Cheating to Identify Hard Problems for Neural Machine Translation

Proyag Pal and Kenneth Heafield.
To be published at EACL (Findings) 2023.
View abstract We identify hard problems for neural machine translation models by analyzing progressively higher-scoring translations generated by letting models cheat to various degrees. If a system cheats and still gets something wrong, that suggests it is a hard problem. We experiment with two forms of cheating: providing the model a compressed representation of the target as an additional input, and fine-tuning on the test set. Contrary to popular belief, we find that the most frequent tokens are not necessarily the most accurately translated due to these often being function words and punctuation that can be used more flexibly in translation, or content words which can easily be paraphrased. We systematically analyze system outputs to identify categories of tokens which are particularly hard for the model to translate, and find that this includes certain types of named entities, subordinating conjunctions, and unknown and foreign words. We also encounter a phenomenon where words, often names, which were not infrequent in the training data are still repeatedly mistranslated by the models — we dub this the Fleetwood Mac problem.

Cheat Codes to Quantify Missing Source Information in Neural Machine Translation

Proyag Pal and Kenneth Heafield.
Published at NAACL 2022.
[PDF] [ACL Anthology] [Poster] [BibTeX]
View abstract This paper describes a method to quantify the amount of information H(t|s) added by the target sentence t that is not present in the source s in a neural machine translation system. We do this by providing the model the target sentence in a highly compressed form (a "cheat code"), and exploring the effect of the size of the cheat code. We find that the model is able to capture extra information from just a single float representation of the target and nearly reproduces the target with two 32-bit floats per target token.

The University of Edinburgh’s Bengali-Hindi Submissions to the WMT21 News Translation Task

Proyag Pal, Alham Fikri Aji, Pinzhen Chen, and Sukanta Sen.
Published at WMT21 at EMNLP 2021.
[PDF] [ACL Anthology] [Poster] [BibTeX]
View abstract We describe the University of Edinburgh’s Bengali↔Hindi constrained systems submitted to the WMT21 News Translation task. We submitted ensembles of Transformer models built with large-scale back-translation and fine-tuned on subsets of training data retrieved based on similarity to the target domain. For both translation directions, our submissions are among the best-performing constrained systems according to human evaluation.