Google’s Neural Machine Translation System: Bridging the Gap between Human and Machine Translation

Yonghui Wu, Mike Schuster, Zhifeng Chen, Quoc V. Le, Mohammad Norouzi, Wolfgang Macherey, Maxim Krikun, Yuan Cao, Qin Gao, Klaus Macherey, Jeff Klingner, Apurva Shah, Melvin Johnson, Xiaobing Liu, Lukasz Kaiser, Stephan Gouws, Yoshikiyo Kato, Taku Kudo, Hideto Kazawa, Keith Stevens, George Kurian, Nishant Patil, Wei Wang, Cliff Young, Jason Smith, Jason Riesa, Alex Rudnick, Oriol Vinyals, Greg Corrado, Macduff Hughes, Jeffrey Dean
Google Inc.
arXiv:1609.08144 [cs.LG], (26 Sep 2016)


   title={Google’s Neural Machine Translation System: Bridging the Gap between Human and Machine Translation},

   author={Wu, Yonghui and Schuster, Mike and Chen, Zhifeng and Le, Quoc V. and Norouzi, Mohammad and Macherey, Wolfgang and Krikun, Maxim and Cao, Yuan and Gao, Qin and Macherey, Klaus and Klingner, Jeff and Shah, Apurva and Johnson, Melvin and Liu, Xiaobing and Kaiser, Lukasz and Gouws, Stephan and Kato, Yoshikiyo and Kudo, Taku and Kazawa, Hideto and Stevens, Keith and Kurian, George and Patil, Nishant and Wang, Wei and Young, Cliff and Smith, Jason and Riesa, Jason and Rudnick, Alex and Vinyals, Oriol and Corrado, Greg and Hughes, Macduff and Dean, Jeffrey},






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Neural Machine Translation (NMT) is an end-to-end learning approach for automated translation, with the potential to overcome many of the weaknesses of conventional phrase-based translation systems. Unfortunately, NMT systems are known to be computationally expensive both in training and in translation inference. Also, most NMT systems have difficulty with rare words. These issues have hindered NMT’s use in practical deployments and services, where both accuracy and speed are essential. In this work, we present GNMT, Google’s Neural Machine Translation system, which attempts to address many of these issues. Our model consists of a deep LSTM network with 8 encoder and 8 decoder layers using attention and residual connections. To improve parallelism and therefore decrease training time, our attention mechanism connects the bottom layer of the decoder to the top layer of the encoder. To accelerate the final translation speed, we employ low-precision arithmetic during inference computations. To improve handling of rare words, we divide words into a limited set of common sub-word units ("wordpieces") for both input and output. This method provides a good balance between the flexibility of "character"-delimited models and the efficiency of "word"-delimited models, naturally handles translation of rare words, and ultimately improves the overall accuracy of the system. Our beam search technique employs a length-normalization procedure and uses a coverage penalty, which encourages generation of an output sentence that is most likely to cover all the words in the source sentence. On the WMT’14 English-to-French and English-to-German benchmarks, GNMT achieves competitive results to state-of-the-art. Using a human side-by-side evaluation on a set of isolated simple sentences, it reduces translation errors by an average of 60% compared to Google’s phrase-based production system.
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