Paper

Follow the Wisdom of the Crowd: Effective Text Generation via Minimum Bayes Risk Decoding

In open-ended natural-language generation, existing text decoding methods typically struggle to produce text which is both diverse and high-quality. Greedy and beam search are known to suffer from text degeneration and linguistic diversity issues, while temperature, top-k, and nucleus sampling often yield diverse but low-quality outputs. In this work, we present crowd sampling, a family of decoding methods based on Bayesian risk minimization, to address this diversity-quality trade-off. Inspired by the principle of "the wisdom of the crowd," crowd sampling seeks to select a candidate from a pool of candidates that has the least expected risk (i.e., highest expected reward) under a generative model according to a given utility function. Crowd sampling can be seen as a generalization of numerous existing methods, including majority voting, and in practice, it can be used as a drop-in replacement for existing sampling methods. Extensive experiments show that crowd sampling delivers improvements of 3-7 ROUGE and BLEU points across a wide range of tasks, including summarization, data-to-text, translation, and textual style transfer, while achieving new state-of-the-art results on WebNLG and WMT'16.

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