Unifying Cross-lingual Summarization and Machine Translation with Compression Rate

15 Oct 2021  ·  Yu Bai, Heyan Huang, Kai Fan, Yang Gao, Yiming Zhu, Jiaao Zhan, Zewen Chi, Boxing Chen ·

Cross-Lingual Summarization (CLS) is a task that extracts important information from a source document and summarizes it into a summary in another language. It is a challenging task that requires a system to understand, summarize, and translate at the same time, making it highly related to Monolingual Summarization (MS) and Machine Translation (MT). In practice, the training resources for Machine Translation are far more than that for cross-lingual and monolingual summarization. Thus incorporating the Machine Translation corpus into CLS would be beneficial for its performance. However, the present work only leverages a simple multi-task framework to bring Machine Translation in, lacking deeper exploration. In this paper, we propose a novel task, Cross-lingual Summarization with Compression rate (CSC), to benefit Cross-Lingual Summarization by large-scale Machine Translation corpus. Through introducing compression rate, the information ratio between the source and the target text, we regard the MT task as a special CLS task with a compression rate of 100%. Hence they can be trained as a unified task, sharing knowledge more effectively. However, a huge gap exists between the MT task and the CLS task, where samples with compression rates between 30% and 90% are extremely rare. Hence, to bridge these two tasks smoothly, we propose an effective data augmentation method to produce document-summary pairs with different compression rates. The proposed method not only improves the performance of the CLS task, but also provides controllability to generate summaries in desired lengths. Experiments demonstrate that our method outperforms various strong baselines in three cross-lingual summarization datasets. We released our code and data at https://github.com/ybai-nlp/CLS_CR.

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