Yilin Yang


Improving Multilingual Translation by Representation and Gradient Regularization
Yilin Yang | Akiko Eriguchi | Alexandre Muzio | Prasad Tadepalli | Stefan Lee | Hany Hassan
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Multilingual Neural Machine Translation (NMT) enables one model to serve all translation directions, including ones that are unseen during training, i.e. zero-shot translation. Despite being theoretically attractive, current models often produce low quality translations – commonly failing to even produce outputs in the right target language. In this work, we observe that off-target translation is dominant even in strong multilingual systems, trained on massive multilingual corpora. To address this issue, we propose a joint approach to regularize NMT models at both representation-level and gradient-level. At the representation level, we leverage an auxiliary target language prediction task to regularize decoder outputs to retain information about the target language. At the gradient level, we leverage a small amount of direct data (in thousands of sentence pairs) to regularize model gradients. Our results demonstrate that our approach is highly effective in both reducing off-target translation occurrences and improving zero-shot translation performance by +5.59 and +10.38 BLEU on WMT and OPUS datasets respectively. Moreover, experiments show that our method also works well when the small amount of direct data is not available.


On the Sub-layer Functionalities of Transformer Decoder
Yilin Yang | Longyue Wang | Shuming Shi | Prasad Tadepalli | Stefan Lee | Zhaopeng Tu
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2020

There have been significant efforts to interpret the encoder of Transformer-based encoder-decoder architectures for neural machine translation (NMT); meanwhile, the decoder remains largely unexamined despite its critical role. During translation, the decoder must predict output tokens by considering both the source-language text from the encoder and the target-language prefix produced in previous steps. In this work, we study how Transformer-based decoders leverage information from the source and target languages – developing a universal probe task to assess how information is propagated through each module of each decoder layer. We perform extensive experiments on three major translation datasets (WMT En-De, En-Fr, and En-Zh). Our analysis provides insight on when and where decoders leverage different sources. Based on these insights, we demonstrate that the residual feed-forward module in each Transformer decoder layer can be dropped with minimal loss of performance – a significant reduction in computation and number of parameters, and consequently a significant boost to both training and inference speed.


Ensemble Sequence Level Training for Multimodal MT: OSU-Baidu WMT18 Multimodal Machine Translation System Report
Renjie Zheng | Yilin Yang | Mingbo Ma | Liang Huang
Proceedings of the Third Conference on Machine Translation: Shared Task Papers

This paper describes multimodal machine translation systems developed jointly by Oregon State University and Baidu Research for WMT 2018 Shared Task on multimodal translation. In this paper, we introduce a simple approach to incorporate image information by feeding image features to the decoder side. We also explore different sequence level training methods including scheduled sampling and reinforcement learning which lead to substantial improvements. Our systems ensemble several models using different architectures and training methods and achieve the best performance for three subtasks: En-De and En-Cs in task 1 and (En+De+Fr)-Cs task 1B.

Breaking the Beam Search Curse: A Study of (Re-)Scoring Methods and Stopping Criteria for Neural Machine Translation
Yilin Yang | Liang Huang | Mingbo Ma
Proceedings of the 2018 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Beam search is widely used in neural machine translation, and usually improves translation quality compared to greedy search. It has been widely observed that, however, beam sizes larger than 5 hurt translation quality. We explain why this happens, and propose several methods to address this problem. Furthermore, we discuss the optimal stopping criteria for these methods. Results show that our hyperparameter-free methods outperform the widely-used hyperparameter-free heuristic of length normalization by +2.0 BLEU, and achieve the best results among all methods on Chinese-to-English translation.