Tag Archives: ACL

Meet Parsey’s Cousins: Syntax for 40 languages, plus new SyntaxNet capabilities

Just in time for ACL 2016, we are pleased to announce that Parsey McParseface, released in May as part of SyntaxNet and the basis for the Cloud Natural Language API, now has 40 cousins! Parsey’s Cousins is a collection of pretrained syntactic models for 40 languages, capable of analyzing the native language of more than half of the world’s population at often unprecedented accuracy. To better address the linguistic phenomena occurring in these languages we have endowed SyntaxNet with new abilities for Text Segmentation and Morphological Analysis.

When we released Parsey, we were already planning to expand to more languages, and it soon became clear that this was both urgent and important, because researchers were having trouble creating top notch SyntaxNet models for other languages.

The reason for that is a little bit subtle. SyntaxNet, like other TensorFlow models, has a lot of knobs to turn, which affect accuracy and speed. These knobs are called hyperparameters, and control things like the learning rate and its decay, momentum, and random initialization. Because neural networks are more sensitive to the choice of these hyperparameters than many other machine learning algorithms, picking the right hyperparameter setting is very important. Unfortunately there is no tested and proven way of doing this and picking good hyperparameters is mostly an empirical science -- we try a bunch of settings and see what works best.

An additional challenge is that training these models can take a long time, several days on very fast hardware. Our solution is to train many models in parallel via MapReduce, and when one looks promising, train a bunch more models with similar settings to fine-tune the results. This can really add up -- on average, we train more than 70 models per language. The plot below shows how the accuracy varies depending on the hyperparameters as training progresses. The best models are up to 4% absolute more accurate than ones trained without hyperparameter tuning.
Held-out set accuracy for various English parsing models with different hyperparameters (each line corresponds to one training run with specific hyperparameters). In some cases training is a lot slower and in many cases a suboptimal choice of hyperparameters leads to significantly lower accuracy. We are releasing the best model that we were able to train for each language.
In order to do a good job at analyzing the grammar of other languages, it was not sufficient to just fine-tune our English setup. We also had to expand the capabilities of SyntaxNet. The first extension is a model for text segmentation, which is the task of identifying word boundaries. In languages like English, this isn’t very hard -- you can mostly look for spaces and punctuation. In Chinese, however, this can be very challenging, because words are not separated by spaces. To correctly analyze dependencies between Chinese words, SyntaxNet needs to understand text segmentation -- and now it does.
Analysis of a Chinese string into a parse tree showing dependency labels, word tokens, and parts of speech (read top to bottom for each word token).
The second extension is a model for morphological analysis. Morphology is a language feature that is poorly represented in English. It describes inflection: i.e., how the grammatical function and meaning of the word changes as its spelling changes. In English, we add an -s to a word to indicate plurality. In Russian, a heavily inflected language, morphology can indicate number, gender, whether the word is the subject or object of a sentence, possessives, prepositional phrases, and more. To understand the syntax of a sentence in Russian, SyntaxNet needs to understand morphology -- and now it does.
Parse trees showing dependency labels, parts of speech, and morphology.
As you might have noticed, the parse trees for all of the sentences above look very similar. This is because we follow the content-head principle, under which dependencies are drawn between content words, with function words becoming leaves in the parse tree. This idea was developed by the Universal Dependencies project in order to increase parallelism between languages. Parsey’s Cousins are trained on treebanks provided by this project and are designed to be cross-linguistically consistent and thus easier to use in multi-lingual language understanding applications.

Using the same set of labels across languages can help us understand how sentences in different languages, or variations in the same language, convey the same meaning. In all of the above examples, the root indicates the main verb of the sentence and there is a passive nominal subject (indicated by the arc labeled with ‘nsubjpass’) and a passive auxiliary (‘auxpass’). If you look closely, you will also notice some differences because the grammar of each language differs. For example, English uses the preposition ‘by,’ where Russian uses morphology to mark that the phrase ‘the publisher (издателем)’ is in instrumental case -- the meaning is the same, it is just expressed differently.

Google has been involved in the Universal Dependencies project since its inception and we are very excited to be able to bring together our efforts on datasets and modeling. We hope that this release will facilitate research progress in building computer systems that can understand all of the world’s languages.

Parsey's Cousins can be found on GitHub, along with Parsey McParseface and SyntaxNet.

ACL 2016 & Research at Google

This week, Berlin hosts the 2016 Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (ACL 2016), the premier conference of the field of computational linguistics, covering a broad spectrum of diverse research areas that are concerned with computational approaches to natural language. As a leader in Natural Language Processing (NLP) and a Platinum Sponsor of the conference, Google will be on hand to showcase research interests that include syntax, semantics, discourse, conversation, multilingual modeling, sentiment analysis, question answering, summarization, and generally building better learners using labeled and unlabeled data, state-of-the-art modeling, and learning from indirect supervision.

Our systems are used in numerous ways across Google, impacting user experience in search, mobile, apps, ads, translate and more. Our work spans the range of traditional NLP tasks, with general-purpose syntax and semantic algorithms underpinning more specialized systems.
Our researchers are experts in natural language processing and machine learning, and combine methodological research with applied science, and our engineers are equally involved in long-term research efforts and driving immediate applications of our technology.

If you’re attending ACL 2016, we hope that you’ll stop by the booth to check out some demos, meet our researchers and discuss projects and opportunities at Google that go into solving interesting problems for billions of people. Learn more about Google research being presented at ACL 2016 below (Googlers highlighted in blue), and visit the Natural Language Understanding Team page at g.co/NLUTeam.

Generalized Transition-based Dependency Parsing via Control Parameters
Bernd Bohnet, Ryan McDonald, Emily Pitler, Ji Ma

Learning the Curriculum with Bayesian Optimization for Task-Specific Word Representation Learning
Yulia Tsvetkov, Manaal Faruqui, Wang Ling (Google DeepMind), Chris Dyer (Google DeepMind)

Morpho-syntactic Lexicon Generation Using Graph-based Semi-supervised Learning (TACL)
Manaal Faruqui, Ryan McDonald, Radu Soricut

Many Languages, One Parser (TACL)
Waleed Ammar, George Mulcaire, Miguel Ballesteros, Chris Dyer (Google DeepMind)*, Noah A. Smith

Latent Predictor Networks for Code Generation
Wang Ling (Google DeepMind), Phil Blunsom (Google DeepMind), Edward Grefenstette (Google DeepMind), Karl Moritz Hermann (Google DeepMind), Tomáš Kočiský (Google DeepMind), Fumin Wang (Google DeepMind), Andrew Senior (Google DeepMind)

Collective Entity Resolution with Multi-Focal Attention
Amir Globerson, Nevena Lazic, Soumen Chakrabarti, Amarnag Subramanya, Michael Ringgaard, Fernando Pereira

Plato: A Selective Context Model for Entity Resolution (TACL)
Nevena Lazic, Amarnag Subramanya, Michael Ringgaard, Fernando Pereira

WikiReading: A Novel Large-scale Language Understanding Task over Wikipedia
Daniel Hewlett, Alexandre Lacoste, Llion Jones, Illia Polosukhin, Andrew Fandrianto, Jay Han, Matthew Kelcey, David Berthelot

Stack-propagation: Improved Representation Learning for Syntax
Yuan Zhang, David Weiss

Cross-lingual Models of Word Embeddings: An Empirical Comparison
Shyam Upadhyay, Manaal Faruqui, Chris Dyer (Google DeepMind)Dan Roth

Globally Normalized Transition-Based Neural Networks (Outstanding Papers Session)
Daniel Andor, Chris Alberti, David Weiss, Aliaksei Severyn, Alessandro Presta, Kuzman GanchevSlav Petrov, Michael Collins

Cross-lingual projection for class-based language models
Beat Gfeller, Vlad Schogol, Keith Hall

Synthesizing Compound Words for Machine Translation
Austin Matthews, Eva Schlinger*, Alon Lavie, Chris Dyer (Google DeepMind)*

Cross-Lingual Morphological Tagging for Low-Resource Languages
Jan Buys, Jan A. Botha

1st Workshop on Representation Learning for NLP
Keynote Speakers include: Raia Hadsell (Google DeepMind)
Workshop Organizers include: Edward Grefenstette (Google DeepMind), Phil Blunsom (Google DeepMind), Karl Moritz Hermann (Google DeepMind)
Program Committee members include: Tomáš Kočiský (Google DeepMind), Wang Ling (Google DeepMind), Ankur Parikh (Google), John Platt (Google), Oriol Vinyals (Google DeepMind)

1st Workshop on Evaluating Vector-Space Representations for NLP
Contributed Papers:
Problems With Evaluation of Word Embeddings Using Word Similarity Tasks
Manaal Faruqui, Yulia Tsvetkov, Pushpendre Rastogi, Chris Dyer (Google DeepMind)*

Correlation-based Intrinsic Evaluation of Word Vector Representations
Yulia Tsvetkov, Manaal Faruqui, Chris Dyer (Google DeepMind)

SIGFSM Workshop on Statistical NLP and Weighted Automata
Contributed Papers:
Distributed representation and estimation of WFST-based n-gram models
Cyril Allauzen, Michael Riley, Brian Roark

Pynini: A Python library for weighted finite-state grammar compilation
Kyle Gorman

* Work completed at CMU