Dinghan Shen works at  Microsoft Dynamics 365 AI.


Improving Disentangled Text Representation Learning with Information Theoretical Guidance

Learning disentangled representations of natural language is essential for many NLP tasks, e.g., conditional text generation, style transfer, personalized dialogue systems, etc. Similar problems have been studied extensively for other forms of data, such as images and videos. However, the discrete nature of natural language makes the disentangling of textual representations more challenging (e.g., the manipulation over the data space cannot be easily achieved). Inspired by information theory, we propose a novel method that effectively manifests disentangled representations of text, without any supervision on semantics. A new mutual information upper bound is derived and leveraged to measure dependence between style and content. By minimizing this upper bound, the proposed method induces style and content embeddings into two independent low-dimensional spaces. Experiments on both conditional text generation and text-style transfer demonstrate the high quality of our disentangled representation in terms of content and style preservation.

Learning Context-Sensitive Convolutional Filters for Text Processing

Convolutional neural networks (CNNs) have recently emerged as a popular building block for natural language processing (NLP). Despite their success, most existing CNN models employed in NLP share the same learned (and static) set of filters for all input sentences. In this paper, we consider an approach of using a small meta network to learn context-sensitive convolutional filters for text processing. The role of meta network is to abstract the contextual information of a sentence or document into a set of input-sensitive filters. We further generalize this framework to model sentence pairs, where a bidirectional filter generation mechanism is introduced to encapsulate co-dependent sentence representations. In our benchmarks on four different tasks, including ontology classification, sentiment analysis, answer sentence selection, and paraphrase identification, our proposed model, a modified CNN with context-sensitive filters, consistently outperforms the standard CNN and attention-based CNN baselines. By visualizing the learned context-sensitive filters, we further validate and rationalize the effectiveness of proposed framework.

Parametric t-Distributed Stochastic Exemplar-centered Embedding

Parametric embedding methods such as parametric t-distributed Stochastic Neighbor Embedding (pt-SNE) enables out-of-sample data visualization without further computationally expensive optimization or approximation. However, pt-SNE favors small mini-batches to train a deep neural network but large mini-batches to approximate its cost function involving all pairwise data point comparisons, and thus has difficulty in finding a balance. To resolve the conflicts, we present parametric t-distributed stochastic exemplar-centered embedding. Our strategy learns embedding parameters by comparing training data only with precomputed exemplars to indirectly preserve local neighborhoods, resulting in a cost function with significantly reduced computational and memory complexity. Moreover, we propose a shallow embedding network with high-order feature interactions for data visualization, which is much easier to tune but produces comparable performance in contrast to a deep feedforward neural network employed by pt-SNE. We empirically demonstrate, using several benchmark datasets, that our proposed method significantly outperforms pt-SNE in terms of robustness, visual effects, and quantitative evaluations.

Baseline Needs More Love: On SimpleWord-Embedding-Based Models and Associated Pooling Mechanisms

Many deep learning architectures have been proposed to model the compositionality in text sequences, requiring substantial number of parameters and expensive computations. However, there has not been a rigorous evaluation regarding the added value of sophisticated compositional functions. In this paper, we conduct a point-by-point comparative study between Simple Word-Embedding-based Models (SWEMs), consisting of parameter-free pooling operations, relative to word-embedding-based RNN/CNN models. Surprisingly, SWEMs exhibit comparable or even superior performance in the majority of cases considered. Based upon this understanding, we propose two additional pooling strategies over learned word embeddings: (i) a max-pooling operation for improved interpretability; and (ii) a hierarchical pooling operation, which preserves spatial (n-gram) information within text sequences. We present experiments on 17 datasets encompassing three tasks: (i) (long) document classification; (ii) text sequence matching; and (iii) short text tasks, including classification and tagging.

Video Generation From Text

Generating videos from text has proven to be a significant challenge for existing generative models. We tackle this problem by training a conditional generative model to extract both static and dynamic information from text. This is manifested in a hybrid framework, employing a Variational Autoencoder (VAE) and a Generative Adversarial Network (GAN). The static features, called “gist,” are used to sketch text-conditioned background color and object layout structure. Dynamic features are considered by transforming input text into an image filter. To obtain a large amount of data for training the deep-learning model, we develop a method to automatically create a matched text-video corpus from publicly available online videos. Experimental results show that the proposed framework generates plausible and diverse short-duration smooth videos, while accurately reflecting the input text information. It significantly outperforms baseline models that directly adapt text-to-image generation procedures to produce videos. Performance is evaluated both visually and by adapting the inception score used to evaluate image generation in GANs.