Unsupervised Controllable Text Formalization

  • Parag Jain IBM Research AI
  • Abhijit Mishra IBM Research AI
  • Amar Prakash Azad IBM Research AI
  • Karthik Sankaranarayanan IBM Research


We propose a novel framework for controllable natural language transformation. Realizing that the requirement of parallel corpus is practically unsustainable for controllable generation tasks, an unsupervised training scheme is introduced. The crux of the framework is a deep neural encoder-decoder that is reinforced with text-transformation knowledge through auxiliary modules (called scorers). These scorers, based on off-the-shelf language processing tools, decide the learning scheme of the encoder-decoder based on its actions. We apply this framework for the text-transformation task of formalizing an input text by improving its readability grade; the degree of required formalization can be controlled by the user at run-time. Experiments on public datasets demonstrate the efficacy of our model towards: (a) transforming a given text to a more formal style, and (b) varying the amount of formalness in the output text based on the specified input control. Our code and datasets are released for academic use.

AAAI Technical Track: Natural Language Processing