How Do Multilingual Encoders Learn Cross-lingual Representation? [article]

Shijie Wu
2022 arXiv   pre-print
NLP systems typically require support for more than one language. As different languages have different amounts of supervision, cross-lingual transfer benefits languages with little to no training data by transferring from other languages. From an engineering perspective, multilingual NLP benefits development and maintenance by serving multiple languages with a single system. Both cross-lingual transfer and multilingual NLP rely on cross-lingual representations serving as the foundation. As
more » ... revolutionized representation learning and NLP, it also revolutionized cross-lingual representations and cross-lingual transfer. Multilingual BERT was released as a replacement for single-language BERT, trained with Wikipedia data in 104 languages. Surprisingly, without any explicit cross-lingual signal, multilingual BERT learns cross-lingual representations in addition to representations for individual languages. This thesis first shows such surprising cross-lingual effectiveness compared against prior art on various tasks. Naturally, it raises a set of questions, most notably how do these multilingual encoders learn cross-lingual representations. In exploring these questions, this thesis will analyze the behavior of multilingual models in a variety of settings on high and low resource languages. We also look at how to inject different cross-lingual signals into multilingual encoders, and the optimization behavior of cross-lingual transfer with these models. Together, they provide a better understanding of multilingual encoders on cross-lingual transfer. Our findings will lead us to suggested improvements to multilingual encoders and cross-lingual transfer.
arXiv:2207.05737v1 fatcat:j6vfurgdhvhm5evwaqjhf4b3lu