Note: The process and results below are presented in the paper Bottom-Up Abstractive Summarization. Please consider citing it if you follow these instructions.

  title={Bottom-Up Abstractive Summarization},
  author={Gehrmann, Sebastian and Deng, Yuntian and Rush, Alexander},
  booktitle={Proceedings of the 2018 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing},

This document describes how to replicate summarization experiments on the CNN-DM and gigaword datasets using OpenNMT-py. In the following, we assume access to a tokenized form of the corpus split into train/valid/test set. You can find the data here.

An example article-title pair from Gigaword should look like this:

Input australia ‘s current account deficit shrunk by a record #.## billion dollars -lrb- #.## billion us -rrb- in the june quarter due to soaring commodity prices , figures released monday showed .

Output australian current account deficit narrows sharply

Preparing the data and vocab

For CNN-DM we follow See et al. [2] and additionally truncate the source length at 400 tokens and the target at 100. We also note that in CNN-DM, we found models to work better if the target surrounds sentences with tags such that a sentence looks like <t> w1 w2 w3 . </t>. If you use this formatting, you can remove the tags after the inference step with the commands sed -i 's/ <\/t>//g' FILE.txt and sed -i 's/<t> //g' FILE.txt.

YAML Configuration:

# cnndm.yaml

## Where the samples will be written
save_data: cnndm/run/example
## Where the vocab(s) will be written
src_vocab: cnndm/run/example.vocab.src
tgt_vocab: cnndm/run/example.vocab.tgt
# Prevent overwriting existing files in the folder
overwrite: False

# truncate examples
src_seq_length_trunc: 400
tgt_seq_length_trunc: 100

# common vocabulary for source and target
share_vocab: True

# Corpus opts:
        path_src: cnndm/train.txt.src
        path_tgt: cnndm/train.txt.tgt.tagged
        path_src: cnndm/val.txt.src
        path_tgt: cnndm/val.txt.tgt.tagged

Let’s compute the vocab over the full dataset (-n_sample -1):

onmt_build_vocab -config cnndm.yaml -n_sample -1

This command will have written source and target vocabulary to cnndm/run/example.vocab.src and cnndm/run/example.vocab.tgt. These two files should be the same, as share_vocab is set.


The training procedure described in this section for the most part follows parameter choices and implementation similar to that of See et al. [2].

Most significant options are:

  • copy_attn: This is the most important option, since it allows the model to copy words from the source.

  • global_attention mlp: This makes the model use the attention mechanism introduced by Bahdanau et al. [3] instead of that by Luong et al. [4] (global_attention dot).

  • share_embeddings: This shares the word embeddings between encoder and decoder. This option drastically decreases the number of parameters a model has to learn. We did not find this option to helpful, but you can try it out by adding it to the command below.

  • reuse_copy_attn: This option reuses the standard attention as copy attention. Without this, the model learns an additional attention that is only used for copying.

  • copy_loss_by_seqlength: This modifies the loss to divide the loss of a sequence by the number of tokens in it. In practice, we found this to generate longer sequences during inference. However, this effect can also be achieved by using penalties during decoding.

  • bridge: This is an additional layer that uses the final hidden state of the encoder as input and computes an initial hidden state for the decoder. Without this, the decoder is initialized with the final hidden state of the encoder directly.

  • optim adagrad: Adagrad outperforms SGD when coupled with the following option.

  • adagrad_accumulator_init 0.1: PyTorch does not initialize the accumulator in adagrad with any values. To match the optimization algorithm with the Tensorflow version, this option needs to be added.

Note: Since we are using copy-attention [1] in the model, additional fields will be computed so that source and target are aligned and use the same dictionary. Previously achieved with the -dynamic_dict preprocessing flag in the legacy version, this is now automatically handled when -copy_attn is enabled.

We are using using a 128-dimensional word-embedding, and 512-dimensional 1 layer LSTM. On the encoder side, we use a bidirectional LSTM (brnn), which means that the 512 dimensions are split into 256 dimensions per direction.

We additionally set the maximum norm of the gradient to 2, and renormalize if the gradient norm exceeds this value and do not use any dropout.


(1) CNN-DM

The basic RNN configuration is defined by these parameters:

# maximum vocab size
src_vocab_size: 50000
tgt_vocab_size: 50000

src_vocab: cnndm/run/example.vocab.src
tgt_vocab: cnndm/run/example.vocab.tgt

save_model: cnndm/run/model
copy_attn: true
global_attention: mlp
word_vec_size: 128
rnn_size: 512
layers: 1
encoder_type: brnn
train_steps: 200000
max_grad_norm: 2
dropout: 0
batch_size: 16
valid_batch_size: 16
optim: adagrad
learning_rate: 0.15
adagrad_accumulator_init: 0.1
reuse_copy_attn: true
copy_loss_by_seqlength: true
bridge: true
seed: 777
world_size: 2
gpu_ranks: [0, 1]

(2) CNN-DM Transformer

Transformer configuration is the following:

src_vocab_size: 50000
tgt_vocab_size: 50000

src_vocab: cnndm/run/example.vocab.src
tgt_vocab: cnndm/run/example.vocab.tgt

save_model: cnndm/run/model_transformer
layers: 4
rnn_size: 512
word_vec_size: 512
max_grad_norm: 0
optim: adam
encoder_type: transformer
decoder_type: transformer
position_encoding: true
dropout: 0.2
attention_dropout: 0.2
param_init: 0
warmup_steps: 8000
learning_rate: 2
decay_method: noam
label_smoothing: 0.1
adam_beta2: 0.998
batch_size: 4096
batch_type: tokens
normalization: tokens
train_steps: 200000
accum_count: 4
share_embeddings: true
copy_attn: true
param_init_glorot: true
world_size: 2
gpu_ranks: [0, 1]

(3) Gigaword

Gigaword can be trained equivalently. You just need to adapt the data part of the YAML configuration.

# gigaword.yaml

## Where the vocab(s) will be written
save_data: gigaword/run/example
# Prevent overwriting existing files in the folder
overwrite: False

# prevent filtering of long examples
src_seq_length: 10000
tgt_seq_length: 10000

# common vocabulary for source and target
share_vocab: True

# Corpus opts:
        path_src: gigaword/train.article.txt
        path_tgt: gigaword/train.title.txt
        transforms: [filtertoolong]
        weight: 1
        path_src: gigaword/valid.article.txt
        path_tgt: gigaword/valid.title.txt
        transforms: [filtertoolong]


During inference, we use beam-search with a beam-size of 10. We also added specific penalties that we can use during decoding, described in the following.

  • stepwise_penalty: Applies penalty at every step

  • coverage_penalty summary: Uses a penalty that prevents repeated attention to the same source word

  • beta 5: Parameter for the Coverage Penalty

  • length_penalty wu: Uses the Length Penalty by Wu et al.

  • alpha 0.8: Parameter for the Length Penalty.

  • block_ngram_repeat 3: Prevent the model from repeating trigrams.

  • ignore_when_blocking "." "</t>" "<t>": Allow the model to repeat trigrams with the sentence boundary tokens.

Commands used:

(1) CNN-DM

onmt_translate -gpu X \
               -batch_size 20 \
               -beam_size 10 \
               -model cnndm/run/... \
               -src cnndm/test.txt.src \
               -output testout/cnndm.out \
               -min_length 35 \
               -verbose \
               -stepwise_penalty \
               -coverage_penalty summary \
               -beta 5 \
               -length_penalty wu \
               -alpha 0.9 \
               -verbose \
               -block_ngram_repeat 3 \
               -ignore_when_blocking "." "</t>" "<t>"



To evaluate the ROUGE scores on CNN-DM, we extended the pyrouge wrapper with additional evaluations such as the amount of repeated n-grams (typically found in models with copy attention), found here. The repository includes a sub-repo called pyrouge. Make sure to clone the code with the git clone --recurse-submodules command to check this out as well and follow the installation instructions on the pyrouge repository before calling this script. The installation instructions can be found here. Note that on MacOS, we found that the pointer to your perl installation in line 1 of pyrouge/RELEASE-1.5.5/ might be different from the one you have installed. A simple fix is to change this line to #!/usr/local/bin/perl -w if it fails.

It can be run with the following command:

python -s testout/cnndm.out -t data/cnndm/test.txt.tgt.tagged -m sent_tag_verbatim -r

The sent_tag_verbatim option strips <t> and </t> tags around sentences - when a sentence previously was <t> w w w w . </t>, it becomes w w w w ..


For evaluation of large test sets such as Gigaword, we use the a parallel python wrapper around ROUGE, found here.

Command used: files2rouge giga.out test.title.txt --verbose

Scores and Models


Model Type Model R1 R R1 P R1 F R2 R R2 P R2 F RL R RL P RL F
Pointer-Generator + Coverage [2] link 39.05 43.02 39.53 17.16 18.77 17.28 35.98 39.56 36.38
Pointer-Generator [2] link 37.76 37.60 36.44 16.31 16.12 15.66 34.66 34.46 33.42
OpenNMT BRNN (1 layer, emb 128, hid 512) link 40.90 40.20 39.02 17.91 17.99 17.25 37.76 37.18 36.05
OpenNMT BRNN (1 layer, emb 128, hid 512, shared embeddings) link 38.59 40.60 37.97 16.75 17.93 16.59 35.67 37.60 35.13
OpenNMT BRNN (2 layer, emb 256, hid 1024) link 40.41 40.94 39.12 17.76 18.38 17.35 37.27 37.83 36.12
OpenNMT Transformer link 40.31 41.09 39.25 17.97 18.46 17.54 37.41 38.18 36.45


Model Type Model R1 R R1 P R1 F R2 R R2 P R2 F RL R RL P RL F
OpenNMT, no penalties link ? ? 35.51 ? ? 17.35 ? ? 33.17


[1] Vinyals, O., Fortunato, M. and Jaitly, N., 2015. Pointer Network. NIPS

[2] See, A., Liu, P.J. and Manning, C.D., 2017. Get To The Point: Summarization with Pointer-Generator Networks. ACL

[3] Bahdanau, D., Cho, K. and Bengio, Y., 2014. Neural machine translation by jointly learning to align and translate. ICLR

[4] Luong, M.T., Pham, H. and Manning, C.D., 2015. Effective approaches to attention-based neural machine translation. EMNLP