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The Rare Word Issue in Natural Language Generation: A Character-Based Solution

Abstract : In this paper, we analyze the problem of generating fluent English utterances from tabular data, focusing on the development of a sequence-to-sequence neural model which shows two major features: the ability to read and generate character-wise, and the ability to switch between generating and copying characters from the input: an essential feature when inputs contain rare words like proper names, telephone numbers, or foreign words. Working with characters instead of words is a challenge that can bring problems such as increasing the difficulty of the training phase and a bigger error probability during inference. Nevertheless, our work shows that these issues can be solved and efforts are repaid by the creation of a fully end-to-end system, whose inputs and outputs are not constrained to be part of a predefined vocabulary, like in word-based models. Furthermore, our copying technique is integrated with an innovative shift mechanism, which enhances the ability to produce outputs directly from inputs. We assess performance on the E2E dataset, the benchmark used for the E2E NLG challenge, and on a modified version of it, created to highlight the rare word copying capabilities of our model. The results demonstrate clear improvements over the baseline and promising performance compared to recent techniques in the literature
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Contributor : Gestionnaire Hal-Su <>
Submitted on : Monday, March 29, 2021 - 12:56:46 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, March 31, 2021 - 3:35:49 AM


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Giovanni Bonetta, Marco Roberti, Rossella Cancelliere, Patrick Gallinari. The Rare Word Issue in Natural Language Generation: A Character-Based Solution. Informatics, MDPI, 2021, 8 (1), pp.20. ⟨10.3390/informatics8010020⟩. ⟨hal-03184301⟩



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