Asaf Yehudai


Conversational Search with Mixed-Initiative - Asking Good Clarification Questions backed-up by Passage Retrieval
Yosi Mass | Doron Cohen | Asaf Yehudai | David Konopnicki
Proceedings of the Second DialDoc Workshop on Document-grounded Dialogue and Conversational Question Answering

We deal with the scenario of conversational search, where user queries are under-specified or ambiguous. This calls for a mixed-initiative setup. User-asks (queries) and system-answers, as well as system-asks (clarification questions) and user response, in order to clarify her information needs. We focus on the task of selecting the next clarification question, given conversation context. Our method leverages passage retrieval from background content to fine-tune two deep-learning models for ranking candidate clarification questions. We evaluated our method on two different use-cases. The first is an open domain conversational search in a large web collection. The second is a task-oriented customer-support setup.We show that our method performs well on both use-cases.

Reinforcement Learning with Large Action Spaces for Neural Machine Translation
Asaf Yehudai | Leshem Choshen | Lior Fox | Omri Abend
Proceedings of the 29th International Conference on Computational Linguistics

Applying Reinforcement learning (RL) following maximum likelihood estimation (MLE) pre-training is a versatile method for enhancing neural machine translation (NMT) performance. However, recent work has argued that the gains produced by RL for NMT are mostly due to promoting tokens that have already received a fairly high probability in pre-training. We hypothesize that the large action space is a main obstacle to RL’s effectiveness in MT, and conduct two sets of experiments that lend support to our hypothesis. First, we find that reducing the size of the vocabulary improves RL’s effectiveness. Second, we find that effectively reducing the dimension of the action space without changing the vocabulary also yields notable improvement as evaluated by BLEU, semantic similarity, and human evaluation. Indeed, by initializing the network’s final fully connected layer (that maps the network’s internal dimension to the vocabulary dimension), with a layer that generalizes over similar actions, we obtain a substantial improvement in RL performance: 1.5 BLEU points on average.


Filling the Gaps in Ancient Akkadian Texts: A Masked Language Modelling Approach
Koren Lazar | Benny Saret | Asaf Yehudai | Wayne Horowitz | Nathan Wasserman | Gabriel Stanovsky
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

We present models which complete missing text given transliterations of ancient Mesopotamian documents, originally written on cuneiform clay tablets (2500 BCE - 100 CE). Due to the tablets’ deterioration, scholars often rely on contextual cues to manually fill in missing parts in the text in a subjective and time-consuming process. We identify that this challenge can be formulated as a masked language modelling task, used mostly as a pretraining objective for contextualized language models. Following, we develop several architectures focusing on the Akkadian language, the lingua franca of the time. We find that despite data scarcity (1M tokens) we can achieve state of the art performance on missing tokens prediction (89% hit@5) using a greedy decoding scheme and pretraining on data from other languages and different time periods. Finally, we conduct human evaluations showing the applicability of our models in assisting experts to transcribe texts in extinct languages.