UnNatural Language Inference

Koustuv Sinha, Prasanna Parthasarathi, Joelle Pineau, Adina Williams


Abstract
Recent investigations into the inner-workings of state-of-the-art large-scale pre-trained Transformer-based Natural Language Understanding (NLU) models indicate that they appear to understand human-like syntax, at least to some extent. We provide novel evidence that complicates this claim: we find that state-of-the-art Natural Language Inference (NLI) models assign the same labels to permuted examples as they do to the original, i.e. they are invariant to random word-order permutations. This behavior notably differs from that of humans; we struggle to understand the meaning of ungrammatical sentences. To measure the severity of this issue, we propose a suite of metrics and investigate which properties of particular permutations lead models to be word order invariant. For example, in MNLI dataset we find almost all (98.7%) examples contain at least one permutation which elicits the gold label. Models are even able to assign gold labels to permutations that they originally failed to predict correctly. We provide a comprehensive empirical evaluation of this phenomenon, and further show that this issue exists in pre-Transformer RNN / ConvNet based encoders, as well as across multiple languages (English and Chinese). Our code and data are available at https://github.com/facebookresearch/unlu.
Anthology ID:
2021.acl-long.569
Volume:
Proceedings of the 59th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 11th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (Volume 1: Long Papers)
Month:
August
Year:
2021
Address:
Online
Venues:
ACL | IJCNLP
SIG:
Publisher:
Association for Computational Linguistics
Note:
Pages:
7329–7346
Language:
URL:
https://aclanthology.org/2021.acl-long.569
DOI:
10.18653/v1/2021.acl-long.569
Award:
 Outstanding Paper
Bibkey:
Copy Citation:
PDF:
https://aclanthology.org/2021.acl-long.569.pdf