Utility is in the Eye of the User: A Critique of NLP Leaderboards

Kawin Ethayarajh, Dan Jurafsky


Abstract
Benchmarks such as GLUE have helped drive advances in NLP by incentivizing the creation of more accurate models. While this leaderboard paradigm has been remarkably successful, a historical focus on performance-based evaluation has been at the expense of other qualities that the NLP community values in models, such as compactness, fairness, and energy efficiency. In this opinion paper, we study the divergence between what is incentivized by leaderboards and what is useful in practice through the lens of microeconomic theory. We frame both the leaderboard and NLP practitioners as consumers and the benefit they get from a model as its utility to them. With this framing, we formalize how leaderboards – in their current form – can be poor proxies for the NLP community at large. For example, a highly inefficient model would provide less utility to practitioners but not to a leaderboard, since it is a cost that only the former must bear. To allow practitioners to better estimate a model’s utility to them, we advocate for more transparency on leaderboards, such as the reporting of statistics that are of practical concern (e.g., model size, energy efficiency, and inference latency).
Anthology ID:
2020.emnlp-main.393
Volume:
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)
Month:
November
Year:
2020
Address:
Online
Venue:
EMNLP
SIG:
Publisher:
Association for Computational Linguistics
Note:
Pages:
4846–4853
Language:
URL:
https://aclanthology.org/2020.emnlp-main.393
DOI:
10.18653/v1/2020.emnlp-main.393
Bibkey:
Copy Citation:
PDF:
https://aclanthology.org/2020.emnlp-main.393.pdf
Video:
 https://slideslive.com/38938914