Multilingual Sequence-to-Sequence Models for Hebrew NLP

Matan Eyal, Hila Noga, Roee Aharoni, Idan Szpektor, Reut Tsarfaty

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


Recent work attributes progress in NLP to large language models (LMs) with increased model size and large quantities of pretraining data. Despite this, current state-of-the-art LMs for Hebrew are both under-parameterized and under-trained compared to LMs in other languages. Additionally, previous work on pretrained Hebrew LMs focused on encoder-only models. While the encoder-only architecture is beneficial for classification tasks, it does not cater well for sub-word prediction tasks, such as Named Entity Recognition, when considering the morphologically rich nature of Hebrew. In this paper we argue that sequence-to-sequence generative architectures are more suitable for large LMs in morphologically rich languages (MRLs) such as Hebrew. We demonstrate this by casting tasks in the Hebrew NLP pipeline as text-to-text tasks, for which we can leverage powerful multilingual, pretrained sequence-to-sequence models as mT5, eliminating the need for a separate, specialized, morpheme-based, decoder. Using this approach, our experiments show substantial improvements over previously published results on all existing Hebrew NLP benchmarks. These results suggest that multilingual sequence-to-sequence models present a promising building block for NLP for MRLs.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFindings of the Association for Computational Linguistics, ACL 2023
PublisherAssociation for Computational Linguistics (ACL)
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9781959429623
StatePublished - 2023
Externally publishedYes
Event61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics, ACL 2023 - Toronto, Canada
Duration: 9 Jul 202314 Jul 2023

Publication series

NameProceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics
ISSN (Print)0736-587X


Conference61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics, ACL 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Association for Computational Linguistics.


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