Benjamin Minixhofer


WECHSEL: Effective initialization of subword embeddings for cross-lingual transfer of monolingual language models
Benjamin Minixhofer | Fabian Paischer | Navid Rekabsaz
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Large pretrained language models (LMs) have become the central building block of many NLP applications. Training these models requires ever more computational resources and most of the existing models are trained on English text only. It is exceedingly expensive to train these models in other languages. To alleviate this problem, we introduce a novel method – called WECHSEL – to efficiently and effectively transfer pretrained LMs to new languages. WECHSEL can be applied to any model which uses subword-based tokenization and learns an embedding for each subword. The tokenizer of the source model (in English) is replaced with a tokenizer in the target language and token embeddings are initialized such that they are semantically similar to the English tokens by utilizing multilingual static word embeddings covering English and the target language. We use WECHSEL to transfer the English RoBERTa and GPT-2 models to four languages (French, German, Chinese and Swahili). We also study the benefits of our method on very low-resource languages. WECHSEL improves over proposed methods for cross-lingual parameter transfer and outperforms models of comparable size trained from scratch with up to 64x less training effort. Our method makes training large language models for new languages more accessible and less damaging to the environment. We make our code and models publicly available.

HumSet: Dataset of Multilingual Information Extraction and Classification for Humanitarian Crises Response
Selim Fekih | Nicolo’ Tamagnone | Benjamin Minixhofer | Ranjan Shrestha | Ximena Contla | Ewan Oglethorpe | Navid Rekabsaz
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2022

Timely and effective response to humanitarian crises requires quick and accurate analysis of large amounts of text data – a process that can highly benefit from expert-assisted NLP systems trained on validated and annotated data in the humanitarian response domain. To enable creation of such NLP systems, we introduce and release HumSet, a novel and rich multilingual dataset of humanitarian response documents annotated by experts in the humanitarian response community. The dataset provides documents in three languages (English, French, Spanish) and covers a variety of humanitarian crises from 2018 to 2021 across the globe. For each document, HUMSET provides selected snippets (entries) as well as assigned classes to each entry annotated using common humanitarian information analysis frameworks. HUMSET also provides novel and challenging entry extraction and multi-label entry classification tasks. In this paper, we take a first step towards approaching these tasks and conduct a set of experiments on Pre-trained Language Models (PLM) to establish strong baselines for future research in this domain. The dataset is available at


Enhancing Transformers with Gradient Boosted Decision Trees for NLI Fine-Tuning
Benjamin Minixhofer | Milan Gritta | Ignacio Iacobacci
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL-IJCNLP 2021