Cascaded Text Generation with Markov Transformers

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 33 (NeurIPS 2020)

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Yuntian Deng, Alexander Rush


The two dominant approaches to neural text generation are fully autoregressive models, using serial beam search decoding, and non-autoregressive models, using parallel decoding with no output dependencies. This work proposes an autoregressive model with sub-linear parallel time generation. Noting that conditional random fields with bounded context can be decoded in parallel, we propose an efficient cascaded decoding approach for generating high-quality output. To parameterize this cascade, we introduce a Markov transformer, a variant of the popular fully autoregressive model that allows us to simultaneously decode with specific autoregressive context cutoffs. This approach requires only a small modification from standard autoregressive training, while showing competitive accuracy/speed tradeoff compared to existing methods on five machine translation datasets.