Controllable Text Generation with Neurally-Decomposed Oracle

27 May 2022  ·  Tao Meng, Sidi Lu, Nanyun Peng, Kai-Wei Chang ·

We propose a general and efficient framework to control auto-regressive generation models with NeurAlly-Decomposed Oracle (NADO). Given a pre-trained base language model and a sequence-level boolean oracle function, we propose to decompose the oracle function into token-level guidance to steer the base model in text generation. Specifically, the token-level guidance is approximated by a neural model trained with examples sampled from the base model, demanding no additional auxiliary labeled data. Based on posterior regularization, we present the closed-form optimal solution to incorporate the token-level guidance into the base model for controllable generation. We further provide a theoretical analysis of how the approximation quality of NADO affects the controllable generation results. Experiments conducted on two applications: (1) text generation with lexical constraints and (2) machine translation with formality control demonstrate that our framework efficiently guides the base model towards the given oracle while maintaining high generation quality.

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