Multi-stage Pretraining for Abstractive Summarization

09/23/2019 ∙ by Sebastian Goodman, et al. ∙ 0

Neural models for abstractive summarization tend to achieve the best performance in the presence of highly specialized, summarization specific modeling add-ons such as pointer-generator, coverage-modeling, and inferencetime heuristics. We show here that pretraining can complement such modeling advancements to yield improved results in both short-form and long-form abstractive summarization using two key concepts: full-network initialization and multi-stage pretraining. Our method allows the model to transitively benefit from multiple pretraining tasks, from generic language tasks to a specialized summarization task to an even more specialized one such as bullet-based summarization. Using this approach, we demonstrate improvements of 1.05 ROUGE-L points on the Gigaword benchmark and 1.78 ROUGE-L points on the CNN/DailyMail benchmark, compared to a randomly-initialized baseline.

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