An EM Approach to Non-autoregressive Conditional Sequence Generation

Jul 12, 2020



Autoregressive (AR) models have been the dominating approach to conditional sequence generation, but are suffering from the issue of high inference latency. Non-autoregressive (NAR) models have been recently proposed to reduce the latency by generating all output tokens in parallel but could only achieve inferior accuracy compared to their autoregressive counterparts, primarily due to a difficulty in dealing with the multi-modality in sequence generation. This paper proposes a new approach that jointly optimizes both AR and NAR models in a unified Expectation-Maximization (EM) framework. In the E-step, an AR model learns to approximate the regularized posterior of the NAR model. In the M-step, the NAR model is updated on the new posterior and selects the training examples for the next AR model. This iterative process can effectively guide the system to remove the multi-modality in the output sequences and remedy the multi-modality problem. To our knowledge, this is the first EM approach to NAR sequence generation. We evaluate our method on the task of machine translation. Experimental results on benchmark data sets show that the proposed approach achieves competitive, if not better, performance with existing NAR models and significantly reduces the inference latency.



About ICML 2020

The International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML) is the premier gathering of professionals dedicated to the advancement of the branch of artificial intelligence known as machine learning. ICML is globally renowned for presenting and publishing cutting-edge research on all aspects of machine learning used in closely related areas like artificial intelligence, statistics and data science, as well as important application areas such as machine vision, computational biology, speech recognition, and robotics. ICML is one of the fastest growing artificial intelligence conferences in the world. Participants at ICML span a wide range of backgrounds, from academic and industrial researchers, to entrepreneurs and engineers, to graduate students and postdocs.

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