Beam Decoding with Controlled Patience

Text generation with beam search has proven successful in a wide range of applications. The commonly-used implementation of beam decoding follows a first come, first served heuristic: it keeps a set of already completed sequences over time steps and stops when the size of this set reaches the beam size. We introduce a patience factor, a simple modification to this decoding algorithm, that generalizes the stopping criterion and provides flexibility to the depth of search. Extensive empirical results demonstrate that the patience factor improves decoding performance of strong pretrained models on news text summarization and machine translation over diverse language pairs, with a negligible inference slowdown. Our approach only modifies one line of code and can be thus readily incorporated in any implementation.

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