Efficient Machine Translation Domain Adaptation

Machine translation models struggle when translating out-of-domain text, which makes domain adaptation a topic of critical importance. However, most domain adaptation methods focus on fine-tuning or training the entire or part of the model on every new domain, which can be costly. On the other hand, semi-parametric models have been shown to successfully perform domain adaptation by retrieving examples from an in-domain datastore (Khandelwal et al., 2021). A drawback of these retrieval-augmented models, however, is that they tend to be substantially slower. In this paper, we explore several approaches to speed up nearest neighbor machine translation. We adapt the methods recently proposed by He et al. (2021) for language modeling, and introduce a simple but effective caching strategy that avoids performing retrieval when similar contexts have been seen before. Translation quality and runtimes for several domains show the effectiveness of the proposed solutions.

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