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TLDR; The authors train a Hierarchical Recurrent Encoder-Decoder (HRED) network for dialog generation. The "lower" level encodes a sequence of words into a though vector, and the higher-level encoder uses these thought vectors to build a representation of the context. The authors evaluate their model on the *MoviesTriples* dataset using perplexity measures and achieve results better than plain RNNs and the DCGM model. Pre-training with a large Question-Answer corpus significantly reduces perplexity.
#### Key Points
- Three RNNs: Utterance encoder, context encoder, and decoder. GRU hidden units, ~300d hidden state spaces.
- 10k vocabulary. Preprocessing: Remove entities and numbers using NLTK
- The context in the experiments is only a single utterance
- MovieTriples is a small dataset, about 200k training triples. Pretraining corpus has 5M Q-A pairs, 90M tokens.
- Perplexity is used as an evaluation metric. Not perfect, but reasonable.
- Pre-training has a much more significant impact than the choice of the model architecture. It reduces perplexity ~10 points, while model architecture makes a tiny difference (~1 point).
- Authors suggest exploring architectures that separate semantic from syntactic structure
- Realization: Most good predictions are generic. Evaluation metrics like BLEU will favor pronouns and punctuation marks that dominate during training and are therefore bad metrics.
- Does using a larger dataset eliminate the need for pre-training?
- What about the more challenging task for longer contexts?
TLDR; The authors build an LSTM Neural Language model, but instead of using word embeddings as inputs, they use the per-word outputs of a character-level CNN, plus a highway layer. This architecture results in state of the art performance and significantly fewer parameters. It also seems to work well on languages with rich morphology.
#### Key Points
- Small Model: 15-dimensional char embeddings, filter sizes 1-6, tanh, 1-layer highway with ReLU, 2-layer LSTM with 300-dimensional cells. 5M Parameters. Hiearchical Softmax.
- Large Model: 15-dimensional char embeddings, filter sizes 1-7, tanh, 2-layer highway with ReLU, 2-layer LSTM with 670-dimensional cells. 19M Parameters. Hiearchical Softmax.
- Can generalize to out of vocabulary words due to character-level representations. Some datasets already had OOV words replaced with a special token, so the results don't reflect this.
- Highway Layers are key to performance. Susbtituting HW with MLP does not work well. Intuition is that HW layer adaptively combines different local features for higher-level representation.
- Nearest neighbors after Highway layer are more smenatic than before highway layer. Suggests compositional nature.
- Surprisingly combinbing word and char embeddings as LSTM input results in worse performance - Characters alone are sufficient?
- Can apply same architecture to NML or Classification tasks. Highway Layers at the output may also help these tasks.
#### Notes / Questions
- Essentially this is a new way to learn word embeddings comprised of lower-level character embeddings. Given this, what about stacking this architecture and learn sentence representations based on these embeddings?
- It is not 100% clear to me why the MLP at the output layer does so much worse. I understand that the highway layer can adaptively combine feature, but what if you combined MLP and plain representations and add dropout? Shouldn't that result in similar perfomance?
- I wonder if the authors experimented with higher-dimensional character embeddings. What is the intuition behind the very low-dimensional (15) embeddings?
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