Document Ranking with a Pretrained Sequence-to-Sequence Model

Rodrigo Nogueira, Zhiying Jiang, Ronak Pradeep, Jimmy Lin


Abstract
This work proposes the use of a pretrained sequence-to-sequence model for document ranking. Our approach is fundamentally different from a commonly adopted classification-based formulation based on encoder-only pretrained transformer architectures such as BERT. We show how a sequence-to-sequence model can be trained to generate relevance labels as “target tokens”, and how the underlying logits of these target tokens can be interpreted as relevance probabilities for ranking. Experimental results on the MS MARCO passage ranking task show that our ranking approach is superior to strong encoder-only models. On three other document retrieval test collections, we demonstrate a zero-shot transfer-based approach that outperforms previous state-of-the-art models requiring in-domain cross-validation. Furthermore, we find that our approach significantly outperforms an encoder-only architecture in a data-poor setting. We investigate this observation in more detail by varying target tokens to probe the model’s use of latent knowledge. Surprisingly, we find that the choice of target tokens impacts effectiveness, even for words that are closely related semantically. This finding sheds some light on why our sequence-to-sequence formulation for document ranking is effective. Code and models are available at pygaggle.ai.
Anthology ID:
2020.findings-emnlp.63
Volume:
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2020
Month:
November
Year:
2020
Address:
Online
Venue:
Findings
SIG:
Publisher:
Association for Computational Linguistics
Note:
Pages:
708–718
Language:
URL:
https://aclanthology.org/2020.findings-emnlp.63
DOI:
10.18653/v1/2020.findings-emnlp.63
Bibkey:
Cite (ACL):
Rodrigo Nogueira, Zhiying Jiang, Ronak Pradeep, and Jimmy Lin. 2020. Document Ranking with a Pretrained Sequence-to-Sequence Model. In Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2020, pages 708–718, Online. Association for Computational Linguistics.
Cite (Informal):
Document Ranking with a Pretrained Sequence-to-Sequence Model (Nogueira et al., Findings 2020)
Copy Citation:
PDF:
https://aclanthology.org/2020.findings-emnlp.63.pdf
Code
 additional community code
Data
MS MARCO