Chuang Gan


Revisiting the Roles of “Text” in Text Games
Yi Gu | Shunyu Yao | Chuang Gan | Josh Tenenbaum | Mo Yu
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2022

Text games present opportunities for natural language understanding (NLU) methods to tackle reinforcement learning (RL) challenges. However, recent work has questioned the necessity of NLU by showing random text hashes could perform decently. In this paper, we pursue a fine-grained investigation into the roles of text in the face of different RL challenges, and reconcile that semantic and non-semantic language representations could be complementary rather than contrasting. Concretely, we propose a simple scheme to extract relevant contextual information into an approximate state hash as extra input for an RNN-based text agent. Such a lightweight plug-in achieves competitive performance with state-of-the-art text agents using advanced NLU techniques such as knowledge graph and passage retrieval, suggesting non-NLU methods might suffice to tackle the challenge of partial observability. However, if we remove RNN encoders and use approximate or even ground-truth state hash alone, the model performs miserably, which confirms the importance of semantic function approximation to tackle the challenge of combinatorially large observation and action spaces. Our findings and analysis provide new insights for designing better text game task setups and agents.


HAT: Hardware-Aware Transformers for Efficient Natural Language Processing
Hanrui Wang | Zhanghao Wu | Zhijian Liu | Han Cai | Ligeng Zhu | Chuang Gan | Song Han
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Transformers are ubiquitous in Natural Language Processing (NLP) tasks, but they are difficult to be deployed on hardware due to the intensive computation. To enable low-latency inference on resource-constrained hardware platforms, we propose to design Hardware-Aware Transformers (HAT) with neural architecture search. We first construct a large design space with arbitrary encoder-decoder attention and heterogeneous layers. Then we train a SuperTransformer that covers all candidates in the design space, and efficiently produces many SubTransformers with weight sharing. Finally, we perform an evolutionary search with a hardware latency constraint to find a specialized SubTransformer dedicated to run fast on the target hardware. Extensive experiments on four machine translation tasks demonstrate that HAT can discover efficient models for different hardware (CPU, GPU, IoT device). When running WMT’14 translation task on Raspberry Pi-4, HAT can achieve 3× speedup, 3.7× smaller size over baseline Transformer; 2.7× speedup, 3.6× smaller size over Evolved Transformer with 12,041× less search cost and no performance loss. HAT is open-sourced at

Interactive Fiction Game Playing as Multi-Paragraph Reading Comprehension with Reinforcement Learning
Xiaoxiao Guo | Mo Yu | Yupeng Gao | Chuang Gan | Murray Campbell | Shiyu Chang
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

Interactive Fiction (IF) games with real human-written natural language texts provide a new natural evaluation for language understanding techniques. In contrast to previous text games with mostly synthetic texts, IF games pose language understanding challenges on the human-written textual descriptions of diverse and sophisticated game worlds and language generation challenges on the action command generation from less restricted combinatorial space. We take a novel perspective of IF game solving and re-formulate it as Multi-Passage Reading Comprehension (MPRC) tasks. Our approaches utilize the context-query attention mechanisms and the structured prediction in MPRC to efficiently generate and evaluate action outputs and apply an object-centric historical observation retrieval strategy to mitigate the partial observability of the textual observations. Extensive experiments on the recent IF benchmark (Jericho) demonstrate clear advantages of our approaches achieving high winning rates and low data requirements compared to all previous approaches.


Video Captioning with Multi-Faceted Attention
Xiang Long | Chuang Gan | Gerard de Melo
Transactions of the Association for Computational Linguistics, Volume 6

Video captioning has attracted an increasing amount of interest, due in part to its potential for improved accessibility and information retrieval. While existing methods rely on different kinds of visual features and model architectures, they do not make full use of pertinent semantic cues. We present a unified and extensible framework to jointly leverage multiple sorts of visual features and semantic attributes. Our novel architecture builds on LSTMs with two multi-faceted attention layers. These first learn to automatically select the most salient visual features or semantic attributes, and then yield overall representations for the input and output of the sentence generation component via custom feature scaling operations. Experimental results on the challenging MSVD and MSR-VTT datasets show that our framework outperforms previous work and performs robustly even in the presence of added noise to the features and attributes.