Teacher Forcing Recovers Reward Functions for Text Generation

Yongchang Hao · Yuxin Liu · Lili Mou

Hall J (level 1) #339

Keywords: [ Natural Language Processing ] [ Reinforcement Learning ] [ Text generation ]


Reinforcement learning (RL) has been widely used in text generation to alleviate the exposure bias issue or to utilize non-parallel datasets. The reward function plays an important role in making RL training successful. However, previous reward functions are typically task-specific and sparse, restricting the use of RL. In our work, we propose a task-agnostic approach that derives a step-wise reward function directly from a model trained with teacher forcing. We additionally propose a simple modification to stabilize the RL training on non-parallel datasets with our induced reward function. Empirical results show that our method outperforms self-training and reward regression methods on several text generation tasks, confirming the effectiveness of our reward function.

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