Unsupervised Bitext Mining and Translation via Self-trained Contextual Embeddings

Phillip Keung, Julian Salazar, Yichao Lu, Noah Smith

Abstract


We describe an unsupervised method to create pseudo-parallel corpora for machine translation (MT) from unaligned text. We use multilingual BERT to create source and target sentence embeddings for nearest-neighbor search and adapt the model via self-training. We validate our technique by extracting parallel sentence pairs on the BUCC 2017 bitext mining task and observe up to a 24.5 point increase (absolute) in F1 scores over previous unsupervised methods. We then improve an XLM-based unsupervised neural MT system pre-trained on Wikipedia by supplementing it with pseudo-parallel text mined from the same corpus, boosting unsupervised translation performance by up to 3.5 BLEU on the WMT'14 French-English and WMT'16 German-English tasks and outperforming the previous state-of-the-art. Finally, we enrich the IWSLT'15 English-Vietnamese corpus with pseudo-parallel Wikipedia sentence pairs, yielding a 1.2 BLEU improvement on the low-resource MT task. We demonstrate that unsupervised bitext mining is an effective way of augmenting MT datasets and complements existing techniques like initializing with pre-trained contextual embeddings.


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