Agreement on Target-Bidirectional Recurrent Neural Networks for Sequence-to-Sequence Learning

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Lemao Liu
Andrew Finch
Masao Utiyama
Eiichiro Sumita


Recurrent neural networks are extremely appealing for sequence-to-sequence learning tasks. Despite their great success, they typically suffer from a shortcoming: they are prone to generate unbalanced targets with good prefixes but bad suffixes, and thus performance suffers when dealing with long sequences. We propose a simple yet effective approach to overcome this shortcoming. Our approach relies on the agreement between a pair of target-directional RNNs, which generates more balanced targets. In addition, we develop two efficient approximate search methods for agreement that are empirically shown to be almost optimal in terms of either sequence level or non-sequence level metrics. Extensive experiments were performed on three standard sequence-to-sequence transduction tasks: machine transliteration, grapheme-to-phoneme transformation and machine translation. The results show that the proposed approach achieves consistent and substantial improvements, compared to many state-of-the-art systems.

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