Dual Learning for Semi-Supervised Natural Language Understanding

Su Zhu, Ruisheng Cao, Kai Yu

Natural language understanding (NLU) converts sentences into structured semantic forms. The paucity of annotated training samples is still a fundamental challenge of NLU. To solve this data sparsity problem, previous work based on semi-supervised learning mainly focuses on exploiting unlabeled sentences. In this work, we introduce a dual task of NLU, semantic-to-sentence generation (SSG), and propose a new framework for semi-supervised NLU with the corresponding dual model. The framework is composed of dual pseudo-labeling and dual learning method, which enables an NLU model to make full use of data (labeled and unlabeled) through a closed-loop of the primal and dual tasks. By incorporating the dual task, the framework can exploit pure semantic forms as well as unlabeled sentences, and further improve the NLU and SSG models iteratively in the closed-loop. The proposed approaches are evaluated on two public datasets (ATIS and SNIPS). Experiments in the semi-supervised setting show that our methods can outperform various baselines significantly, and extensive ablation studies are conducted to verify the effectiveness of our framework. Finally, our method can also achieve the state-of-the-art performance on the two datasets in the supervised setting.

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