Neural Machine Translation with Explicit Phrase Alignment

26 Nov 2019  ·  Jiacheng Zhang, Huanbo Luan, Maosong Sun, FeiFei Zhai, Jingfang Xu, Yang Liu ·

While neural machine translation (NMT) has achieved state-of-the-art translation performance, it is unable to capture the alignment between the input and output during the translation process. The lack of alignment in NMT models leads to three problems: it is hard to (1) interpret the translation process, (2) impose lexical constraints, and (3) impose structural constraints. To alleviate these problems, we propose to introduce explicit phrase alignment into the translation process of arbitrary NMT models. The key idea is to build a search space similar to that of phrase-based statistical machine translation for NMT where phrase alignment is readily available. We design a new decoding algorithm that can easily impose lexical and structural constraints. Experiments show that our approach makes the translation process of NMT more interpretable without sacrificing translation quality. In addition, our approach achieves significant improvements in lexically and structurally constrained translation tasks.

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