neural transformation machine: a new architecture for sequence-to-sequence learning

Fandong Meng, Zhengdong Lu, Zhaopeng Tu, Hang Li, Qun Liu

We propose Neural Transformation Machine (NTram), a novel architecture for sequence-to-sequence learning, which performs the task through a series of nonlinear transformations from the representation of the input sequence (e.g., a Chinese sentence) to the final output sequence (e.g., translation to English). Inspired by the recent Neural Turing Machines [8], we store the intermediate representations in stacked layers of memories, and use read-write operations on the memories to realize the nonlinear transformations of those representations. Those transformations are designed in advance but the parameters are learned from data. Through layer-by-layer transformations, NTram can model complicated relations necessary for applications such as machine translation between distant languages. The architecture can be trained with normal back-propagation on parallel texts, and the learning can be easily scaled up to a large corpus. NTram is broad enough to subsume the state-of-the-art neural translation model in [2] as its special case, while significantly improves upon the model with its deeper architecture. Remarkably, NTram, being purely neural network-based, can achieve performance comparable to the traditional phrase-based machine translation system (Moses) with a small vocabulary and a modest parameter size.

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