Decoding, Fast and Slow: A Case Study on Balancing Trade-Offs in Incremental, Character-level Pragmatic Reasoning

Recent work has adopted models of pragmatic reasoning for the generation of informative language in, e.g., image captioning. We propose a simple but highly effective relaxation of fully rational decoding, based on an existing incremental and character-level approach to pragmatically informative neural image captioning. We implement a mixed, ‘fast’ and ‘slow’, speaker that applies pragmatic reasoning occasionally (only word-initially), while unrolling the language model. In our evaluation, we find that increased informativeness through pragmatic decoding generally lowers quality and, somewhat counter-intuitively, increases repetitiveness in captions. Our mixed speaker, however, achieves a good balance between quality and informativeness.

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