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On the Pareto Front of Multilingual Neural Machine Translation

Liang Chen · Shuming Ma · Dongdong Zhang · Furu Wei · Baobao Chang

Great Hall & Hall B1+B2 (level 1) #327
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[ Paper [ Poster [ OpenReview
Wed 13 Dec 8:45 a.m. PST — 10:45 a.m. PST


In this work, we study how the performance of a given direction changes with its sampling ratio in Multilingual Neural Machine Translation (MNMT). By training over 200 multilingual models with various model sizes, data sizes, and language directions, we find it interesting that the performance of certain translation direction does not always improve with the increase of its weight in the multi-task optimization objective. Accordingly, scalarization method leads to a multitask trade-off front that deviates from the traditional Pareto front when there exists data imbalance in the training corpus, which poses a great challenge to improve the overall performance of all directions. Based on our observations, we propose the Double Power Law to predict the unique performance trade-off front in MNMT, which is robust across various languages, data adequacy, and the number of tasks. Finally, we formulate the sample ratio selection problem in MNMT as an optimization problem based on the Double Power Law. Extensive experiments show that it achieves better performance than temperature searching and gradient manipulation methods with only 1/5 to 1/2 of the total training budget. We release the code at for reproduction.

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