WangchanBERTa: Pretraining transformer-based Thai Language Models

Research paper by Lalita Lowphansirikul, Charin Polpanumas, Nawat Jantrakulchai, Sarana Nutanong

Indexed on: 26 Jan '21Published on: 23 Jan '21Published in: arXiv - Computer Science - Computation and Language


Transformer-based language models, more specifically BERT-based architectures have achieved state-of-the-art performance in many downstream tasks. However, for a relatively low-resource language such as Thai, the choices of models are limited to training a BERT-based model based on a much smaller dataset or finetuning multi-lingual models, both of which yield suboptimal downstream performance. Moreover, large-scale multi-lingual pretraining does not take into account language-specific features for Thai. To overcome these limitations, we pretrain a language model based on RoBERTa-base architecture on a large, deduplicated, cleaned training set (78GB in total size), curated from diverse domains of social media posts, news articles and other publicly available datasets. We apply text processing rules that are specific to Thai most importantly preserving spaces, which are important chunk and sentence boundaries in Thai before subword tokenization. We also experiment with word-level, syllable-level and SentencePiece tokenization with a smaller dataset to explore the effects on tokenization on downstream performance. Our model wangchanberta-base-att-spm-uncased trained on the 78.5GB dataset outperforms strong baselines (NBSVM, CRF and ULMFit) and multi-lingual models (XLMR and mBERT) on both sequence classification and token classification tasks in human-annotated, mono-lingual contexts.