do About It? An Actionable Survey
Sachin Kumar | Vidhisha Balachandran | Lucille Njoo | Antonios Anastasopoulos | Yulia Tsvetkov
Proceedings of the 17th Conference of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Recent advances in the capacity of large language models to generate human-like text have resulted in their increased adoption in user-facing settings. In parallel, these improvements have prompted a heated discourse around the risks of societal harms they introduce, whether inadvertent or malicious. Several studies have explored these harms and called for their mitigation via development of safer, fairer models. Going beyond enumerating the risks of harms, this work provides a survey of practical methods for addressing potential threats and societal harms from language generation models. We draw on several prior works’ taxonomies of language model risks to present a structured overview of strategies for detecting and ameliorating different kinds of risks/harms of language generators. Bridging diverse strands of research, this survey aims to serve as a practical guide for both LM researchers and practitioners, with explanations of different strategies’ motivations, their limitations, and open problems for future research.


Gradient-based Constrained Sampling from Language Models
Sachin Kumar | Biswajit Paria | Yulia Tsvetkov
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Large pretrained language models are successful at generating fluent text but are notoriously hard to controllably sample from. In this work, we study constrained sampling from such language models, i.e., generating text that satisfies user-defined constraints, while maintaining fluency and model’s performance in a downstream task. We propose MuCoLa—a sampling procedure that combines the log-likelihood of the language model with arbitrary (differentiable) constraints in a single energy function, and then generates samples in a non-autoregressive manner. Specifically, it initializes the entire output sequence with noise and follows a Markov chain defined by Langevin Dynamics using the gradients of this energy. We evaluate MuCoLa on text generation with soft and hard constraints as well as their combinations, obtaining significant improvements over competitive baselines for toxicity avoidance, sentiment control, and keyword-guided generation.

Referee: Reference-Free Sentence Summarization with Sharper Controllability through Symbolic Knowledge Distillation
Melanie Sclar | Peter West | Sachin Kumar | Yulia Tsvetkov | Yejin Choi
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

We present Referee, a novel framework for sentence summarization that can be trained reference-free (i.e., requiring no gold summaries for supervision), while allowing direct control for compression ratio. Our work is the first to demonstrate that reference-free, controlled sentence summarization is feasible via the conceptual framework of Symbolic Knowledge Distillation (West et al., 2022), where latent knowledge in pre-trained language models is distilled via explicit examples sampled from the teacher models, further purified with three types of filters: length, fidelity, and Information Bottleneck. Moreover, we uniquely propose iterative distillation of knowledge, where student models from the previous iteration of distillation serve as teacher models in the next iteration. Starting off from a relatively modest set of GPT3-generated summaries, we demonstrate how iterative knowledge distillation can lead to considerably smaller, but better summarizers with sharper controllability. A useful by-product of this iterative distillation process is a high-quality dataset of sentence-summary pairs with varying degrees of compression ratios. Empirical results demonstrate that the final student models vastly outperform the much larger GPT3-Instruct model in terms of the controllability of compression ratios, without compromising the quality of resulting summarization.


Machine Translation into Low-resource Language Varieties
Sachin Kumar | Antonios Anastasopoulos | Shuly Wintner | Yulia Tsvetkov
Proceedings of the 59th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 11th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (Volume 2: Short Papers)

State-of-the-art machine translation (MT) systems are typically trained to generate “standard” target language; however, many languages have multiple varieties (regional varieties, dialects, sociolects, non-native varieties) that are different from the standard language. Such varieties are often low-resource, and hence do not benefit from contemporary NLP solutions, MT included. We propose a general framework to rapidly adapt MT systems to generate language varieties that are close to, but different from, the standard target language, using no parallel (source–variety) data. This also includes adaptation of MT systems to low-resource typologically-related target languages. We experiment with adapting an English–Russian MT system to generate Ukrainian and Belarusian, an English–Norwegian Bokmål system to generate Nynorsk, and an English–Arabic system to generate four Arabic dialects, obtaining significant improvements over competitive baselines.

Improving the Diversity of Unsupervised Paraphrasing with Embedding Outputs
Monisha Jegadeesan | Sachin Kumar | John Wieting | Yulia Tsvetkov
Proceedings of the 1st Workshop on Multilingual Representation Learning

We present a novel technique for zero-shot paraphrase generation. The key contribution is an end-to-end multilingual paraphrasing model that is trained using translated parallel corpora to generate paraphrases into “meaning spaces” – replacing the final softmax layer with word embeddings. This architectural modification, plus a training procedure that incorporates an autoencoding objective, enables effective parameter sharing across languages for more fluent monolingual rewriting, and facilitates fluency and diversity in the generated outputs. Our continuous-output paraphrase generation models outperform zero-shot paraphrasing baselines when evaluated on two languages using a battery of computational metrics as well as in human assessment.


A Deep Reinforced Model for Zero-Shot Cross-Lingual Summarization with Bilingual Semantic Similarity Rewards
Zi-Yi Dou | Sachin Kumar | Yulia Tsvetkov
Proceedings of the Fourth Workshop on Neural Generation and Translation

Cross-lingual text summarization aims at generating a document summary in one language given input in another language. It is a practically important but under-explored task, primarily due to the dearth of available data. Existing methods resort to machine translation to synthesize training data, but such pipeline approaches suffer from error propagation. In this work, we propose an end-to-end cross-lingual text summarization model. The model uses reinforcement learning to directly optimize a bilingual semantic similarity metric between the summaries generated in a target language and gold summaries in a source language. We also introduce techniques to pre-train the model leveraging monolingual summarization and machine translation objectives. Experimental results in both English–Chinese and English–German cross-lingual summarization settings demonstrate the effectiveness of our methods. In addition, we find that reinforcement learning models with bilingual semantic similarity as rewards generate more fluent sentences than strong baselines.


Topics to Avoid: Demoting Latent Confounds in Text Classification
Sachin Kumar | Shuly Wintner | Noah A. Smith | Yulia Tsvetkov
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing and the 9th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (EMNLP-IJCNLP)

Despite impressive performance on many text classification tasks, deep neural networks tend to learn frequent superficial patterns that are specific to the training data and do not always generalize well. In this work, we observe this limitation with respect to the task of native language identification. We find that standard text classifiers which perform well on the test set end up learning topical features which are confounds of the prediction task (e.g., if the input text mentions Sweden, the classifier predicts that the author’s native language is Swedish). We propose a method that represents the latent topical confounds and a model which “unlearns” confounding features by predicting both the label of the input text and the confound; but we train the two predictors adversarially in an alternating fashion to learn a text representation that predicts the correct label but is less prone to using information about the confound. We show that this model generalizes better and learns features that are indicative of the writing style rather than the content.

A Margin-based Loss with Synthetic Negative Samples for Continuous-output Machine Translation
Gayatri Bhat | Sachin Kumar | Yulia Tsvetkov
Proceedings of the 3rd Workshop on Neural Generation and Translation

Neural models that eliminate the softmax bottleneck by generating word embeddings (rather than multinomial distributions over a vocabulary) attain faster training with fewer learnable parameters. These models are currently trained by maximizing densities of pretrained target embeddings under von Mises-Fisher distributions parameterized by corresponding model-predicted embeddings. This work explores the utility of margin-based loss functions in optimizing such models. We present syn-margin loss, a novel margin-based loss that uses a synthetic negative sample constructed from only the predicted and target embeddings at every step. The loss is efficient to compute, and we use a geometric analysis to argue that it is more consistent and interpretable than other margin-based losses. Empirically, we find that syn-margin provides small but significant improvements over both vMF and standard margin-based losses in continuous-output neural machine translation.