Controllable Sentence Simplification

Language Resources and Evaluation Conference (LREC)


Text simplification aims at making a text easier to read and understand by simplifying grammar and structure while keeping the underlying information identical. It is often considered an all-purpose generic task where the same simplification is suitable for all; however multiple audiences can benefit from simplified text in different ways. We adapt a discrete parametrization mechanism that provides explicit control on simplification systems based on Sequence-to-Sequence models. As a result, users can condition the simplifications returned by a model on attributes such as length, amount of paraphrasing, lexical complexity and syntactic complexity. We also show that carefully chosen values of these attributes allow out-of-the-box Sequence-to-Sequence models to outperform their standard counterparts on simplification benchmarks. Our model, which we call ACCESS (as shorthand for AudienCe-CEntric Sentence Simplification), establishes the state of the art at 41.87 SARI on the WikiLarge test set, a +1.42 improvement over the best previously reported score.

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