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Title: Deep generative models for natural language processing
Author: Miao, Yishu
ISNI:       0000 0004 7232 6755
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2017
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Deep generative models are essential to Natural Language Processing (NLP) due to their outstanding ability to use unlabelled data, to incorporate abundant linguistic features, and to learn interpretable dependencies among data. As the structure becomes deeper and more complex, having an effective and efficient inference method becomes increasingly important. In this thesis, neural variational inference is applied to carry out inference for deep generative models. While traditional variational methods derive an analytic approximation for the intractable distributions over latent variables, here we construct an inference network conditioned on the discrete text input to provide the variational distribution. The powerful neural networks are able to approximate complicated non-linear distributions and grant the possibilities for more interesting and complicated generative models. Therefore, we develop the potential of neural variational inference and apply it to a variety of models for NLP with continuous or discrete latent variables. This thesis is divided into three parts. Part I introduces a generic variational inference framework for generative and conditional models of text. For continuous or discrete latent variables, we apply a continuous reparameterisation trick or the REINFORCE algorithm to build low-variance gradient estimators. To further explore Bayesian non-parametrics in deep neural networks, we propose a family of neural networks that parameterise categorical distributions with continuous latent variables. Using the stick-breaking construction, an unbounded categorical distribution is incorporated into our deep generative models which can be optimised by stochastic gradient back-propagation with a continuous reparameterisation. Part II explores continuous latent variable models for NLP. Chapter 3 discusses the Neural Variational Document Model (NVDM): an unsupervised generative model of text which aims to extract a continuous semantic latent variable for each document. In Chapter 4, the neural topic models modify the neural document models by parameterising categorical distributions with continuous latent variables, where the topics are explicitly modelled by discrete latent variables. The models are further extended to neural unbounded topic models with the help of stick-breaking construction, and a truncation-free variational inference method is proposed based on a Recurrent Stick-breaking construction (RSB). Chapter 5 describes the Neural Answer Selection Model (NASM) for learning a latent stochastic attention mechanism to model the semantics of question-answer pairs and predict their relatedness. Part III discusses discrete latent variable models. Chapter 6 introduces latent sentence compression models. The Auto-encoding Sentence Compression Model (ASC), as a discrete variational auto-encoder, generates a sentence by a sequence of discrete latent variables representing explicit words. The Forced Attention Sentence Compression Model (FSC) incorporates a combined pointer network biased towards the usage of words from source sentence, which significantly improves the performance when jointly trained with the ASC model in a semi-supervised learning fashion. Chapter 7 describes the Latent Intention Dialogue Models (LIDM) that employ a discrete latent variable to learn underlying dialogue intentions. Additionally, the latent intentions can be interpreted as actions guiding the generation of machine responses, which could be further refined autonomously by reinforcement learning. Finally, Chapter 8 summarizes our findings and directions for future work.
Supervisor: Blunsom, Phil Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Dialogue System ; Neural Variational Inference ; Natural Language Processing ; Deep Generative Models ; Variational Autoencoder ; Topic Model ; Summarisation ; Deep Learning