Unsupervised Pretraining for Sequence to Sequence Learning

Prajit Ramachandran, Peter J. Liu, Quoc V. Le

Nov 04, 2016 (modified: Dec 27, 2016) ICLR 2017 conference submission readers: everyone
  • Abstract: This work presents a general unsupervised learning method to improve the accuracy of sequence to sequence (seq2seq) models. In our method, the weights of the encoder and decoder of a seq2seq model are initialized with the pretrained weights of two language models and then fine-tuned with labeled data. We apply this method to challenging benchmarks in machine translation and abstractive summarization and find that it significantly improves the subsequent supervised models. Our main result is that the pretraining accelerates training and improves generalization of seq2seq models, achieving state-of-the-art results on the WMT English->German task, surpassing a range of methods using both phrase-based machine translation and neural machine translation. Our method achieves an improvement of 1.3 BLEU from the previous best models on both WMT'14 and WMT'15 English->German. On summarization, our method beats the supervised learning baseline.
  • TL;DR: Pretraining seq2seq models gives large gains in both generalization and optimization on a variety of tasks.
  • Keywords: Natural language processing, Deep learning, Semi-Supervised Learning, Transfer Learning
  • Conflicts: google.com, illinois.edu