Global-aware Beam Search for Neural Abstractive Summarization

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 34 pre-proceedings (NeurIPS 2021)

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Ye Ma, Zixun Lan, Lu Zong, Kaizhu Huang


This study develops a calibrated beam-based algorithm with awareness of the global attention distribution for neural abstractive summarization, aiming to improve the local optimality problem of the original beam search in a rigorous way. Specifically, a novel global protocol is proposed based on the attention distribution to stipulate how a global optimal hypothesis should attend to the source. A global scoring mechanism is then developed to regulate beam search to generate summaries in a near-global optimal fashion. This novel design enjoys a distinctive property, i.e., the global attention distribution could be predicted before inference, enabling step-wise improvements on the beam search through the global scoring mechanism. Extensive experiments on nine datasets show that the global (attention)-aware inference significantly improves state-of-the-art summarization models even using empirical hyper-parameters. The algorithm is also proven robust as it remains to generate meaningful texts with corrupted attention distributions. The codes and a comprehensive set of examples are available.