New Learning Methods for Unsupervised and Semi-supervised NLP


João Graça


  • 15:00, October 31, 2008
  • Room 336



This seminar will focus on the following papers of the presenter:

  • Expectation Maximization and Posterior Constraints (NIPS 2007)
The expectation maximization (EM) algorithm is a widely used maximum likelihood estimation procedure for statistical models when the values of some of the variables in the model are not observed. Very often, however, our aim is primarily to find a model that assigns values to the latent variables that have intended meaning for our data and maximizing expected likelihood only sometimes accomplishes this. Unfortunately, it is typically difficult to add even simple a-priori information about latent variables in graphical models without making the models overly complex or intractable. In this paper, we present an efficient, principled way to inject rich constraints on the posteriors of latent variables into the EM algorithm. Our method can be used to learn tractable graphical models that satisfy additional, otherwise intractable constraints. Focusing on clustering and the alignment problem for statistical machine translation, we show that simple, intuitive posterior constraints can greatly improve the performance over standard baselines and be competitive with more complex, intractable models.
  • Better Alignments = Better Translations? (ACL 2008)
Automatic word alignment is a key step in training statistical machine translation systems. Despite much recent work on word alignment methods, alignment accuracy increases often produce little or no improvements in machine translation quality. In this work we analyze a recently proposed agreement-constrained EM algorithm for unsupervised alignment models. We attempt to tease apart the effects that this simple but effective modification has on alignment precision and recall trade-offs, and how rare and common words are affected across several language pairs. We propose and extensively evaluate a simple method for using alignment models to produce alignments better-suited for phrase-based MT systems, and show significant gains (as measured by BLEU score) in end-to-end translation systems for six languages pairs used in recent MT competitions.
  • Multi-View Learning over Structured and Non-Identical Outputs (UAI 2008)
In many machine learning problems, labeled training data is limited but unlabeled data is ample. Some of these problems have instances that can be factored into multiple views, each of which is nearly sufficent in determining the correct labels. In this paper we present a new algorithm for probabilistic multi-view learning which uses the idea of stochastic agreement between views as regularization. Our algorithm works on structured and unstructured problems and easily generalizes to partial agreement scenarios. For the full agreement case, our algorithm minimizes the Bhattacharyya distance between the models of each view, and performs better than CoBoosting and two-view Perceptron on several flat and structured classification problems.