mBART-50 is a multilingual Sequence-to-Sequence model pre-trained using the "Multilingual Denoising Pretraining" objective. It was introduced in Multilingual Translation with Extensible Multilingual Pretraining and Finetuning paper.

Model description

mBART-50 is a multilingual Sequence-to-Sequence model. It was introduced to show that multilingual translation models can be created through multilingual fine-tuning. Instead of fine-tuning on one direction, a pre-trained model is fine-tuned on many directions simultaneously. mBART-50 is created using the original mBART model and extended to add extra 25 languages to support multilingual machine translation models of 50 languages. The pre-training objective is explained below.

Multilingual Denoising Pretraining: The model incorporates N languages by concatenating data: D = {D1, ..., DN } where each Di is a collection of monolingual documents in language i. The source documents are noised using two schemes, first randomly shuffling the original sentences' order, and second a novel in-filling scheme, where spans of text are replaced with a single mask token. The model is then tasked to reconstruct the original text. 35% of each instance's words are masked by random sampling a span length according to a Poisson distribution (λ = 3.5). The decoder input is the original text with one position offset. A language id symbol LID is used as the initial token to predict the sentence.

Intended uses & limitations

mbart-large-50 is pre-trained model and primarily aimed at being fine-tuned on translation tasks. It can also be fine-tuned on other multilingual sequence-to-sequence tasks. See the model hub to look for fine-tuned versions.


As the model is multilingual, it expects the sequences in a different format. A special language id token is used as a prefix in both the source and target text. The text format is [lang_code] X [eos] with X being the source or target text respectively and lang_code is source_lang_code for source text and tgt_lang_code for target text. bos is never used. Once the examples are prepared in this format, it can be trained as any other sequence-to-sequence model.

from transformers import MBartForConditionalGeneration, MBart50TokenizerFast

model = MBartForConditionalGeneration.from_pretrained("facebook/mbart-large-50")
tokenizer = MBart50TokenizerFast.from_pretrained("facebook/mbart-large-50", src_lang="en_XX", tgt_lang="ro_RO")

src_text = " UN Chief Says There Is No Military Solution in Syria"
tgt_text =  "Şeful ONU declară că nu există o soluţie militară în Siria"

model_inputs = tokenizer(src_text, return_tensors="pt")
with tokenizer.as_target_tokenizer():
    labels = tokenizer(tgt_text, return_tensors="pt").input_ids

model(**model_inputs, labels=labels) # forward pass

Languages covered

Arabic (ar_AR), Czech (cs_CZ), German (de_DE), English (en_XX), Spanish (es_XX), Estonian (et_EE), Finnish (fi_FI), French (fr_XX), Gujarati (gu_IN), Hindi (hi_IN), Italian (it_IT), Japanese (ja_XX), Kazakh (kk_KZ), Korean (ko_KR), Lithuanian (lt_LT), Latvian (lv_LV), Burmese (my_MM), Nepali (ne_NP), Dutch (nl_XX), Romanian (ro_RO), Russian (ru_RU), Sinhala (si_LK), Turkish (tr_TR), Vietnamese (vi_VN), Chinese (zh_CN), Afrikaans (af_ZA), Azerbaijani (az_AZ), Bengali (bn_IN), Persian (fa_IR), Hebrew (he_IL), Croatian (hr_HR), Indonesian (id_ID), Georgian (ka_GE), Khmer (km_KH), Macedonian (mk_MK), Malayalam (ml_IN), Mongolian (mn_MN), Marathi (mr_IN), Polish (pl_PL), Pashto (ps_AF), Portuguese (pt_XX), Swedish (sv_SE), Swahili (sw_KE), Tamil (ta_IN), Telugu (te_IN), Thai (th_TH), Tagalog (tl_XX), Ukrainian (uk_UA), Urdu (ur_PK), Xhosa (xh_ZA), Galician (gl_ES), Slovene (sl_SI)

BibTeX entry and citation info

    title={Multilingual Translation with Extensible Multilingual Pretraining and Finetuning},
    author={Yuqing Tang and Chau Tran and Xian Li and Peng-Jen Chen and Naman Goyal and Vishrav Chaudhary and Jiatao Gu and Angela Fan},
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