Zaixiang Zheng


LAFT: Cross-lingual Transfer for Text Generation by Language-Agnostic Finetuning
Xianze Wu | Zaixiang Zheng | Hao Zhou | Yong Yu
Proceedings of the 15th International Conference on Natural Language Generation

Helping the Weak Makes You Strong: Simple Multi-Task Learning Improves Non-Autoregressive Translators
Xinyou Wang | Zaixiang Zheng | Shujian Huang
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Recently, non-autoregressive (NAR) neural machine translation models have received increasing attention due to their efficient parallel decoding.However, the probabilistic framework of NAR models necessitates conditional independence assumption on target sequences, falling short of characterizing human language data.This drawback results in less informative learning signals for NAR models under conventional MLE training, thereby yielding unsatisfactory accuracy compared to their autoregressive (AR) counterparts.In this paper, we propose a simple and model-agnostic multi-task learning framework to provide more informative learning signals.During training stage, we introduce a set of sufficiently weak AR decoders that solely rely on the information provided by NAR decoder to make prediction, forcing the NAR decoder to become stronger or else it will be unable to support its weak AR partners.Experiments on WMT and IWSLT datasets show that our approach can consistently improve accuracy of multiple NAR baselines without adding any additional decoding overhead.


Vocabulary Learning via Optimal Transport for Neural Machine Translation
Jingjing Xu | Hao Zhou | Chun Gan | Zaixiang Zheng | Lei Li
Proceedings of the 59th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 11th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (Volume 1: Long Papers)

The choice of token vocabulary affects the performance of machine translation. This paper aims to figure out what is a good vocabulary and whether we can find the optimal vocabulary without trial training. To answer these questions, we first provide an alternative understanding of vocabulary from the perspective of information theory. It motivates us to formulate the quest of vocabularization – finding the best token dictionary with a proper size – as an optimal transport (OT) problem. We propose VOLT, a simple and efficient solution without trial training. Empirical results show that VOLT beats widely-used vocabularies in diverse scenarios, including WMT-14 English-German translation, TED bilingual translation, and TED multilingual translation. For example, VOLT achieves 70% vocabulary size reduction and 0.5 BLEU gain on English-German translation. Also, compared to BPE-search, VOLT reduces the search time from 384 GPU hours to 30 GPU hours on English-German translation. Codes are available at

The Volctrans GLAT System: Non-autoregressive Translation Meets WMT21
Lihua Qian | Yi Zhou | Zaixiang Zheng | Yaoming Zhu | Zehui Lin | Jiangtao Feng | Shanbo Cheng | Lei Li | Mingxuan Wang | Hao Zhou
Proceedings of the Sixth Conference on Machine Translation

This paper describes the Volctrans’ submission to the WMT21 news translation shared task for German->English translation. We build a parallel (i.e., non-autoregressive) translation system using the Glancing Transformer, which enables fast and accurate parallel decoding in contrast to the currently prevailing autoregressive models. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first parallel translation system that can be scaled to such a practical scenario like WMT competition. More importantly, our parallel translation system achieves the best BLEU score (35.0) on German->English translation task, outperforming all strong autoregressive counterparts.


RPD: A Distance Function Between Word Embeddings
Xuhui Zhou | Shujian Huang | Zaixiang Zheng
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Student Research Workshop

It is well-understood that different algorithms, training processes, and corpora produce different word embeddings. However, less is known about the relation between different embedding spaces, i.e. how far different sets of em-beddings deviate from each other. In this paper, we propose a novel metric called Relative Pairwise Inner Product Distance (RPD) to quantify the distance between different sets of word embeddings. This unitary-invariant metric has a unified scale for comparing different sets of word embeddings. Based on the properties of RPD, we study the relations of word embeddings of different algorithms systematically and investigate the influence of different training processes and corpora. The results shed light on the poorly understood word embeddings and justify RPD as a measure of the distance of embedding space.


Dynamic Past and Future for Neural Machine Translation
Zaixiang Zheng | Shujian Huang | Zhaopeng Tu | Xin-Yu Dai | Jiajun Chen
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing and the 9th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (EMNLP-IJCNLP)

Previous studies have shown that neural machine translation (NMT) models can benefit from explicitly modeling translated () and untranslated () source contents as recurrent states (CITATION). However, this less interpretable recurrent process hinders its power to model the dynamic updating of and contents during decoding. In this paper, we propose to model the dynamic principles by explicitly separating source words into groups of translated and untranslated contents through parts-to-wholes assignment. The assignment is learned through a novel variant of routing-by-agreement mechanism (CITATION), namely Guided Dynamic Routing, where the translating status at each decoding step guides the routing process to assign each source word to its associated group (i.e., translated or untranslated content) represented by a capsule, enabling translation to be made from holistic context. Experiments show that our approach achieves substantial improvements over both Rnmt and Transformer by producing more adequate translations. Extensive analysis demonstrates that our method is highly interpretable, which is able to recognize the translated and untranslated contents as expected.

Learning Representation Mapping for Relation Detection in Knowledge Base Question Answering
Peng Wu | Shujian Huang | Rongxiang Weng | Zaixiang Zheng | Jianbing Zhang | Xiaohui Yan | Jiajun Chen
Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Relation detection is a core step in many natural language process applications including knowledge base question answering. Previous efforts show that single-fact questions could be answered with high accuracy. However, one critical problem is that current approaches only get high accuracy for questions whose relations have been seen in the training data. But for unseen relations, the performance will drop rapidly. The main reason for this problem is that the representations for unseen relations are missing. In this paper, we propose a simple mapping method, named representation adapter, to learn the representation mapping for both seen and unseen relations based on previously learned relation embedding. We employ the adversarial objective and the reconstruction objective to improve the mapping performance. We re-organize the popular SimpleQuestion dataset to reveal and evaluate the problem of detecting unseen relations. Experiments show that our method can greatly improve the performance of unseen relations while the performance for those seen part is kept comparable to the state-of-the-art.


Modeling Past and Future for Neural Machine Translation
Zaixiang Zheng | Hao Zhou | Shujian Huang | Lili Mou | Xinyu Dai | Jiajun Chen | Zhaopeng Tu
Transactions of the Association for Computational Linguistics, Volume 6

Existing neural machine translation systems do not explicitly model what has been translated and what has not during the decoding phase. To address this problem, we propose a novel mechanism that separates the source information into two parts: translated Past contents and untranslated Future contents, which are modeled by two additional recurrent layers. The Past and Future contents are fed to both the attention model and the decoder states, which provides Neural Machine Translation (NMT) systems with the knowledge of translated and untranslated contents. Experimental results show that the proposed approach significantly improves the performance in Chinese-English, German-English, and English-German translation tasks. Specifically, the proposed model outperforms the conventional coverage model in terms of both the translation quality and the alignment error rate.


Neural Machine Translation with Word Predictions
Rongxiang Weng | Shujian Huang | Zaixiang Zheng | Xinyu Dai | Jiajun Chen
Proceedings of the 2017 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

In the encoder-decoder architecture for neural machine translation (NMT), the hidden states of the recurrent structures in the encoder and decoder carry the crucial information about the sentence. These vectors are generated by parameters which are updated by back-propagation of translation errors through time.We argue that propagating errors through the end-to-end recurrent structures are not a direct way of control the hidden vectors. In this paper, we propose to use word predictions as a mechanism for direct supervision. More specifically, we require these vectors to be able to predict the vocabulary in target sentence. Our simple mechanism ensures better representations in the encoder and decoder without using any extra data or annotation. It is also helpful in reducing the target side vocabulary and improving the decoding efficiency. Experiments on Chinese-English machine translation task show an average BLEU improvement by 4.53, respectively.