JaColBERT and Hard Negatives, Towards Better Japanese-First Embeddings for Retrieval: Early Technical Report

Published on Dec 26, 2023


Document retrieval in many languages has been largely relying on multi-lingual models, and leveraging the vast wealth of English training data. In Japanese, the best performing deep-learning based retrieval approaches rely on multilingual dense embeddings. In this work, we introduce (1) a hard-negative augmented version of the Japanese MMARCO dataset and (2) JaColBERT, a document retrieval model built on the ColBERT model architecture, specifically for Japanese. JaColBERT vastly outperform all previous monolingual retrieval approaches and competes with the best multilingual methods, despite unfavourable evaluation settings (out-of-domain vs. in-domain for the multilingual models). JaColBERT reaches an average Recall@10 of 0.813, noticeably ahead of the previous monolingual best-performing model (0.716) and only slightly behind multilingual-e5-base (0.820), though more noticeably behind multilingual-e5-large (0.856). These results are achieved using only a limited, entirely Japanese, training set, more than two orders of magnitudes smaller than multilingual embedding models. We believe these results show great promise to support retrieval-enhanced application pipelines in a wide variety of domains.


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