A Bilingual Generative Transformer for Semantic Sentence EmbeddingDownload PDF

25 Sep 2019 (modified: 24 Dec 2019)ICLR 2020 Conference Blind SubmissionReaders: Everyone
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  • Abstract: Semantic sentence embedding models take natural language sentences and turn them into vectors, such that similar vectors indicate similarity in the semantics between the sentences. Bilingual data offers a useful signal for learning such embeddings: properties shared by both sentences in a translation pair are likely semantic, while divergent properties are likely stylistic or language-specific. We propose a deep latent variable model that attempts to perform source separation on parallel sentences, isolating what they have in common in a latent semantic vector, and explaining what is left over with language-specific latent vectors. Our proposed approach differs from past work on semantic sentence encoding in two ways. First, by using a variational probabilistic framework, we introduce priors that encourage source separation, and can use our model’s posterior to predict sentence embeddings for monolingual data at test time. Second, we use high- capacity transformers as both data generating distributions and inference networks – contrasting with most past work on sentence embeddings. In experiments, our approach substantially outperforms the state-of-the-art on a standard suite of se- mantic similarity evaluations. Further, we demonstrate that our approach yields the largest gains on more difficult subsets of test where simple word overlap is not a good indicator of similarity.
  • Keywords: sentence embedding, semantic similarity, multilingual, latent variables, vae
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