Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (2020)



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Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

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Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics
Dan Jurafsky | Joyce Chai | Natalie Schluter | Joel Tetreault

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Learning to Understand Child-directed and Adult-directed Speech
Lieke Gelderloos | Grzegorz Chrupała | Afra Alishahi

Speech directed to children differs from adult-directed speech in linguistic aspects such as repetition, word choice, and sentence length, as well as in aspects of the speech signal itself, such as prosodic and phonemic variation. Human language acquisition research indicates that child-directed speech helps language learners. This study explores the effect of child-directed speech when learning to extract semantic information from speech directly. We compare the task performance of models trained on adult-directed speech (ADS) and child-directed speech (CDS). We find indications that CDS helps in the initial stages of learning, but eventually, models trained on ADS reach comparable task performance, and generalize better. The results suggest that this is at least partially due to linguistic rather than acoustic properties of the two registers, as we see the same pattern when looking at models trained on acoustically comparable synthetic speech.

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Predicting Depression in Screening Interviews from Latent Categorization of Interview Prompts
Alex Rinaldi | Jean Fox Tree | Snigdha Chaturvedi

Accurately diagnosing depression is difficult– requiring time-intensive interviews, assessments, and analysis. Hence, automated methods that can assess linguistic patterns in these interviews could help psychiatric professionals make faster, more informed decisions about diagnosis. We propose JLPC, a model that analyzes interview transcripts to identify depression while jointly categorizing interview prompts into latent categories. This latent categorization allows the model to define high-level conversational contexts that influence patterns of language in depressed individuals. We show that the proposed model not only outperforms competitive baselines, but that its latent prompt categories provide psycholinguistic insights about depression.

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Coach: A Coarse-to-Fine Approach for Cross-domain Slot Filling
Zihan Liu | Genta Indra Winata | Peng Xu | Pascale Fung

As an essential task in task-oriented dialog systems, slot filling requires extensive training data in a certain domain. However, such data are not always available. Hence, cross-domain slot filling has naturally arisen to cope with this data scarcity problem. In this paper, we propose a Coarse-to-fine approach (Coach) for cross-domain slot filling. Our model first learns the general pattern of slot entities by detecting whether the tokens are slot entities or not. It then predicts the specific types for the slot entities. In addition, we propose a template regularization approach to improve the adaptation robustness by regularizing the representation of utterances based on utterance templates. Experimental results show that our model significantly outperforms state-of-the-art approaches in slot filling. Furthermore, our model can also be applied to the cross-domain named entity recognition task, and it achieves better adaptation performance than other existing baselines. The code is available at

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Designing Precise and Robust Dialogue Response Evaluators
Tianyu Zhao | Divesh Lala | Tatsuya Kawahara

Automatic dialogue response evaluator has been proposed as an alternative to automated metrics and human evaluation. However, existing automatic evaluators achieve only moderate correlation with human judgement and they are not robust. In this work, we propose to build a reference-free evaluator and exploit the power of semi-supervised training and pretrained (masked) language models. Experimental results demonstrate that the proposed evaluator achieves a strong correlation (> 0.6) with human judgement and generalizes robustly to diverse responses and corpora. We open-source the code and data in

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Dialogue State Tracking with Explicit Slot Connection Modeling
Yawen Ouyang | Moxin Chen | Xinyu Dai | Yinggong Zhao | Shujian Huang | Jiajun Chen

Recent proposed approaches have made promising progress in dialogue state tracking (DST). However, in multi-domain scenarios, ellipsis and reference are frequently adopted by users to express values that have been mentioned by slots from other domains. To handle these phenomena, we propose a Dialogue State Tracking with Slot Connections (DST-SC) model to explicitly consider slot correlations across different domains. Given a target slot, the slot connecting mechanism in DST-SC can infer its source slot and copy the source slot value directly, thus significantly reducing the difficulty of learning and reasoning. Experimental results verify the benefits of explicit slot connection modeling, and our model achieves state-of-the-art performance on MultiWOZ 2.0 and MultiWOZ 2.1 datasets.

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Generating Informative Conversational Response using Recurrent Knowledge-Interaction and Knowledge-Copy
Xiexiong Lin | Weiyu Jian | Jianshan He | Taifeng Wang | Wei Chu

Knowledge-driven conversation approaches have achieved remarkable research attention recently. However, generating an informative response with multiple relevant knowledge without losing fluency and coherence is still one of the main challenges. To address this issue, this paper proposes a method that uses recurrent knowledge interaction among response decoding steps to incorporate appropriate knowledge. Furthermore, we introduce a knowledge copy mechanism using a knowledge-aware pointer network to copy words from external knowledge according to knowledge attention distribution. Our joint neural conversation model which integrates recurrent Knowledge-Interaction and knowledge Copy (KIC) performs well on generating informative responses. Experiments demonstrate that our model with fewer parameters yields significant improvements over competitive baselines on two datasets Wizard-of-Wikipedia(average Bleu +87%; abs.: 0.034) and DuConv(average Bleu +20%; abs.: 0.047)) with different knowledge formats (textual & structured) and different languages (English & Chinese).

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Guiding Variational Response Generator to Exploit Persona
Bowen Wu | MengYuan Li | Zongsheng Wang | Yifu Chen | Derek F. Wong | Qihang Feng | Junhong Huang | Baoxun Wang

Leveraging persona information of users in Neural Response Generators (NRG) to perform personalized conversations has been considered as an attractive and important topic in the research of conversational agents over the past few years. Despite of the promising progress achieved by recent studies in this field, persona information tends to be incorporated into neural networks in the form of user embeddings, with the expectation that the persona can be involved via End-to-End learning. This paper proposes to adopt the personality-related characteristics of human conversations into variational response generators, by designing a specific conditional variational autoencoder based deep model with two new regularization terms employed to the loss function, so as to guide the optimization towards the direction of generating both persona-aware and relevant responses. Besides, to reasonably evaluate the performances of various persona modeling approaches, this paper further presents three direct persona-oriented metrics from different perspectives. The experimental results have shown that our proposed methodology can notably improve the performance of persona-aware response generation, and the metrics are reasonable to evaluate the results.

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Large Scale Multi-Actor Generative Dialog Modeling
Alex Boyd | Raul Puri | Mohammad Shoeybi | Mostofa Patwary | Bryan Catanzaro

Non-goal oriented dialog agents (i.e. chatbots) aim to produce varying and engaging conversations with a user; however, they typically exhibit either inconsistent personality across conversations or the average personality of all users. This paper addresses these issues by controlling an agent’s persona upon generation via conditioning on prior conversations of a target actor. In doing so, we are able to utilize more abstract patterns within a person’s speech and better emulate them in generated responses. This work introduces the Generative Conversation Control model, an augmented and fine-tuned GPT-2 language model that conditions on past reference conversations to probabilistically model multi-turn conversations in the actor’s persona. We introduce an accompanying data collection procedure to obtain 10.3M conversations from 6 months worth of Reddit comments. We demonstrate that scaling model sizes from 117M to 8.3B parameters yields an improvement from 23.14 to 13.14 perplexity on 1.7M held out Reddit conversations. Increasing model scale yielded similar improvements in human evaluations that measure preference of model samples to the held out target distribution in terms of realism (31% increased to 37% preference), style matching (37% to 42%), grammar and content quality (29% to 42%), and conversation coherency (32% to 40%). We find that conditionally modeling past conversations improves perplexity by 0.47 in automatic evaluations. Through human trials we identify positive trends between conditional modeling and style matching and outline steps to further improve persona control.

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PLATO: Pre-trained Dialogue Generation Model with Discrete Latent Variable
Siqi Bao | Huang He | Fan Wang | Hua Wu | Haifeng Wang

Pre-training models have been proved effective for a wide range of natural language processing tasks. Inspired by this, we propose a novel dialogue generation pre-training framework to support various kinds of conversations, including chit-chat, knowledge grounded dialogues, and conversational question answering. In this framework, we adopt flexible attention mechanisms to fully leverage the bi-directional context and the uni-directional characteristic of language generation. We also introduce discrete latent variables to tackle the inherent one-to-many mapping problem in response generation. Two reciprocal tasks of response generation and latent act recognition are designed and carried out simultaneously within a shared network. Comprehensive experiments on three publicly available datasets verify the effectiveness and superiority of the proposed framework.

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Slot-consistent NLG for Task-oriented Dialogue Systems with Iterative Rectification Network
Yangming Li | Kaisheng Yao | Libo Qin | Wanxiang Che | Xiaolong Li | Ting Liu

Data-driven approaches using neural networks have achieved promising performances in natural language generation (NLG). However, neural generators are prone to make mistakes, e.g., neglecting an input slot value and generating a redundant slot value. Prior works refer this to hallucination phenomenon. In this paper, we study slot consistency for building reliable NLG systems with all slot values of input dialogue act (DA) properly generated in output sentences. We propose Iterative Rectification Network (IRN) for improving general NLG systems to produce both correct and fluent responses. It applies a bootstrapping algorithm to sample training candidates and uses reinforcement learning to incorporate discrete reward related to slot inconsistency into training. Comprehensive studies have been conducted on multiple benchmark datasets, showing that the proposed methods have significantly reduced the slot error rate (ERR) for all strong baselines. Human evaluations also have confirmed its effectiveness.

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Span-ConveRT: Few-shot Span Extraction for Dialog with Pretrained Conversational Representations
Samuel Coope | Tyler Farghly | Daniela Gerz | Ivan Vulić | Matthew Henderson

We introduce Span-ConveRT, a light-weight model for dialog slot-filling which frames the task as a turn-based span extraction task. This formulation allows for a simple integration of conversational knowledge coded in large pretrained conversational models such as ConveRT (Henderson et al., 2019). We show that leveraging such knowledge in Span-ConveRT is especially useful for few-shot learning scenarios: we report consistent gains over 1) a span extractor that trains representations from scratch in the target domain, and 2) a BERT-based span extractor. In order to inspire more work on span extraction for the slot-filling task, we also release RESTAURANTS-8K, a new challenging data set of 8,198 utterances, compiled from actual conversations in the restaurant booking domain.

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Zero-Shot Transfer Learning with Synthesized Data for Multi-Domain Dialogue State Tracking
Giovanni Campagna | Agata Foryciarz | Mehrad Moradshahi | Monica Lam

Zero-shot transfer learning for multi-domain dialogue state tracking can allow us to handle new domains without incurring the high cost of data acquisition. This paper proposes new zero-short transfer learning technique for dialogue state tracking where the in-domain training data are all synthesized from an abstract dialogue model and the ontology of the domain. We show that data augmentation through synthesized data can improve the accuracy of zero-shot learning for both the TRADE model and the BERT-based SUMBT model on the MultiWOZ 2.1 dataset. We show training with only synthesized in-domain data on the SUMBT model can reach about 2/3 of the accuracy obtained with the full training dataset. We improve the zero-shot learning state of the art on average across domains by 21%.

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A Complete Shift-Reduce Chinese Discourse Parser with Robust Dynamic Oracle
Shyh-Shiun Hung | Hen-Hsen Huang | Hsin-Hsi Chen

This work proposes a standalone, complete Chinese discourse parser for practical applications. We approach Chinese discourse parsing from a variety of aspects and improve the shift-reduce parser not only by integrating the pre-trained text encoder, but also by employing novel training strategies. We revise the dynamic-oracle procedure for training the shift-reduce parser, and apply unsupervised data augmentation to enhance rhetorical relation recognition. Experimental results show that our Chinese discourse parser achieves the state-of-the-art performance.

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TransS-Driven Joint Learning Architecture for Implicit Discourse Relation Recognition
Ruifang He | Jian Wang | Fengyu Guo | Yugui Han

Implicit discourse relation recognition is a challenging task due to the lack of connectives as strong linguistic clues. Previous methods primarily encode two arguments separately or extract the specific interaction patterns for the task, which have not fully exploited the annotated relation signal. Therefore, we propose a novel TransS-driven joint learning architecture to address the issues. Specifically, based on the multi-level encoder, we 1) translate discourse relations in low-dimensional embedding space (called TransS), which could mine the latent geometric structure information of argument-relation instances; 2) further exploit the semantic features of arguments to assist discourse understanding; 3) jointly learn 1) and 2) to mutually reinforce each other to obtain the better argument representations, so as to improve the performance of the task. Extensive experimental results on the Penn Discourse TreeBank (PDTB) show that our model achieves competitive results against several state-of-the-art systems.

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A Study of Non-autoregressive Model for Sequence Generation
Yi Ren | Jinglin Liu | Xu Tan | Zhou Zhao | Sheng Zhao | Tie-Yan Liu

Non-autoregressive (NAR) models generate all the tokens of a sequence in parallel, resulting in faster generation speed compared to their autoregressive (AR) counterparts but at the cost of lower accuracy. Different techniques including knowledge distillation and source-target alignment have been proposed to bridge the gap between AR and NAR models in various tasks such as neural machine translation (NMT), automatic speech recognition (ASR), and text to speech (TTS). With the help of those techniques, NAR models can catch up with the accuracy of AR models in some tasks but not in some others. In this work, we conduct a study to understand the difficulty of NAR sequence generation and try to answer: (1) Why NAR models can catch up with AR models in some tasks but not all? (2) Why techniques like knowledge distillation and source-target alignment can help NAR models. Since the main difference between AR and NAR models is that NAR models do not use dependency among target tokens while AR models do, intuitively the difficulty of NAR sequence generation heavily depends on the strongness of dependency among target tokens. To quantify such dependency, we propose an analysis model called CoMMA to characterize the difficulty of different NAR sequence generation tasks. We have several interesting findings: 1) Among the NMT, ASR and TTS tasks, ASR has the most target-token dependency while TTS has the least. 2) Knowledge distillation reduces the target-token dependency in target sequence and thus improves the accuracy of NAR models. 3) Source-target alignment constraint encourages dependency of a target token on source tokens and thus eases the training of NAR models.

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Cross-modal Language Generation using Pivot Stabilization for Web-scale Language Coverage
Ashish V. Thapliyal | Radu Soricut

Cross-modal language generation tasks such as image captioning are directly hurt in their ability to support non-English languages by the trend of data-hungry models combined with the lack of non-English annotations. We investigate potential solutions for combining existing language-generation annotations in English with translation capabilities in order to create solutions at web-scale in both domain and language coverage. We describe an approach called Pivot-Language Generation Stabilization (PLuGS), which leverages directly at training time both existing English annotations (gold data) as well as their machine-translated versions (silver data); at run-time, it generates first an English caption and then a corresponding target-language caption. We show that PLuGS models outperform other candidate solutions in evaluations performed over 5 different target languages, under a large-domain testset using images from the Open Images dataset. Furthermore, we find an interesting effect where the English captions generated by the PLuGS models are better than the captions generated by the original, monolingual English model.

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Fact-based Text Editing
Hayate Iso | Chao Qiao | Hang Li

We propose a novel text editing task, referred to as fact-based text editing, in which the goal is to revise a given document to better describe the facts in a knowledge base (e.g., several triples). The task is important in practice because reflecting the truth is a common requirement in text editing. First, we propose a method for automatically generating a dataset for research on fact-based text editing, where each instance consists of a draft text, a revised text, and several facts represented in triples. We apply the method into two public table-to-text datasets, obtaining two new datasets consisting of 233k and 37k instances, respectively. Next, we propose a new neural network architecture for fact-based text editing, called FactEditor, which edits a draft text by referring to given facts using a buffer, a stream, and a memory. A straightforward approach to address the problem would be to employ an encoder-decoder model. Our experimental results on the two datasets show that FactEditor outperforms the encoder-decoder approach in terms of fidelity and fluency. The results also show that FactEditor conducts inference faster than the encoder-decoder approach.

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Few-Shot NLG with Pre-Trained Language Model
Zhiyu Chen | Harini Eavani | Wenhu Chen | Yinyin Liu | William Yang Wang

Neural-based end-to-end approaches to natural language generation (NLG) from structured data or knowledge are data-hungry, making their adoption for real-world applications difficult with limited data. In this work, we propose the new task of few-shot natural language generation. Motivated by how humans tend to summarize tabular data, we propose a simple yet effective approach and show that it not only demonstrates strong performance but also provides good generalization across domains. The design of the model architecture is based on two aspects: content selection from input data and language modeling to compose coherent sentences, which can be acquired from prior knowledge. With just 200 training examples, across multiple domains, we show that our approach achieves very reasonable performances and outperforms the strongest baseline by an average of over 8.0 BLEU points improvement. Our code and data can be found at

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Fluent Response Generation for Conversational Question Answering
Ashutosh Baheti | Alan Ritter | Kevin Small

Question answering (QA) is an important aspect of open-domain conversational agents, garnering specific research focus in the conversational QA (ConvQA) subtask. One notable limitation of recent ConvQA efforts is the response being answer span extraction from the target corpus, thus ignoring the natural language generation (NLG) aspect of high-quality conversational agents. In this work, we propose a method for situating QA responses within a SEQ2SEQ NLG approach to generate fluent grammatical answer responses while maintaining correctness. From a technical perspective, we use data augmentation to generate training data for an end-to-end system. Specifically, we develop Syntactic Transformations (STs) to produce question-specific candidate answer responses and rank them using a BERT-based classifier (Devlin et al., 2019). Human evaluation on SQuAD 2.0 data (Rajpurkar et al., 2018) demonstrate that the proposed model outperforms baseline CoQA and QuAC models in generating conversational responses. We further show our model’s scalability by conducting tests on the CoQA dataset. The code and data are available at

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Generating Diverse and Consistent QA pairs from Contexts with Information-Maximizing Hierarchical Conditional VAEs
Dong Bok Lee | Seanie Lee | Woo Tae Jeong | Donghwan Kim | Sung Ju Hwang

One of the most crucial challenges in question answering (QA) is the scarcity of labeled data, since it is costly to obtain question-answer (QA) pairs for a target text domain with human annotation. An alternative approach to tackle the problem is to use automatically generated QA pairs from either the problem context or from large amount of unstructured texts (e.g. Wikipedia). In this work, we propose a hierarchical conditional variational autoencoder (HCVAE) for generating QA pairs given unstructured texts as contexts, while maximizing the mutual information between generated QA pairs to ensure their consistency. We validate our Information Maximizing Hierarchical Conditional Variational AutoEncoder (Info-HCVAE) on several benchmark datasets by evaluating the performance of the QA model (BERT-base) using only the generated QA pairs (QA-based evaluation) or by using both the generated and human-labeled pairs (semi-supervised learning) for training, against state-of-the-art baseline models. The results show that our model obtains impressive performance gains over all baselines on both tasks, using only a fraction of data for training.

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Learning to Ask More: Semi-Autoregressive Sequential Question Generation under Dual-Graph Interaction
Zi Chai | Xiaojun Wan

Traditional Question Generation (TQG) aims to generate a question given an input passage and an answer. When there is a sequence of answers, we can perform Sequential Question Generation (SQG) to produce a series of interconnected questions. Since the frequently occurred information omission and coreference between questions, SQG is rather challenging. Prior works regarded SQG as a dialog generation task and recurrently produced each question. However, they suffered from problems caused by error cascades and could only capture limited context dependencies. To this end, we generate questions in a semi-autoregressive way. Our model divides questions into different groups and generates each group of them in parallel. During this process, it builds two graphs focusing on information from passages, answers respectively and performs dual-graph interaction to get information for generation. Besides, we design an answer-aware attention mechanism and the coarse-to-fine generation scenario. Experiments on our new dataset containing 81.9K questions show that our model substantially outperforms prior works.

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Neural Syntactic Preordering for Controlled Paraphrase Generation
Tanya Goyal | Greg Durrett

Paraphrasing natural language sentences is a multifaceted process: it might involve replacing individual words or short phrases, local rearrangement of content, or high-level restructuring like topicalization or passivization. Past approaches struggle to cover this space of paraphrase possibilities in an interpretable manner. Our work, inspired by pre-ordering literature in machine translation, uses syntactic transformations to softly “reorder” the source sentence and guide our neural paraphrasing model. First, given an input sentence, we derive a set of feasible syntactic rearrangements using an encoder-decoder model. This model operates over a partially lexical, partially syntactic view of the sentence and can reorder big chunks. Next, we use each proposed rearrangement to produce a sequence of position embeddings, which encourages our final encoder-decoder paraphrase model to attend to the source words in a particular order. Our evaluation, both automatic and human, shows that the proposed system retains the quality of the baseline approaches while giving a substantial increase in the diversity of the generated paraphrases.

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Pre-train and Plug-in: Flexible Conditional Text Generation with Variational Auto-Encoders
Yu Duan | Canwen Xu | Jiaxin Pei | Jialong Han | Chenliang Li

Conditional Text Generation has drawn much attention as a topic of Natural Language Generation (NLG) which provides the possibility for humans to control the properties of generated contents. Current conditional generation models cannot handle emerging conditions due to their joint end-to-end learning fashion. When a new condition added, these techniques require full retraining. In this paper, we present a new framework named Pre-train and Plug-in Variational Auto-Encoder (PPVAE) towards flexible conditional text generation. PPVAE decouples the text generation module from the condition representation module to allow “one-to-many” conditional generation. When a fresh condition emerges, only a lightweight network needs to be trained and works as a plug-in for PPVAE, which is efficient and desirable for real-world applications. Extensive experiments demonstrate the superiority of PPVAE against the existing alternatives with better conditionality and diversity but less training effort.

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Probabilistically Masked Language Model Capable of Autoregressive Generation in Arbitrary Word Order
Yi Liao | Xin Jiang | Qun Liu

Masked language model and autoregressive language model are two types of language models. While pretrained masked language models such as BERT overwhelm the line of natural language understanding (NLU) tasks, autoregressive language models such as GPT are especially capable in natural language generation (NLG). In this paper, we propose a probabilistic masking scheme for the masked language model, which we call probabilistically masked language model (PMLM). We implement a specific PMLM with a uniform prior distribution on the masking ratio named u-PMLM. We prove that u-PMLM is equivalent to an autoregressive permutated language model. One main advantage of the model is that it supports text generation in arbitrary order with surprisingly good quality, which could potentially enable new applications over traditional unidirectional generation. Besides, the pretrained u-PMLM also outperforms BERT on a bunch of downstream NLU tasks.

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Reverse Engineering Configurations of Neural Text Generation Models
Yi Tay | Dara Bahri | Che Zheng | Clifford Brunk | Donald Metzler | Andrew Tomkins

Recent advances in neural text generation modeling have resulted in a number of societal concerns related to how such approaches might be used in malicious ways. It is therefore desirable to develop a deeper understanding of the fundamental properties of such models. The study of artifacts that emerge in machine generated text as a result of modeling choices is a nascent research area. To this end, the extent and degree to which these artifacts surface in generated text is still unclear. In the spirit of better understanding generative text models and their artifacts, we propose the new task of distinguishing which of several variants of a given model generated some piece of text. Specifically, we conduct an extensive suite of diagnostic tests to observe whether modeling choices (e.g., sampling methods, top-k probabilities, model architectures, etc.) leave detectable artifacts in the text they generate. Our key finding, which is backed by a rigorous set of experiments, is that such artifacts are present and that different modeling choices can be inferred by looking at generated text alone. This suggests that neural text generators may actually be more sensitive to various modeling choices than previously thought.

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Review-based Question Generation with Adaptive Instance Transfer and Augmentation
Qian Yu | Lidong Bing | Qiong Zhang | Wai Lam | Luo Si

While online reviews of products and services become an important information source, it remains inefficient for potential consumers to exploit verbose reviews for fulfilling their information need. We propose to explore question generation as a new way of review information exploitation, namely generating questions that can be answered by the corresponding review sentences. One major challenge of this generation task is the lack of training data, i.e. explicit mapping relation between the user-posed questions and review sentences. To obtain proper training instances for the generation model, we propose an iterative learning framework with adaptive instance transfer and augmentation. To generate to the point questions about the major aspects in reviews, related features extracted in an unsupervised manner are incorporated without the burden of aspect annotation. Experiments on data from various categories of a popular E-commerce site demonstrate the effectiveness of the framework, as well as the potentials of the proposed review-based question generation task.

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TAG : Type Auxiliary Guiding for Code Comment Generation
Ruichu Cai | Zhihao Liang | Boyan Xu | Zijian Li | Yuexing Hao | Yao Chen

Existing leading code comment generation approaches with the structure-to-sequence framework ignores the type information of the interpretation of the code, e.g., operator, string, etc. However, introducing the type information into the existing framework is non-trivial due to the hierarchical dependence among the type information. In order to address the issues above, we propose a Type Auxiliary Guiding encoder-decoder framework for the code comment generation task which considers the source code as an N-ary tree with type information associated with each node. Specifically, our framework is featured with a Type-associated Encoder and a Type-restricted Decoder which enables adaptive summarization of the source code. We further propose a hierarchical reinforcement learning method to resolve the training difficulties of our proposed framework. Extensive evaluations demonstrate the state-of-the-art performance of our framework with both the auto-evaluated metrics and case studies.

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Unsupervised Paraphrasing by Simulated Annealing
Xianggen Liu | Lili Mou | Fandong Meng | Hao Zhou | Jie Zhou | Sen Song

We propose UPSA, a novel approach that accomplishes Unsupervised Paraphrasing by Simulated Annealing. We model paraphrase generation as an optimization problem and propose a sophisticated objective function, involving semantic similarity, expression diversity, and language fluency of paraphrases. UPSA searches the sentence space towards this objective by performing a sequence of local editing. We evaluate our approach on various datasets, namely, Quora, Wikianswers, MSCOCO, and Twitter. Extensive results show that UPSA achieves the state-of-the-art performance compared with previous unsupervised methods in terms of both automatic and human evaluations. Further, our approach outperforms most existing domain-adapted supervised models, showing the generalizability of UPSA.

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A Joint Model for Document Segmentation and Segment Labeling
Joe Barrow | Rajiv Jain | Vlad Morariu | Varun Manjunatha | Douglas Oard | Philip Resnik

Text segmentation aims to uncover latent structure by dividing text from a document into coherent sections. Where previous work on text segmentation considers the tasks of document segmentation and segment labeling separately, we show that the tasks contain complementary information and are best addressed jointly. We introduce Segment Pooling LSTM (S-LSTM), which is capable of jointly segmenting a document and labeling segments. In support of joint training, we develop a method for teaching the model to recover from errors by aligning the predicted and ground truth segments. We show that S-LSTM reduces segmentation error by 30% on average, while also improving segment labeling.

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Contextualized Weak Supervision for Text Classification
Dheeraj Mekala | Jingbo Shang

Weakly supervised text classification based on a few user-provided seed words has recently attracted much attention from researchers. Existing methods mainly generate pseudo-labels in a context-free manner (e.g., string matching), therefore, the ambiguous, context-dependent nature of human language has been long overlooked. In this paper, we propose a novel framework ConWea, providing contextualized weak supervision for text classification. Specifically, we leverage contextualized representations of word occurrences and seed word information to automatically differentiate multiple interpretations of the same word, and thus create a contextualized corpus. This contextualized corpus is further utilized to train the classifier and expand seed words in an iterative manner. This process not only adds new contextualized, highly label-indicative keywords but also disambiguates initial seed words, making our weak supervision fully contextualized. Extensive experiments and case studies on real-world datasets demonstrate the necessity and significant advantages of using contextualized weak supervision, especially when the class labels are fine-grained.

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Every Document Owns Its Structure: Inductive Text Classification via Graph Neural Networks
Yufeng Zhang | Xueli Yu | Zeyu Cui | Shu Wu | Zhongzhen Wen | Liang Wang

Text classification is fundamental in natural language processing (NLP) and Graph Neural Networks (GNN) are recently applied in this task. However, the existing graph-based works can neither capture the contextual word relationships within each document nor fulfil the inductive learning of new words. Therefore in this work, to overcome such problems, we propose TextING for inductive text classification via GNN. We first build individual graphs for each document and then use GNN to learn the fine-grained word representations based on their local structure, which can also effectively produce embeddings for unseen words in the new document. Finally, the word nodes are aggregated as the document embedding. Extensive experiments on four benchmark datasets show that our method outperforms state-of-the-art text classification methods.

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Neural Topic Modeling with Bidirectional Adversarial Training
Rui Wang | Xuemeng Hu | Deyu Zhou | Yulan He | Yuxuan Xiong | Chenchen Ye | Haiyang Xu

Recent years have witnessed a surge of interests of using neural topic models for automatic topic extraction from text, since they avoid the complicated mathematical derivations for model inference as in traditional topic models such as Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA). However, these models either typically assume improper prior (e.g. Gaussian or Logistic Normal) over latent topic space or could not infer topic distribution for a given document. To address these limitations, we propose a neural topic modeling approach, called Bidirectional Adversarial Topic (BAT) model, which represents the first attempt of applying bidirectional adversarial training for neural topic modeling. The proposed BAT builds a two-way projection between the document-topic distribution and the document-word distribution. It uses a generator to capture the semantic patterns from texts and an encoder for topic inference. Furthermore, to incorporate word relatedness information, the Bidirectional Adversarial Topic model with Gaussian (Gaussian-BAT) is extended from BAT. To verify the effectiveness of BAT and Gaussian-BAT, three benchmark corpora are used in our experiments. The experimental results show that BAT and Gaussian-BAT obtain more coherent topics, outperforming several competitive baselines. Moreover, when performing text clustering based on the extracted topics, our models outperform all the baselines, with more significant improvements achieved by Gaussian-BAT where an increase of near 6% is observed in accuracy.

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Text Classification with Negative Supervision
Sora Ohashi | Junya Takayama | Tomoyuki Kajiwara | Chenhui Chu | Yuki Arase

Advanced pre-trained models for text representation have achieved state-of-the-art performance on various text classification tasks. However, the discrepancy between the semantic similarity of texts and labelling standards affects classifiers, i.e. leading to lower performance in cases where classifiers should assign different labels to semantically similar texts. To address this problem, we propose a simple multitask learning model that uses negative supervision. Specifically, our model encourages texts with different labels to have distinct representations. Comprehensive experiments show that our model outperforms the state-of-the-art pre-trained model on both single- and multi-label classifications, sentence and document classifications, and classifications in three different languages.

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Content Word Aware Neural Machine Translation
Kehai Chen | Rui Wang | Masao Utiyama | Eiichiro Sumita

Neural machine translation (NMT) encodes the source sentence in a universal way to generate the target sentence word-by-word. However, NMT does not consider the importance of word in the sentence meaning, for example, some words (i.e., content words) express more important meaning than others (i.e., function words). To address this limitation, we first utilize word frequency information to distinguish between content and function words in a sentence, and then design a content word-aware NMT to improve translation performance. Empirical results on the WMT14 English-to-German, WMT14 English-to-French, and WMT17 Chinese-to-English translation tasks show that the proposed methods can significantly improve the performance of Transformer-based NMT.

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Evaluating Explanation Methods for Neural Machine Translation
Jierui Li | Lemao Liu | Huayang Li | Guanlin Li | Guoping Huang | Shuming Shi

Recently many efforts have been devoted to interpreting the black-box NMT models, but little progress has been made on metrics to evaluate explanation methods. Word Alignment Error Rate can be used as such a metric that matches human understanding, however, it can not measure explanation methods on those target words that are not aligned to any source word. This paper thereby makes an initial attempt to evaluate explanation methods from an alternative viewpoint. To this end, it proposes a principled metric based on fidelity in regard to the predictive behavior of the NMT model. As the exact computation for this metric is intractable, we employ an efficient approach as its approximation. On six standard translation tasks, we quantitatively evaluate several explanation methods in terms of the proposed metric and we reveal some valuable findings for these explanation methods in our experiments.

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Jointly Masked Sequence-to-Sequence Model for Non-Autoregressive Neural Machine Translation
Junliang Guo | Linli Xu | Enhong Chen

The masked language model has received remarkable attention due to its effectiveness on various natural language processing tasks. However, few works have adopted this technique in the sequence-to-sequence models. In this work, we introduce a jointly masked sequence-to-sequence model and explore its application on non-autoregressive neural machine translation~(NAT). Specifically, we first empirically study the functionalities of the encoder and the decoder in NAT models, and find that the encoder takes a more important role than the decoder regarding the translation quality. Therefore, we propose to train the encoder more rigorously by masking the encoder input while training. As for the decoder, we propose to train it based on the consecutive masking of the decoder input with an n-gram loss function to alleviate the problem of translating duplicate words. The two types of masks are applied to the model jointly at the training stage. We conduct experiments on five benchmark machine translation tasks, and our model can achieve 27.69/32.24 BLEU scores on WMT14 English-German/German-English tasks with 5+ times speed up compared with an autoregressive model.

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Learning Source Phrase Representations for Neural Machine Translation
Hongfei Xu | Josef van Genabith | Deyi Xiong | Qiuhui Liu | Jingyi Zhang

The Transformer translation model (Vaswani et al., 2017) based on a multi-head attention mechanism can be computed effectively in parallel and has significantly pushed forward the performance of Neural Machine Translation (NMT). Though intuitively the attentional network can connect distant words via shorter network paths than RNNs, empirical analysis demonstrates that it still has difficulty in fully capturing long-distance dependencies (Tang et al., 2018). Considering that modeling phrases instead of words has significantly improved the Statistical Machine Translation (SMT) approach through the use of larger translation blocks (“phrases”) and its reordering ability, modeling NMT at phrase level is an intuitive proposal to help the model capture long-distance relationships. In this paper, we first propose an attentive phrase representation generation mechanism which is able to generate phrase representations from corresponding token representations. In addition, we incorporate the generated phrase representations into the Transformer translation model to enhance its ability to capture long-distance relationships. In our experiments, we obtain significant improvements on the WMT 14 English-German and English-French tasks on top of the strong Transformer baseline, which shows the effectiveness of our approach. Our approach helps Transformer Base models perform at the level of Transformer Big models, and even significantly better for long sentences, but with substantially fewer parameters and training steps. The fact that phrase representations help even in the big setting further supports our conjecture that they make a valuable contribution to long-distance relations.

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Lipschitz Constrained Parameter Initialization for Deep Transformers
Hongfei Xu | Qiuhui Liu | Josef van Genabith | Deyi Xiong | Jingyi Zhang

The Transformer translation model employs residual connection and layer normalization to ease the optimization difficulties caused by its multi-layer encoder/decoder structure. Previous research shows that even with residual connection and layer normalization, deep Transformers still have difficulty in training, and particularly Transformer models with more than 12 encoder/decoder layers fail to converge. In this paper, we first empirically demonstrate that a simple modification made in the official implementation, which changes the computation order of residual connection and layer normalization, can significantly ease the optimization of deep Transformers. We then compare the subtle differences in computation order in considerable detail, and present a parameter initialization method that leverages the Lipschitz constraint on the initialization of Transformer parameters that effectively ensures training convergence. In contrast to findings in previous research we further demonstrate that with Lipschitz parameter initialization, deep Transformers with the original computation order can converge, and obtain significant BLEU improvements with up to 24 layers. In contrast to previous research which focuses on deep encoders, our approach additionally enables Transformers to also benefit from deep decoders.

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Location Attention for Extrapolation to Longer Sequences
Yann Dubois | Gautier Dagan | Dieuwke Hupkes | Elia Bruni

Neural networks are surprisingly good at interpolating and perform remarkably well when the training set examples resemble those in the test set. However, they are often unable to extrapolate patterns beyond the seen data, even when the abstractions required for such patterns are simple. In this paper, we first review the notion of extrapolation, why it is important and how one could hope to tackle it. We then focus on a specific type of extrapolation which is especially useful for natural language processing: generalization to sequences that are longer than the training ones. We hypothesize that models with a separate content- and location-based attention are more likely to extrapolate than those with common attention mechanisms. We empirically support our claim for recurrent seq2seq models with our proposed attention on variants of the Lookup Table task. This sheds light on some striking failures of neural models for sequences and on possible methods to approaching such issues.

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Multiscale Collaborative Deep Models for Neural Machine Translation
Xiangpeng Wei | Heng Yu | Yue Hu | Yue Zhang | Rongxiang Weng | Weihua Luo

Recent evidence reveals that Neural Machine Translation (NMT) models with deeper neural networks can be more effective but are difficult to train. In this paper, we present a MultiScale Collaborative (MSC) framework to ease the training of NMT models that are substantially deeper than those used previously. We explicitly boost the gradient back-propagation from top to bottom levels by introducing a block-scale collaboration mechanism into deep NMT models. Then, instead of forcing the whole encoder stack directly learns a desired representation, we let each encoder block learns a fine-grained representation and enhance it by encoding spatial dependencies using a context-scale collaboration. We provide empirical evidence showing that the MSC nets are easy to optimize and can obtain improvements of translation quality from considerably increased depth. On IWSLT translation tasks with three translation directions, our extremely deep models (with 72-layer encoders) surpass strong baselines by +2.2 +3.1 BLEU points. In addition, our deep MSC achieves a BLEU score of 30.56 on WMT14 English-to-German task that significantly outperforms state-of-the-art deep NMT models. We have included the source code in supplementary materials.

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Norm-Based Curriculum Learning for Neural Machine Translation
Xuebo Liu | Houtim Lai | Derek F. Wong | Lidia S. Chao

A neural machine translation (NMT) system is expensive to train, especially with high-resource settings. As the NMT architectures become deeper and wider, this issue gets worse and worse. In this paper, we aim to improve the efficiency of training an NMT by introducing a novel norm-based curriculum learning method. We use the norm (aka length or module) of a word embedding as a measure of 1) the difficulty of the sentence, 2) the competence of the model, and 3) the weight of the sentence. The norm-based sentence difficulty takes the advantages of both linguistically motivated and model-based sentence difficulties. It is easy to determine and contains learning-dependent features. The norm-based model competence makes NMT learn the curriculum in a fully automated way, while the norm-based sentence weight further enhances the learning of the vector representation of the NMT. Experimental results for the WMT’14 English-German and WMT’17 Chinese-English translation tasks demonstrate that the proposed method outperforms strong baselines in terms of BLEU score (+1.17/+1.56) and training speedup (2.22x/3.33x).

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Opportunistic Decoding with Timely Correction for Simultaneous Translation
Renjie Zheng | Mingbo Ma | Baigong Zheng | Kaibo Liu | Liang Huang

Simultaneous translation has many important application scenarios and attracts much attention from both academia and industry recently. Most existing frameworks, however, have difficulties in balancing between the translation quality and latency, i.e., the decoding policy is usually either too aggressive or too conservative. We propose an opportunistic decoding technique with timely correction ability, which always (over-)generates a certain mount of extra words at each step to keep the audience on track with the latest information. At the same time, it also corrects, in a timely fashion, the mistakes in the former overgenerated words when observing more source context to ensure high translation quality. Experiments show our technique achieves substantial reduction in latency and up to +3.1 increase in BLEU, with revision rate under 8% in Chinese-to-English and English-to-Chinese translation.

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A Formal Hierarchy of RNN Architectures
William Merrill | Gail Weiss | Yoav Goldberg | Roy Schwartz | Noah A. Smith | Eran Yahav

We develop a formal hierarchy of the expressive capacity of RNN architectures. The hierarchy is based on two formal properties: space complexity, which measures the RNN’s memory, and rational recurrence, defined as whether the recurrent update can be described by a weighted finite-state machine. We place several RNN variants within this hierarchy. For example, we prove the LSTM is not rational, which formally separates it from the related QRNN (Bradbury et al., 2016). We also show how these models’ expressive capacity is expanded by stacking multiple layers or composing them with different pooling functions. Our results build on the theory of “saturated” RNNs (Merrill, 2019). While formally extending these findings to unsaturated RNNs is left to future work, we hypothesize that the practical learnable capacity of unsaturated RNNs obeys a similar hierarchy. We provide empirical results to support this conjecture. Experimental findings from training unsaturated networks on formal languages support this conjecture.

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A Three-Parameter Rank-Frequency Relation in Natural Languages
Chenchen Ding | Masao Utiyama | Eiichiro Sumita

We present that, the rank-frequency relation in textual data follows f ∝ r-𝛼(r+𝛾)-𝛽, where f is the token frequency and r is the rank by frequency, with (𝛼, 𝛽, 𝛾) as parameters. The formulation is derived based on the empirical observation that d2 (x+y)/dx2 is a typical impulse function, where (x,y)=(log r, log f). The formulation is the power law when 𝛽=0 and the Zipf–Mandelbrot law when 𝛼=0. We illustrate that 𝛼 is related to the analytic features of syntax and 𝛽+𝛾 to those of morphology in natural languages from an investigation of multilingual corpora.

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Dice Loss for Data-imbalanced NLP Tasks
Xiaoya Li | Xiaofei Sun | Yuxian Meng | Junjun Liang | Fei Wu | Jiwei Li

Many NLP tasks such as tagging and machine reading comprehension are faced with the severe data imbalance issue: negative examples significantly outnumber positive examples, and the huge number of easy-negative examples overwhelms the training. The most commonly used cross entropy (CE) criteria is actually an accuracy-oriented objective, and thus creates a discrepancy between training and test: at training time, each training instance contributes equally to the objective function, while at test time F1 score concerns more about positive examples. In this paper, we propose to use dice loss in replacement of the standard cross-entropy objective for data-imbalanced NLP tasks. Dice loss is based on the Sørensen–Dice coefficient or Tversky index , which attaches similar importance to false positives and false negatives, and is more immune to the data-imbalance issue. To further alleviate the dominating influence from easy-negative examples in training, we propose to associate training examples with dynamically adjusted weights to deemphasize easy-negative examples. Theoretical analysis shows that this strategy narrows down the gap between the F1 score in evaluation and the dice loss in training. With the proposed training objective, we observe significant performance boost on a wide range of data imbalanced NLP tasks. Notably, we are able to achieve SOTA results on CTB5, CTB6 and UD1.4 for the part of speech tagging task; SOTA results on CoNLL03, OntoNotes5.0, MSRA and OntoNotes4.0 for the named entity recognition task; along with competitive results on the tasks of machine reading comprehension and paraphrase identification.

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Emergence of Syntax Needs Minimal Supervision
Raphaël Bailly | Kata Gábor

This paper is a theoretical contribution to the debate on the learnability of syntax from a corpus without explicit syntax-specific guidance. Our approach originates in the observable structure of a corpus, which we use to define and isolate grammaticality (syntactic information) and meaning/pragmatics information. We describe the formal characteristics of an autonomous syntax and show that it becomes possible to search for syntax-based lexical categories with a simple optimization process, without any prior hypothesis on the form of the model.

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Language Models as an Alternative Evaluator of Word Order Hypotheses: A Case Study in Japanese
Tatsuki Kuribayashi | Takumi Ito | Jun Suzuki | Kentaro Inui

We examine a methodology using neural language models (LMs) for analyzing the word order of language. This LM-based method has the potential to overcome the difficulties existing methods face, such as the propagation of preprocessor errors in count-based methods. In this study, we explore whether the LM-based method is valid for analyzing the word order. As a case study, this study focuses on Japanese due to its complex and flexible word order. To validate the LM-based method, we test (i) parallels between LMs and human word order preference, and (ii) consistency of the results obtained using the LM-based method with previous linguistic studies. Through our experiments, we tentatively conclude that LMs display sufficient word order knowledge for usage as an analysis tool. Finally, using the LM-based method, we demonstrate the relationship between the canonical word order and topicalization, which had yet to be analyzed by large-scale experiments.

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GCAN: Graph-aware Co-Attention Networks for Explainable Fake News Detection on Social Media
Yi-Ju Lu | Cheng-Te Li

This paper solves the fake news detection problem under a more realistic scenario on social media. Given the source short-text tweet and the corresponding sequence of retweet users without text comments, we aim at predicting whether the source tweet is fake or not, and generating explanation by highlighting the evidences on suspicious retweeters and the words they concern. We develop a novel neural network-based model, Graph-aware Co-Attention Networks (GCAN), to achieve the goal. Extensive experiments conducted on real tweet datasets exhibit that GCAN can significantly outperform state-of-the-art methods by 16% in accuracy on average. In addition, the case studies also show that GCAN can produce reasonable explanations.

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Integrating Semantic and Structural Information with Graph Convolutional Network for Controversy Detection
Lei Zhong | Juan Cao | Qiang Sheng | Junbo Guo | Ziang Wang

Identifying controversial posts on social media is a fundamental task for mining public sentiment, assessing the influence of events, and alleviating the polarized views. However, existing methods fail to 1) effectively incorporate the semantic information from content-related posts; 2) preserve the structural information for reply relationship modeling; 3) properly handle posts from topics dissimilar to those in the training set. To overcome the first two limitations, we propose Topic-Post-Comment Graph Convolutional Network (TPC-GCN), which integrates the information from the graph structure and content of topics, posts, and comments for post-level controversy detection. As to the third limitation, we extend our model to Disentangled TPC-GCN (DTPC-GCN), to disentangle topic-related and topic-unrelated features and then fuse dynamically. Extensive experiments on two real-world datasets demonstrate that our models outperform existing methods. Analysis of the results and cases proves that our models can integrate both semantic and structural information with significant generalizability.

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Predicting the Topical Stance and Political Leaning of Media using Tweets
Peter Stefanov | Kareem Darwish | Atanas Atanasov | Preslav Nakov

Discovering the stances of media outlets and influential people on current, debatable topics is important for social statisticians and policy makers. Many supervised solutions exist for determining viewpoints, but manually annotating training data is costly. In this paper, we propose a cascaded method that uses unsupervised learning to ascertain the stance of Twitter users with respect to a polarizing topic by leveraging their retweet behavior; then, it uses supervised learning based on user labels to characterize both the general political leaning of online media and of popular Twitter users, as well as their stance with respect to the target polarizing topic. We evaluate the model by comparing its predictions to gold labels from the Media Bias/Fact Check website, achieving 82.6% accuracy.

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Simple, Interpretable and Stable Method for Detecting Words with Usage Change across Corpora
Hila Gonen | Ganesh Jawahar | Djamé Seddah | Yoav Goldberg

The problem of comparing two bodies of text and searching for words that differ in their usage between them arises often in digital humanities and computational social science. This is commonly approached by training word embeddings on each corpus, aligning the vector spaces, and looking for words whose cosine distance in the aligned space is large. However, these methods often require extensive filtering of the vocabulary to perform well, and - as we show in this work - result in unstable, and hence less reliable, results. We propose an alternative approach that does not use vector space alignment, and instead considers the neighbors of each word. The method is simple, interpretable and stable. We demonstrate its effectiveness in 9 different setups, considering different corpus splitting criteria (age, gender and profession of tweet authors, time of tweet) and different languages (English, French and Hebrew).

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CDL: Curriculum Dual Learning for Emotion-Controllable Response Generation
Lei Shen | Yang Feng

Emotion-controllable response generation is an attractive and valuable task that aims to make open-domain conversations more empathetic and engaging. Existing methods mainly enhance the emotion expression by adding regularization terms to standard cross-entropy loss and thus influence the training process. However, due to the lack of further consideration of content consistency, the common problem of response generation tasks, safe response, is intensified. Besides, query emotions that can help model the relationship between query and response are simply ignored in previous models, which would further hurt the coherence. To alleviate these problems, we propose a novel framework named Curriculum Dual Learning (CDL) which extends the emotion-controllable response generation to a dual task to generate emotional responses and emotional queries alternatively. CDL utilizes two rewards focusing on emotion and content to improve the duality. Additionally, it applies curriculum learning to gradually generate high-quality responses based on the difficulties of expressing various emotions. Experimental results show that CDL significantly outperforms the baselines in terms of coherence, diversity, and relation to emotion factors.

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Efficient Dialogue State Tracking by Selectively Overwriting Memory
Sungdong Kim | Sohee Yang | Gyuwan Kim | Sang-Woo Lee

Recent works in dialogue state tracking (DST) focus on an open vocabulary-based setting to resolve scalability and generalization issues of the predefined ontology-based approaches. However, they are inefficient in that they predict the dialogue state at every turn from scratch. Here, we consider dialogue state as an explicit fixed-sized memory and propose a selectively overwriting mechanism for more efficient DST. This mechanism consists of two steps: (1) predicting state operation on each of the memory slots, and (2) overwriting the memory with new values, of which only a few are generated according to the predicted state operations. Our method decomposes DST into two sub-tasks and guides the decoder to focus only on one of the tasks, thus reducing the burden of the decoder. This enhances the effectiveness of training and DST performance. Our SOM-DST (Selectively Overwriting Memory for Dialogue State Tracking) model achieves state-of-the-art joint goal accuracy with 51.72% in MultiWOZ 2.0 and 53.01% in MultiWOZ 2.1 in an open vocabulary-based DST setting. In addition, we analyze the accuracy gaps between the current and the ground truth-given situations and suggest that it is a promising direction to improve state operation prediction to boost the DST performance.

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End-to-End Neural Pipeline for Goal-Oriented Dialogue Systems using GPT-2
Donghoon Ham | Jeong-Gwan Lee | Youngsoo Jang | Kee-Eung Kim

The goal-oriented dialogue system needs to be optimized for tracking the dialogue flow and carrying out an effective conversation under various situations to meet the user goal. The traditional approach to build such a dialogue system is to take a pipelined modular architecture, where its modules are optimized individually. However, such an optimization scheme does not necessarily yield the overall performance improvement of the whole system. On the other hand, end-to-end dialogue systems with monolithic neural architecture are often trained only with input-output utterances, without taking into account the entire annotations available in the corpus. This scheme makes it difficult for goal-oriented dialogues where the system needs to integrate with external systems or to provide interpretable information about why the system generated a particular response. In this paper, we present an end-to-end neural architecture for dialogue systems that addresses both challenges above. In the human evaluation, our dialogue system achieved the success rate of 68.32%, the language understanding score of 4.149, and the response appropriateness score of 4.287, which ranked the system at the top position in the end-to-end multi-domain dialogue system task in the 8th dialogue systems technology challenge (DSTC8).

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Evaluating Dialogue Generation Systems via Response Selection
Shiki Sato | Reina Akama | Hiroki Ouchi | Jun Suzuki | Kentaro Inui

Existing automatic evaluation metrics for open-domain dialogue response generation systems correlate poorly with human evaluation. We focus on evaluating response generation systems via response selection. To evaluate systems properly via response selection, we propose a method to construct response selection test sets with well-chosen false candidates. Specifically, we propose to construct test sets filtering out some types of false candidates: (i) those unrelated to the ground-truth response and (ii) those acceptable as appropriate responses. Through experiments, we demonstrate that evaluating systems via response selection with the test set developed by our method correlates more strongly with human evaluation, compared with widely used automatic evaluation metrics such as BLEU.

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Gated Convolutional Bidirectional Attention-based Model for Off-topic Spoken Response Detection
Yefei Zha | Ruobing Li | Hui Lin

Off-topic spoken response detection, the task aiming at predicting whether a response is off-topic for the corresponding prompt, is important for an automated speaking assessment system. In many real-world educational applications, off-topic spoken response detectors are required to achieve high recall for off-topic responses not only on seen prompts but also on prompts that are unseen during training. In this paper, we propose a novel approach for off-topic spoken response detection with high off-topic recall on both seen and unseen prompts. We introduce a new model, Gated Convolutional Bidirectional Attention-based Model (GCBiA), which applies bi-attention mechanism and convolutions to extract topic words of prompts and key-phrases of responses, and introduces gated unit and residual connections between major layers to better represent the relevance of responses and prompts. Moreover, a new negative sampling method is proposed to augment training data. Experiment results demonstrate that our novel approach can achieve significant improvements in detecting off-topic responses with extremely high on-topic recall, for both seen and unseen prompts.

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Learning Low-Resource End-To-End Goal-Oriented Dialog for Fast and Reliable System Deployment
Yinpei Dai | Hangyu Li | Chengguang Tang | Yongbin Li | Jian Sun | Xiaodan Zhu

Existing end-to-end dialog systems perform less effectively when data is scarce. To obtain an acceptable success in real-life online services with only a handful of training examples, both fast adaptability and reliable performance are highly desirable for dialog systems. In this paper, we propose the Meta-Dialog System (MDS), which combines the advantages of both meta-learning approaches and human-machine collaboration. We evaluate our methods on a new extended-bAbI dataset and a transformed MultiWOZ dataset for low-resource goal-oriented dialog learning. Experimental results show that MDS significantly outperforms non-meta-learning baselines and can achieve more than 90% per-turn accuracies with only 10 dialogs on the extended-bAbI dataset.

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Learning to Tag OOV Tokens by Integrating Contextual Representation and Background Knowledge
Keqing He | Yuanmeng Yan | Weiran Xu

Neural-based context-aware models for slot tagging have achieved state-of-the-art performance. However, the presence of OOV(out-of-vocab) words significantly degrades the performance of neural-based models, especially in a few-shot scenario. In this paper, we propose a novel knowledge-enhanced slot tagging model to integrate contextual representation of input text and the large-scale lexical background knowledge. Besides, we use multi-level graph attention to explicitly model lexical relations. The experiments show that our proposed knowledge integration mechanism achieves consistent improvements across settings with different sizes of training data on two public benchmark datasets.

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Multi-Agent Task-Oriented Dialog Policy Learning with Role-Aware Reward Decomposition
Ryuichi Takanobu | Runze Liang | Minlie Huang

Many studies have applied reinforcement learning to train a dialog policy and show great promise these years. One common approach is to employ a user simulator to obtain a large number of simulated user experiences for reinforcement learning algorithms. However, modeling a realistic user simulator is challenging. A rule-based simulator requires heavy domain expertise for complex tasks, and a data-driven simulator requires considerable data and it is even unclear how to evaluate a simulator. To avoid explicitly building a user simulator beforehand, we propose Multi-Agent Dialog Policy Learning, which regards both the system and the user as the dialog agents. Two agents interact with each other and are jointly learned simultaneously. The method uses the actor-critic framework to facilitate pretraining and improve scalability. We also propose Hybrid Value Network for the role-aware reward decomposition to integrate role-specific domain knowledge of each agent in the task-oriented dialog. Results show that our method can successfully build a system policy and a user policy simultaneously, and two agents can achieve a high task success rate through conversational interaction.

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Paraphrase Augmented Task-Oriented Dialog Generation
Silin Gao | Yichi Zhang | Zhijian Ou | Zhou Yu

Neural generative models have achieved promising performance on dialog generation tasks if given a huge data set. However, the lack of high-quality dialog data and the expensive data annotation process greatly limit their application in real world settings. We propose a paraphrase augmented response generation (PARG) framework that jointly trains a paraphrase model and a response generation model to improve the dialog generation performance. We also design a method to automatically construct paraphrase training data set based on dialog state and dialog act labels. PARG is applicable to various dialog generation models, such as TSCP (Lei et al., 2018) and DAMD (Zhang et al., 2019). Experimental results show that the proposed framework improves these state-of-the-art dialog models further on CamRest676 and MultiWOZ. PARG also outperforms other data augmentation methods significantly in dialog generation tasks, especially under low resource settings.

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Response-Anticipated Memory for On-Demand Knowledge Integration in Response Generation
Zhiliang Tian | Wei Bi | Dongkyu Lee | Lanqing Xue | Yiping Song | Xiaojiang Liu | Nevin L. Zhang

Neural conversation models are known to generate appropriate but non-informative responses in general. A scenario where informativeness can be significantly enhanced is Conversing by Reading (CbR), where conversations take place with respect to a given external document. In previous work, the external document is utilized by (1) creating a context-aware document memory that integrates information from the document and the conversational context, and then (2) generating responses referring to the memory. In this paper, we propose to create the document memory with some anticipated responses in mind. This is achieved using a teacher-student framework. The teacher is given the external document, the context, and the ground-truth response, and learns how to build a response-aware document memory from three sources of information. The student learns to construct a response-anticipated document memory from the first two sources, and teacher’s insight on memory creation. Empirical results show that our model outperforms the previous state-of-the-art for the CbR task.

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Semi-Supervised Dialogue Policy Learning via Stochastic Reward Estimation
Xinting Huang | Jianzhong Qi | Yu Sun | Rui Zhang

Dialogue policy optimization often obtains feedback until task completion in task-oriented dialogue systems. This is insufficient for training intermediate dialogue turns since supervision signals (or rewards) are only provided at the end of dialogues. To address this issue, reward learning has been introduced to learn from state-action pairs of an optimal policy to provide turn-by-turn rewards. This approach requires complete state-action annotations of human-to-human dialogues (i.e., expert demonstrations), which is labor intensive. To overcome this limitation, we propose a novel reward learning approach for semi-supervised policy learning. The proposed approach learns a dynamics model as the reward function which models dialogue progress (i.e., state-action sequences) based on expert demonstrations, either with or without annotations. The dynamics model computes rewards by predicting whether the dialogue progress is consistent with expert demonstrations. We further propose to learn action embeddings for a better generalization of the reward function. The proposed approach outperforms competitive policy learning baselines on MultiWOZ, a benchmark multi-domain dataset.

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Towards Unsupervised Language Understanding and Generation by Joint Dual Learning
Shang-Yu Su | Chao-Wei Huang | Yun-Nung Chen

In modular dialogue systems, natural language understanding (NLU) and natural language generation (NLG) are two critical components, where NLU extracts the semantics from the given texts and NLG is to construct corresponding natural language sentences based on the input semantic representations. However, the dual property between understanding and generation has been rarely explored. The prior work is the first attempt that utilized the duality between NLU and NLG to improve the performance via a dual supervised learning framework. However, the prior work still learned both components in a supervised manner; instead, this paper introduces a general learning framework to effectively exploit such duality, providing flexibility of incorporating both supervised and unsupervised learning algorithms to train language understanding and generation models in a joint fashion. The benchmark experiments demonstrate that the proposed approach is capable of boosting the performance of both NLU and NLG. The source code is available at:

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USR: An Unsupervised and Reference Free Evaluation Metric for Dialog Generation
Shikib Mehri | Maxine Eskenazi

The lack of meaningful automatic evaluation metrics for dialog has impeded open-domain dialog research. Standard language generation metrics have been shown to be ineffective for evaluating dialog models. To this end, this paper presents USR, an UnSupervised and Reference-free evaluation metric for dialog. USR is a reference-free metric that trains unsupervised models to measure several desirable qualities of dialog. USR is shown to strongly correlate with human judgment on both Topical-Chat (turn-level: 0.42, system-level: 1.0) and PersonaChat (turn-level: 0.48 and system-level: 1.0). USR additionally produces interpretable measures for several desirable properties of dialog.

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Explicit Semantic Decomposition for Definition Generation
Jiahuan Li | Yu Bao | Shujian Huang | Xinyu Dai | Jiajun Chen

Definition generation, which aims to automatically generate dictionary definitions for words, has recently been proposed to assist the construction of dictionaries and help people understand unfamiliar texts. However, previous works hardly consider explicitly modeling the “components” of definitions, leading to under-specific generation results. In this paper, we propose ESD, namely Explicit Semantic Decomposition for definition Generation, which explicitly decomposes the meaning of words into semantic components, and models them with discrete latent variables for definition generation. Experimental results show that achieves top results on WordNet and Oxford benchmarks, outperforming strong previous baselines.

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Improved Natural Language Generation via Loss Truncation
Daniel Kang | Tatsunori B. Hashimoto

Neural language models are usually trained to match the distributional properties of large-scale corpora by minimizing the log loss. While straightforward to optimize, this approach forces the model to reproduce all variations in the dataset, including noisy and invalid references (e.g., misannotations and hallucinated facts). Even a small fraction of noisy data can degrade the performance of log loss. As an alternative, prior work has shown that minimizing the distinguishability of generated samples is a principled and robust loss that can handle invalid references. However, distinguishability has not been used in practice due to challenges in optimization and estimation. We propose loss truncation: a simple and scalable procedure which adaptively removes high log loss examples as a way to optimize for distinguishability. Empirically, we demonstrate that loss truncation outperforms existing baselines on distinguishability on a summarization task. Furthermore, we show that samples generated by the loss truncation model have factual accuracy ratings that exceed those of baselines and match human references.

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Line Graph Enhanced AMR-to-Text Generation with Mix-Order Graph Attention Networks
Yanbin Zhao | Lu Chen | Zhi Chen | Ruisheng Cao | Su Zhu | Kai Yu

Efficient structure encoding for graphs with labeled edges is an important yet challenging point in many graph-based models. This work focuses on AMR-to-text generation – A graph-to-sequence task aiming to recover natural language from Abstract Meaning Representations (AMR). Existing graph-to-sequence approaches generally utilize graph neural networks as their encoders, which have two limitations: 1) The message propagation process in AMR graphs is only guided by the first-order adjacency information. 2) The relationships between labeled edges are not fully considered. In this work, we propose a novel graph encoding framework which can effectively explore the edge relations. We also adopt graph attention networks with higher-order neighborhood information to encode the rich structure in AMR graphs. Experiment results show that our approach obtains new state-of-the-art performance on English AMR benchmark datasets. The ablation analyses also demonstrate that both edge relations and higher-order information are beneficial to graph-to-sequence modeling.

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Rigid Formats Controlled Text Generation
Piji Li | Haisong Zhang | Xiaojiang Liu | Shuming Shi

Neural text generation has made tremendous progress in various tasks. One common characteristic of most of the tasks is that the texts are not restricted to some rigid formats when generating. However, we may confront some special text paradigms such as Lyrics (assume the music score is given), Sonnet, SongCi (classical Chinese poetry of the Song dynasty), etc. The typical characteristics of these texts are in three folds: (1) They must comply fully with the rigid predefined formats. (2) They must obey some rhyming schemes. (3) Although they are restricted to some formats, the sentence integrity must be guaranteed. To the best of our knowledge, text generation based on the predefined rigid formats has not been well investigated. Therefore, we propose a simple and elegant framework named SongNet to tackle this problem. The backbone of the framework is a Transformer-based auto-regressive language model. Sets of symbols are tailor-designed to improve the modeling performance especially on format, rhyme, and sentence integrity. We improve the attention mechanism to impel the model to capture some future information on the format. A pre-training and fine-tuning framework is designed to further improve the generation quality. Extensive experiments conducted on two collected corpora demonstrate that our proposed framework generates significantly better results in terms of both automatic metrics and the human evaluation.

[RETRACTED] Syn-QG: Syntactic and Shallow Semantic Rules for Question Generation
Kaustubh Dhole | Christopher D. Manning

Question Generation (QG) is fundamentally a simple syntactic transformation; however, many aspects of semantics influence what questions are good to form. We implement this observation by developing Syn-QG, a set of transparent syntactic rules leveraging universal dependencies, shallow semantic parsing, lexical resources, and custom rules which transform declarative sentences into question-answer pairs. We utilize PropBank argument descriptions and VerbNet state predicates to incorporate shallow semantic content, which helps generate questions of a descriptive nature and produce inferential and semantically richer questions than existing systems. In order to improve syntactic fluency and eliminate grammatically incorrect questions, we employ back-translation over the output of these syntactic rules. A set of crowd-sourced evaluations shows that our system can generate a larger number of highly grammatical and relevant questions than previous QG systems and that back-translation drastically improves grammaticality at a slight cost of generating irrelevant questions.

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An Online Semantic-enhanced Dirichlet Model for Short Text Stream Clustering
Jay Kumar | Junming Shao | Salah Uddin | Wazir Ali

Clustering short text streams is a challenging task due to its unique properties: infinite length, sparse data representation and cluster evolution. Existing approaches often exploit short text streams in a batch way. However, determine the optimal batch size is usually a difficult task since we have no priori knowledge when the topics evolve. In addition, traditional independent word representation in graphical model tends to cause “term ambiguity” problem in short text clustering. Therefore, in this paper, we propose an Online Semantic-enhanced Dirichlet Model for short sext stream clustering, called OSDM, which integrates the word-occurance semantic information (i.e., context) into a new graphical model and clusters each arriving short text automatically in an online way. Extensive results have demonstrated that OSDM has better performance compared to many state-of-the-art algorithms on both synthetic and real-world data sets.

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Generative Semantic Hashing Enhanced via Boltzmann Machines
Lin Zheng | Qinliang Su | Dinghan Shen | Changyou Chen

Generative semantic hashing is a promising technique for large-scale information retrieval thanks to its fast retrieval speed and small memory footprint. For the tractability of training, existing generative-hashing methods mostly assume a factorized form for the posterior distribution, enforcing independence among the bits of hash codes. From the perspectives of both model representation and code space size, independence is always not the best assumption. In this paper, to introduce correlations among the bits of hash codes, we propose to employ the distribution of Boltzmann machine as the variational posterior. To address the intractability issue of training, we first develop an approximate method to reparameterize the distribution of a Boltzmann machine by augmenting it as a hierarchical concatenation of a Gaussian-like distribution and a Bernoulli distribution. Based on that, an asymptotically-exact lower bound is further derived for the evidence lower bound (ELBO). With these novel techniques, the entire model can be optimized efficiently. Extensive experimental results demonstrate that by effectively modeling correlations among different bits within a hash code, our model can achieve significant performance gains.

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Interactive Construction of User-Centric Dictionary for Text Analytics
Ryosuke Kohita | Issei Yoshida | Hiroshi Kanayama | Tetsuya Nasukawa

We propose a methodology to construct a term dictionary for text analytics through an interactive process between a human and a machine, which helps the creation of flexible dictionaries with precise granularity required in typical text analysis. This paper introduces the first formulation of interactive dictionary construction to address this issue. To optimize the interaction, we propose a new algorithm that effectively captures an analyst’s intention starting from only a small number of sample terms. Along with the algorithm, we also design an automatic evaluation framework that provides a systematic assessment of any interactive method for the dictionary creation task. Experiments using real scenario based corpora and dictionaries show that our algorithm outperforms baseline methods, and works even with a small number of interactions.

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Tree-Structured Neural Topic Model
Masaru Isonuma | Junichiro Mori | Danushka Bollegala | Ichiro Sakata

This paper presents a tree-structured neural topic model, which has a topic distribution over a tree with an infinite number of branches. Our model parameterizes an unbounded ancestral and fraternal topic distribution by applying doubly-recurrent neural networks. With the help of autoencoding variational Bayes, our model improves data scalability and achieves competitive performance when inducing latent topics and tree structures, as compared to a prior tree-structured topic model (Blei et al., 2010). This work extends the tree-structured topic model such that it can be incorporated with neural models for downstream tasks.

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Unsupervised FAQ Retrieval with Question Generation and BERT
Yosi Mass | Boaz Carmeli | Haggai Roitman | David Konopnicki

We focus on the task of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) retrieval. A given user query can be matched against the questions and/or the answers in the FAQ. We present a fully unsupervised method that exploits the FAQ pairs to train two BERT models. The two models match user queries to FAQ answers and questions, respectively. We alleviate the missing labeled data of the latter by automatically generating high-quality question paraphrases. We show that our model is on par and even outperforms supervised models on existing datasets.

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“The Boating Store Had Its Best Sail Ever”: Pronunciation-attentive Contextualized Pun Recognition
Yichao Zhou | Jyun-Yu Jiang | Jieyu Zhao | Kai-Wei Chang | Wei Wang

Humor plays an important role in human languages and it is essential to model humor when building intelligence systems. Among different forms of humor, puns perform wordplay for humorous effects by employing words with double entendre and high phonetic similarity. However, identifying and modeling puns are challenging as puns usually involved implicit semantic or phonological tricks. In this paper, we propose Pronunciation-attentive Contextualized Pun Recognition (PCPR) to perceive human humor, detect if a sentence contains puns and locate them in the sentence. PCPR derives contextualized representation for each word in a sentence by capturing the association between the surrounding context and its corresponding phonetic symbols. Extensive experiments are conducted on two benchmark datasets. Results demonstrate that the proposed approach significantly outperforms the state-of-the-art methods in pun detection and location tasks. In-depth analyses verify the effectiveness and robustness of PCPR.

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Fast and Accurate Deep Bidirectional Language Representations for Unsupervised Learning
Joongbo Shin | Yoonhyung Lee | Seunghyun Yoon | Kyomin Jung

Even though BERT has achieved successful performance improvements in various supervised learning tasks, BERT is still limited by repetitive inferences on unsupervised tasks for the computation of contextual language representations. To resolve this limitation, we propose a novel deep bidirectional language model called a Transformer-based Text Autoencoder (T-TA). The T-TA computes contextual language representations without repetition and displays the benefits of a deep bidirectional architecture, such as that of BERT. In computation time experiments in a CPU environment, the proposed T-TA performs over six times faster than the BERT-like model on a reranking task and twelve times faster on a semantic similarity task. Furthermore, the T-TA shows competitive or even better accuracies than those of BERT on the above tasks. Code is available at

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Fine-grained Interest Matching for Neural News Recommendation
Heyuan Wang | Fangzhao Wu | Zheng Liu | Xing Xie

Personalized news recommendation is a critical technology to improve users’ online news reading experience. The core of news recommendation is accurate matching between user’s interests and candidate news. The same user usually has diverse interests that are reflected in different news she has browsed. Meanwhile, important semantic features of news are implied in text segments of different granularities. Existing studies generally represent each user as a single vector and then match the candidate news vector, which may lose fine-grained information for recommendation. In this paper, we propose FIM, a Fine-grained Interest Matching method for neural news recommendation. Instead of aggregating user’s all historical browsed news into a unified vector, we hierarchically construct multi-level representations for each news via stacked dilated convolutions. Then we perform fine-grained matching between segment pairs of each browsed news and the candidate news at each semantic level. High-order salient signals are then identified by resembling the hierarchy of image recognition for final click prediction. Extensive experiments on a real-world dataset from MSN news validate the effectiveness of our model on news recommendation.

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Interpretable Operational Risk Classification with Semi-Supervised Variational Autoencoder
Fan Zhou | Shengming Zhang | Yi Yang

Operational risk management is one of the biggest challenges nowadays faced by financial institutions. There are several major challenges of building a text classification system for automatic operational risk prediction, including imbalanced labeled/unlabeled data and lacking interpretability. To tackle these challenges, we present a semi-supervised text classification framework that integrates multi-head attention mechanism with Semi-supervised variational inference for Operational Risk Classification (SemiORC). We empirically evaluate the framework on a real-world dataset. The results demonstrate that our method can better utilize unlabeled data and learn visually interpretable document representations. SemiORC also outperforms other baseline methods on operational risk classification.

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Interpreting Twitter User Geolocation
Ting Zhong | Tianliang Wang | Fan Zhou | Goce Trajcevski | Kunpeng Zhang | Yi Yang

Identifying user geolocation in online social networks is an essential task in many location-based applications. Existing methods rely on the similarity of text and network structure, however, they suffer from a lack of interpretability on the corresponding results, which is crucial for understanding model behavior. In this work, we adopt influence functions to interpret the behavior of GNN-based models by identifying the importance of training users when predicting the locations of the testing users. This methodology helps with providing meaningful explanations on prediction results. Furthermore, it also initiates an attempt to uncover the so-called “black-box” GNN-based models by investigating the effect of individual nodes.

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Modeling Code-Switch Languages Using Bilingual Parallel Corpus
Grandee Lee | Haizhou Li

Language modeling is the technique to estimate the probability of a sequence of words. A bilingual language model is expected to model the sequential dependency for words across languages, which is difficult due to the inherent lack of suitable training data as well as diverse syntactic structure across languages. We propose a bilingual attention language model (BALM) that simultaneously performs language modeling objective with a quasi-translation objective to model both the monolingual as well as the cross-lingual sequential dependency. The attention mechanism learns the bilingual context from a parallel corpus. BALM achieves state-of-the-art performance on the SEAME code-switch database by reducing the perplexity of 20.5% over the best-reported result. We also apply BALM in bilingual lexicon induction, and language normalization tasks to validate the idea.

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SpellGCN: Incorporating Phonological and Visual Similarities into Language Models for Chinese Spelling Check
Xingyi Cheng | Weidi Xu | Kunlong Chen | Shaohua Jiang | Feng Wang | Taifeng Wang | Wei Chu | Yuan Qi

Chinese Spelling Check (CSC) is a task to detect and correct spelling errors in Chinese natural language. Existing methods have made attempts to incorporate the similarity knowledge between Chinese characters. However, they take the similarity knowledge as either an external input resource or just heuristic rules. This paper proposes to incorporate phonological and visual similarity knowledge into language models for CSC via a specialized graph convolutional network (SpellGCN). The model builds a graph over the characters, and SpellGCN is learned to map this graph into a set of inter-dependent character classifiers. These classifiers are applied to the representations extracted by another network, such as BERT, enabling the whole network to be end-to-end trainable. Experiments are conducted on three human-annotated datasets. Our method achieves superior performance against previous models by a large margin.

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Spelling Error Correction with Soft-Masked BERT
Shaohua Zhang | Haoran Huang | Jicong Liu | Hang Li

Spelling error correction is an important yet challenging task because a satisfactory solution of it essentially needs human-level language understanding ability. Without loss of generality we consider Chinese spelling error correction (CSC) in this paper. A state-of-the-art method for the task selects a character from a list of candidates for correction (including non-correction) at each position of the sentence on the basis of BERT, the language representation model. The accuracy of the method can be sub-optimal, however, because BERT does not have sufficient capability to detect whether there is an error at each position, apparently due to the way of pre-training it using mask language modeling. In this work, we propose a novel neural architecture to address the aforementioned issue, which consists of a network for error detection and a network for error correction based on BERT, with the former being connected to the latter with what we call soft-masking technique. Our method of using ‘Soft-Masked BERT’ is general, and it may be employed in other language detection-correction problems. Experimental results on two datasets, including one large dataset which we create and plan to release, demonstrate that the performance of our proposed method is significantly better than the baselines including the one solely based on BERT.

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A Frame-based Sentence Representation for Machine Reading Comprehension
Shaoru Guo | Ru Li | Hongye Tan | Xiaoli Li | Yong Guan | Hongyan Zhao | Yueping Zhang

Sentence representation (SR) is the most crucial and challenging task in Machine Reading Comprehension (MRC). MRC systems typically only utilize the information contained in the sentence itself, while human beings can leverage their semantic knowledge. To bridge the gap, we proposed a novel Frame-based Sentence Representation (FSR) method, which employs frame semantic knowledge to facilitate sentence modelling. Specifically, different from existing methods that only model lexical units (LUs), Frame Representation Models, which utilize both LUs in frame and Frame-to-Frame (F-to-F) relations, are designed to model frames and sentences with attention schema. Our proposed FSR method is able to integrate multiple-frame semantic information to get much better sentence representations. Our extensive experimental results show that it performs better than state-of-the-art technologies on machine reading comprehension task.

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A Methodology for Creating Question Answering Corpora Using Inverse Data Annotation
Jan Deriu | Katsiaryna Mlynchyk | Philippe Schläpfer | Alvaro Rodrigo | Dirk von Grünigen | Nicolas Kaiser | Kurt Stockinger | Eneko Agirre | Mark Cieliebak

In this paper, we introduce a novel methodology to efficiently construct a corpus for question answering over structured data. For this, we introduce an intermediate representation that is based on the logical query plan in a database, called Operation Trees (OT). This representation allows us to invert the annotation process without loosing flexibility in the types of queries that we generate. Furthermore, it allows for fine-grained alignment of the tokens to the operations. Thus, we randomly generate OTs from a context free grammar and annotators just have to write the appropriate question and assign the tokens. We compare our corpus OTTA (Operation Trees and Token Assignment), a large semantic parsing corpus for evaluating natural language interfaces to databases, to Spider and LC-QuaD 2.0 and show that our methodology more than triples the annotation speed while maintaining the complexity of the queries. Finally, we train a state-of-the-art semantic parsing model on our data and show that our dataset is a challenging dataset and that the token alignment can be leveraged to significantly increase the performance.

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Contextualized Sparse Representations for Real-Time Open-Domain Question Answering
Jinhyuk Lee | Minjoon Seo | Hannaneh Hajishirzi | Jaewoo Kang

Open-domain question answering can be formulated as a phrase retrieval problem, in which we can expect huge scalability and speed benefit but often suffer from low accuracy due to the limitation of existing phrase representation models. In this paper, we aim to improve the quality of each phrase embedding by augmenting it with a contextualized sparse representation (Sparc). Unlike previous sparse vectors that are term-frequency-based (e.g., tf-idf) or directly learned (only few thousand dimensions), we leverage rectified self-attention to indirectly learn sparse vectors in n-gram vocabulary space. By augmenting the previous phrase retrieval model (Seo et al., 2019) with Sparc, we show 4%+ improvement in CuratedTREC and SQuAD-Open. Our CuratedTREC score is even better than the best known retrieve & read model with at least 45x faster inference speed.

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Dynamic Sampling Strategies for Multi-Task Reading Comprehension
Ananth Gottumukkala | Dheeru Dua | Sameer Singh | Matt Gardner

Building general reading comprehension systems, capable of solving multiple datasets at the same time, is a recent aspirational goal in the research community. Prior work has focused on model architecture or generalization to held out datasets, and largely passed over the particulars of the multi-task learning set up. We show that a simple dynamic sampling strategy, selecting instances for training proportional to the multi-task model’s current performance on a dataset relative to its single task performance, gives substantive gains over prior multi-task sampling strategies, mitigating the catastrophic forgetting that is common in multi-task learning. We also demonstrate that allowing instances of different tasks to be interleaved as much as possible between each epoch and batch has a clear benefit in multitask performance over forcing task homogeneity at the epoch or batch level. Our final model shows greatly increased performance over the best model on ORB, a recently-released multitask reading comprehension benchmark.

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Enhancing Answer Boundary Detection for Multilingual Machine Reading Comprehension
Fei Yuan | Linjun Shou | Xuanyu Bai | Ming Gong | Yaobo Liang | Nan Duan | Yan Fu | Daxin Jiang

Multilingual pre-trained models could leverage the training data from a rich source language (such as English) to improve performance on low resource languages. However, the transfer quality for multilingual Machine Reading Comprehension (MRC) is significantly worse than sentence classification tasks mainly due to the requirement of MRC to detect the word level answer boundary. In this paper, we propose two auxiliary tasks in the fine-tuning stage to create additional phrase boundary supervision: (1) A mixed MRC task, which translates the question or passage to other languages and builds cross-lingual question-passage pairs; (2) A language-agnostic knowledge masking task by leveraging knowledge phrases mined from web. Besides, extensive experiments on two cross-lingual MRC datasets show the effectiveness of our proposed approach.

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Explicit Memory Tracker with Coarse-to-Fine Reasoning for Conversational Machine Reading
Yifan Gao | Chien-Sheng Wu | Shafiq Joty | Caiming Xiong | Richard Socher | Irwin King | Michael Lyu | Steven C.H. Hoi

The goal of conversational machine reading is to answer user questions given a knowledge base text which may require asking clarification questions. Existing approaches are limited in their decision making due to struggles in extracting question-related rules and reasoning about them. In this paper, we present a new framework of conversational machine reading that comprises a novel Explicit Memory Tracker (EMT) to track whether conditions listed in the rule text have already been satisfied to make a decision. Moreover, our framework generates clarification questions by adopting a coarse-to-fine reasoning strategy, utilizing sentence-level entailment scores to weight token-level distributions. On the ShARC benchmark (blind, held-out) testset, EMT achieves new state-of-the-art results of 74.6% micro-averaged decision accuracy and 49.5 BLEU4. We also show that EMT is more interpretable by visualizing the entailment-oriented reasoning process as the conversation flows. Code and models are released at

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Injecting Numerical Reasoning Skills into Language Models
Mor Geva | Ankit Gupta | Jonathan Berant

Large pre-trained language models (LMs) are known to encode substantial amounts of linguistic information. However, high-level reasoning skills, such as numerical reasoning, are difficult to learn from a language-modeling objective only. Consequently, existing models for numerical reasoning have used specialized architectures with limited flexibility. In this work, we show that numerical reasoning is amenable to automatic data generation, and thus one can inject this skill into pre-trained LMs, by generating large amounts of data, and training in a multi-task setup. We show that pre-training our model, GenBERT, on this data, dramatically improves performance on DROP (49.3 –> 72.3 F1), reaching performance that matches state-of-the-art models of comparable size, while using a simple and general-purpose encoder-decoder architecture. Moreover, GenBERT generalizes well to math word problem datasets, while maintaining high performance on standard RC tasks. Our approach provides a general recipe for injecting skills into large pre-trained LMs, whenever the skill is amenable to automatic data augmentation.

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Learning to Identify Follow-Up Questions in Conversational Question Answering
Souvik Kundu | Qian Lin | Hwee Tou Ng

Despite recent progress in conversational question answering, most prior work does not focus on follow-up questions. Practical conversational question answering systems often receive follow-up questions in an ongoing conversation, and it is crucial for a system to be able to determine whether a question is a follow-up question of the current conversation, for more effective answer finding subsequently. In this paper, we introduce a new follow-up question identification task. We propose a three-way attentive pooling network that determines the suitability of a follow-up question by capturing pair-wise interactions between the associated passage, the conversation history, and a candidate follow-up question. It enables the model to capture topic continuity and topic shift while scoring a particular candidate follow-up question. Experiments show that our proposed three-way attentive pooling network outperforms all baseline systems by significant margins.

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Query Graph Generation for Answering Multi-hop Complex Questions from Knowledge Bases
Yunshi Lan | Jing Jiang

Previous work on answering complex questions from knowledge bases usually separately addresses two types of complexity: questions with constraints and questions with multiple hops of relations. In this paper, we handle both types of complexity at the same time. Motivated by the observation that early incorporation of constraints into query graphs can more effectively prune the search space, we propose a modified staged query graph generation method with more flexible ways to generate query graphs. Our experiments clearly show that our method achieves the state of the art on three benchmark KBQA datasets.

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A Diverse Corpus for Evaluating and Developing English Math Word Problem Solvers
Shen-yun Miao | Chao-Chun Liang | Keh-Yih Su

We present ASDiv (Academia Sinica Diverse MWP Dataset), a diverse (in terms of both language patterns and problem types) English math word problem (MWP) corpus for evaluating the capability of various MWP solvers. Existing MWP corpora for studying AI progress remain limited either in language usage patterns or in problem types. We thus present a new English MWP corpus with 2,305 MWPs that cover more text patterns and most problem types taught in elementary school. Each MWP is annotated with its problem type and grade level (for indicating the level of difficulty). Furthermore, we propose a metric to measure the lexicon usage diversity of a given MWP corpus, and demonstrate that ASDiv is more diverse than existing corpora. Experiments show that our proposed corpus reflects the true capability of MWP solvers more faithfully.

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Improving Image Captioning Evaluation by Considering Inter References Variance
Yanzhi Yi | Hangyu Deng | Jinglu Hu

Evaluating image captions is very challenging partially due to the fact that there are multiple correct captions for every single image. Most of the existing one-to-one metrics operate by penalizing mismatches between reference and generative caption without considering the intrinsic variance between ground truth captions. It usually leads to over-penalization and thus a bad correlation to human judgment. Recently, the latest one-to-one metric BERTScore can achieve high human correlation in system-level tasks while some issues can be fixed for better performance. In this paper, we propose a novel metric based on BERTScore that could handle such a challenge and extend BERTScore with a few new features appropriately for image captioning evaluation. The experimental results show that our metric achieves state-of-the-art human judgment correlation.

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Revisiting the Context Window for Cross-lingual Word Embeddings
Ryokan Ri | Yoshimasa Tsuruoka

Existing approaches to mapping-based cross-lingual word embeddings are based on the assumption that the source and target embedding spaces are structurally similar. The structures of embedding spaces largely depend on the co-occurrence statistics of each word, which the choice of context window determines. Despite this obvious connection between the context window and mapping-based cross-lingual embeddings, their relationship has been underexplored in prior work. In this work, we provide a thorough evaluation, in various languages, domains, and tasks, of bilingual embeddings trained with different context windows. The highlight of our findings is that increasing the size of both the source and target window sizes improves the performance of bilingual lexicon induction, especially the performance on frequent nouns.

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Moving Down the Long Tail of Word Sense Disambiguation with Gloss Informed Bi-encoders
Terra Blevins | Luke Zettlemoyer

A major obstacle in Word Sense Disambiguation (WSD) is that word senses are not uniformly distributed, causing existing models to generally perform poorly on senses that are either rare or unseen during training. We propose a bi-encoder model that independently embeds (1) the target word with its surrounding context and (2) the dictionary definition, or gloss, of each sense. The encoders are jointly optimized in the same representation space, so that sense disambiguation can be performed by finding the nearest sense embedding for each target word embedding. Our system outperforms previous state-of-the-art models on English all-words WSD; these gains predominantly come from improved performance on rare senses, leading to a 31.1% error reduction on less frequent senses over prior work. This demonstrates that rare senses can be more effectively disambiguated by modeling their definitions.

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Code-Switching Patterns Can Be an Effective Route to Improve Performance of Downstream NLP Applications: A Case Study of Humour, Sarcasm and Hate Speech Detection
Srijan Bansal | Vishal Garimella | Ayush Suhane | Jasabanta Patro | Animesh Mukherjee

In this paper, we demonstrate how code-switching patterns can be utilised to improve various downstream NLP applications. In particular, we encode various switching features to improve humour, sarcasm and hate speech detection tasks. We believe that this simple linguistic observation can also be potentially helpful in improving other similar NLP applications.

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DTCA: Decision Tree-based Co-Attention Networks for Explainable Claim Verification
Lianwei Wu | Yuan Rao | Yongqiang Zhao | Hao Liang | Ambreen Nazir

Recently, many methods discover effective evidence from reliable sources by appropriate neural networks for explainable claim verification, which has been widely recognized. However, in these methods, the discovery process of evidence is nontransparent and unexplained. Simultaneously, the discovered evidence is aimed at the interpretability of the whole sequence of claims but insufficient to focus on the false parts of claims. In this paper, we propose a Decision Tree-based Co-Attention model (DTCA) to discover evidence for explainable claim verification. Specifically, we first construct Decision Tree-based Evidence model (DTE) to select comments with high credibility as evidence in a transparent and interpretable way. Then we design Co-attention Self-attention networks (CaSa) to make the selected evidence interact with claims, which is for 1) training DTE to determine the optimal decision thresholds and obtain more powerful evidence; and 2) utilizing the evidence to find the false parts in the claim. Experiments on two public datasets, RumourEval and PHEME, demonstrate that DTCA not only provides explanations for the results of claim verification but also achieves the state-of-the-art performance, boosting the F1-score by more than 3.11%, 2.41%, respectively.

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Towards Conversational Recommendation over Multi-Type Dialogs
Zeming Liu | Haifeng Wang | Zheng-Yu Niu | Hua Wu | Wanxiang Che | Ting Liu

We focus on the study of conversational recommendation in the context of multi-type dialogs, where the bots can proactively and naturally lead a conversation from a non-recommendation dialog (e.g., QA) to a recommendation dialog, taking into account user’s interests and feedback. To facilitate the study of this task, we create a human-to-human Chinese dialog dataset DuRecDial (about 10k dialogs, 156k utterances), where there are multiple sequential dialogs for a pair of a recommendation seeker (user) and a recommender (bot). In each dialog, the recommender proactively leads a multi-type dialog to approach recommendation targets and then makes multiple recommendations with rich interaction behavior. This dataset allows us to systematically investigate different parts of the overall problem, e.g., how to naturally lead a dialog, how to interact with users for recommendation. Finally we establish baseline results on DuRecDial for future studies.

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Unknown Intent Detection Using Gaussian Mixture Model with an Application to Zero-shot Intent Classification
Guangfeng Yan | Lu Fan | Qimai Li | Han Liu | Xiaotong Zhang | Xiao-Ming Wu | Albert Y.S. Lam

User intent classification plays a vital role in dialogue systems. Since user intent may frequently change over time in many realistic scenarios, unknown (new) intent detection has become an essential problem, where the study has just begun. This paper proposes a semantic-enhanced Gaussian mixture model (SEG) for unknown intent detection. In particular, we model utterance embeddings with a Gaussian mixture distribution and inject dynamic class semantic information into Gaussian means, which enables learning more class-concentrated embeddings that help to facilitate downstream outlier detection. Coupled with a density-based outlier detection algorithm, SEG achieves competitive results on three real task-oriented dialogue datasets in two languages for unknown intent detection. On top of that, we propose to integrate SEG as an unknown intent identifier into existing generalized zero-shot intent classification models to improve their performance. A case study on a state-of-the-art method, ReCapsNet, shows that SEG can push the classification performance to a significantly higher level.

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Expertise Style Transfer: A New Task Towards Better Communication between Experts and Laymen
Yixin Cao | Ruihao Shui | Liangming Pan | Min-Yen Kan | Zhiyuan Liu | Tat-Seng Chua

The curse of knowledge can impede communication between experts and laymen. We propose a new task of expertise style transfer and contribute a manually annotated dataset with the goal of alleviating such cognitive biases. Solving this task not only simplifies the professional language, but also improves the accuracy and expertise level of laymen descriptions using simple words. This is a challenging task, unaddressed in previous work, as it requires the models to have expert intelligence in order to modify text with a deep understanding of domain knowledge and structures. We establish the benchmark performance of five state-of-the-art models for style transfer and text simplification. The results demonstrate a significant gap between machine and human performance. We also discuss the challenges of automatic evaluation, to provide insights into future research directions. The dataset is publicly available at

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Towards Faithful Neural Table-to-Text Generation with Content-Matching Constraints
Zhenyi Wang | Xiaoyang Wang | Bang An | Dong Yu | Changyou Chen

Text generation from a knowledge base aims to translate knowledge triples to natural language descriptions. Most existing methods ignore the faithfulness between a generated text description and the original table, leading to generated information that goes beyond the content of the table. In this paper, for the first time, we propose a novel Transformer-based generation framework to achieve the goal. The core techniques in our method to enforce faithfulness include a new table-text optimal-transport matching loss and a table-text embedding similarity loss based on the Transformer model. Furthermore, to evaluate faithfulness, we propose a new automatic metric specialized to the table-to-text generation problem. We also provide detailed analysis on each component of our model in our experiments. Automatic and human evaluations show that our framework can significantly outperform state-of-the-art by a large margin.

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Dynamic Memory Induction Networks for Few-Shot Text Classification
Ruiying Geng | Binhua Li | Yongbin Li | Jian Sun | Xiaodan Zhu

This paper proposes Dynamic Memory Induction Networks (DMIN) for few-short text classification. The model develops a dynamic routing mechanism over static memory, enabling it to better adapt to unseen classes, a critical capability for few-short classification. The model also expands the induction process with supervised learning weights and query information to enhance the generalization ability of meta-learning. The proposed model brings forward the state-of-the-art performance significantly by 2 4% improvement on the miniRCV1 and ODIC datasets. Detailed analysis is further performed to show how the proposed network achieves the new performance.

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Exclusive Hierarchical Decoding for Deep Keyphrase Generation
Wang Chen | Hou Pong Chan | Piji Li | Irwin King

Keyphrase generation (KG) aims to summarize the main ideas of a document into a set of keyphrases. A new setting is recently introduced into this problem, in which, given a document, the model needs to predict a set of keyphrases and simultaneously determine the appropriate number of keyphrases to produce. Previous work in this setting employs a sequential decoding process to generate keyphrases. However, such a decoding method ignores the intrinsic hierarchical compositionality existing in the keyphrase set of a document. Moreover, previous work tends to generate duplicated keyphrases, which wastes time and computing resources. To overcome these limitations, we propose an exclusive hierarchical decoding framework that includes a hierarchical decoding process and either a soft or a hard exclusion mechanism. The hierarchical decoding process is to explicitly model the hierarchical compositionality of a keyphrase set. Both the soft and the hard exclusion mechanisms keep track of previously-predicted keyphrases within a window size to enhance the diversity of the generated keyphrases. Extensive experiments on multiple KG benchmark datasets demonstrate the effectiveness of our method to generate less duplicated and more accurate keyphrases.

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Hierarchy-Aware Global Model for Hierarchical Text Classification
Jie Zhou | Chunping Ma | Dingkun Long | Guangwei Xu | Ning Ding | Haoyu Zhang | Pengjun Xie | Gongshen Liu

Hierarchical text classification is an essential yet challenging subtask of multi-label text classification with a taxonomic hierarchy. Existing methods have difficulties in modeling the hierarchical label structure in a global view. Furthermore, they cannot make full use of the mutual interactions between the text feature space and the label space. In this paper, we formulate the hierarchy as a directed graph and introduce hierarchy-aware structure encoders for modeling label dependencies. Based on the hierarchy encoder, we propose a novel end-to-end hierarchy-aware global model (HiAGM) with two variants. A multi-label attention variant (HiAGM-LA) learns hierarchy-aware label embeddings through the hierarchy encoder and conducts inductive fusion of label-aware text features. A text feature propagation model (HiAGM-TP) is proposed as the deductive variant that directly feeds text features into hierarchy encoders. Compared with previous works, both HiAGM-LA and HiAGM-TP achieve significant and consistent improvements on three benchmark datasets.

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Keyphrase Generation for Scientific Document Retrieval
Florian Boudin | Ygor Gallina | Akiko Aizawa

Sequence-to-sequence models have lead to significant progress in keyphrase generation, but it remains unknown whether they are reliable enough to be beneficial for document retrieval. This study provides empirical evidence that such models can significantly improve retrieval performance, and introduces a new extrinsic evaluation framework that allows for a better understanding of the limitations of keyphrase generation models. Using this framework, we point out and discuss the difficulties encountered with supplementing documents with -not present in text- keyphrases, and generalizing models across domains. Our code is available at

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A Graph Auto-encoder Model of Derivational Morphology
Valentin Hofmann | Hinrich Schütze | Janet Pierrehumbert

There has been little work on modeling the morphological well-formedness (MWF) of derivatives, a problem judged to be complex and difficult in linguistics. We present a graph auto-encoder that learns embeddings capturing information about the compatibility of affixes and stems in derivation. The auto-encoder models MWF in English surprisingly well by combining syntactic and semantic information with associative information from the mental lexicon.

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Building a User-Generated Content North-African Arabizi Treebank: Tackling Hell
Djamé Seddah | Farah Essaidi | Amal Fethi | Matthieu Futeral | Benjamin Muller | Pedro Javier Ortiz Suárez | Benoît Sagot | Abhishek Srivastava

We introduce the first treebank for a romanized user-generated content variety of Algerian, a North-African Arabic dialect known for its frequent usage of code-switching. Made of 1500 sentences, fully annotated in morpho-syntax and Universal Dependency syntax, with full translation at both the word and the sentence levels, this treebank is made freely available. It is supplemented with 50k unlabeled sentences collected from Common Crawl and web-crawled data using intensive data-mining techniques. Preliminary experiments demonstrate its usefulness for POS tagging and dependency parsing. We believe that what we present in this paper is useful beyond the low-resource language community. This is the first time that enough unlabeled and annotated data is provided for an emerging user-generated content dialectal language with rich morphology and code switching, making it an challenging test-bed for most recent NLP approaches.

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Crawling and Preprocessing Mailing Lists At Scale for Dialog Analysis
Janek Bevendorff | Khalid Al Khatib | Martin Potthast | Benno Stein

This paper introduces the Webis Gmane Email Corpus 2019, the largest publicly available and fully preprocessed email corpus to date. We crawled more than 153 million emails from 14,699 mailing lists and segmented them into semantically consistent components using a new neural segmentation model. With 96% accuracy on 15 classes of email segments, our model achieves state-of-the-art performance while being more efficient to train than previous ones. All data, code, and trained models are made freely available alongside the paper.

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Fine-Grained Analysis of Cross-Linguistic Syntactic Divergences
Dmitry Nikolaev | Ofir Arviv | Taelin Karidi | Neta Kenneth | Veronika Mitnik | Lilja Maria Saeboe | Omri Abend

The patterns in which the syntax of different languages converges and diverges are often used to inform work on cross-lingual transfer. Nevertheless, little empirical work has been done on quantifying the prevalence of different syntactic divergences across language pairs. We propose a framework for extracting divergence patterns for any language pair from a parallel corpus, building on Universal Dependencies. We show that our framework provides a detailed picture of cross-language divergences, generalizes previous approaches, and lends itself to full automation. We further present a novel dataset, a manually word-aligned subset of the Parallel UD corpus in five languages, and use it to perform a detailed corpus study. We demonstrate the usefulness of the resulting analysis by showing that it can help account for performance patterns of a cross-lingual parser.

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Generating Counter Narratives against Online Hate Speech: Data and Strategies
Serra Sinem Tekiroğlu | Yi-Ling Chung | Marco Guerini

Recently research has started focusing on avoiding undesired effects that come with content moderation, such as censorship and overblocking, when dealing with hatred online. The core idea is to directly intervene in the discussion with textual responses that are meant to counter the hate content and prevent it from further spreading. Accordingly, automation strategies, such as natural language generation, are beginning to be investigated. Still, they suffer from the lack of sufficient amount of quality data and tend to produce generic/repetitive responses. Being aware of the aforementioned limitations, we present a study on how to collect responses to hate effectively, employing large scale unsupervised language models such as GPT-2 for the generation of silver data, and the best annotation strategies/neural architectures that can be used for data filtering before expert validation/post-editing.

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KLEJ: Comprehensive Benchmark for Polish Language Understanding
Piotr Rybak | Robert Mroczkowski | Janusz Tracz | Ireneusz Gawlik

In recent years, a series of Transformer-based models unlocked major improvements in general natural language understanding (NLU) tasks. Such a fast pace of research would not be possible without general NLU benchmarks, which allow for a fair comparison of the proposed methods. However, such benchmarks are available only for a handful of languages. To alleviate this issue, we introduce a comprehensive multi-task benchmark for the Polish language understanding, accompanied by an online leaderboard. It consists of a diverse set of tasks, adopted from existing datasets for named entity recognition, question-answering, textual entailment, and others. We also introduce a new sentiment analysis task for the e-commerce domain, named Allegro Reviews (AR). To ensure a common evaluation scheme and promote models that generalize to different NLU tasks, the benchmark includes datasets from varying domains and applications. Additionally, we release HerBERT, a Transformer-based model trained specifically for the Polish language, which has the best average performance and obtains the best results for three out of nine tasks. Finally, we provide an extensive evaluation, including several standard baselines and recently proposed, multilingual Transformer-based models.

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Learning and Evaluating Emotion Lexicons for 91 Languages
Sven Buechel | Susanna Rücker | Udo Hahn

Emotion lexicons describe the affective meaning of words and thus constitute a centerpiece for advanced sentiment and emotion analysis. Yet, manually curated lexicons are only available for a handful of languages, leaving most languages of the world without such a precious resource for downstream applications. Even worse, their coverage is often limited both in terms of the lexical units they contain and the emotional variables they feature. In order to break this bottleneck, we here introduce a methodology for creating almost arbitrarily large emotion lexicons for any target language. Our approach requires nothing but a source language emotion lexicon, a bilingual word translation model, and a target language embedding model. Fulfilling these requirements for 91 languages, we are able to generate representationally rich high-coverage lexicons comprising eight emotional variables with more than 100k lexical entries each. We evaluated the automatically generated lexicons against human judgment from 26 datasets, spanning 12 typologically diverse languages, and found that our approach produces results in line with state-of-the-art monolingual approaches to lexicon creation and even surpasses human reliability for some languages and variables. Code and data are available at archived under DOI 10.5281/zenodo.3779901.

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Multi-Hypothesis Machine Translation Evaluation
Marina Fomicheva | Lucia Specia | Francisco Guzmán

Reliably evaluating Machine Translation (MT) through automated metrics is a long-standing problem. One of the main challenges is the fact that multiple outputs can be equally valid. Attempts to minimise this issue include metrics that relax the matching of MT output and reference strings, and the use of multiple references. The latter has been shown to significantly improve the performance of evaluation metrics. However, collecting multiple references is expensive and in practice a single reference is generally used. In this paper, we propose an alternative approach: instead of modelling linguistic variation in human reference we exploit the MT model uncertainty to generate multiple diverse translations and use these: (i) as surrogates to reference translations; (ii) to obtain a quantification of translation variability to either complement existing metric scores or (iii) replace references altogether. We show that for a number of popular evaluation metrics our variability estimates lead to substantial improvements in correlation with human judgements of quality by up 15%.

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Multimodal Quality Estimation for Machine Translation
Shu Okabe | Frédéric Blain | Lucia Specia

We propose approaches to Quality Estimation (QE) for Machine Translation that explore both text and visual modalities for Multimodal QE. We compare various multimodality integration and fusion strategies. For both sentence-level and document-level predictions, we show that state-of-the-art neural and feature-based QE frameworks obtain better results when using the additional modality.

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PuzzLing Machines: A Challenge on Learning From Small Data
Gözde Gül Şahin | Yova Kementchedjhieva | Phillip Rust | Iryna Gurevych

Deep neural models have repeatedly proved excellent at memorizing surface patterns from large datasets for various ML and NLP benchmarks. They struggle to achieve human-like thinking, however, because they lack the skill of iterative reasoning upon knowledge. To expose this problem in a new light, we introduce a challenge on learning from small data, PuzzLing Machines, which consists of Rosetta Stone puzzles from Linguistic Olympiads for high school students. These puzzles are carefully designed to contain only the minimal amount of parallel text necessary to deduce the form of unseen expressions. Solving them does not require external information (e.g., knowledge bases, visual signals) or linguistic expertise, but meta-linguistic awareness and deductive skills. Our challenge contains around 100 puzzles covering a wide range of linguistic phenomena from 81 languages. We show that both simple statistical algorithms and state-of-the-art deep neural models perform inadequately on this challenge, as expected. We hope that this benchmark, available at, inspires further efforts towards a new paradigm in NLP—one that is grounded in human-like reasoning and understanding.

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The SOFC-Exp Corpus and Neural Approaches to Information Extraction in the Materials Science Domain
Annemarie Friedrich | Heike Adel | Federico Tomazic | Johannes Hingerl | Renou Benteau | Anika Marusczyk | Lukas Lange

This paper presents a new challenging information extraction task in the domain of materials science. We develop an annotation scheme for marking information on experiments related to solid oxide fuel cells in scientific publications, such as involved materials and measurement conditions. With this paper, we publish our annotation guidelines, as well as our SOFC-Exp corpus consisting of 45 open-access scholarly articles annotated by domain experts. A corpus and an inter-annotator agreement study demonstrate the complexity of the suggested named entity recognition and slot filling tasks as well as high annotation quality. We also present strong neural-network based models for a variety of tasks that can be addressed on the basis of our new data set. On all tasks, using BERT embeddings leads to large performance gains, but with increasing task complexity, adding a recurrent neural network on top seems beneficial. Our models will serve as competitive baselines in future work, and analysis of their performance highlights difficult cases when modeling the data and suggests promising research directions.

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The TechQA Dataset
Vittorio Castelli | Rishav Chakravarti | Saswati Dana | Anthony Ferritto | Radu Florian | Martin Franz | Dinesh Garg | Dinesh Khandelwal | Scott McCarley | Michael McCawley | Mohamed Nasr | Lin Pan | Cezar Pendus | John Pitrelli | Saurabh Pujar | Salim Roukos | Andrzej Sakrajda | Avi Sil | Rosario Uceda-Sosa | Todd Ward | Rong Zhang

We introduce TECHQA, a domain-adaptation question answering dataset for the technical support domain. The TECHQA corpus highlights two real-world issues from the automated customer support domain. First, it contains actual questions posed by users on a technical forum, rather than questions generated specifically for a competition or a task. Second, it has a real-world size – 600 training, 310 dev, and 490 evaluation question/answer pairs – thus reflecting the cost of creating large labeled datasets with actual data. Hence, TECHQA is meant to stimulate research in domain adaptation rather than as a resource to build QA systems from scratch. TECHQA was obtained by crawling the IBMDeveloper and DeveloperWorks forums for questions with accepted answers provided in an IBM Technote—a technical document that addresses a specific technical issue. We also release a collection of the 801,998 Technotes available on the web as of April 4, 2019 as a companion resource that can be used to learn representations of the IT domain language.

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iSarcasm: A Dataset of Intended Sarcasm
Silviu Oprea | Walid Magdy

We consider the distinction between intended and perceived sarcasm in the context of textual sarcasm detection. The former occurs when an utterance is sarcastic from the perspective of its author, while the latter occurs when the utterance is interpreted as sarcastic by the audience. We show the limitations of previous labelling methods in capturing intended sarcasm and introduce the iSarcasm dataset of tweets labeled for sarcasm directly by their authors. Examining the state-of-the-art sarcasm detection models on our dataset showed low performance compared to previously studied datasets, which indicates that these datasets might be biased or obvious and sarcasm could be a phenomenon under-studied computationally thus far. By providing the iSarcasm dataset, we aim to encourage future NLP research to develop methods for detecting sarcasm in text as intended by the authors of the text, not as labeled under assumptions that we demonstrate to be sub-optimal.

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AMR Parsing via Graph-Sequence Iterative Inference
Deng Cai | Wai Lam

We propose a new end-to-end model that treats AMR parsing as a series of dual decisions on the input sequence and the incrementally constructed graph. At each time step, our model performs multiple rounds of attention, reasoning, and composition that aim to answer two critical questions: (1) which part of the input sequence to abstract; and (2) where in the output graph to construct the new concept. We show that the answers to these two questions are mutually causalities. We design a model based on iterative inference that helps achieve better answers in both perspectives, leading to greatly improved parsing accuracy. Our experimental results significantly outperform all previously reported Smatch scores by large margins. Remarkably, without the help of any large-scale pre-trained language model (e.g., BERT), our model already surpasses previous state-of-the-art using BERT. With the help of BERT, we can push the state-of-the-art results to 80.2% on LDC2017T10 (AMR 2.0) and 75.4% on LDC2014T12 (AMR 1.0).

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A Large-Scale Multi-Document Summarization Dataset from the Wikipedia Current Events Portal
Demian Gholipour Ghalandari | Chris Hokamp | Nghia The Pham | John Glover | Georgiana Ifrim

Multi-document summarization (MDS) aims to compress the content in large document collections into short summaries and has important applications in story clustering for newsfeeds, presentation of search results, and timeline generation. However, there is a lack of datasets that realistically address such use cases at a scale large enough for training supervised models for this task. This work presents a new dataset for MDS that is large both in the total number of document clusters and in the size of individual clusters. We build this dataset by leveraging the Wikipedia Current Events Portal (WCEP), which provides concise and neutral human-written summaries of news events, with links to external source articles. We also automatically extend these source articles by looking for related articles in the Common Crawl archive. We provide a quantitative analysis of the dataset and empirical results for several state-of-the-art MDS techniques.

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Attend, Translate and Summarize: An Efficient Method for Neural Cross-Lingual Summarization
Junnan Zhu | Yu Zhou | Jiajun Zhang | Chengqing Zong

Cross-lingual summarization aims at summarizing a document in one language (e.g., Chinese) into another language (e.g., English). In this paper, we propose a novel method inspired by the translation pattern in the process of obtaining a cross-lingual summary. We first attend to some words in the source text, then translate them into the target language, and summarize to get the final summary. Specifically, we first employ the encoder-decoder attention distribution to attend to the source words. Second, we present three strategies to acquire the translation probability, which helps obtain the translation candidates for each source word. Finally, each summary word is generated either from the neural distribution or from the translation candidates of source words. Experimental results on Chinese-to-English and English-to-Chinese summarization tasks have shown that our proposed method can significantly outperform the baselines, achieving comparable performance with the state-of-the-art.

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Examining the State-of-the-Art in News Timeline Summarization
Demian Gholipour Ghalandari | Georgiana Ifrim

Previous work on automatic news timeline summarization (TLS) leaves an unclear picture about how this task can generally be approached and how well it is currently solved. This is mostly due to the focus on individual subtasks, such as date selection and date summarization, and to the previous lack of appropriate evaluation metrics for the full TLS task. In this paper, we compare different TLS strategies using appropriate evaluation frameworks, and propose a simple and effective combination of methods that improves over the stateof-the-art on all tested benchmarks. For a more robust evaluation, we also present a new TLS dataset, which is larger and spans longer time periods than previous datasets.

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Improving Truthfulness of Headline Generation
Kazuki Matsumaru | Sho Takase | Naoaki Okazaki

Most studies on abstractive summarization report ROUGE scores between system and reference summaries. However, we have a concern about the truthfulness of generated summaries: whether all facts of a generated summary are mentioned in the source text. This paper explores improving the truthfulness in headline generation on two popular datasets. Analyzing headlines generated by the state-of-the-art encoder-decoder model, we show that the model sometimes generates untruthful headlines. We conjecture that one of the reasons lies in untruthful supervision data used for training the model. In order to quantify the truthfulness of article-headline pairs, we consider the textual entailment of whether an article entails its headline. After confirming quite a few untruthful instances in the datasets, this study hypothesizes that removing untruthful instances from the supervision data may remedy the problem of the untruthful behaviors of the model. Building a binary classifier that predicts an entailment relation between an article and its headline, we filter out untruthful instances from the supervision data. Experimental results demonstrate that the headline generation model trained on filtered supervision data shows no clear difference in ROUGE scores but remarkable improvements in automatic and manual evaluations of the generated headlines.

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SUPERT: Towards New Frontiers in Unsupervised Evaluation Metrics for Multi-Document Summarization
Yang Gao | Wei Zhao | Steffen Eger

We study unsupervised multi-document summarization evaluation metrics, which require neither human-written reference summaries nor human annotations (e.g. preferences, ratings, etc.). We propose SUPERT, which rates the quality of a summary by measuring its semantic similarity with a pseudo reference summary, i.e. selected salient sentences from the source documents, using contextualized embeddings and soft token alignment techniques. Compared to the state-of-the-art unsupervised evaluation metrics, SUPERT correlates better with human ratings by 18- 39%. Furthermore, we use SUPERT as rewards to guide a neural-based reinforcement learning summarizer, yielding favorable performance compared to the state-of-the-art unsupervised summarizers. All source code is available at

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Self-Attention Guided Copy Mechanism for Abstractive Summarization
Song Xu | Haoran Li | Peng Yuan | Youzheng Wu | Xiaodong He | Bowen Zhou

Copy module has been widely equipped in the recent abstractive summarization models, which facilitates the decoder to extract words from the source into the summary. Generally, the encoder-decoder attention is served as the copy distribution, while how to guarantee that important words in the source are copied remains a challenge. In this work, we propose a Transformer-based model to enhance the copy mechanism. Specifically, we identify the importance of each source word based on the degree centrality with a directed graph built by the self-attention layer in the Transformer. We use the centrality of each source word to guide the copy process explicitly. Experimental results show that the self-attention graph provides useful guidance for the copy distribution. Our proposed models significantly outperform the baseline methods on the CNN/Daily Mail dataset and the Gigaword dataset.

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Beyond User Self-Reported Likert Scale Ratings: A Comparison Model for Automatic Dialog Evaluation
Weixin Liang | James Zou | Zhou Yu

Open Domain dialog system evaluation is one of the most important challenges in dialog research. Existing automatic evaluation metrics, such as BLEU are mostly reference-based. They calculate the difference between the generated response and a limited number of available references. Likert-score based self-reported user rating is widely adopted by social conversational systems, such as Amazon Alexa Prize chatbots. However, self-reported user rating suffers from bias and variance among different users. To alleviate this problem, we formulate dialog evaluation as a comparison task. We also propose an automatic evaluation model CMADE (Comparison Model for Automatic Dialog Evaluation) that automatically cleans self-reported user ratings as it trains on them. Specifically, we first use a self-supervised method to learn better dialog feature representation, and then use KNN and Shapley to remove confusing samples. Our experiments show that CMADE achieves 89.2% accuracy in the dialog comparison task.

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Conversational Word Embedding for Retrieval-Based Dialog System
Wentao Ma | Yiming Cui | Ting Liu | Dong Wang | Shijin Wang | Guoping Hu

Human conversations contain many types of information, e.g., knowledge, common sense, and language habits. In this paper, we propose a conversational word embedding method named PR-Embedding, which utilizes the conversation pairs <post, reply> to learn word embedding. Different from previous works, PR-Embedding uses the vectors from two different semantic spaces to represent the words in post and reply. To catch the information among the pair, we first introduce the word alignment model from statistical machine translation to generate the cross-sentence window, then train the embedding on word-level and sentence-level. We evaluate the method on single-turn and multi-turn response selection tasks for retrieval-based dialog systems. The experiment results show that PR-Embedding can improve the quality of the selected response.

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Few-shot Slot Tagging with Collapsed Dependency Transfer and Label-enhanced Task-adaptive Projection Network
Yutai Hou | Wanxiang Che | Yongkui Lai | Zhihan Zhou | Yijia Liu | Han Liu | Ting Liu

In this paper, we explore the slot tagging with only a few labeled support sentences (a.k.a. few-shot). Few-shot slot tagging faces a unique challenge compared to the other fewshot classification problems as it calls for modeling the dependencies between labels. But it is hard to apply previously learned label dependencies to an unseen domain, due to the discrepancy of label sets. To tackle this, we introduce a collapsed dependency transfer mechanism into the conditional random field (CRF) to transfer abstract label dependency patterns as transition scores. In the few-shot setting, the emission score of CRF can be calculated as a word’s similarity to the representation of each label. To calculate such similarity, we propose a Label-enhanced Task-Adaptive Projection Network (L-TapNet) based on the state-of-the-art few-shot classification model – TapNet, by leveraging label name semantics in representing labels. Experimental results show that our model significantly outperforms the strongest few-shot learning baseline by 14.64 F1 scores in the one-shot setting.

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Learning Dialog Policies from Weak Demonstrations
Gabriel Gordon-Hall | Philip John Gorinski | Shay B. Cohen

Deep reinforcement learning is a promising approach to training a dialog manager, but current methods struggle with the large state and action spaces of multi-domain dialog systems. Building upon Deep Q-learning from Demonstrations (DQfD), an algorithm that scores highly in difficult Atari games, we leverage dialog data to guide the agent to successfully respond to a user’s requests. We make progressively fewer assumptions about the data needed, using labeled, reduced-labeled, and even unlabeled data to train expert demonstrators. We introduce Reinforced Fine-tune Learning, an extension to DQfD, enabling us to overcome the domain gap between the datasets and the environment. Experiments in a challenging multi-domain dialog system framework validate our approaches, and get high success rates even when trained on out-of-domain data.

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MuTual: A Dataset for Multi-Turn Dialogue Reasoning
Leyang Cui | Yu Wu | Shujie Liu | Yue Zhang | Ming Zhou

Non-task oriented dialogue systems have achieved great success in recent years due to largely accessible conversation data and the development of deep learning techniques. Given a context, current systems are able to yield a relevant and fluent response, but sometimes make logical mistakes because of weak reasoning capabilities. To facilitate the conversation reasoning research, we introduce MuTual, a novel dataset for Multi-Turn dialogue Reasoning, consisting of 8,860 manually annotated dialogues based on Chinese student English listening comprehension exams. Compared to previous benchmarks for non-task oriented dialogue systems, MuTual is much more challenging since it requires a model that be able to handle various reasoning problems. Empirical results show that state-of-the-art methods only reach 71%, which is far behind human performance of 94%, indicating that there is ample room for improving reasoning ability.

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You Impress Me: Dialogue Generation via Mutual Persona Perception
Qian Liu | Yihong Chen | Bei Chen | Jian-Guang Lou | Zixuan Chen | Bin Zhou | Dongmei Zhang

Despite the continuing efforts to improve the engagingness and consistency of chit-chat dialogue systems, the majority of current work simply focus on mimicking human-like responses, leaving understudied the aspects of modeling understanding between interlocutors. The research in cognitive science, instead, suggests that understanding is an essential signal for a high-quality chit-chat conversation. Motivated by this, we propose Pˆ2 Bot, a transmitter-receiver based framework with the aim of explicitly modeling understanding. Specifically, Pˆ2 Bot incorporates mutual persona perception to enhance the quality of personalized dialogue generation. Experiments on a large public dataset, Persona-Chat, demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach, with a considerable boost over the state-of-the-art baselines across both automatic metrics and human evaluations.

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Bridging Anaphora Resolution as Question Answering
Yufang Hou

Most previous studies on bridging anaphora resolution (Poesio et al., 2004; Hou et al., 2013b; Hou, 2018a) use the pairwise model to tackle the problem and assume that the gold mention information is given. In this paper, we cast bridging anaphora resolution as question answering based on context. This allows us to find the antecedent for a given anaphor without knowing any gold mention information (except the anaphor itself). We present a question answering framework (BARQA) for this task, which leverages the power of transfer learning. Furthermore, we propose a novel method to generate a large amount of “quasi-bridging” training data. We show that our model pre-trained on this dataset and fine-tuned on a small amount of in-domain dataset achieves new state-of-the-art results for bridging anaphora resolution on two bridging corpora (ISNotes (Markert et al., 2012) and BASHI (Ro ̈siger, 2018)).

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Dialogue Coherence Assessment Without Explicit Dialogue Act Labels
Mohsen Mesgar | Sebastian Bücker | Iryna Gurevych

Recent dialogue coherence models use the coherence features designed for monologue texts, e.g. nominal entities, to represent utterances and then explicitly augment them with dialogue-relevant features, e.g., dialogue act labels. It indicates two drawbacks, (a) semantics of utterances are limited to entity mentions, and (b) the performance of coherence models strongly relies on the quality of the input dialogue act labels. We address these issues by introducing a novel approach to dialogue coherence assessment. We use dialogue act prediction as an auxiliary task in a multi-task learning scenario to obtain informative utterance representations for coherence assessment. Our approach alleviates the need for explicit dialogue act labels during evaluation. The results of our experiments show that our model substantially (more than 20 accuracy points) outperforms its strong competitors on the DailyDialogue corpus, and performs on par with them on the SwitchBoard corpus for ranking dialogues concerning their coherence. We release our source code.

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Fast and Accurate Non-Projective Dependency Tree Linearization
Xiang Yu | Simon Tannert | Ngoc Thang Vu | Jonas Kuhn

We propose a graph-based method to tackle the dependency tree linearization task. We formulate the task as a Traveling Salesman Problem (TSP), and use a biaffine attention model to calculate the edge costs. We facilitate the decoding by solving the TSP for each subtree and combining the solution into a projective tree. We then design a transition system as post-processing, inspired by non-projective transition-based parsing, to obtain non-projective sentences. Our proposed method outperforms the state-of-the-art linearizer while being 10 times faster in training and decoding.

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Semantic Graphs for Generating Deep Questions
Liangming Pan | Yuxi Xie | Yansong Feng | Tat-Seng Chua | Min-Yen Kan

This paper proposes the problem of Deep Question Generation (DQG), which aims to generate complex questions that require reasoning over multiple pieces of information about the input passage. In order to capture the global structure of the document and facilitate reasoning, we propose a novel framework that first constructs a semantic-level graph for the input document and then encodes the semantic graph by introducing an attention-based GGNN (Att-GGNN). Afterward, we fuse the document-level and graph-level representations to perform joint training of content selection and question decoding. On the HotpotQA deep-question centric dataset, our model greatly improves performance over questions requiring reasoning over multiple facts, leading to state-of-the-art performance. The code is publicly available at

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A Novel Cascade Binary Tagging Framework for Relational Triple Extraction
Zhepei Wei | Jianlin Su | Yue Wang | Yuan Tian | Yi Chang

Extracting relational triples from unstructured text is crucial for large-scale knowledge graph construction. However, few existing works excel in solving the overlapping triple problem where multiple relational triples in the same sentence share the same entities. In this work, we introduce a fresh perspective to revisit the relational triple extraction task and propose a novel cascade binary tagging framework (CasRel) derived from a principled problem formulation. Instead of treating relations as discrete labels as in previous works, our new framework models relations as functions that map subjects to objects in a sentence, which naturally handles the overlapping problem. Experiments show that the CasRel framework already outperforms state-of-the-art methods even when its encoder module uses a randomly initialized BERT encoder, showing the power of the new tagging framework. It enjoys further performance boost when employing a pre-trained BERT encoder, outperforming the strongest baseline by 17.5 and 30.2 absolute gain in F1-score on two public datasets NYT and WebNLG, respectively. In-depth analysis on different scenarios of overlapping triples shows that the method delivers consistent performance gain across all these scenarios. The source code and data are released online.

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In Layman’s Terms: Semi-Open Relation Extraction from Scientific Texts
Ruben Kruiper | Julian Vincent | Jessica Chen-Burger | Marc Desmulliez | Ioannis Konstas

Information Extraction (IE) from scientific texts can be used to guide readers to the central information in scientific documents. But narrow IE systems extract only a fraction of the information captured, and Open IE systems do not perform well on the long and complex sentences encountered in scientific texts. In this work we combine the output of both types of systems to achieve Semi-Open Relation Extraction, a new task that we explore in the Biology domain. First, we present the Focused Open Biological Information Extraction (FOBIE) dataset and use FOBIE to train a state-of-the-art narrow scientific IE system to extract trade-off relations and arguments that are central to biology texts. We then run both the narrow IE system and a state-of-the-art Open IE system on a corpus of 10K open-access scientific biological texts. We show that a significant amount (65%) of erroneous and uninformative Open IE extractions can be filtered using narrow IE extractions. Furthermore, we show that the retained extractions are significantly more often informative to a reader.

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NAT: Noise-Aware Training for Robust Neural Sequence Labeling
Marcin Namysl | Sven Behnke | Joachim Köhler

Sequence labeling systems should perform reliably not only under ideal conditions but also with corrupted inputs—as these systems often process user-generated text or follow an error-prone upstream component. To this end, we formulate the noisy sequence labeling problem, where the input may undergo an unknown noising process and propose two Noise-Aware Training (NAT) objectives that improve robustness of sequence labeling performed on perturbed input: Our data augmentation method trains a neural model using a mixture of clean and noisy samples, whereas our stability training algorithm encourages the model to create a noise-invariant latent representation. We employ a vanilla noise model at training time. For evaluation, we use both the original data and its variants perturbed with real OCR errors and misspellings. Extensive experiments on English and German named entity recognition benchmarks confirmed that NAT consistently improved robustness of popular sequence labeling models, preserving accuracy on the original input. We make our code and data publicly available for the research community.

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Named Entity Recognition without Labelled Data: A Weak Supervision Approach
Pierre Lison | Jeremy Barnes | Aliaksandr Hubin | Samia Touileb

Named Entity Recognition (NER) performance often degrades rapidly when applied to target domains that differ from the texts observed during training. When in-domain labelled data is available, transfer learning techniques can be used to adapt existing NER models to the target domain. But what should one do when there is no hand-labelled data for the target domain? This paper presents a simple but powerful approach to learn NER models in the absence of labelled data through weak supervision. The approach relies on a broad spectrum of labelling functions to automatically annotate texts from the target domain. These annotations are then merged together using a hidden Markov model which captures the varying accuracies and confusions of the labelling functions. A sequence labelling model can finally be trained on the basis of this unified annotation. We evaluate the approach on two English datasets (CoNLL 2003 and news articles from Reuters and Bloomberg) and demonstrate an improvement of about 7 percentage points in entity-level F1 scores compared to an out-of-domain neural NER model.

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Probing Linguistic Features of Sentence-Level Representations in Neural Relation Extraction
Christoph Alt | Aleksandra Gabryszak | Leonhard Hennig

Despite the recent progress, little is known about the features captured by state-of-the-art neural relation extraction (RE) models. Common methods encode the source sentence, conditioned on the entity mentions, before classifying the relation. However, the complexity of the task makes it difficult to understand how encoder architecture and supporting linguistic knowledge affect the features learned by the encoder. We introduce 14 probing tasks targeting linguistic properties relevant to RE, and we use them to study representations learned by more than 40 different encoder architecture and linguistic feature combinations trained on two datasets, TACRED and SemEval 2010 Task 8. We find that the bias induced by the architecture and the inclusion of linguistic features are clearly expressed in the probing task performance. For example, adding contextualized word representations greatly increases performance on probing tasks with a focus on named entity and part-of-speech information, and yields better results in RE. In contrast, entity masking improves RE, but considerably lowers performance on entity type related probing tasks.

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Reasoning with Latent Structure Refinement for Document-Level Relation Extraction
Guoshun Nan | Zhijiang Guo | Ivan Sekulic | Wei Lu

Document-level relation extraction requires integrating information within and across multiple sentences of a document and capturing complex interactions between inter-sentence entities. However, effective aggregation of relevant information in the document remains a challenging research question. Existing approaches construct static document-level graphs based on syntactic trees, co-references or heuristics from the unstructured text to model the dependencies. Unlike previous methods that may not be able to capture rich non-local interactions for inference, we propose a novel model that empowers the relational reasoning across sentences by automatically inducing the latent document-level graph. We further develop a refinement strategy, which enables the model to incrementally aggregate relevant information for multi-hop reasoning. Specifically, our model achieves an F1 score of 59.05 on a large-scale document-level dataset (DocRED), significantly improving over the previous results, and also yields new state-of-the-art results on the CDR and GDA dataset. Furthermore, extensive analyses show that the model is able to discover more accurate inter-sentence relations.

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TACRED Revisited: A Thorough Evaluation of the TACRED Relation Extraction Task
Christoph Alt | Aleksandra Gabryszak | Leonhard Hennig

TACRED is one of the largest, most widely used crowdsourced datasets in Relation Extraction (RE). But, even with recent advances in unsupervised pre-training and knowledge enhanced neural RE, models still show a high error rate. In this paper, we investigate the questions: Have we reached a performance ceiling or is there still room for improvement? And how do crowd annotations, dataset, and models contribute to this error rate? To answer these questions, we first validate the most challenging 5K examples in the development and test sets using trained annotators. We find that label errors account for 8% absolute F1 test error, and that more than 50% of the examples need to be relabeled. On the relabeled test set the average F1 score of a large baseline model set improves from 62.1 to 70.1. After validation, we analyze misclassifications on the challenging instances, categorize them into linguistically motivated error groups, and verify the resulting error hypotheses on three state-of-the-art RE models. We show that two groups of ambiguous relations are responsible for most of the remaining errors and that models may adopt shallow heuristics on the dataset when entities are not masked.

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Bilingual Dictionary Based Neural Machine Translation without Using Parallel Sentences
Xiangyu Duan | Baijun Ji | Hao Jia | Min Tan | Min Zhang | Boxing Chen | Weihua Luo | Yue Zhang

In this paper, we propose a new task of machine translation (MT), which is based on no parallel sentences but can refer to a ground-truth bilingual dictionary. Motivated by the ability of a monolingual speaker learning to translate via looking up the bilingual dictionary, we propose the task to see how much potential an MT system can attain using the bilingual dictionary and large scale monolingual corpora, while is independent on parallel sentences. We propose anchored training (AT) to tackle the task. AT uses the bilingual dictionary to establish anchoring points for closing the gap between source language and target language. Experiments on various language pairs show that our approaches are significantly better than various baselines, including dictionary-based word-by-word translation, dictionary-supervised cross-lingual word embedding transformation, and unsupervised MT. On distant language pairs that are hard for unsupervised MT to perform well, AT performs remarkably better, achieving performances comparable to supervised SMT trained on more than 4M parallel sentences.

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Boosting Neural Machine Translation with Similar Translations
Jitao Xu | Josep Crego | Jean Senellart

This paper explores data augmentation methods for training Neural Machine Translation to make use of similar translations, in a comparable way a human translator employs fuzzy matches. In particular, we show how we can simply present the neural model with information of both source and target sides of the fuzzy matches, we also extend the similarity to include semantically related translations retrieved using sentence distributed representations. We show that translations based on fuzzy matching provide the model with “copy” information while translations based on embedding similarities tend to extend the translation “context”. Results indicate that the effect from both similar sentences are adding up to further boost accuracy, combine naturally with model fine-tuning and are providing dynamic adaptation for unseen translation pairs. Tests on multiple data sets and domains show consistent accuracy improvements. To foster research around these techniques, we also release an Open-Source toolkit with efficient and flexible fuzzy-match implementation.

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Character-Level Translation with Self-attention
Yingqiang Gao | Nikola I. Nikolov | Yuhuang Hu | Richard H.R. Hahnloser

We explore the suitability of self-attention models for character-level neural machine translation. We test the standard transformer model, as well as a novel variant in which the encoder block combines information from nearby characters using convolutions. We perform extensive experiments on WMT and UN datasets, testing both bilingual and multilingual translation to English using up to three input languages (French, Spanish, and Chinese). Our transformer variant consistently outperforms the standard transformer at the character-level and converges faster while learning more robust character-level alignments.

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End-to-End Neural Word Alignment Outperforms GIZA++
Thomas Zenkel | Joern Wuebker | John DeNero

Word alignment was once a core unsupervised learning task in natural language processing because of its essential role in training statistical machine translation (MT) models. Although unnecessary for training neural MT models, word alignment still plays an important role in interactive applications of neural machine translation, such as annotation transfer and lexicon injection. While statistical MT methods have been replaced by neural approaches with superior performance, the twenty-year-old GIZA++ toolkit remains a key component of state-of-the-art word alignment systems. Prior work on neural word alignment has only been able to outperform GIZA++ by using its output during training. We present the first end-to-end neural word alignment method that consistently outperforms GIZA++ on three data sets. Our approach repurposes a Transformer model trained for supervised translation to also serve as an unsupervised word alignment model in a manner that is tightly integrated and does not affect translation quality.

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Enhancing Machine Translation with Dependency-Aware Self-Attention
Emanuele Bugliarello | Naoaki Okazaki

Most neural machine translation models only rely on pairs of parallel sentences, assuming syntactic information is automatically learned by an attention mechanism. In this work, we investigate different approaches to incorporate syntactic knowledge in the Transformer model and also propose a novel, parameter-free, dependency-aware self-attention mechanism that improves its translation quality, especially for long sentences and in low-resource scenarios. We show the efficacy of each approach on WMT English-German and English-Turkish, and WAT English-Japanese translation tasks.

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Improving Massively Multilingual Neural Machine Translation and Zero-Shot Translation
Biao Zhang | Philip Williams | Ivan Titov | Rico Sennrich

Massively multilingual models for neural machine translation (NMT) are theoretically attractive, but often underperform bilingual models and deliver poor zero-shot translations. In this paper, we explore ways to improve them. We argue that multilingual NMT requires stronger modeling capacity to support language pairs with varying typological characteristics, and overcome this bottleneck via language-specific components and deepening NMT architectures. We identify the off-target translation issue (i.e. translating into a wrong target language) as the major source of the inferior zero-shot performance, and propose random online backtranslation to enforce the translation of unseen training language pairs. Experiments on OPUS-100 (a novel multilingual dataset with 100 languages) show that our approach substantially narrows the performance gap with bilingual models in both one-to-many and many-to-many settings, and improves zero-shot performance by ~10 BLEU, approaching conventional pivot-based methods.

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It’s Easier to Translate out of English than into it: Measuring Neural Translation Difficulty by Cross-Mutual Information
Emanuele Bugliarello | Sabrina J. Mielke | Antonios Anastasopoulos | Ryan Cotterell | Naoaki Okazaki

The performance of neural machine translation systems is commonly evaluated in terms of BLEU. However, due to its reliance on target language properties and generation, the BLEU metric does not allow an assessment of which translation directions are more difficult to model. In this paper, we propose cross-mutual information (XMI): an asymmetric information-theoretic metric of machine translation difficulty that exploits the probabilistic nature of most neural machine translation models. XMI allows us to better evaluate the difficulty of translating text into the target language while controlling for the difficulty of the target-side generation component independent of the translation task. We then present the first systematic and controlled study of cross-lingual translation difficulties using modern neural translation systems. Code for replicating our experiments is available online at

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Language-aware Interlingua for Multilingual Neural Machine Translation
Changfeng Zhu | Heng Yu | Shanbo Cheng | Weihua Luo

Multilingual neural machine translation (NMT) has led to impressive accuracy improvements in low-resource scenarios by sharing common linguistic information across languages. However, the traditional multilingual model fails to capture the diversity and specificity of different languages, resulting in inferior performance compared with individual models that are sufficiently trained. In this paper, we incorporate a language-aware interlingua into the Encoder-Decoder architecture. The interlingual network enables the model to learn a language-independent representation from the semantic spaces of different languages, while still allowing for language-specific specialization of a particular language-pair. Experiments show that our proposed method achieves remarkable improvements over state-of-the-art multilingual NMT baselines and produces comparable performance with strong individual models.

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On the Limitations of Cross-lingual Encoders as Exposed by Reference-Free Machine Translation Evaluation
Wei Zhao | Goran Glavaš | Maxime Peyrard | Yang Gao | Robert West | Steffen Eger

Evaluation of cross-lingual encoders is usually performed either via zero-shot cross-lingual transfer in supervised downstream tasks or via unsupervised cross-lingual textual similarity. In this paper, we concern ourselves with reference-free machine translation (MT) evaluation where we directly compare source texts to (sometimes low-quality) system translations, which represents a natural adversarial setup for multilingual encoders. Reference-free evaluation holds the promise of web-scale comparison of MT systems. We systematically investigate a range of metrics based on state-of-the-art cross-lingual semantic representations obtained with pretrained M-BERT and LASER. We find that they perform poorly as semantic encoders for reference-free MT evaluation and identify their two key limitations, namely, (a) a semantic mismatch between representations of mutual translations and, more prominently, (b) the inability to punish “translationese”, i.e., low-quality literal translations. We propose two partial remedies: (1) post-hoc re-alignment of the vector spaces and (2) coupling of semantic-similarity based metrics with target-side language modeling. In segment-level MT evaluation, our best metric surpasses reference-based BLEU by 5.7 correlation points.

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Parallel Sentence Mining by Constrained Decoding
Pinzhen Chen | Nikolay Bogoychev | Kenneth Heafield | Faheem Kirefu

We present a novel method to extract parallel sentences from two monolingual corpora, using neural machine translation. Our method relies on translating sentences in one corpus, but constraining the decoding by a prefix tree built on the other corpus. We argue that a neural machine translation system by itself can be a sentence similarity scorer and it efficiently approximates pairwise comparison with a modified beam search. When benchmarked on the BUCC shared task, our method achieves results comparable to other submissions.

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Self-Attention with Cross-Lingual Position Representation
Liang Ding | Longyue Wang | Dacheng Tao

Position encoding (PE), an essential part of self-attention networks (SANs), is used to preserve the word order information for natural language processing tasks, generating fixed position indices for input sequences. However, in cross-lingual scenarios, machine translation, the PEs of source and target sentences are modeled independently. Due to word order divergences in different languages, modeling the cross-lingual positional relationships might help SANs tackle this problem. In this paper, we augment SANs with cross-lingual position representations to model the bilingually aware latent structure for the input sentence. Specifically, we utilize bracketing transduction grammar (BTG)-based reordering information to encourage SANs to learn bilingual diagonal alignments. Experimental results on WMT’14 EnglishGerman, WAT’17 JapaneseEnglish, and WMT’17 ChineseEnglish translation tasks demonstrate that our approach significantly and consistently improves translation quality over strong baselines. Extensive analyses confirm that the performance gains come from the cross-lingual information.

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“You Sound Just Like Your Father” Commercial Machine Translation Systems Include Stylistic Biases
Dirk Hovy | Federico Bianchi | Tommaso Fornaciari

The main goal of machine translation has been to convey the correct content. Stylistic considerations have been at best secondary. We show that as a consequence, the output of three commercial machine translation systems (Bing, DeepL, Google) make demographically diverse samples from five languages “sound” older and more male than the original. Our findings suggest that translation models reflect demographic bias in the training data. This opens up interesting new research avenues in machine translation to take stylistic considerations into account.

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MMPE: A Multi-Modal Interface for Post-Editing Machine Translation
Nico Herbig | Tim Düwel | Santanu Pal | Kalliopi Meladaki | Mahsa Monshizadeh | Antonio Krüger | Josef van Genabith

Current advances in machine translation (MT) increase the need for translators to switch from traditional translation to post-editing (PE) of machine-translated text, a process that saves time and reduces errors. This affects the design of translation interfaces, as the task changes from mainly generating text to correcting errors within otherwise helpful translation proposals. Since this paradigm shift offers potential for modalities other than mouse and keyboard, we present MMPE, the first prototype to combine traditional input modes with pen, touch, and speech modalities for PE of MT. The results of an evaluation with professional translators suggest that pen and touch interaction are suitable for deletion and reordering tasks, while they are of limited use for longer insertions. On the other hand, speech and multi-modal combinations of select & speech are considered suitable for replacements and insertions but offer less potential for deletion and reordering. Overall, participants were enthusiastic about the new modalities and saw them as good extensions to mouse & keyboard, but not as a complete substitute.

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A Monolingual Approach to Contextualized Word Embeddings for Mid-Resource Languages
Pedro Javier Ortiz Suárez | Laurent Romary | Benoît Sagot

We use the multilingual OSCAR corpus, extracted from Common Crawl via language classification, filtering and cleaning, to train monolingual contextualized word embeddings (ELMo) for five mid-resource languages. We then compare the performance of OSCAR-based and Wikipedia-based ELMo embeddings for these languages on the part-of-speech tagging and parsing tasks. We show that, despite the noise in the Common-Crawl-based OSCAR data, embeddings trained on OSCAR perform much better than monolingual embeddings trained on Wikipedia. They actually equal or improve the current state of the art in tagging and parsing for all five languages. In particular, they also improve over multilingual Wikipedia-based contextual embeddings (multilingual BERT), which almost always constitutes the previous state of the art, thereby showing that the benefit of a larger, more diverse corpus surpasses the cross-lingual benefit of multilingual embedding architectures.

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Will-They-Won’t-They: A Very Large Dataset for Stance Detection on Twitter
Costanza Conforti | Jakob Berndt | Mohammad Taher Pilehvar | Chryssi Giannitsarou | Flavio Toxvaerd | Nigel Collier

We present a new challenging stance detection dataset, called Will-They-Won’t-They (WT–WT), which contains 51,284 tweets in English, making it by far the largest available dataset of the type. All the annotations are carried out by experts; therefore, the dataset constitutes a high-quality and reliable benchmark for future research in stance detection. Our experiments with a wide range of recent state-of-the-art stance detection systems show that the dataset poses a strong challenge to existing models in this domain.

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A Systematic Assessment of Syntactic Generalization in Neural Language Models
Jennifer Hu | Jon Gauthier | Peng Qian | Ethan Wilcox | Roger Levy

While state-of-the-art neural network models continue to achieve lower perplexity scores on language modeling benchmarks, it remains unknown whether optimizing for broad-coverage predictive performance leads to human-like syntactic knowledge. Furthermore, existing work has not provided a clear picture about the model properties required to produce proper syntactic generalizations. We present a systematic evaluation of the syntactic knowledge of neural language models, testing 20 combinations of model types and data sizes on a set of 34 English-language syntactic test suites. We find substantial differences in syntactic generalization performance by model architecture, with sequential models underperforming other architectures. Factorially manipulating model architecture and training dataset size (1M-40M words), we find that variability in syntactic generalization performance is substantially greater by architecture than by dataset size for the corpora tested in our experiments. Our results also reveal a dissociation between perplexity and syntactic generalization performance.

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Inflecting When There’s No Majority: Limitations of Encoder-Decoder Neural Networks as Cognitive Models for German Plurals
Kate McCurdy | Sharon Goldwater | Adam Lopez

Can artificial neural networks learn to represent inflectional morphology and generalize to new words as human speakers do? Kirov and Cotterell (2018) argue that the answer is yes: modern Encoder-Decoder (ED) architectures learn human-like behavior when inflecting English verbs, such as extending the regular past tense form /-(e)d/ to novel words. However, their work does not address the criticism raised by Marcus et al. (1995): that neural models may learn to extend not the regular, but the most frequent class — and thus fail on tasks like German number inflection, where infrequent suffixes like /-s/ can still be productively generalized. To investigate this question, we first collect a new dataset from German speakers (production and ratings of plural forms for novel nouns) that is designed to avoid sources of information unavailable to the ED model. The speaker data show high variability, and two suffixes evince ‘regular’ behavior, appearing more often with phonologically atypical inputs. Encoder-decoder models do generalize the most frequently produced plural class, but do not show human-like variability or ‘regular’ extension of these other plural markers. We conclude that modern neural models may still struggle with minority-class generalization.

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Overestimation of Syntactic Representation in Neural Language Models
Jordan Kodner | Nitish Gupta

With the advent of powerful neural language models over the last few years, research attention has increasingly focused on what aspects of language they represent that make them so successful. Several testing methodologies have been developed to probe models’ syntactic representations. One popular method for determining a model’s ability to induce syntactic structure trains a model on strings generated according to a template then tests the model’s ability to distinguish such strings from superficially similar ones with different syntax. We illustrate a fundamental problem with this approach by reproducing positive results from a recent paper with two non-syntactic baseline language models: an n-gram model and an LSTM model trained on scrambled inputs.

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Modelling Suspense in Short Stories as Uncertainty Reduction over Neural Representation
David Wilmot | Frank Keller

Suspense is a crucial ingredient of narrative fiction, engaging readers and making stories compelling. While there is a vast theoretical literature on suspense, it is computationally not well understood. We compare two ways for modelling suspense: surprise, a backward-looking measure of how unexpected the current state is given the story so far; and uncertainty reduction, a forward-looking measure of how unexpected the continuation of the story is. Both can be computed either directly over story representations or over their probability distributions. We propose a hierarchical language model that encodes stories and computes surprise and uncertainty reduction. Evaluating against short stories annotated with human suspense judgements, we find that uncertainty reduction over representations is the best predictor, resulting in near human accuracy. We also show that uncertainty reduction can be used to predict suspenseful events in movie synopses.

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You Don’t Have Time to Read This: An Exploration of Document Reading Time Prediction
Orion Weller | Jordan Hildebrandt | Ilya Reznik | Christopher Challis | E. Shannon Tass | Quinn Snell | Kevin Seppi

Predicting reading time has been a subject of much previous work, focusing on how different words affect human processing, measured by reading time. However, previous work has dealt with a limited number of participants as well as word level only predictions (i.e. predicting the time to read a single word). We seek to extend these works by examining whether or not document level predictions are effective, given additional information such as subject matter, font characteristics, and readability metrics. We perform a novel experiment to examine how different features of text contribute to the time it takes to read, distributing and collecting data from over a thousand participants. We then employ a large number of machine learning methods to predict a user’s reading time. We find that despite extensive research showing that word level reading time can be most effectively predicted by neural networks, larger scale text can be easily and most accurately predicted by one factor, the number of words.

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A Generative Model for Joint Natural Language Understanding and Generation
Bo-Hsiang Tseng | Jianpeng Cheng | Yimai Fang | David Vandyke

Natural language understanding (NLU) and natural language generation (NLG) are two fundamental and related tasks in building task-oriented dialogue systems with opposite objectives: NLU tackles the transformation from natural language to formal representations, whereas NLG does the reverse. A key to success in either task is parallel training data which is expensive to obtain at a large scale. In this work, we propose a generative model which couples NLU and NLG through a shared latent variable. This approach allows us to explore both spaces of natural language and formal representations, and facilitates information sharing through the latent space to eventually benefit NLU and NLG. Our model achieves state-of-the-art performance on two dialogue datasets with both flat and tree-structured formal representations. We also show that the model can be trained in a semi-supervised fashion by utilising unlabelled data to boost its performance.

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Automatic Detection of Generated Text is Easiest when Humans are Fooled
Daphne Ippolito | Daniel Duckworth | Chris Callison-Burch | Douglas Eck

Recent advancements in neural language modelling make it possible to rapidly generate vast amounts of human-sounding text. The capabilities of humans and automatic discriminators to detect machine-generated text have been a large source of research interest, but humans and machines rely on different cues to make their decisions. Here, we perform careful benchmarking and analysis of three popular sampling-based decoding strategies—top-_k_, nucleus sampling, and untruncated random sampling—and show that improvements in decoding methods have primarily optimized for fooling humans. This comes at the expense of introducing statistical abnormalities that make detection easy for automatic systems. We also show that though both human and automatic detector performance improve with longer excerpt length, even multi-sentence excerpts can fool expert human raters over 30% of the time. Our findings reveal the importance of using both human and automatic detectors to assess the humanness of text generation systems.

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Multi-Domain Neural Machine Translation with Word-Level Adaptive Layer-wise Domain Mixing
Haoming Jiang | Chen Liang | Chong Wang | Tuo Zhao

Many multi-domain neural machine translation (NMT) models achieve knowledge transfer by enforcing one encoder to learn shared embedding across domains. However, this design lacks adaptation to individual domains. To overcome this limitation, we propose a novel multi-domain NMT model using individual modules for each domain, on which we apply word-level, adaptive and layer-wise domain mixing. We first observe that words in a sentence are often related to multiple domains. Hence, we assume each word has a domain proportion, which indicates its domain preference. Then word representations are obtained by mixing their embedding in individual domains based on their domain proportions. We show this can be achieved by carefully designing multi-head dot-product attention modules for different domains, and eventually taking weighted averages of their parameters by word-level layer-wise domain proportions. Through this, we can achieve effective domain knowledge sharing and capture fine-grained domain-specific knowledge as well. Our experiments show that our proposed model outperforms existing ones in several NMT tasks.

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Conversational Graph Grounded Policy Learning for Open-Domain Conversation Generation
Jun Xu | Haifeng Wang | Zheng-Yu Niu | Hua Wu | Wanxiang Che | Ting Liu

To address the challenge of policy learning in open-domain multi-turn conversation, we propose to represent prior information about dialog transitions as a graph and learn a graph grounded dialog policy, aimed at fostering a more coherent and controllable dialog. To this end, we first construct a conversational graph (CG) from dialog corpora, in which there are vertices to represent “what to say” and “how to say”, and edges to represent natural transition between a message (the last utterance in a dialog context) and its response. We then present a novel CG grounded policy learning framework that conducts dialog flow planning by graph traversal, which learns to identify a what-vertex and a how-vertex from the CG at each turn to guide response generation. In this way, we effectively leverage the CG to facilitate policy learning as follows: (1) it enables more effective long-term reward design, (2) it provides high-quality candidate actions, and (3) it gives us more control over the policy. Results on two benchmark corpora demonstrate the effectiveness of this framework.

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GPT-too: A Language-Model-First Approach for AMR-to-Text Generation
Manuel Mager | Ramón Fernandez Astudillo | Tahira Naseem | Md Arafat Sultan | Young-Suk Lee | Radu Florian | Salim Roukos

Abstract Meaning Representations (AMRs) are broad-coverage sentence-level semantic graphs. Existing approaches to generating text from AMR have focused on training sequence-to-sequence or graph-to-sequence models on AMR annotated data only. In this paper, we propose an alternative approach that combines a strong pre-trained language model with cycle consistency-based re-scoring. Despite the simplicity of the approach, our experimental results show these models outperform all previous techniques on the English LDC2017T10 dataset, including the recent use of transformer architectures. In addition to the standard evaluation metrics, we provide human evaluation experiments that further substantiate the strength of our approach.

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Learning to Update Natural Language Comments Based on Code Changes
Sheena Panthaplackel | Pengyu Nie | Milos Gligoric | Junyi Jessy Li | Raymond Mooney

We formulate the novel task of automatically updating an existing natural language comment based on changes in the body of code it accompanies. We propose an approach that learns to correlate changes across two distinct language representations, to generate a sequence of edits that are applied to the existing comment to reflect the source code modifications. We train and evaluate our model using a dataset that we collected from commit histories of open-source software projects, with each example consisting of a concurrent update to a method and its corresponding comment. We compare our approach against multiple baselines using both automatic metrics and human evaluation. Results reflect the challenge of this task and that our model outperforms baselines with respect to making edits.

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Politeness Transfer: A Tag and Generate Approach
Aman Madaan | Amrith Setlur | Tanmay Parekh | Barnabas Poczos | Graham Neubig | Yiming Yang | Ruslan Salakhutdinov | Alan W Black | Shrimai Prabhumoye

This paper introduces a new task of politeness transfer which involves converting non-polite sentences to polite sentences while preserving the meaning. We also provide a dataset of more than 1.39 instances automatically labeled for politeness to encourage benchmark evaluations on this new task. We design a tag and generate pipeline that identifies stylistic attributes and subsequently generates a sentence in the target style while preserving most of the source content. For politeness as well as five other transfer tasks, our model outperforms the state-of-the-art methods on automatic metrics for content preservation, with a comparable or better performance on style transfer accuracy. Additionally, our model surpasses existing methods on human evaluations for grammaticality, meaning preservation and transfer accuracy across all the six style transfer tasks. The data and code is located at

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BPE-Dropout: Simple and Effective Subword Regularization
Ivan Provilkov | Dmitrii Emelianenko | Elena Voita

Subword segmentation is widely used to address the open vocabulary problem in machine translation. The dominant approach to subword segmentation is Byte Pair Encoding (BPE), which keeps the most frequent words intact while splitting the rare ones into multiple tokens. While multiple segmentations are possible even with the same vocabulary, BPE splits words into unique sequences; this may prevent a model from better learning the compositionality of words and being robust to segmentation errors. So far, the only way to overcome this BPE imperfection, its deterministic nature, was to create another subword segmentation algorithm (Kudo, 2018). In contrast, we show that BPE itself incorporates the ability to produce multiple segmentations of the same word. We introduce BPE-dropout - simple and effective subword regularization method based on and compatible with conventional BPE. It stochastically corrupts the segmentation procedure of BPE, which leads to producing multiple segmentations within the same fixed BPE framework. Using BPE-dropout during training and the standard BPE during inference improves translation quality up to 2.3 BLEU compared to BPE and up to 0.9 BLEU compared to the previous subword regularization.

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Improving Non-autoregressive Neural Machine Translation with Monolingual Data
Jiawei Zhou | Phillip Keung

Non-autoregressive (NAR) neural machine translation is usually done via knowledge distillation from an autoregressive (AR) model. Under this framework, we leverage large monolingual corpora to improve the NAR model’s performance, with the goal of transferring the AR model’s generalization ability while preventing overfitting. On top of a strong NAR baseline, our experimental results on the WMT14 En-De and WMT16 En-Ro news translation tasks confirm that monolingual data augmentation consistently improves the performance of the NAR model to approach the teacher AR model’s performance, yields comparable or better results than the best non-iterative NAR methods in the literature and helps reduce overfitting in the training process.

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Attend to Medical Ontologies: Content Selection for Clinical Abstractive Summarization
Sajad Sotudeh Gharebagh | Nazli Goharian | Ross Filice

Sequence-to-sequence (seq2seq) network is a well-established model for text summarization task. It can learn to produce readable content; however, it falls short in effectively identifying key regions of the source. In this paper, we approach the content selection problem for clinical abstractive summarization by augmenting salient ontological terms into the summarizer. Our experiments on two publicly available clinical data sets (107,372 reports of MIMIC-CXR, and 3,366 reports of OpenI) show that our model statistically significantly boosts state-of-the-art results in terms of ROUGE metrics (with improvements: 2.9% RG-1, 2.5% RG-2, 1.9% RG-L), in the healthcare domain where any range of improvement impacts patients’ welfare.

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On Faithfulness and Factuality in Abstractive Summarization
Joshua Maynez | Shashi Narayan | Bernd Bohnet | Ryan McDonald

It is well known that the standard likelihood training and approximate decoding objectives in neural text generation models lead to less human-like responses for open-ended tasks such as language modeling and story generation. In this paper we have analyzed limitations of these models for abstractive document summarization and found that these models are highly prone to hallucinate content that is unfaithful to the input document. We conducted a large scale human evaluation of several neural abstractive summarization systems to better understand the types of hallucinations they produce. Our human annotators found substantial amounts of hallucinated content in all model generated summaries. However, our analysis does show that pretrained models are better summarizers not only in terms of raw metrics, i.e., ROUGE, but also in generating faithful and factual summaries as evaluated by humans. Furthermore, we show that textual entailment measures better correlate with faithfulness than standard metrics, potentially leading the way to automatic evaluation metrics as well as training and decoding criteria.

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Screenplay Summarization Using Latent Narrative Structure
Pinelopi Papalampidi | Frank Keller | Lea Frermann | Mirella Lapata

Most general-purpose extractive summarization models are trained on news articles, which are short and present all important information upfront. As a result, such models are biased on position and often perform a smart selection of sentences from the beginning of the document. When summarizing long narratives, which have complex structure and present information piecemeal, simple position heuristics are not sufficient. In this paper, we propose to explicitly incorporate the underlying structure of narratives into general unsupervised and supervised extractive summarization models. We formalize narrative structure in terms of key narrative events (turning points) and treat it as latent in order to summarize screenplays (i.e., extract an optimal sequence of scenes). Experimental results on the CSI corpus of TV screenplays, which we augment with scene-level summarization labels, show that latent turning points correlate with important aspects of a CSI episode and improve summarization performance over general extractive algorithms leading to more complete and diverse summaries.

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Unsupervised Opinion Summarization with Noising and Denoising
Reinald Kim Amplayo | Mirella Lapata

The supervised training of high-capacity models on large datasets containing hundreds of thousands of document-summary pairs is critical to the recent success of deep learning techniques for abstractive summarization. Unfortunately, in most domains (other than news) such training data is not available and cannot be easily sourced. In this paper we enable the use of supervised learning for the setting where there are only documents available (e.g., product or business reviews) without ground truth summaries. We create a synthetic dataset from a corpus of user reviews by sampling a review, pretending it is a summary, and generating noisy versions thereof which we treat as pseudo-review input. We introduce several linguistically motivated noise generation functions and a summarization model which learns to denoise the input and generate the original review. At test time, the model accepts genuine reviews and generates a summary containing salient opinions, treating those that do not reach consensus as noise. Extensive automatic and human evaluation shows that our model brings substantial improvements over both abstractive and extractive baselines.

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A Tale of Two Perplexities: Sensitivity of Neural Language Models to Lexical Retrieval Deficits in Dementia of the Alzheimer’s Type
Trevor Cohen | Serguei Pakhomov

In recent years there has been a burgeoning interest in the use of computational methods to distinguish between elicited speech samples produced by patients with dementia, and those from healthy controls. The difference between perplexity estimates from two neural language models (LMs) - one trained on transcripts of speech produced by healthy participants and one trained on those with dementia - as a single feature for diagnostic classification of unseen transcripts has been shown to produce state-of-the-art performance. However, little is known about why this approach is effective, and on account of the lack of case/control matching in the most widely-used evaluation set of transcripts (DementiaBank), it is unclear if these approaches are truly diagnostic, or are sensitive to other variables. In this paper, we interrogate neural LMs trained on participants with and without dementia by using synthetic narratives previously developed to simulate progressive semantic dementia by manipulating lexical frequency. We find that perplexity of neural LMs is strongly and differentially associated with lexical frequency, and that using a mixture model resulting from interpolating control and dementia LMs improves upon the current state-of-the-art for models trained on transcript text exclusively.

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Probing Linguistic Systematicity
Emily Goodwin | Koustuv Sinha | Timothy J. O’Donnell

Recently, there has been much interest in the question of whether deep natural language understanding (NLU) models exhibit systematicity, generalizing such that units like words make consistent contributions to the meaning of the sentences in which they appear. There is accumulating evidence that neural models do not learn systematically. We examine the notion of systematicity from a linguistic perspective, defining a set of probing tasks and a set of metrics to measure systematic behaviour. We also identify ways in which network architectures can generalize non-systematically, and discuss why such forms of generalization may be unsatisfying. As a case study, we perform a series of experiments in the setting of natural language inference (NLI). We provide evidence that current state-of-the-art NLU systems do not generalize systematically, despite overall high performance.

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Recollection versus Imagination: Exploring Human Memory and Cognition via Neural Language Models
Maarten Sap | Eric Horvitz | Yejin Choi | Noah A. Smith | James Pennebaker

We investigate the use of NLP as a measure of the cognitive processes involved in storytelling, contrasting imagination and recollection of events. To facilitate this, we collect and release Hippocorpus, a dataset of 7,000 stories about imagined and recalled events. We introduce a measure of narrative flow and use this to examine the narratives for imagined and recalled events. Additionally, we measure the differential recruitment of knowledge attributed to semantic memory versus episodic memory (Tulving, 1972) for imagined and recalled storytelling by comparing the frequency of descriptions of general commonsense events with more specific realis events. Our analyses show that imagined stories have a substantially more linear narrative flow, compared to recalled stories in which adjacent sentences are more disconnected. In addition, while recalled stories rely more on autobiographical events based on episodic memory, imagined stories express more commonsense knowledge based on semantic memory. Finally, our measures reveal the effect of narrativization of memories in stories (e.g., stories about frequently recalled memories flow more linearly; Bartlett, 1932). Our findings highlight the potential of using NLP tools to study the traces of human cognition in language.

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Recurrent Neural Network Language Models Always Learn English-Like Relative Clause Attachment
Forrest Davis | Marten van Schijndel

A standard approach to evaluating language models analyzes how models assign probabilities to valid versus invalid syntactic constructions (i.e. is a grammatical sentence more probable than an ungrammatical sentence). Our work uses ambiguous relative clause attachment to extend such evaluations to cases of multiple simultaneous valid interpretations, where stark grammaticality differences are absent. We compare model performance in English and Spanish to show that non-linguistic biases in RNN LMs advantageously overlap with syntactic structure in English but not Spanish. Thus, English models may appear to acquire human-like syntactic preferences, while models trained on Spanish fail to acquire comparable human-like preferences. We conclude by relating these results to broader concerns about the relationship between comprehension (i.e. typical language model use cases) and production (which generates the training data for language models), suggesting that necessary linguistic biases are not present in the training signal at all.

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Speakers enhance contextually confusable words
Eric Meinhardt | Eric Bakovic | Leon Bergen

Recent work has found evidence that natural languages are shaped by pressures for efficient communication — e.g. the more contextually predictable a word is, the fewer speech sounds or syllables it has (Piantadosi et al. 2011). Research on the degree to which speech and language are shaped by pressures for effective communication — robustness in the face of noise and uncertainty — has been more equivocal. We develop a measure of contextual confusability during word recognition based on psychoacoustic data. Applying this measure to naturalistic speech corpora, we find evidence suggesting that speakers alter their productions to make contextually more confusable words easier to understand.

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What determines the order of adjectives in English? Comparing efficiency-based theories using dependency treebanks
Richard Futrell | William Dyer | Greg Scontras

We take up the scientific question of what determines the preferred order of adjectives in English, in phrases such as big blue box where multiple adjectives modify a following noun. We implement and test four quantitative theories, all of which are theoretically motivated in terms of efficiency in human language production and comprehension. The four theories we test are subjectivity (Scontras et al., 2017), information locality (Futrell, 2019), integration cost (Dyer, 2017), and information gain, which we introduce. We evaluate theories based on their ability to predict orders of unseen adjectives in hand-parsed and automatically-parsed dependency treebanks. We find that subjectivity, information locality, and information gain are all strong predictors, with some evidence for a two-factor account, where subjectivity and information gain reflect a factor involving semantics, and information locality reflects collocational preferences.

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“None of the Above”: Measure Uncertainty in Dialog Response Retrieval
Yulan Feng | Shikib Mehri | Maxine Eskenazi | Tiancheng Zhao

This paper discusses the importance of uncovering uncertainty in end-to-end dialog tasks and presents our experimental results on uncertainty classification on the processed Ubuntu Dialog Corpus. We show that instead of retraining models for this specific purpose, we can capture the original retrieval model’s underlying confidence concerning the best prediction using trivial additional computation.

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Can You Put it All Together: Evaluating Conversational Agents’ Ability to Blend Skills
Eric Michael Smith | Mary Williamson | Kurt Shuster | Jason Weston | Y-Lan Boureau

Being engaging, knowledgeable, and empathetic are all desirable general qualities in a conversational agent. Previous work has introduced tasks and datasets that aim to help agents to learn those qualities in isolation and gauge how well they can express them. But rather than being specialized in one single quality, a good open-domain conversational agent should be able to seamlessly blend them all into one cohesive conversational flow. In this work, we investigate several ways to combine models trained towards isolated capabilities, ranging from simple model aggregation schemes that require minimal additional training, to various forms of multi-task training that encompass several skills at all training stages. We further propose a new dataset, BlendedSkillTalk, to analyze how these capabilities would mesh together in a natural conversation, and compare the performance of different architectures and training schemes. Our experiments show that multi-tasking over several tasks that focus on particular capabilities results in better blended conversation performance compared to models trained on a single skill, and that both unified or two-stage approaches perform well if they are constructed to avoid unwanted bias in skill selection or are fine-tuned on our new task.

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Grounded Conversation Generation as Guided Traverses in Commonsense Knowledge Graphs
Houyu Zhang | Zhenghao Liu | Chenyan Xiong | Zhiyuan Liu

Human conversations naturally evolve around related concepts and hop to distant concepts. This paper presents a new conversation generation model, ConceptFlow, which leverages commonsense knowledge graphs to explicitly model conversation flows. By grounding conversations to the concept space, ConceptFlow represents the potential conversation flow as traverses in the concept space along commonsense relations. The traverse is guided by graph attentions in the concept graph, moving towards more meaningful directions in the concept space, in order to generate more semantic and informative responses. Experiments on Reddit conversations demonstrate ConceptFlow’s effectiveness over previous knowledge-aware conversation models and GPT-2 based models while using 70% fewer parameters, confirming the advantage of explicit modeling conversation structures. All source codes of this work are available at

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Negative Training for Neural Dialogue Response Generation
Tianxing He | James Glass

Although deep learning models have brought tremendous advancements to the field of open-domain dialogue response generation, recent research results have revealed that the trained models have undesirable generation behaviors, such as malicious responses and generic (boring) responses. In this work, we propose a framework named “Negative Training” to minimize such behaviors. Given a trained model, the framework will first find generated samples that exhibit the undesirable behavior, and then use them to feed negative training signals for fine-tuning the model. Our experiments show that negative training can significantly reduce the hit rate of malicious responses, or discourage frequent responses and improve response diversity.

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Recursive Template-based Frame Generation for Task Oriented Dialog
Rashmi Gangadharaiah | Balakrishnan Narayanaswamy

The Natural Language Understanding (NLU) component in task oriented dialog systems processes a user’s request and converts it into structured information that can be consumed by downstream components such as the Dialog State Tracker (DST). This information is typically represented as a semantic frame that captures the intent and slot-labels provided by the user. We first show that such a shallow representation is insufficient for complex dialog scenarios, because it does not capture the recursive nature inherent in many domains. We propose a recursive, hierarchical frame-based representation and show how to learn it from data. We formulate the frame generation task as a template-based tree decoding task, where the decoder recursively generates a template and then fills slot values into the template. We extend local tree-based loss functions with terms that provide global supervision and show how to optimize them end-to-end. We achieve a small improvement on the widely used ATIS dataset and a much larger improvement on a more complex dataset we describe here.

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Speak to your Parser: Interactive Text-to-SQL with Natural Language Feedback
Ahmed Elgohary | Saghar Hosseini | Ahmed Hassan Awadallah

We study the task of semantic parse correction with natural language feedback. Given a natural language utterance, most semantic parsing systems pose the problem as one-shot translation where the utterance is mapped to a corresponding logical form. In this paper, we investigate a more interactive scenario where humans can further interact with the system by providing free-form natural language feedback to correct the system when it generates an inaccurate interpretation of an initial utterance. We focus on natural language to SQL systems and construct, SPLASH, a dataset of utterances, incorrect SQL interpretations and the corresponding natural language feedback. We compare various reference models for the correction task and show that incorporating such a rich form of feedback can significantly improve the overall semantic parsing accuracy while retaining the flexibility of natural language interaction. While we estimated human correction accuracy is 81.5%, our best model achieves only 25.1%, which leaves a large gap for improvement in future research. SPLASH is publicly available at

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Calibrating Structured Output Predictors for Natural Language Processing
Abhyuday Jagannatha | Hong Yu

We address the problem of calibrating prediction confidence for output entities of interest in natural language processing (NLP) applications. It is important that NLP applications such as named entity recognition and question answering produce calibrated confidence scores for their predictions, especially if the applications are to be deployed in a safety-critical domain such as healthcare. However the output space of such structured prediction models are often too large to directly adapt binary or multi-class calibration methods. In this study, we propose a general calibration scheme for output entities of interest in neural network based structured prediction models. Our proposed method can be used with any binary class calibration scheme and a neural network model. Additionally, we show that our calibration method can also be used as an uncertainty-aware, entity-specific decoding step to improve the performance of the underlying model at no additional training cost or data requirements. We show that our method outperforms current calibration techniques for Named Entity Recognition, Part-of-speech tagging and Question Answering systems. We also observe an improvement in model performance from our decoding step across several tasks and benchmark datasets. Our method improves the calibration and model performance on out-of-domain test scenarios as well.

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Active Imitation Learning with Noisy Guidance
Kianté Brantley | Amr Sharaf | Hal Daumé III

Imitation learning algorithms provide state-of-the-art results on many structured prediction tasks by learning near-optimal search policies. Such algorithms assume training-time access to an expert that can provide the optimal action at any queried state; unfortunately, the number of such queries is often prohibitive, frequently rendering these approaches impractical. To combat this query complexity, we consider an active learning setting in which the learning algorithm has additional access to a much cheaper noisy heuristic that provides noisy guidance. Our algorithm, LEAQI, learns a difference classifier that predicts when the expert is likely to disagree with the heuristic, and queries the expert only when necessary. We apply LEAQI to three sequence labelling tasks, demonstrating significantly fewer queries to the expert and comparable (or better) accuracies over a passive approach.

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ExpBERT: Representation Engineering with Natural Language Explanations
Shikhar Murty | Pang Wei Koh | Percy Liang

Suppose we want to specify the inductive bias that married couples typically go on honeymoons for the task of extracting pairs of spouses from text. In this paper, we allow model developers to specify these types of inductive biases as natural language explanations. We use BERT fine-tuned on MultiNLI to “interpret” these explanations with respect to the input sentence, producing explanation-guided representations of the input. Across three relation extraction tasks, our method, ExpBERT, matches a BERT baseline but with 3–20x less labeled data and improves on the baseline by 3–10 F1 points with the same amount of labeled data.

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GAN-BERT: Generative Adversarial Learning for Robust Text Classification with a Bunch of Labeled Examples
Danilo Croce | Giuseppe Castellucci | Roberto Basili

Recent Transformer-based architectures, e.g., BERT, provide impressive results in many Natural Language Processing tasks. However, most of the adopted benchmarks are made of (sometimes hundreds of) thousands of examples. In many real scenarios, obtaining high- quality annotated data is expensive and time consuming; in contrast, unlabeled examples characterizing the target task can be, in general, easily collected. One promising method to enable semi-supervised learning has been proposed in image processing, based on Semi- Supervised Generative Adversarial Networks. In this paper, we propose GAN-BERT that ex- tends the fine-tuning of BERT-like architectures with unlabeled data in a generative adversarial setting. Experimental results show that the requirement for annotated examples can be drastically reduced (up to only 50-100 annotated examples), still obtaining good performances in several sentence classification tasks.

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Generalizing Natural Language Analysis through Span-relation Representations
Zhengbao Jiang | Wei Xu | Jun Araki | Graham Neubig

Natural language processing covers a wide variety of tasks predicting syntax, semantics, and information content, and usually each type of output is generated with specially designed architectures. In this paper, we provide the simple insight that a great variety of tasks can be represented in a single unified format consisting of labeling spans and relations between spans, thus a single task-independent model can be used across different tasks. We perform extensive experiments to test this insight on 10 disparate tasks spanning dependency parsing (syntax), semantic role labeling (semantics), relation extraction (information content), aspect based sentiment analysis (sentiment), and many others, achieving performance comparable to state-of-the-art specialized models. We further demonstrate benefits of multi-task learning, and also show that the proposed method makes it easy to analyze differences and similarities in how the model handles different tasks. Finally, we convert these datasets into a unified format to build a benchmark, which provides a holistic testbed for evaluating future models for generalized natural language analysis.

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Learning to Contextually Aggregate Multi-Source Supervision for Sequence Labeling
Ouyu Lan | Xiao Huang | Bill Yuchen Lin | He Jiang | Liyuan Liu | Xiang Ren

Sequence labeling is a fundamental task for a range of natural language processing problems. When used in practice, its performance is largely influenced by the annotation quality and quantity, and meanwhile, obtaining ground truth labels is often costly. In many cases, ground truth labels do not exist, but noisy annotations or annotations from different domains are accessible. In this paper, we propose a novel framework Consensus Network (ConNet) that can be trained on annotations from multiple sources (e.g., crowd annotation, cross-domain data). It learns individual representation for every source and dynamically aggregates source-specific knowledge by a context-aware attention module. Finally, it leads to a model reflecting the agreement (consensus) among multiple sources. We evaluate the proposed framework in two practical settings of multi-source learning: learning with crowd annotations and unsupervised cross-domain model adaptation. Extensive experimental results show that our model achieves significant improvements over existing methods in both settings. We also demonstrate that the method can apply to various tasks and cope with different encoders.

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MixText: Linguistically-Informed Interpolation of Hidden Space for Semi-Supervised Text Classification
Jiaao Chen | Zichao Yang | Diyi Yang

This paper presents MixText, a semi-supervised learning method for text classification, which uses our newly designed data augmentation method called TMix. TMix creates a large amount of augmented training samples by interpolating text in hidden space. Moreover, we leverage recent advances in data augmentation to guess low-entropy labels for unlabeled data, hence making them as easy to use as labeled data. By mixing labeled, unlabeled and augmented data, MixText significantly outperformed current pre-trained and fined-tuned models and other state-of-the-art semi-supervised learning methods on several text classification benchmarks. The improvement is especially prominent when supervision is extremely limited. We have publicly released our code at

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MobileBERT: a Compact Task-Agnostic BERT for Resource-Limited Devices
Zhiqing Sun | Hongkun Yu | Xiaodan Song | Renjie Liu | Yiming Yang | Denny Zhou

Natural Language Processing (NLP) has recently achieved great success by using huge pre-trained models with hundreds of millions of parameters. However, these models suffer from heavy model sizes and high latency such that they cannot be deployed to resource-limited mobile devices. In this paper, we propose MobileBERT for compressing and accelerating the popular BERT model. Like the original BERT, MobileBERT is task-agnostic, that is, it can be generically applied to various downstream NLP tasks via simple fine-tuning. Basically, MobileBERT is a thin version of BERT_LARGE, while equipped with bottleneck structures and a carefully designed balance between self-attentions and feed-forward networks. To train MobileBERT, we first train a specially designed teacher model, an inverted-bottleneck incorporated BERT_LARGE model. Then, we conduct knowledge transfer from this teacher to MobileBERT. Empirical studies show that MobileBERT is 4.3x smaller and 5.5x faster than BERT_BASE while achieving competitive results on well-known benchmarks. On the natural language inference tasks of GLUE, MobileBERT achieves a GLUE score of 77.7 (0.6 lower than BERT_BASE), and 62 ms latency on a Pixel 4 phone. On the SQuAD v1.1/v2.0 question answering task, MobileBERT achieves a dev F1 score of 90.0/79.2 (1.5/2.1 higher than BERT_BASE).

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On Importance Sampling-Based Evaluation of Latent Language Models
Robert L. Logan IV | Matt Gardner | Sameer Singh

Language models that use additional latent structures (e.g., syntax trees, coreference chains, knowledge graph links) provide several advantages over traditional language models. However, likelihood-based evaluation of these models is often intractable as it requires marginalizing over the latent space. Existing works avoid this issue by using importance sampling. Although this approach has asymptotic guarantees, analysis is rarely conducted on the effect of decisions such as sample size and choice of proposal distribution on the reported estimates. In this paper, we carry out this analysis for three models: RNNG, EntityNLM, and KGLM. In addition, we elucidate subtle differences in how importance sampling is applied in these works that can have substantial effects on the final estimates, as well as provide theoretical results which reinforce the validity of this technique.

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SMART: Robust and Efficient Fine-Tuning for Pre-trained Natural Language Models through Principled Regularized Optimization
Haoming Jiang | Pengcheng He | Weizhu Chen | Xiaodong Liu | Jianfeng Gao | Tuo Zhao

Transfer learning has fundamentally changed the landscape of natural language processing (NLP). Many state-of-the-art models are first pre-trained on a large text corpus and then fine-tuned on downstream tasks. However, due to limited data resources from downstream tasks and the extremely high complexity of pre-trained models, aggressive fine-tuning often causes the fine-tuned model to overfit the training data of downstream tasks and fail to generalize to unseen data. To address such an issue in a principled manner, we propose a new learning framework for robust and efficient fine-tuning for pre-trained models to attain better generalization performance. The proposed framework contains two important ingredients: 1. Smoothness-inducing regularization, which effectively manages the complexity of the model; 2. Bregman proximal point optimization, which is an instance of trust-region methods and can prevent aggressive updating. Our experiments show that the proposed framework achieves new state-of-the-art performance on a number of NLP tasks including GLUE, SNLI, SciTail and ANLI. Moreover, it also outperforms the state-of-the-art T5 model, which is the largest pre-trained model containing 11 billion parameters, on GLUE.

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Stolen Probability: A Structural Weakness of Neural Language Models
David Demeter | Gregory Kimmel | Doug Downey

Neural Network Language Models (NNLMs) generate probability distributions by applying a softmax function to a distance metric formed by taking the dot product of a prediction vector with all word vectors in a high-dimensional embedding space. The dot-product distance metric forms part of the inductive bias of NNLMs. Although NNLMs optimize well with this inductive bias, we show that this results in a sub-optimal ordering of the embedding space that structurally impoverishes some words at the expense of others when assigning probability. We present numerical, theoretical and empirical analyses which show that words on the interior of the convex hull in the embedding space have their probability bounded by the probabilities of the words on the hull.

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Taxonomy Construction of Unseen Domains via Graph-based Cross-Domain Knowledge Transfer
Chao Shang | Sarthak Dash | Md. Faisal Mahbub Chowdhury | Nandana Mihindukulasooriya | Alfio Gliozzo

Extracting lexico-semantic relations as graph-structured taxonomies, also known as taxonomy construction, has been beneficial in a variety of NLP applications. Recently Graph Neural Network (GNN) has shown to be powerful in successfully tackling many tasks. However, there has been no attempt to exploit GNN to create taxonomies. In this paper, we propose Graph2Taxo, a GNN-based cross-domain transfer framework for the taxonomy construction task. Our main contribution is to learn the latent features of taxonomy construction from existing domains to guide the structure learning of an unseen domain. We also propose a novel method of directed acyclic graph (DAG) generation for taxonomy construction. Specifically, our proposed Graph2Taxo uses a noisy graph constructed from automatically extracted noisy hyponym hypernym candidate pairs, and a set of taxonomies for some known domains for training. The learned model is then used to generate taxonomy for a new unknown domain given a set of terms for that domain. Experiments on benchmark datasets from science and environment domains show that our approach attains significant improvements correspondingly over the state of the art.

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To Pretrain or Not to Pretrain: Examining the Benefits of Pretrainng on Resource Rich Tasks
Sinong Wang | Madian Khabsa | Hao Ma

Pretraining NLP models with variants of Masked Language Model (MLM) objectives has recently led to a significant improvements on many tasks. This paper examines the benefits of pretrained models as a function of the number of training samples used in the downstream task. On several text classification tasks, we show that as the number of training examples grow into the millions, the accuracy gap between finetuning BERT-based model and training vanilla LSTM from scratch narrows to within 1%. Our findings indicate that MLM-based models might reach a diminishing return point as the supervised data size increases significantly.

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Why Overfitting Isn’t Always Bad: Retrofitting Cross-Lingual Word Embeddings to Dictionaries
Mozhi Zhang | Yoshinari Fujinuma | Michael J. Paul | Jordan Boyd-Graber

Cross-lingual word embeddings (CLWE) are often evaluated on bilingual lexicon induction (BLI). Recent CLWE methods use linear projections, which underfit the training dictionary, to generalize on BLI. However, underfitting can hinder generalization to other downstream tasks that rely on words from the training dictionary. We address this limitation by retrofitting CLWE to the training dictionary, which pulls training translation pairs closer in the embedding space and overfits the training dictionary. This simple post-processing step often improves accuracy on two downstream tasks, despite lowering BLI test accuracy. We also retrofit to both the training dictionary and a synthetic dictionary induced from CLWE, which sometimes generalizes even better on downstream tasks. Our results confirm the importance of fully exploiting training dictionary in downstream tasks and explains why BLI is a flawed CLWE evaluation.

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XtremeDistil: Multi-stage Distillation for Massive Multilingual Models
Subhabrata Mukherjee | Ahmed Hassan Awadallah

Deep and large pre-trained language models are the state-of-the-art for various natural language processing tasks. However, the huge size of these models could be a deterrent to using them in practice. Some recent works use knowledge distillation to compress these huge models into shallow ones. In this work we study knowledge distillation with a focus on multilingual Named Entity Recognition (NER). In particular, we study several distillation strategies and propose a stage-wise optimization scheme leveraging teacher internal representations, that is agnostic of teacher architecture, and show that it outperforms strategies employed in prior works. Additionally, we investigate the role of several factors like the amount of unlabeled data, annotation resources, model architecture and inference latency to name a few. We show that our approach leads to massive compression of teacher models like mBERT by upto 35x in terms of parameters and 51x in terms of latency for batch inference while retaining 95% of its F1-score for NER over 41 languages.

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A Girl Has A Name: Detecting Authorship Obfuscation
Asad Mahmood | Zubair Shafiq | Padmini Srinivasan

Authorship attribution aims to identify the author of a text based on the stylometric analysis. Authorship obfuscation, on the other hand, aims to protect against authorship attribution by modifying a text’s style. In this paper, we evaluate the stealthiness of state-of-the-art authorship obfuscation methods under an adversarial threat model. An obfuscator is stealthy to the extent an adversary finds it challenging to detect whether or not a text modified by the obfuscator is obfuscated – a decision that is key to the adversary interested in authorship attribution. We show that the existing authorship obfuscation methods are not stealthy as their obfuscated texts can be identified with an average F1 score of 0.87. The reason for the lack of stealthiness is that these obfuscators degrade text smoothness, as ascertained by neural language models, in a detectable manner. Our results highlight the need to develop stealthy authorship obfuscation methods that can better protect the identity of an author seeking anonymity.

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DeeBERT: Dynamic Early Exiting for Accelerating BERT Inference
Ji Xin | Raphael Tang | Jaejun Lee | Yaoliang Yu | Jimmy Lin

Large-scale pre-trained language models such as BERT have brought significant improvements to NLP applications. However, they are also notorious for being slow in inference, which makes them difficult to deploy in real-time applications. We propose a simple but effective method, DeeBERT, to accelerate BERT inference. Our approach allows samples to exit earlier without passing through the entire model. Experiments show that DeeBERT is able to save up to ~40% inference time with minimal degradation in model quality. Further analyses show different behaviors in the BERT transformer layers and also reveal their redundancy. Our work provides new ideas to efficiently apply deep transformer-based models to downstream tasks. Code is available at

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Efficient Strategies for Hierarchical Text Classification: External Knowledge and Auxiliary Tasks
Kervy Rivas Rojas | Gina Bustamante | Arturo Oncevay | Marco Antonio Sobrevilla Cabezudo

In hierarchical text classification, we perform a sequence of inference steps to predict the category of a document from top to bottom of a given class taxonomy. Most of the studies have focused on developing novels neural network architectures to deal with the hierarchical structure, but we prefer to look for efficient ways to strengthen a baseline model. We first define the task as a sequence-to-sequence problem. Afterwards, we propose an auxiliary synthetic task of bottom-up-classification. Then, from external dictionaries, we retrieve textual definitions for the classes of all the hierarchy’s layers, and map them into the word vector space. We use the class-definition embeddings as an additional input to condition the prediction of the next layer and in an adapted beam search. Whereas the modified search did not provide large gains, the combination of the auxiliary task and the additional input of class-definitions significantly enhance the classification accuracy. With our efficient approaches, we outperform previous studies, using a drastically reduced number of parameters, in two well-known English datasets.

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Investigating the effect of auxiliary objectives for the automated grading of learner English speech transcriptions
Hannah Craighead | Andrew Caines | Paula Buttery | Helen Yannakoudakis

We address the task of automatically grading the language proficiency of spontaneous speech based on textual features from automatic speech recognition transcripts. Motivated by recent advances in multi-task learning, we develop neural networks trained in a multi-task fashion that learn to predict the proficiency level of non-native English speakers by taking advantage of inductive transfer between the main task (grading) and auxiliary prediction tasks: morpho-syntactic labeling, language modeling, and native language identification (L1). We encode the transcriptions with both bi-directional recurrent neural networks and with bi-directional representations from transformers, compare against a feature-rich baseline, and analyse performance at different proficiency levels and with transcriptions of varying error rates. Our best performance comes from a transformer encoder with L1 prediction as an auxiliary task. We discuss areas for improvement and potential applications for text-only speech scoring.

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SPECTER: Document-level Representation Learning using Citation-informed Transformers
Arman Cohan | Sergey Feldman | Iz Beltagy | Doug Downey | Daniel Weld

Representation learning is a critical ingredient for natural language processing systems. Recent Transformer language models like BERT learn powerful textual representations, but these models are targeted towards token- and sentence-level training objectives and do not leverage information on inter-document relatedness, which limits their document-level representation power. For applications on scientific documents, such as classification and recommendation, accurate embeddings of documents are a necessity. We propose SPECTER, a new method to generate document-level embedding of scientific papers based on pretraining a Transformer language model on a powerful signal of document-level relatedness: the citation graph. Unlike existing pretrained language models, Specter can be easily applied to downstream applications without task-specific fine-tuning. Additionally, to encourage further research on document-level models, we introduce SciDocs, a new evaluation benchmark consisting of seven document-level tasks ranging from citation prediction, to document classification and recommendation. We show that Specter outperforms a variety of competitive baselines on the benchmark.

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Semantic Scaffolds for Pseudocode-to-Code Generation
Ruiqi Zhong | Mitchell Stern | Dan Klein

We propose a method for program generation based on semantic scaffolds, lightweight structures representing the high-level semantic and syntactic composition of a program. By first searching over plausible scaffolds then using these as constraints for a beam search over programs, we achieve better coverage of the search space when compared with existing techniques. We apply our hierarchical search method to the SPoC dataset for pseudocode-to-code generation, in which we are given line-level natural language pseudocode annotations and aim to produce a program satisfying execution-based test cases. By using semantic scaffolds during inference, we achieve a 10% absolute improvement in top-100 accuracy over the previous state-of-the-art. Additionally, we require only 11 candidates to reach the top-3000 performance of the previous best approach when tested against unseen problems, demonstrating a substantial improvement in efficiency.

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Can We Predict New Facts with Open Knowledge Graph Embeddings? A Benchmark for Open Link Prediction
Samuel Broscheit | Kiril Gashteovski | Yanjie Wang | Rainer Gemulla

Open Information Extraction systems extract (“subject text”, “relation text”, “object text”) triples from raw text. Some triples are textual versions of facts, i.e., non-canonicalized mentions of entities and relations. In this paper, we investigate whether it is possible to infer new facts directly from the open knowledge graph without any canonicalization or any supervision from curated knowledge. For this purpose, we propose the open link prediction task,i.e., predicting test facts by completing (“subject text”, “relation text”, ?) questions. An evaluation in such a setup raises the question if a correct prediction is actually a new fact that was induced by reasoning over the open knowledge graph or if it can be trivially explained. For example, facts can appear in different paraphrased textual variants, which can lead to test leakage. To this end, we propose an evaluation protocol and a methodology for creating the open link prediction benchmark OlpBench. We performed experiments with a prototypical knowledge graph embedding model for openlink prediction. While the task is very challenging, our results suggests that it is possible to predict genuinely new facts, which can not be trivially explained.

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INFOTABS: Inference on Tables as Semi-structured Data
Vivek Gupta | Maitrey Mehta | Pegah Nokhiz | Vivek Srikumar

In this paper, we observe that semi-structured tabulated text is ubiquitous; understanding them requires not only comprehending the meaning of text fragments, but also implicit relationships between them. We argue that such data can prove as a testing ground for understanding how we reason about information. To study this, we introduce a new dataset called INFOTABS, comprising of human-written textual hypotheses based on premises that are tables extracted from Wikipedia info-boxes. Our analysis shows that the semi-structured, multi-domain and heterogeneous nature of the premises admits complex, multi-faceted reasoning. Experiments reveal that, while human annotators agree on the relationships between a table-hypothesis pair, several standard modeling strategies are unsuccessful at the task, suggesting that reasoning about tables can pose a difficult modeling challenge.

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Interactive Machine Comprehension with Information Seeking Agents
Xingdi Yuan | Jie Fu | Marc-Alexandre Côté | Yi Tay | Chris Pal | Adam Trischler

Existing machine reading comprehension (MRC) models do not scale effectively to real-world applications like web-level information retrieval and question answering (QA). We argue that this stems from the nature of MRC datasets: most of these are static environments wherein the supporting documents and all necessary information are fully observed. In this paper, we propose a simple method that reframes existing MRC datasets as interactive, partially observable environments. Specifically, we “occlude” the majority of a document’s text and add context-sensitive commands that reveal “glimpses” of the hidden text to a model. We repurpose SQuAD and NewsQA as an initial case study, and then show how the interactive corpora can be used to train a model that seeks relevant information through sequential decision making. We believe that this setting can contribute in scaling models to web-level QA scenarios.

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Syntactic Data Augmentation Increases Robustness to Inference Heuristics
Junghyun Min | R. Thomas McCoy | Dipanjan Das | Emily Pitler | Tal Linzen

Pretrained neural models such as BERT, when fine-tuned to perform natural language inference (NLI), often show high accuracy on standard datasets, but display a surprising lack of sensitivity to word order on controlled challenge sets. We hypothesize that this issue is not primarily caused by the pretrained model’s limitations, but rather by the paucity of crowdsourced NLI examples that might convey the importance of syntactic structure at the fine-tuning stage. We explore several methods to augment standard training sets with syntactically informative examples, generated by applying syntactic transformations to sentences from the MNLI corpus. The best-performing augmentation method, subject/object inversion, improved BERT’s accuracy on controlled examples that diagnose sensitivity to word order from 0.28 to 0.73, without affecting performance on the MNLI test set. This improvement generalized beyond the particular construction used for data augmentation, suggesting that augmentation causes BERT to recruit abstract syntactic representations.

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Improved Speech Representations with Multi-Target Autoregressive Predictive Coding
Yu-An Chung | James Glass

Training objectives based on predictive coding have recently been shown to be very effective at learning meaningful representations from unlabeled speech. One example is Autoregressive Predictive Coding (Chung et al., 2019), which trains an autoregressive RNN to generate an unseen future frame given a context such as recent past frames. The basic hypothesis of these approaches is that hidden states that can accurately predict future frames are a useful representation for many downstream tasks. In this paper we extend this hypothesis and aim to enrich the information encoded in the hidden states by training the model to make more accurate future predictions. We propose an auxiliary objective that serves as a regularization to improve generalization of the future frame prediction task. Experimental results on phonetic classification, speech recognition, and speech translation not only support the hypothesis, but also demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach in learning representations that contain richer phonetic content.

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Integrating Multimodal Information in Large Pretrained Transformers
Wasifur Rahman | Md Kamrul Hasan | Sangwu Lee | AmirAli Bagher Zadeh | Chengfeng Mao | Louis-Philippe Morency | Ehsan Hoque

Recent Transformer-based contextual word representations, including BERT and XLNet, have shown state-of-the-art performance in multiple disciplines within NLP. Fine-tuning the trained contextual models on task-specific datasets has been the key to achieving superior performance downstream. While fine-tuning these pre-trained models is straightforward for lexical applications (applications with only language modality), it is not trivial for multimodal language (a growing area in NLP focused on modeling face-to-face communication). More specifically, this is due to the fact that pre-trained models don’t have the necessary components to accept two extra modalities of vision and acoustic. In this paper, we proposed an attachment to BERT and XLNet called Multimodal Adaptation Gate (MAG). MAG allows BERT and XLNet to accept multimodal nonverbal data during fine-tuning. It does so by generating a shift to internal representation of BERT and XLNet; a shift that is conditioned on the visual and acoustic modalities. In our experiments, we study the commonly used CMU-MOSI and CMU-MOSEI datasets for multimodal sentiment analysis. Fine-tuning MAG-BERT and MAG-XLNet significantly boosts the sentiment analysis performance over previous baselines as well as language-only fine-tuning of BERT and XLNet. On the CMU-MOSI dataset, MAG-XLNet achieves human-level multimodal sentiment analysis performance for the first time in the NLP community.

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MultiQT: Multimodal learning for real-time question tracking in speech
Jakob D. Havtorn | Jan Latko | Joakim Edin | Lars Maaløe | Lasse Borgholt | Lorenzo Belgrano | Nicolai Jacobsen | Regitze Sdun | Željko Agić

We address a challenging and practical task of labeling questions in speech in real time during telephone calls to emergency medical services in English, which embeds within a broader decision support system for emergency call-takers. We propose a novel multimodal approach to real-time sequence labeling in speech. Our model treats speech and its own textual representation as two separate modalities or views, as it jointly learns from streamed audio and its noisy transcription into text via automatic speech recognition. Our results show significant gains of jointly learning from the two modalities when compared to text or audio only, under adverse noise and limited volume of training data. The results generalize to medical symptoms detection where we observe a similar pattern of improvements with multimodal learning.

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Multimodal and Multiresolution Speech Recognition with Transformers
Georgios Paraskevopoulos | Srinivas Parthasarathy | Aparna Khare | Shiva Sundaram

This paper presents an audio visual automatic speech recognition (AV-ASR) system using a Transformer-based architecture. We particularly focus on the scene context provided by the visual information, to ground the ASR. We extract representations for audio features in the encoder layers of the transformer and fuse video features using an additional crossmodal multihead attention layer. Additionally, we incorporate a multitask training criterion for multiresolution ASR, where we train the model to generate both character and subword level transcriptions. Experimental results on the How2 dataset, indicate that multiresolution training can speed up convergence by around 50% and relatively improves word error rate (WER) performance by upto 18% over subword prediction models. Further, incorporating visual information improves performance with relative gains upto 3.76% over audio only models. Our results are comparable to state-of-the-art Listen, Attend and Spell-based architectures.

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Phone Features Improve Speech Translation
Elizabeth Salesky | Alan W Black

End-to-end models for speech translation (ST) more tightly couple speech recognition (ASR) and machine translation (MT) than a traditional cascade of separate ASR and MT models, with simpler model architectures and the potential for reduced error propagation. Their performance is often assumed to be superior, though in many conditions this is not yet the case. We compare cascaded and end-to-end models across high, medium, and low-resource conditions, and show that cascades remain stronger baselines. Further, we introduce two methods to incorporate phone features into ST models. We show that these features improve both architectures, closing the gap between end-to-end models and cascades, and outperforming previous academic work – by up to 9 BLEU on our low-resource setting.

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Grounding Conversations with Improvised Dialogues
Hyundong Cho | Jonathan May

Effective dialogue involves grounding, the process of establishing mutual knowledge that is essential for communication between people. Modern dialogue systems are not explicitly trained to build common ground, and therefore overlook this important aspect of communication. Improvisational theater (improv) intrinsically contains a high proportion of dialogue focused on building common ground, and makes use of the yes-and principle, a strong grounding speech act, to establish coherence and an actionable objective reality. We collect a corpus of more than 26,000 yes-and turns, transcribing them from improv dialogues and extracting them from larger, but more sparsely populated movie script dialogue corpora, via a bootstrapped classifier. We fine-tune chit-chat dialogue systems with our corpus to encourage more grounded, relevant conversation and confirm these findings with human evaluations.

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Image-Chat: Engaging Grounded Conversations
Kurt Shuster | Samuel Humeau | Antoine Bordes | Jason Weston

To achieve the long-term goal of machines being able to engage humans in conversation, our models should captivate the interest of their speaking partners. Communication grounded in images, whereby a dialogue is conducted based on a given photo, is a setup naturally appealing to humans (Hu et al., 2014). In this work we study large-scale architectures and datasets for this goal. We test a set of neural architectures using state-of-the-art image and text representations, considering various ways to fuse the components. To test such models, we collect a dataset of grounded human-human conversations, where speakers are asked to play roles given a provided emotional mood or style, as the use of such traits is also a key factor in engagingness (Guo et al., 2019). Our dataset, Image-Chat, consists of 202k dialogues over 202k images using 215 possible style traits. Automatic metrics and human evaluations of engagingness show the efficacy of our approach; in particular, we obtain state-of-the-art performance on the existing IGC task, and our best performing model is almost on par with humans on the Image-Chat test set (preferred 47.7% of the time).

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Learning an Unreferenced Metric for Online Dialogue Evaluation
Koustuv Sinha | Prasanna Parthasarathi | Jasmine Wang | Ryan Lowe | William L. Hamilton | Joelle Pineau

Evaluating the quality of a dialogue interaction between two agents is a difficult task, especially in open-domain chit-chat style dialogue. There have been recent efforts to develop automatic dialogue evaluation metrics, but most of them do not generalize to unseen datasets and/or need a human-generated reference response during inference, making it infeasible for online evaluation. Here, we propose an unreferenced automated evaluation metric that uses large pre-trained language models to extract latent representations of utterances, and leverages the temporal transitions that exist between them. We show that our model achieves higher correlation with human annotations in an online setting, while not requiring true responses for comparison during inference.

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Neural Generation of Dialogue Response Timings
Matthew Roddy | Naomi Harte

The timings of spoken response offsets in human dialogue have been shown to vary based on contextual elements of the dialogue. We propose neural models that simulate the distributions of these response offsets, taking into account the response turn as well as the preceding turn. The models are designed to be integrated into the pipeline of an incremental spoken dialogue system (SDS). We evaluate our models using offline experiments as well as human listening tests. We show that human listeners consider certain response timings to be more natural based on the dialogue context. The introduction of these models into SDS pipelines could increase the perceived naturalness of interactions.

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The Dialogue Dodecathlon: Open-Domain Knowledge and Image Grounded Conversational Agents
Kurt Shuster | Da Ju | Stephen Roller | Emily Dinan | Y-Lan Boureau | Jason Weston

We introduce dodecaDialogue: a set of 12 tasks that measures if a conversational agent can communicate engagingly with personality and empathy, ask questions, answer questions by utilizing knowledge resources, discuss topics and situations, and perceive and converse about images. By multi-tasking on such a broad large-scale set of data, we hope to both move towards and measure progress in producing a single unified agent that can perceive, reason and converse with humans in an open-domain setting. We show that such multi-tasking improves over a BERT pre-trained baseline, largely due to multi-tasking with very large dialogue datasets in a similar domain, and that the multi-tasking in general provides gains to both text and image-based tasks using several metrics in both the fine-tune and task transfer settings. We obtain state-of-the-art results on many of the tasks, providing a strong baseline for this challenge.

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Automatic Poetry Generation from Prosaic Text
Tim Van de Cruys

In the last few years, a number of successful approaches have emerged that are able to adequately model various aspects of natural language. In particular, language models based on neural networks have improved the state of the art with regard to predictive language modeling, while topic models are successful at capturing clear-cut, semantic dimensions. In this paper, we will explore how these approaches can be adapted and combined to model the linguistic and literary aspects needed for poetry generation. The system is exclusively trained on standard, non-poetic text, and its output is constrained in order to confer a poetic character to the generated verse. The framework is applied to the generation of poems in both English and French, and is equally evaluated for both languages. Even though it only uses standard, non-poetic text as input, the system yields state of the art results for poetry generation.

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Bridging the Structural Gap Between Encoding and Decoding for Data-To-Text Generation
Chao Zhao | Marilyn Walker | Snigdha Chaturvedi

Generating sequential natural language descriptions from graph-structured data (e.g., knowledge graph) is challenging, partly because of the structural differences between the input graph and the output text. Hence, popular sequence-to-sequence models, which require serialized input, are not a natural fit for this task. Graph neural networks, on the other hand, can better encode the input graph but broaden the structural gap between the encoder and decoder, making faithful generation difficult. To narrow this gap, we propose DualEnc, a dual encoding model that can not only incorporate the graph structure, but can also cater to the linear structure of the output text. Empirical comparisons with strong single-encoder baselines demonstrate that dual encoding can significantly improve the quality of the generated text.

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Enabling Language Models to Fill in the Blanks
Chris Donahue | Mina Lee | Percy Liang

We present a simple approach for text infilling, the task of predicting missing spans of text at any position in a document. While infilling could enable rich functionality especially for writing assistance tools, more attention has been devoted to language modeling—a special case of infilling where text is predicted at the end of a document. In this paper, we aim to extend the capabilities of language models (LMs) to the more general task of infilling. To this end, we train (or fine tune) off-the-shelf LMs on sequences containing the concatenation of artificially-masked text and the text which was masked. We show that this approach, which we call infilling by language modeling, can enable LMs to infill entire sentences effectively on three different domains: short stories, scientific abstracts, and lyrics. Furthermore, we show that humans have difficulty identifying sentences infilled by our approach as machine-generated in the domain of short stories.

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INSET: Sentence Infilling with INter-SEntential Transformer
Yichen Huang | Yizhe Zhang | Oussama Elachqar | Yu Cheng

Missing sentence generation (or sentence in-filling) fosters a wide range of applications in natural language generation, such as document auto-completion and meeting note expansion. This task asks the model to generate intermediate missing sentences that can syntactically and semantically bridge the surrounding context. Solving the sentence infilling task requires techniques in natural language processing ranging from understanding to discourse-level planning to generation. In this paper, we propose a framework to decouple the challenge and address these three aspects respectively, leveraging the power of existing large-scale pre-trained models such as BERT and GPT-2. We empirically demonstrate the effectiveness of our model in learning a sentence representation for generation and further generating a missing sentence that fits the context.

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Improving Adversarial Text Generation by Modeling the Distant Future
Ruiyi Zhang | Changyou Chen | Zhe Gan | Wenlin Wang | Dinghan Shen | Guoyin Wang | Zheng Wen | Lawrence Carin

Auto-regressive text generation models usually focus on local fluency, and may cause inconsistent semantic meaning in long text generation. Further, automatically generating words with similar semantics is challenging, and hand-crafted linguistic rules are difficult to apply. We consider a text planning scheme and present a model-based imitation-learning approach to alleviate the aforementioned issues. Specifically, we propose a novel guider network to focus on the generative process over a longer horizon, which can assist next-word prediction and provide intermediate rewards for generator optimization. Extensive experiments demonstrate that the proposed method leads to improved performance.

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Simple and Effective Retrieve-Edit-Rerank Text Generation
Nabil Hossain | Marjan Ghazvininejad | Luke Zettlemoyer

Retrieve-and-edit seq2seq methods typically retrieve an output from the training set and learn a model to edit it to produce the final output. We propose to extend this framework with a simple and effective post-generation ranking approach. Our framework (i) retrieves several potentially relevant outputs for each input, (ii) edits each candidate independently, and (iii) re-ranks the edited candidates to select the final output. We use a standard editing model with simple task-specific re-ranking approaches, and we show empirically that this approach outperforms existing, significantly more complex methodologies. Experiments on two machine translation (MT) datasets show new state-of-art results. We also achieve near state-of-art performance on the Gigaword summarization dataset, where our analyses show that there is significant room for performance improvement with better candidate output selection in future work.

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BabyWalk: Going Farther in Vision-and-Language Navigation by Taking Baby Steps
Wang Zhu | Hexiang Hu | Jiacheng Chen | Zhiwei Deng | Vihan Jain | Eugene Ie | Fei Sha

Learning to follow instructions is of fundamental importance to autonomous agents for vision-and-language navigation (VLN). In this paper, we study how an agent can navigate long paths when learning from a corpus that consists of shorter ones. We show that existing state-of-the-art agents do not generalize well. To this end, we propose BabyWalk, a new VLN agent that is learned to navigate by decomposing long instructions into shorter ones (BabySteps) and completing them sequentially. A special design memory buffer is used by the agent to turn its past experiences into contexts for future steps. The learning process is composed of two phases. In the first phase, the agent uses imitation learning from demonstration to accomplish BabySteps. In the second phase, the agent uses curriculum-based reinforcement learning to maximize rewards on navigation tasks with increasingly longer instructions. We create two new benchmark datasets (of long navigation tasks) and use them in conjunction with existing ones to examine BabyWalk’s generalization ability. Empirical results show that BabyWalk achieves state-of-the-art results on several metrics, in particular, is able to follow long instructions better. The codes and the datasets are released on our project page:

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Cross-media Structured Common Space for Multimedia Event Extraction
Manling Li | Alireza Zareian | Qi Zeng | Spencer Whitehead | Di Lu | Heng Ji | Shih-Fu Chang

We introduce a new task, MultiMedia Event Extraction, which aims to extract events and their arguments from multimedia documents. We develop the first benchmark and collect a dataset of 245 multimedia news articles with extensively annotated events and arguments. We propose a novel method, Weakly Aligned Structured Embedding (WASE), that encodes structured representations of semantic information from textual and visual data into a common embedding space. The structures are aligned across modalities by employing a weakly supervised training strategy, which enables exploiting available resources without explicit cross-media annotation. Compared to uni-modal state-of-the-art methods, our approach achieves 4.0% and 9.8% absolute F-score gains on text event argument role labeling and visual event extraction. Compared to state-of-the-art multimedia unstructured representations, we achieve 8.3% and 5.0% absolute F-score gains on multimedia event extraction and argument role labeling, respectively. By utilizing images, we extract 21.4% more event mentions than traditional text-only methods.

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Learning to Segment Actions from Observation and Narration
Daniel Fried | Jean-Baptiste Alayrac | Phil Blunsom | Chris Dyer | Stephen Clark | Aida Nematzadeh

We apply a generative segmental model of task structure, guided by narration, to action segmentation in video. We focus on unsupervised and weakly-supervised settings where no action labels are known during training. Despite its simplicity, our model performs competitively with previous work on a dataset of naturalistic instructional videos. Our model allows us to vary the sources of supervision used in training, and we find that both task structure and narrative language provide large benefits in segmentation quality.

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Learning to execute instructions in a Minecraft dialogue
Prashant Jayannavar | Anjali Narayan-Chen | Julia Hockenmaier

The Minecraft Collaborative Building Task is a two-player game in which an Architect (A) instructs a Builder (B) to construct a target structure in a simulated Blocks World Environment. We define the subtask of predicting correct action sequences (block placements and removals) in a given game context, and show that capturing B’s past actions as well as B’s perspective leads to a significant improvement in performance on this challenging language understanding problem.

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MART: Memory-Augmented Recurrent Transformer for Coherent Video Paragraph Captioning
Jie Lei | Liwei Wang | Yelong Shen | Dong Yu | Tamara Berg | Mohit Bansal

Generating multi-sentence descriptions for videos is one of the most challenging captioning tasks due to its high requirements for not only visual relevance but also discourse-based coherence across the sentences in the paragraph. Towards this goal, we propose a new approach called Memory-Augmented Recurrent Transformer (MART), which uses a memory module to augment the transformer architecture. The memory module generates a highly summarized memory state from the video segments and the sentence history so as to help better prediction of the next sentence (w.r.t. coreference and repetition aspects), thus encouraging coherent paragraph generation. Extensive experiments, human evaluations, and qualitative analyses on two popular datasets ActivityNet Captions and YouCookII show that MART generates more coherent and less repetitive paragraph captions than baseline methods, while maintaining relevance to the input video events.

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What is Learned in Visually Grounded Neural Syntax Acquisition
Noriyuki Kojima | Hadar Averbuch-Elor | Alexander Rush | Yoav Artzi

Visual features are a promising signal for learning bootstrap textual models. However, blackbox learning models make it difficult to isolate the specific contribution of visual components. In this analysis, we consider the case study of the Visually Grounded Neural Syntax Learner (Shi et al., 2019), a recent approach for learning syntax from a visual training signal. By constructing simplified versions of the model, we isolate the core factors that yield the model’s strong performance. Contrary to what the model might be capable of learning, we find significantly less expressive versions produce similar predictions and perform just as well, or even better. We also find that a simple lexical signal of noun concreteness plays the main role in the model’s predictions as opposed to more complex syntactic reasoning.

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A Batch Normalized Inference Network Keeps the KL Vanishing Away
Qile Zhu | Wei Bi | Xiaojiang Liu | Xiyao Ma | Xiaolin Li | Dapeng Wu

Variational Autoencoder (VAE) is widely used as a generative model to approximate a model’s posterior on latent variables by combining the amortized variational inference and deep neural networks. However, when paired with strong autoregressive decoders, VAE often converges to a degenerated local optimum known as “posterior collapse”. Previous approaches consider the Kullback–Leibler divergence (KL) individual for each datapoint. We propose to let the KL follow a distribution across the whole dataset, and analyze that it is sufficient to prevent posterior collapse by keeping the expectation of the KL’s distribution positive. Then we propose Batch Normalized-VAE (BN-VAE), a simple but effective approach to set a lower bound of the expectation by regularizing the distribution of the approximate posterior’s parameters. Without introducing any new model component or modifying the objective, our approach can avoid the posterior collapse effectively and efficiently. We further show that the proposed BN-VAE can be extended to conditional VAE (CVAE). Empirically, our approach surpasses strong autoregressive baselines on language modeling, text classification and dialogue generation, and rivals more complex approaches while keeping almost the same training time as VAE.

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Contextual Embeddings: When Are They Worth It?
Simran Arora | Avner May | Jian Zhang | Christopher Ré

We study the settings for which deep contextual embeddings (e.g., BERT) give large improvements in performance relative to classic pretrained embeddings (e.g., GloVe), and an even simpler baseline—random word embeddings—focusing on the impact of the training set size and the linguistic properties of the task. Surprisingly, we find that both of these simpler baselines can match contextual embeddings on industry-scale data, and often perform within 5 to 10% accuracy (absolute) on benchmark tasks. Furthermore, we identify properties of data for which contextual embeddings give particularly large gains: language containing complex structure, ambiguous word usage, and words unseen in training.

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Interactive Classification by Asking Informative Questions
Lili Yu | Howard Chen | Sida I. Wang | Tao Lei | Yoav Artzi

We study the potential for interaction in natural language classification. We add a limited form of interaction for intent classification, where users provide an initial query using natural language, and the system asks for additional information using binary or multi-choice questions. At each turn, our system decides between asking the most informative question or making the final classification pre-diction. The simplicity of the model allows for bootstrapping of the system without interaction data, instead relying on simple crowd-sourcing tasks. We evaluate our approach on two domains, showing the benefit of interaction and the advantage of learning to balance between asking additional questions and making the final prediction.

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Knowledge Graph Embedding Compression
Mrinmaya Sachan

Knowledge graph (KG) representation learning techniques that learn continuous embeddings of entities and relations in the KG have become popular in many AI applications. With a large KG, the embeddings consume a large amount of storage and memory. This is problematic and prohibits the deployment of these techniques in many real world settings. Thus, we propose an approach that compresses the KG embedding layer by representing each entity in the KG as a vector of discrete codes and then composes the embeddings from these codes. The approach can be trained end-to-end with simple modifications to any existing KG embedding technique. We evaluate the approach on various standard KG embedding evaluations and show that it achieves 50-1000x compression of embeddings with a minor loss in performance. The compressed embeddings also retain the ability to perform various reasoning tasks such as KG inference.

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Low Resource Sequence Tagging using Sentence Reconstruction
Tal Perl | Sriram Chaudhury | Raja Giryes

This work revisits the task of training sequence tagging models with limited resources using transfer learning. We investigate several proposed approaches introduced in recent works and suggest a new loss that relies on sentence reconstruction from normalized embeddings. Specifically, our method demonstrates how by adding a decoding layer for sentence reconstruction, we can improve the performance of various baselines. We show improved results on the CoNLL02 NER and UD 1.2 POS datasets and demonstrate the power of the method for transfer learning with low-resources achieving 0.6 F1 score in Dutch using only one sample from it.

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Masked Language Model Scoring
Julian Salazar | Davis Liang | Toan Q. Nguyen | Katrin Kirchhoff

Pretrained masked language models (MLMs) require finetuning for most NLP tasks. Instead, we evaluate MLMs out of the box via their pseudo-log-likelihood scores (PLLs), which are computed by masking tokens one by one. We show that PLLs outperform scores from autoregressive language models like GPT-2 in a variety of tasks. By rescoring ASR and NMT hypotheses, RoBERTa reduces an end-to-end LibriSpeech model’s WER by 30% relative and adds up to +1.7 BLEU on state-of-the-art baselines for low-resource translation pairs, with further gains from domain adaptation. We attribute this success to PLL’s unsupervised expression of linguistic acceptability without a left-to-right bias, greatly improving on scores from GPT-2 (+10 points on island effects, NPI licensing in BLiMP). One can finetune MLMs to give scores without masking, enabling computation in a single inference pass. In all, PLLs and their associated pseudo-perplexities (PPPLs) enable plug-and-play use of the growing number of pretrained MLMs; e.g., we use a single cross-lingual model to rescore translations in multiple languages. We release our library for language model scoring at

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Orthogonal Relation Transforms with Graph Context Modeling for Knowledge Graph Embedding
Yun Tang | Jing Huang | Guangtao Wang | Xiaodong He | Bowen Zhou

Distance-based knowledge graph embeddings have shown substantial improvement on the knowledge graph link prediction task, from TransE to the latest state-of-the-art RotatE. However, complex relations such as N-to-1, 1-to-N and N-to-N still remain challenging to predict. In this work, we propose a novel distance-based approach for knowledge graph link prediction. First, we extend the RotatE from 2D complex domain to high dimensional space with orthogonal transforms to model relations. The orthogonal transform embedding for relations keeps the capability for modeling symmetric/anti-symmetric, inverse and compositional relations while achieves better modeling capacity. Second, the graph context is integrated into distance scoring functions directly. Specifically, graph context is explicitly modeled via two directed context representations. Each node embedding in knowledge graph is augmented with two context representations, which are computed from the neighboring outgoing and incoming nodes/edges respectively. The proposed approach improves prediction accuracy on the difficult N-to-1, 1-to-N and N-to-N cases. Our experimental results show that it achieves state-of-the-art results on two common benchmarks FB15k-237 and WNRR-18, especially on FB15k-237 which has many high in-degree nodes.

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Posterior Calibrated Training on Sentence Classification Tasks
Taehee Jung | Dongyeop Kang | Hua Cheng | Lucas Mentch | Thomas Schaaf

Most classification models work by first predicting a posterior probability distribution over all classes and then selecting that class with the largest estimated probability. In many settings however, the quality of posterior probability itself (e.g., 65% chance having diabetes), gives more reliable information than the final predicted class alone. When these methods are shown to be poorly calibrated, most fixes to date have relied on posterior calibration, which rescales the predicted probabilities but often has little impact on final classifications. Here we propose an end-to-end training procedure called posterior calibrated (PosCal) training that directly optimizes the objective while minimizing the difference between the predicted and empirical posterior probabilities. We show that PosCal not only helps reduce the calibration error but also improve task performance by penalizing drops in performance of both objectives. Our PosCal achieves about 2.5% of task performance gain and 16.1% of calibration error reduction on GLUE (Wang et al., 2018) compared to the baseline. We achieved the comparable task performance with 13.2% calibration error reduction on xSLUE (Kang and Hovy, 2019), but not outperforming the two-stage calibration baseline. PosCal training can be easily extendable to any types of classification tasks as a form of regularization term. Also, PosCal has the advantage that it incrementally tracks needed statistics for the calibration objective during the training process, making efficient use of large training sets.

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Posterior Control of Blackbox Generation
Xiang Lisa Li | Alexander Rush

Text generation often requires high-precision output that obeys task-specific rules. This fine-grained control is difficult to enforce with off-the-shelf deep learning models. In this work, we consider augmenting neural generation models with discrete control states learned through a structured latent-variable approach. Under this formulation, task-specific knowledge can be encoded through a range of rich, posterior constraints that are effectively trained into the model. This approach allows users to ground internal model decisions based on prior knowledge, without sacrificing the representational power of neural generative models. Experiments consider applications of this approach for text generation. We find that this method improves over standard benchmarks, while also providing fine-grained control.

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Pretrained Transformers Improve Out-of-Distribution Robustness
Dan Hendrycks | Xiaoyuan Liu | Eric Wallace | Adam Dziedzic | Rishabh Krishnan | Dawn Song

Although pretrained Transformers such as BERT achieve high accuracy on in-distribution examples, do they generalize to new distributions? We systematically measure out-of-distribution (OOD) generalization for seven NLP datasets by constructing a new robustness benchmark with realistic distribution shifts. We measure the generalization of previous models including bag-of-words models, ConvNets, and LSTMs, and we show that pretrained Transformers’ performance declines are substantially smaller. Pretrained transformers are also more effective at detecting anomalous or OOD examples, while many previous models are frequently worse than chance. We examine which factors affect robustness, finding that larger models are not necessarily more robust, distillation can be harmful, and more diverse pretraining data can enhance robustness. Finally, we show where future work can improve OOD robustness.

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Robust Encodings: A Framework for Combating Adversarial Typos
Erik Jones | Robin Jia | Aditi Raghunathan | Percy Liang

Despite excellent performance on many tasks, NLP systems are easily fooled by small adversarial perturbations of inputs. Existing procedures to defend against such perturbations are either (i) heuristic in nature and susceptible to stronger attacks or (ii) provide guaranteed robustness to worst-case attacks, but are incompatible with state-of-the-art models like BERT. In this work, we introduce robust encodings (RobEn): a simple framework that confers guaranteed robustness, without making compromises on model architecture. The core component of RobEn is an encoding function, which maps sentences to a smaller, discrete space of encodings. Systems using these encodings as a bottleneck confer guaranteed robustness with standard training, and the same encodings can be used across multiple tasks. We identify two desiderata to construct robust encoding functions: perturbations of a sentence should map to a small set of encodings (stability), and models using encodings should still perform well (fidelity). We instantiate RobEn to defend against a large family of adversarial typos. Across six tasks from GLUE, our instantiation of RobEn paired with BERT achieves an average robust accuracy of 71.3% against all adversarial typos in the family considered, while previous work using a typo-corrector achieves only 35.3% accuracy against a simple greedy attack.

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Showing Your Work Doesn’t Always Work
Raphael Tang | Jaejun Lee | Ji Xin | Xinyu Liu | Yaoliang Yu | Jimmy Lin

In natural language processing, a recently popular line of work explores how to best report the experimental results of neural networks. One exemplar publication, titled “Show Your Work: Improved Reporting of Experimental Results” (Dodge et al., 2019), advocates for reporting the expected validation effectiveness of the best-tuned model, with respect to the computational budget. In the present work, we critically examine this paper. As far as statistical generalizability is concerned, we find unspoken pitfalls and caveats with this approach. We analytically show that their estimator is biased and uses error-prone assumptions. We find that the estimator favors negative errors and yields poor bootstrapped confidence intervals. We derive an unbiased alternative and bolster our claims with empirical evidence from statistical simulation. Our codebase is at

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Span Selection Pre-training for Question Answering
Michael Glass | Alfio Gliozzo | Rishav Chakravarti | Anthony Ferritto | Lin Pan | G P Shrivatsa Bhargav | Dinesh Garg | Avi Sil

BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) and related pre-trained Transformers have provided large gains across many language understanding tasks, achieving a new state-of-the-art (SOTA). BERT is pretrained on two auxiliary tasks: Masked Language Model and Next Sentence Prediction. In this paper we introduce a new pre-training task inspired by reading comprehension to better align the pre-training from memorization to understanding. Span Selection PreTraining (SSPT) poses cloze-like training instances, but rather than draw the answer from the model’s parameters, it is selected from a relevant passage. We find significant and consistent improvements over both BERT-BASE and BERT-LARGE on multiple Machine Reading Comprehension (MRC) datasets. Specifically, our proposed model has strong empirical evidence as it obtains SOTA results on Natural Questions, a new benchmark MRC dataset, outperforming BERT-LARGE by 3 F1 points on short answer prediction. We also show significant impact in HotpotQA, improving answer prediction F1 by 4 points and supporting fact prediction F1 by 1 point and outperforming the previous best system. Moreover, we show that our pre-training approach is particularly effective when training data is limited, improving the learning curve by a large amount.

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Topological Sort for Sentence Ordering
Shrimai Prabhumoye | Ruslan Salakhutdinov | Alan W Black

Sentence ordering is the task of arranging the sentences of a given text in the correct order. Recent work using deep neural networks for this task has framed it as a sequence prediction problem. In this paper, we propose a new framing of this task as a constraint solving problem and introduce a new technique to solve it. Additionally, we propose a human evaluation for this task. The results on both automatic and human metrics across four different datasets show that this new technique is better at capturing coherence in documents.

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Weight Poisoning Attacks on Pretrained Models
Keita Kurita | Paul Michel | Graham Neubig

Recently, NLP has seen a surge in the usage of large pre-trained models. Users download weights of models pre-trained on large datasets, then fine-tune the weights on a task of their choice. This raises the question of whether downloading untrusted pre-trained weights can pose a security threat. In this paper, we show that it is possible to construct “weight poisoning” attacks where pre-trained weights are injected with vulnerabilities that expose “backdoors” after fine-tuning, enabling the attacker to manipulate the model prediction simply by injecting an arbitrary keyword. We show that by applying a regularization method which we call RIPPLe and an initialization procedure we call Embedding Surgery, such attacks are possible even with limited knowledge of the dataset and fine-tuning procedure. Our experiments on sentiment classification, toxicity detection, and spam detection show that this attack is widely applicable and poses a serious threat. Finally, we outline practical defenses against such attacks.

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schuBERT: Optimizing Elements of BERT
Ashish Khetan | Zohar Karnin

Transformers have gradually become a key component for many state-of-the-art natural language representation models. A recent Transformer based model- BERTachieved state-of-the-art results on various natural language processing tasks, including GLUE, SQuAD v1.1, and SQuAD v2.0. This model however is computationally prohibitive and has a huge number of parameters. In this work we revisit the architecture choices of BERT in efforts to obtain a lighter model. We focus on reducing the number of parameters yet our methods can be applied towards other objectives such FLOPs or latency. We show that much efficient light BERT models can be obtained by reducing algorithmically chosen correct architecture design dimensions rather than reducing the number of Transformer encoder layers. In particular, our schuBERT gives 6.6% higher average accuracy on GLUE and SQuAD datasets as compared to BERT with three encoder layers while having the same number of parameters.

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ENGINE: Energy-Based Inference Networks for Non-Autoregressive Machine Translation
Lifu Tu | Richard Yuanzhe Pang | Sam Wiseman | Kevin Gimpel

We propose to train a non-autoregressive machine translation model to minimize the energy defined by a pretrained autoregressive model. In particular, we view our non-autoregressive translation system as an inference network (Tu and Gimpel, 2018) trained to minimize the autoregressive teacher energy. This contrasts with the popular approach of training a non-autoregressive model on a distilled corpus consisting of the beam-searched outputs of such a teacher model. Our approach, which we call ENGINE (ENerGy-based Inference NEtworks), achieves state-of-the-art non-autoregressive results on the IWSLT 2014 DE-EN and WMT 2016 RO-EN datasets, approaching the performance of autoregressive models.

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Leveraging Monolingual Data with Self-Supervision for Multilingual Neural Machine Translation
Aditya Siddhant | Ankur Bapna | Yuan Cao | Orhan Firat | Mia Chen | Sneha Kudugunta | Naveen Arivazhagan | Yonghui Wu

Over the last few years two promising research directions in low-resource neural machine translation (NMT) have emerged. The first focuses on utilizing high-resource languages to improve the quality of low-resource languages via multilingual NMT. The second direction employs monolingual data with self-supervision to pre-train translation models, followed by fine-tuning on small amounts of supervised data. In this work, we join these two lines of research and demonstrate the efficacy of monolingual data with self-supervision in multilingual NMT. We offer three major results: (i) Using monolingual data significantly boosts the translation quality of low-resource languages in multilingual models. (ii) Self-supervision improves zero-shot translation quality in multilingual models. (iii) Leveraging monolingual data with self-supervision provides a viable path towards adding new languages to multilingual models, getting up to 33 BLEU on ro-en translation without any parallel data or back-translation.

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On The Evaluation of Machine Translation Systems Trained With Back-Translation
Sergey Edunov | Myle Ott | Marc’Aurelio Ranzato | Michael Auli

Back-translation is a widely used data augmentation technique which leverages target monolingual data. However, its effectiveness has been challenged since automatic metrics such as BLEU only show significant improvements for test examples where the source itself is a translation, or translationese. This is believed to be due to translationese inputs better matching the back-translated training data. In this work, we show that this conjecture is not empirically supported and that back-translation improves translation quality of both naturally occurring text as well as translationese according to professional human translators. We provide empirical evidence to support the view that back-translation is preferred by humans because it produces more fluent outputs. BLEU cannot capture human preferences because references are translationese when source sentences are natural text. We recommend complementing BLEU with a language model score to measure fluency.

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Simultaneous Translation Policies: From Fixed to Adaptive
Baigong Zheng | Kaibo Liu | Renjie Zheng | Mingbo Ma | Hairong Liu | Liang Huang

Adaptive policies are better than fixed policies for simultaneous translation, since they can flexibly balance the tradeoff between translation quality and latency based on the current context information. But previous methods on obtaining adaptive policies either rely on complicated training process, or underperform simple fixed policies. We design an algorithm to achieve adaptive policies via a simple heuristic composition of a set of fixed policies. Experiments on Chinese -> English and German -> English show that our adaptive policies can outperform fixed ones by up to 4 BLEU points for the same latency, and more surprisingly, it even surpasses the BLEU score of full-sentence translation in the greedy mode (and very close to beam mode), but with much lower latency.

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Breaking Through the 80% Glass Ceiling: Raising the State of the Art in Word Sense Disambiguation by Incorporating Knowledge Graph Information
Michele Bevilacqua | Roberto Navigli

Neural architectures are the current state of the art in Word Sense Disambiguation (WSD). However, they make limited use of the vast amount of relational information encoded in Lexical Knowledge Bases (LKB). We present Enhanced WSD Integrating Synset Embeddings and Relations (EWISER), a neural supervised architecture that is able to tap into this wealth of knowledge by embedding information from the LKB graph within the neural architecture, and to exploit pretrained synset embeddings, enabling the network to predict synsets that are not in the training set. As a result, we set a new state of the art on almost all the evaluation settings considered, also breaking through, for the first time, the 80% ceiling on the concatenation of all the standard all-words English WSD evaluation benchmarks. On multilingual all-words WSD, we report state-of-the-art results by training on nothing but English.

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Glyph2Vec: Learning Chinese Out-of-Vocabulary Word Embedding from Glyphs
Hong-You Chen | Sz-Han Yu | Shou-de Lin

Chinese NLP applications that rely on large text often contain huge amounts of vocabulary which are sparse in corpus. We show that characters’ written form, Glyphs, in ideographic languages could carry rich semantics. We present a multi-modal model, Glyph2Vec, to tackle Chinese out-of-vocabulary word embedding problem. Glyph2Vec extracts visual features from word glyphs to expand current word embedding space for out-of-vocabulary word embedding, without the need of accessing any corpus, which is useful for improving Chinese NLP systems, especially for low-resource scenarios. Experiments across different applications show the significant effectiveness of our model.

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Multidirectional Associative Optimization of Function-Specific Word Representations
Daniela Gerz | Ivan Vulić | Marek Rei | Roi Reichart | Anna Korhonen

We present a neural framework for learning associations between interrelated groups of words such as the ones found in Subject-Verb-Object (SVO) structures. Our model induces a joint function-specific word vector space, where vectors of e.g. plausible SVO compositions lie close together. The model retains information about word group membership even in the joint space, and can thereby effectively be applied to a number of tasks reasoning over the SVO structure. We show the robustness and versatility of the proposed framework by reporting state-of-the-art results on the tasks of estimating selectional preference and event similarity. The results indicate that the combinations of representations learned with our task-independent model outperform task-specific architectures from prior work, while reducing the number of parameters by up to 95%.

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Predicting Degrees of Technicality in Automatic Terminology Extraction
Anna Hätty | Dominik Schlechtweg | Michael Dorna | Sabine Schulte im Walde

While automatic term extraction is a well-researched area, computational approaches to distinguish between degrees of technicality are still understudied. We semi-automatically create a German gold standard of technicality across four domains, and illustrate the impact of a web-crawled general-language corpus on technicality prediction. When defining a classification approach that combines general-language and domain-specific word embeddings, we go beyond previous work and align vector spaces to gain comparative embeddings. We suggest two novel models to exploit general- vs. domain-specific comparisons: a simple neural network model with pre-computed comparative-embedding information as input, and a multi-channel model computing the comparison internally. Both models outperform previous approaches, with the multi-channel model performing best.

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Verbal Multiword Expressions for Identification of Metaphor
Omid Rohanian | Marek Rei | Shiva Taslimipoor | Le An Ha

Metaphor is a linguistic device in which a concept is expressed by mentioning another. Identifying metaphorical expressions, therefore, requires a non-compositional understanding of semantics. Multiword Expressions (MWEs), on the other hand, are linguistic phenomena with varying degrees of semantic opacity and their identification poses a challenge to computational models. This work is the first attempt at analysing the interplay of metaphor and MWEs processing through the design of a neural architecture whereby classification of metaphors is enhanced by informing the model of the presence of MWEs. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first “MWE-aware” metaphor identification system paving the way for further experiments on the complex interactions of these phenomena. The results and analyses show that this proposed architecture reach state-of-the-art on two different established metaphor datasets.

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Gender Bias in Multilingual Embeddings and Cross-Lingual Transfer
Jieyu Zhao | Subhabrata Mukherjee | Saghar Hosseini | Kai-Wei Chang | Ahmed Hassan Awadallah

Multilingual representations embed words from many languages into a single semantic space such that words with similar meanings are close to each other regardless of the language. These embeddings have been widely used in various settings, such as cross-lingual transfer, where a natural language processing (NLP) model trained on one language is deployed to another language. While the cross-lingual transfer techniques are powerful, they carry gender bias from the source to target languages. In this paper, we study gender bias in multilingual embeddings and how it affects transfer learning for NLP applications. We create a multilingual dataset for bias analysis and propose several ways for quantifying bias in multilingual representations from both the intrinsic and extrinsic perspectives. Experimental results show that the magnitude of bias in the multilingual representations changes differently when we align the embeddings to different target spaces and that the alignment direction can also have an influence on the bias in transfer learning. We further provide recommendations for using the multilingual word representations for downstream tasks.

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Give Me Convenience and Give Her Death: Who Should Decide What Uses of NLP are Appropriate, and on What Basis?
Kobi Leins | Jey Han Lau | Timothy Baldwin

As part of growing NLP capabilities, coupled with an awareness of the ethical dimensions of research, questions have been raised about whether particular datasets and tasks should be deemed off-limits for NLP research. We examine this question with respect to a paper on automatic legal sentencing from EMNLP 2019 which was a source of some debate, in asking whether the paper should have been allowed to be published, who should have been charged with making such a decision, and on what basis. We focus in particular on the role of data statements in ethically assessing research, but also discuss the topic of dual use, and examine the outcomes of similar debates in other scientific disciplines.

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Is Your Classifier Actually Biased? Measuring Fairness under Uncertainty with Bernstein Bounds
Kawin Ethayarajh

Most NLP datasets are not annotated with protected attributes such as gender, making it difficult to measure classification bias using standard measures of fairness (e.g., equal opportunity). However, manually annotating a large dataset with a protected attribute is slow and expensive. Instead of annotating all the examples, can we annotate a subset of them and use that sample to estimate the bias? While it is possible to do so, the smaller this annotated sample is, the less certain we are that the estimate is close to the true bias. In this work, we propose using Bernstein bounds to represent this uncertainty about the bias estimate as a confidence interval. We provide empirical evidence that a 95% confidence interval derived this way consistently bounds the true bias. In quantifying this uncertainty, our method, which we call Bernstein-bounded unfairness, helps prevent classifiers from being deemed biased or unbiased when there is insufficient evidence to make either claim. Our findings suggest that the datasets currently used to measure specific biases are too small to conclusively identify bias except in the most egregious cases. For example, consider a co-reference resolution system that is 5% more accurate on gender-stereotypical sentences – to claim it is biased with 95% confidence, we need a bias-specific dataset that is 3.8 times larger than WinoBias, the largest available.

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It’s Morphin’ Time! Combating Linguistic Discrimination with Inflectional Perturbations
Samson Tan | Shafiq Joty | Min-Yen Kan | Richard Socher

Training on only perfect Standard English corpora predisposes pre-trained neural networks to discriminate against minorities from non-standard linguistic backgrounds (e.g., African American Vernacular English, Colloquial Singapore English, etc.). We perturb the inflectional morphology of words to craft plausible and semantically similar adversarial examples that expose these biases in popular NLP models, e.g., BERT and Transformer, and show that adversarially fine-tuning them for a single epoch significantly improves robustness without sacrificing performance on clean data.

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Mitigating Gender Bias Amplification in Distribution by Posterior Regularization
Shengyu Jia | Tao Meng | Jieyu Zhao | Kai-Wei Chang

Advanced machine learning techniques have boosted the performance of natural language processing. Nevertheless, recent studies, e.g., (CITATION) show that these techniques inadvertently capture the societal bias hidden in the corpus and further amplify it. However, their analysis is conducted only on models’ top predictions. In this paper, we investigate the gender bias amplification issue from the distribution perspective and demonstrate that the bias is amplified in the view of predicted probability distribution over labels. We further propose a bias mitigation approach based on posterior regularization. With little performance loss, our method can almost remove the bias amplification in the distribution. Our study sheds the light on understanding the bias amplification.

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Towards Understanding Gender Bias in Relation Extraction
Andrew Gaut | Tony Sun | Shirlyn Tang | Yuxin Huang | Jing Qian | Mai ElSherief | Jieyu Zhao | Diba Mirza | Elizabeth Belding | Kai-Wei Chang | William Yang Wang

Recent developments in Neural Relation Extraction (NRE) have made significant strides towards Automated Knowledge Base Construction. While much attention has been dedicated towards improvements in accuracy, there have been no attempts in the literature to evaluate social biases exhibited in NRE systems. In this paper, we create WikiGenderBias, a distantly supervised dataset composed of over 45,000 sentences including a 10% human annotated test set for the purpose of analyzing gender bias in relation extraction systems. We find that when extracting spouse-of and hypernym (i.e., occupation) relations, an NRE system performs differently when the gender of the target entity is different. However, such disparity does not appear when extracting relations such as birthDate or birthPlace. We also analyze how existing bias mitigation techniques, such as name anonymization, word embedding debiasing, and data augmentation affect the NRE system in terms of maintaining the test performance and reducing biases. Unfortunately, due to NRE models rely heavily on surface level cues, we find that existing bias mitigation approaches have a negative effect on NRE. Our analysis lays groundwork for future quantifying and mitigating bias in NRE.

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A Probabilistic Generative Model for Typographical Analysis of Early Modern Printing
Kartik Goyal | Chris Dyer | Christopher Warren | Maxwell G’Sell | Taylor Berg-Kirkpatrick

We propose a deep and interpretable probabilistic generative model to analyze glyph shapes in printed Early Modern documents. We focus on clustering extracted glyph images into underlying templates in the presence of multiple confounding sources of variance. Our approach introduces a neural editor model that first generates well-understood printing phenomena like spatial perturbations from template parameters via interpertable latent variables, and then modifies the result by generating a non-interpretable latent vector responsible for inking variations, jitter, noise from the archiving process, and other unforeseen phenomena associated with Early Modern printing. Critically, by introducing an inference network whose input is restricted to the visual residual between the observation and the interpretably-modified template, we are able to control and isolate what the vector-valued latent variable captures. We show that our approach outperforms rigid interpretable clustering baselines (c.f. Ocular) and overly-flexible deep generative models (VAE) alike on the task of completely unsupervised discovery of typefaces in mixed-fonts documents.

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Attentive Pooling with Learnable Norms for Text Representation
Chuhan Wu | Fangzhao Wu | Tao Qi | Xiaohui Cui | Yongfeng Huang

Pooling is an important technique for learning text representations in many neural NLP models. In conventional pooling methods such as average, max and attentive pooling, text representations are weighted summations of the L1 or L∞ norm of input features. However, their pooling norms are always fixed and may not be optimal for learning accurate text representations in different tasks. In addition, in many popular pooling methods such as max and attentive pooling some features may be over-emphasized, while other useful ones are not fully exploited. In this paper, we propose an Attentive Pooling with Learnable Norms (APLN) approach for text representation. Different from existing pooling methods that use a fixed pooling norm, we propose to learn the norm in an end-to-end manner to automatically find the optimal ones for text representation in different tasks. In addition, we propose two methods to ensure the numerical stability of the model training. The first one is scale limiting, which re-scales the input to ensure non-negativity and alleviate the risk of exponential explosion. The second one is re-formulation, which decomposes the exponent operation to avoid computing the real-valued powers of the input and further accelerate the pooling operation. Experimental results on four benchmark datasets show that our approach can effectively improve the performance of attentive pooling.

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Estimating the influence of auxiliary tasks for multi-task learning of sequence tagging tasks
Fynn Schröder | Chris Biemann

Multi-task learning (MTL) and transfer learning (TL) are techniques to overcome the issue of data scarcity when training state-of-the-art neural networks. However, finding beneficial auxiliary datasets for MTL or TL is a time- and resource-consuming trial-and-error approach. We propose new methods to automatically assess the similarity of sequence tagging datasets to identify beneficial auxiliary data for MTL or TL setups. Our methods can compute the similarity between any two sequence tagging datasets, they do not need to be annotated with the same tagset or multiple labels in parallel. Additionally, our methods take tokens and their labels into account, which is more robust than only using either of them as an information source, as conducted in prior work. We empirically show that our similarity measures correlate with the change in test score of neural networks that use the auxiliary dataset for MTL to increase the main task performance. We provide an efficient, open-source implementation.

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How Does Selective Mechanism Improve Self-Attention Networks?
Xinwei Geng | Longyue Wang | Xing Wang | Bing Qin | Ting Liu | Zhaopeng Tu

Self-attention networks (SANs) with selective mechanism has produced substantial improvements in various NLP tasks by concentrating on a subset of input words. However, the underlying reasons for their strong performance have not been well explained. In this paper, we bridge the gap by assessing the strengths of selective SANs (SSANs), which are implemented with a flexible and universal Gumbel-Softmax. Experimental results on several representative NLP tasks, including natural language inference, semantic role labelling, and machine translation, show that SSANs consistently outperform the standard SANs. Through well-designed probing experiments, we empirically validate that the improvement of SSANs can be attributed in part to mitigating two commonly-cited weaknesses of SANs: word order encoding and structure modeling. Specifically, the selective mechanism improves SANs by paying more attention to content words that contribute to the meaning of the sentence.

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Improving Transformer Models by Reordering their Sublayers
Ofir Press | Noah A. Smith | Omer Levy

Multilayer transformer networks consist of interleaved self-attention and feedforward sublayers. Could ordering the sublayers in a different pattern lead to better performance? We generate randomly ordered transformers and train them with the language modeling objective. We observe that some of these models are able to achieve better performance than the interleaved baseline, and that those successful variants tend to have more self-attention at the bottom and more feedforward sublayers at the top. We propose a new transformer pattern that adheres to this property, the sandwich transformer, and show that it improves perplexity on multiple word-level and character-level language modeling benchmarks, at no cost in parameters, memory, or training time. However, the sandwich reordering pattern does not guarantee performance gains across every task, as we demonstrate on machine translation models. Instead, we suggest that further exploration of task-specific sublayer reorderings is needed in order to unlock additional gains.

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Single Model Ensemble using Pseudo-Tags and Distinct Vectors
Ryosuke Kuwabara | Jun Suzuki | Hideki Nakayama

Model ensemble techniques often increase task performance in neural networks; however, they require increased time, memory, and management effort. In this study, we propose a novel method that replicates the effects of a model ensemble with a single model. Our approach creates K-virtual models within a single parameter space using K-distinct pseudo-tags and K-distinct vectors. Experiments on text classification and sequence labeling tasks on several datasets demonstrate that our method emulates or outperforms a traditional model ensemble with 1/K-times fewer parameters.

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Zero-shot Text Classification via Reinforced Self-training
Zhiquan Ye | Yuxia Geng | Jiaoyan Chen | Jingmin Chen | Xiaoxiao Xu | SuHang Zheng | Feng Wang | Jun Zhang | Huajun Chen

Zero-shot learning has been a tough problem since no labeled data is available for unseen classes during training, especially for classes with low similarity. In this situation, transferring from seen classes to unseen classes is extremely hard. To tackle this problem, in this paper we propose a self-training based method to efficiently leverage unlabeled data. Traditional self-training methods use fixed heuristics to select instances from unlabeled data, whose performance varies among different datasets. We propose a reinforcement learning framework to learn data selection strategy automatically and provide more reliable selection. Experimental results on both benchmarks and a real-world e-commerce dataset show that our approach significantly outperforms previous methods in zero-shot text classification

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A Novel Graph-based Multi-modal Fusion Encoder for Neural Machine Translation
Yongjing Yin | Fandong Meng | Jinsong Su | Chulun Zhou | Zhengyuan Yang | Jie Zhou | Jiebo Luo

Multi-modal neural machine translation (NMT) aims to translate source sentences into a target language paired with images. However, dominant multi-modal NMT models do not fully exploit fine-grained semantic correspondences between semantic units of different modalities, which have potential to refine multi-modal representation learning. To deal with this issue, in this paper, we propose a novel graph-based multi-modal fusion encoder for NMT. Specifically, we first represent the input sentence and image using a unified multi-modal graph, which captures various semantic relationships between multi-modal semantic units (words and visual objects). We then stack multiple graph-based multi-modal fusion layers that iteratively perform semantic interactions to learn node representations. Finally, these representations provide an attention-based context vector for the decoder. We evaluate our proposed encoder on the Multi30K datasets. Experimental results and in-depth analysis show the superiority of our multi-modal NMT model.

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A Relaxed Matching Procedure for Unsupervised BLI
Xu Zhao | Zihao Wang | Yong Zhang | Hao Wu

Recently unsupervised Bilingual Lexicon Induction(BLI) without any parallel corpus has attracted much research interest. One of the crucial parts in methods for the BLI task is the matching procedure. Previous works impose a too strong constraint on the matching and lead to many counterintuitive translation pairings. Thus We propose a relaxed matching procedure to find a more precise matching between two languages. We also find that aligning source and target language embedding space bidirectionally will bring significant improvement. We follow the previous iterative framework to conduct experiments. Results on standard benchmark demonstrate the effectiveness of our proposed method, which substantially outperforms previous unsupervised methods.

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Dynamic Programming Encoding for Subword Segmentation in Neural Machine Translation
Xuanli He | Gholamreza Haffari | Mohammad Norouzi

This paper introduces Dynamic Programming Encoding (DPE), a new segmentation algorithm for tokenizing sentences into subword units. We view the subword segmentation of output sentences as a latent variable that should be marginalized out for learning and inference. A mixed character-subword transformer is proposed, which enables exact log marginal likelihood estimation and exact MAP inference to find target segmentations with maximum posterior probability. DPE uses a lightweight mixed character-subword transformer as a means of pre-processing parallel data to segment output sentences using dynamic programming. Empirical results on machine translation suggest that DPE is effective for segmenting output sentences and can be combined with BPE dropout for stochastic segmentation of source sentences. DPE achieves an average improvement of 0.9 BLEU over BPE (Sennrich et al., 2016) and an average improvement of 0.55 BLEU over BPE dropout (Provilkov et al., 2019) on several WMT datasets including English <=> (German, Romanian, Estonian, Finnish, Hungarian).

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Geometry-aware domain adaptation for unsupervised alignment of word embeddings
Pratik Jawanpuria | Mayank Meghwanshi | Bamdev Mishra

We propose a novel manifold based geometric approach for learning unsupervised alignment of word embeddings between the source and the target languages. Our approach formulates the alignment learning problem as a domain adaptation problem over the manifold of doubly stochastic matrices. This viewpoint arises from the aim to align the second order information of the two language spaces. The rich geometry of the doubly stochastic manifold allows to employ efficient Riemannian conjugate gradient algorithm for the proposed formulation. Empirically, the proposed approach outperforms state-of-the-art optimal transport based approach on the bilingual lexicon induction task across several language pairs. The performance improvement is more significant for distant language pairs.

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Learning to Recover from Multi-Modality Errors for Non-Autoregressive Neural Machine Translation
Qiu Ran | Yankai Lin | Peng Li | Jie Zhou

Non-autoregressive neural machine translation (NAT) predicts the entire target sequence simultaneously and significantly accelerates inference process. However, NAT discards the dependency information in a sentence, and thus inevitably suffers from the multi-modality problem: the target tokens may be provided by different possible translations, often causing token repetitions or missing. To alleviate this problem, we propose a novel semi-autoregressive model RecoverSAT in this work, which generates a translation as a sequence of segments. The segments are generated simultaneously while each segment is predicted token-by-token. By dynamically determining segment length and deleting repetitive segments, RecoverSAT is capable of recovering from repetitive and missing token errors. Experimental results on three widely-used benchmark datasets show that our proposed model achieves more than 4 times speedup while maintaining comparable performance compared with the corresponding autoregressive model.

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On the Inference Calibration of Neural Machine Translation
Shuo Wang | Zhaopeng Tu | Shuming Shi | Yang Liu

Confidence calibration, which aims to make model predictions equal to the true correctness measures, is important for neural machine translation (NMT) because it is able to offer useful indicators of translation errors in the generated output. While prior studies have shown that NMT models trained with label smoothing are well-calibrated on the ground-truth training data, we find that miscalibration still remains a severe challenge for NMT during inference due to the discrepancy between training and inference. By carefully designing experiments on three language pairs, our work provides in-depth analyses of the correlation between calibration and translation performance as well as linguistic properties of miscalibration and reports a number of interesting findings that might help humans better analyze, understand and improve NMT models. Based on these observations, we further propose a new graduated label smoothing method that can improve both inference calibration and translation performance.

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Camouflaged Chinese Spam Content Detection with Semi-supervised Generative Active Learning
Zhuoren Jiang | Zhe Gao | Yu Duan | Yangyang Kang | Changlong Sun | Qiong Zhang | Xiaozhong Liu

We propose a Semi-supervIsed GeNerative Active Learning (SIGNAL) model to address the imbalance, efficiency, and text camouflage problems of Chinese text spam detection task. A “self-diversity” criterion is proposed for measuring the “worthiness” of a candidate for annotation. A semi-supervised variational autoencoder with masked attention learning approach and a character variation graph-enhanced augmentation procedure are proposed for data augmentation. The preliminary experiment demonstrates the proposed SIGNAL model is not only sensitive to spam sample selection, but also can improve the performance of a series of conventional active learning models for Chinese spam detection task. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first work to integrate active learning and semi-supervised generative learning for text spam detection.

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Distinguish Confusing Law Articles for Legal Judgment Prediction
Nuo Xu | Pinghui Wang | Long Chen | Li Pan | Xiaoyan Wang | Junzhou Zhao

Legal Judgement Prediction (LJP) is the task of automatically predicting a law case’s judgment results given a text describing the case’s facts, which has great prospects in judicial assistance systems and handy services for the public. In practice, confusing charges are often presented, because law cases applicable to similar law articles are easily misjudged. To address this issue, existing work relies heavily on domain experts, which hinders its application in different law systems. In this paper, we present an end-to-end model, LADAN, to solve the task of LJP. To distinguish confusing charges, we propose a novel graph neural network, GDL, to automatically learn subtle differences between confusing law articles, and also design a novel attention mechanism that fully exploits the learned differences to attentively extract effective discriminative features from fact descriptions. Experiments conducted on real-world datasets demonstrate the superiority of our LADAN.

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Hiring Now: A Skill-Aware Multi-Attention Model for Job Posting Generation
Liting Liu | Jie Liu | Wenzheng Zhang | Ziming Chi | Wenxuan Shi | Yalou Huang

Writing a good job posting is a critical step in the recruiting process, but the task is often more difficult than many people think. It is challenging to specify the level of education, experience, relevant skills per the company information and job description. To this end, we propose a novel task of Job Posting Generation (JPG) which is cast as a conditional text generation problem to generate job requirements according to the job descriptions. To deal with this task, we devise a data-driven global Skill-Aware Multi-Attention generation model, named SAMA. Specifically, to model the complex mapping relationships between input and output, we design a hierarchical decoder that we first label the job description with multiple skills, then we generate a complete text guided by the skill labels. At the same time, to exploit the prior knowledge about the skills, we further construct a skill knowledge graph to capture the global prior knowledge of skills and refine the generated results. The proposed approach is evaluated on real-world job posting data. Experimental results clearly demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed method.

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HyperCore: Hyperbolic and Co-graph Representation for Automatic ICD Coding
Pengfei Cao | Yubo Chen | Kang Liu | Jun Zhao | Shengping Liu | Weifeng Chong

The International Classification of Diseases (ICD) provides a standardized way for classifying diseases, which endows each disease with a unique code. ICD coding aims to assign proper ICD codes to a medical record. Since manual coding is very laborious and prone to errors, many methods have been proposed for the automatic ICD coding task. However, most of existing methods independently predict each code, ignoring two important characteristics: Code Hierarchy and Code Co-occurrence. In this paper, we propose a Hyperbolic and Co-graph Representation method (HyperCore) to address the above problem. Specifically, we propose a hyperbolic representation method to leverage the code hierarchy. Moreover, we propose a graph convolutional network to utilize the code co-occurrence. Experimental results on two widely used datasets demonstrate that our proposed model outperforms previous state-of-the-art methods.

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Hyperbolic Capsule Networks for Multi-Label Classification
Boli Chen | Xin Huang | Lin Xiao | Liping Jing

Although deep neural networks are effective at extracting high-level features, classification methods usually encode an input into a vector representation via simple feature aggregation operations (e.g. pooling). Such operations limit the performance. For instance, a multi-label document may contain several concepts. In this case, one vector can not sufficiently capture its salient and discriminative content. Thus, we propose Hyperbolic Capsule Networks (HyperCaps) for Multi-Label Classification (MLC), which have two merits. First, hyperbolic capsules are designed to capture fine-grained document information for each label, which has the ability to characterize complicated structures among labels and documents. Second, Hyperbolic Dynamic Routing (HDR) is introduced to aggregate hyperbolic capsules in a label-aware manner, so that the label-level discriminative information can be preserved along the depth of neural networks. To efficiently handle large-scale MLC datasets, we additionally present a new routing method to adaptively adjust the capsule number during routing. Extensive experiments are conducted on four benchmark datasets. Compared with the state-of-the-art methods, HyperCaps significantly improves the performance of MLC especially on tail labels.

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Improving Segmentation for Technical Support Problems
Kushal Chauhan | Abhirut Gupta

Technical support problems are often long and complex. They typically contain user descriptions of the problem, the setup, and steps for attempted resolution. Often they also contain various non-natural language text elements like outputs of commands, snippets of code, error messages or stack traces. These elements contain potentially crucial information for problem resolution. However, they cannot be correctly parsed by tools designed for natural language. In this paper, we address the problem of segmentation for technical support questions. We formulate the problem as a sequence labelling task, and study the performance of state of the art approaches. We compare this against an intuitive contextual sentence-level classification baseline, and a state of the art supervised text-segmentation approach. We also introduce a novel component of combining contextual embeddings from multiple language models pre-trained on different data sources, which achieves a marked improvement over using embeddings from a single pre-trained language model. Finally, we also demonstrate the usefulness of such segmentation with improvements on the downstream task of answer retrieval.

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MOOCCube: A Large-scale Data Repository for NLP Applications in MOOCs
Jifan Yu | Gan Luo | Tong Xiao | Qingyang Zhong | Yuquan Wang | Wenzheng Feng | Junyi Luo | Chenyu Wang | Lei Hou | Juanzi Li | Zhiyuan Liu | Jie Tang

The prosperity of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) provides fodder for many NLP and AI research for education applications, e.g., course concept extraction, prerequisite relation discovery, etc. However, the publicly available datasets of MOOC are limited in size with few types of data, which hinders advanced models and novel attempts in related topics. Therefore, we present MOOCCube, a large-scale data repository of over 700 MOOC courses, 100k concepts, 8 million student behaviors with an external resource. Moreover, we conduct a prerequisite discovery task as an example application to show the potential of MOOCCube in facilitating relevant research. The data repository is now available at

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Towards Interpretable Clinical Diagnosis with Bayesian Network Ensembles Stacked on Entity-Aware CNNs
Jun Chen | Xiaoya Dai | Quan Yuan | Chao Lu | Haifeng Huang

The automatic text-based diagnosis remains a challenging task for clinical use because it requires appropriate balance between accuracy and interpretability. In this paper, we attempt to propose a solution by introducing a novel framework that stacks Bayesian Network Ensembles on top of Entity-Aware Convolutional Neural Networks (CNN) towards building an accurate yet interpretable diagnosis system. The proposed framework takes advantage of the high accuracy and generality of deep neural networks as well as the interpretability of Bayesian Networks, which is critical for AI-empowered healthcare. The evaluation conducted on the real Electronic Medical Record (EMR) documents from hospitals and annotated by professional doctors proves that, the proposed framework outperforms the previous automatic diagnosis methods in accuracy performance and the diagnosis explanation of the framework is reasonable.

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Analyzing the Persuasive Effect of Style in News Editorial Argumentation
Roxanne El Baff | Henning Wachsmuth | Khalid Al Khatib | Benno Stein

News editorials argue about political issues in order to challenge or reinforce the stance of readers with different ideologies. Previous research has investigated such persuasive effects for argumentative content. In contrast, this paper studies how important the style of news editorials is to achieve persuasion. To this end, we first compare content- and style-oriented classifiers on editorials from the liberal NYTimes with ideology-specific effect annotations. We find that conservative readers are resistant to NYTimes style, but on liberals, style even has more impact than content. Focusing on liberals, we then cluster the leads, bodies, and endings of editorials, in order to learn about writing style patterns of effective argumentation.

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ECPE-2D: Emotion-Cause Pair Extraction based on Joint Two-Dimensional Representation, Interaction and Prediction
Zixiang Ding | Rui Xia | Jianfei Yu

In recent years, a new interesting task, called emotion-cause pair extraction (ECPE), has emerged in the area of text emotion analysis. It aims at extracting the potential pairs of emotions and their corresponding causes in a document. To solve this task, the existing research employed a two-step framework, which first extracts individual emotion set and cause set, and then pair the corresponding emotions and causes. However, such a pipeline of two steps contains some inherent flaws: 1) the modeling does not aim at extracting the final emotion-cause pair directly; 2) the errors from the first step will affect the performance of the second step. To address these shortcomings, in this paper we propose a new end-to-end approach, called ECPE-Two-Dimensional (ECPE-2D), to represent the emotion-cause pairs by a 2D representation scheme. A 2D transformer module and two variants, window-constrained and cross-road 2D transformers, are further proposed to model the interactions of different emotion-cause pairs. The 2D representation, interaction, and prediction are integrated into a joint framework. In addition to the advantages of joint modeling, the experimental results on the benchmark emotion cause corpus show that our approach improves the F1 score of the state-of-the-art from 61.28% to 68.89%.

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Effective Inter-Clause Modeling for End-to-End Emotion-Cause Pair Extraction
Penghui Wei | Jiahao Zhao | Wenji Mao

Emotion-cause pair extraction aims to extract all emotion clauses coupled with their cause clauses from a given document. Previous work employs two-step approaches, in which the first step extracts emotion clauses and cause clauses separately, and the second step trains a classifier to filter out negative pairs. However, such pipeline-style system for emotion-cause pair extraction is suboptimal because it suffers from error propagation and the two steps may not adapt to each other well. In this paper, we tackle emotion-cause pair extraction from a ranking perspective, i.e., ranking clause pair candidates in a document, and propose a one-step neural approach which emphasizes inter-clause modeling to perform end-to-end extraction. It models the interrelations between the clauses in a document to learn clause representations with graph attention, and enhances clause pair representations with kernel-based relative position embedding for effective ranking. Experimental results show that our approach significantly outperforms the current two-step systems, especially in the condition of extracting multiple pairs in one document.

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Embarrassingly Simple Unsupervised Aspect Extraction
Stéphan Tulkens | Andreas van Cranenburgh

We present a simple but effective method for aspect identification in sentiment analysis. Our unsupervised method only requires word embeddings and a POS tagger, and is therefore straightforward to apply to new domains and languages. We introduce Contrastive Attention (CAt), a novel single-head attention mechanism based on an RBF kernel, which gives a considerable boost in performance and makes the model interpretable. Previous work relied on syntactic features and complex neural models. We show that given the simplicity of current benchmark datasets for aspect extraction, such complex models are not needed. The code to reproduce the experiments reported in this paper is available at

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Enhancing Cross-target Stance Detection with Transferable Semantic-Emotion Knowledge
Bowen Zhang | Min Yang | Xutao Li | Yunming Ye | Xiaofei Xu | Kuai Dai

Stance detection is an important task, which aims to classify the attitude of an opinionated text towards a given target. Remarkable success has been achieved when sufficient labeled training data is available. However, annotating sufficient data is labor-intensive, which establishes significant barriers for generalizing the stance classifier to the data with new targets. In this paper, we proposed a Semantic-Emotion Knowledge Transferring (SEKT) model for cross-target stance detection, which uses the external knowledge (semantic and emotion lexicons) as a bridge to enable knowledge transfer across different targets. Specifically, a semantic-emotion heterogeneous graph is constructed from external semantic and emotion lexicons, which is then fed into a graph convolutional network to learn multi-hop semantic connections between words and emotion tags. Then, the learned semantic-emotion graph representation, which serves as prior knowledge bridging the gap between the source and target domains, is fully integrated into the bidirectional long short-term memory (BiLSTM) stance classifier by adding a novel knowledge-aware memory unit to the BiLSTM cell. Extensive experiments on a large real-world dataset demonstrate the superiority of SEKT against the state-of-the-art baseline methods.

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KinGDOM: Knowledge-Guided DOMain Adaptation for Sentiment Analysis
Deepanway Ghosal | Devamanyu Hazarika | Abhinaba Roy | Navonil Majumder | Rada Mihalcea | Soujanya Poria

Cross-domain sentiment analysis has received significant attention in recent years, prompted by the need to combat the domain gap between different applications that make use of sentiment analysis. In this paper, we take a novel perspective on this task by exploring the role of external commonsense knowledge. We introduce a new framework, KinGDOM, which utilizes the ConceptNet knowledge graph to enrich the semantics of a document by providing both domain-specific and domain-general background concepts. These concepts are learned by training a graph convolutional autoencoder that leverages inter-domain concepts in a domain-invariant manner. Conditioning a popular domain-adversarial baseline method with these learned concepts helps improve its performance over state-of-the-art approaches, demonstrating the efficacy of our proposed framework.

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Modelling Context and Syntactical Features for Aspect-based Sentiment Analysis
Minh Hieu Phan | Philip O. Ogunbona

The aspect-based sentiment analysis (ABSA) consists of two conceptual tasks, namely an aspect extraction and an aspect sentiment classification. Rather than considering the tasks separately, we build an end-to-end ABSA solution. Previous works in ABSA tasks did not fully leverage the importance of syntactical information. Hence, the aspect extraction model often failed to detect the boundaries of multi-word aspect terms. On the other hand, the aspect sentiment classifier was unable to account for the syntactical correlation between aspect terms and the context words. This paper explores the grammatical aspect of the sentence and employs the self-attention mechanism for syntactical learning. We combine part-of-speech embeddings, dependency-based embeddings and contextualized embeddings (e.g. BERT, RoBERTa) to enhance the performance of the aspect extractor. We also propose the syntactic relative distance to de-emphasize the adverse effects of unrelated words, having weak syntactic connection with the aspect terms. This increases the accuracy of the aspect sentiment classifier. Our solutions outperform the state-of-the-art models on SemEval-2014 dataset in both two subtasks.

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Parallel Data Augmentation for Formality Style Transfer
Yi Zhang | Tao Ge | Xu Sun

The main barrier to progress in the task of Formality Style Transfer is the inadequacy of training data. In this paper, we study how to augment parallel data and propose novel and simple data augmentation methods for this task to obtain useful sentence pairs with easily accessible models and systems. Experiments demonstrate that our augmented parallel data largely helps improve formality style transfer when it is used to pre-train the model, leading to the state-of-the-art results in the GYAFC benchmark dataset.

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Relational Graph Attention Network for Aspect-based Sentiment Analysis
Kai Wang | Weizhou Shen | Yunyi Yang | Xiaojun Quan | Rui Wang

Aspect-based sentiment analysis aims to determine the sentiment polarity towards a specific aspect in online reviews. Most recent efforts adopt attention-based neural network models to implicitly connect aspects with opinion words. However, due to the complexity of language and the existence of multiple aspects in a single sentence, these models often confuse the connections. In this paper, we address this problem by means of effective encoding of syntax information. Firstly, we define a unified aspect-oriented dependency tree structure rooted at a target aspect by reshaping and pruning an ordinary dependency parse tree. Then, we propose a relational graph attention network (R-GAT) to encode the new tree structure for sentiment prediction. Extensive experiments are conducted on the SemEval 2014 and Twitter datasets, and the experimental results confirm that the connections between aspects and opinion words can be better established with our approach, and the performance of the graph attention network (GAT) is significantly improved as a consequence.

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SpanMlt: A Span-based Multi-Task Learning Framework for Pair-wise Aspect and Opinion Terms Extraction
He Zhao | Longtao Huang | Rong Zhang | Quan Lu | Hui Xue

Aspect terms extraction and opinion terms extraction are two key problems of fine-grained Aspect Based Sentiment Analysis (ABSA). The aspect-opinion pairs can provide a global profile about a product or service for consumers and opinion mining systems. However, traditional methods can not directly output aspect-opinion pairs without given aspect terms or opinion terms. Although some recent co-extraction methods have been proposed to extract both terms jointly, they fail to extract them as pairs. To this end, this paper proposes an end-to-end method to solve the task of Pair-wise Aspect and Opinion Terms Extraction (PAOTE). Furthermore, this paper treats the problem from a perspective of joint term and relation extraction rather than under the sequence tagging formulation performed in most prior works. We propose a multi-task learning framework based on shared spans, where the terms are extracted under the supervision of span boundaries. Meanwhile, the pair-wise relations are jointly identified using the span representations. Extensive experiments show that our model consistently outperforms state-of-the-art methods.

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Syntax-Aware Opinion Role Labeling with Dependency Graph Convolutional Networks
Bo Zhang | Yue Zhang | Rui Wang | Zhenghua Li | Min Zhang

Opinion role labeling (ORL) is a fine-grained opinion analysis task and aims to answer “who expressed what kind of sentiment towards what?”. Due to the scarcity of labeled data, ORL remains challenging for data-driven methods. In this work, we try to enhance neural ORL models with syntactic knowledge by comparing and integrating different representations. We also propose dependency graph convolutional networks (DEPGCN) to encode parser information at different processing levels. In order to compensate for parser inaccuracy and reduce error propagation, we introduce multi-task learning (MTL) to train the parser and the ORL model simultaneously. We verify our methods on the benchmark MPQA corpus. The experimental results show that syntactic information is highly valuable for ORL, and our final MTL model effectively boosts the F1 score by 9.29 over the syntax-agnostic baseline. In addition, we find that the contributions from syntactic knowledge do not fully overlap with contextualized word representations (BERT). Our best model achieves 4.34 higher F1 score than the current state-ofthe-art.

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Towards Better Non-Tree Argument Mining: Proposition-Level Biaffine Parsing with Task-Specific Parameterization
Gaku Morio | Hiroaki Ozaki | Terufumi Morishita | Yuta Koreeda | Kohsuke Yanai

State-of-the-art argument mining studies have advanced the techniques for predicting argument structures. However, the technology for capturing non-tree-structured arguments is still in its infancy. In this paper, we focus on non-tree argument mining with a neural model. We jointly predict proposition types and edges between propositions. Our proposed model incorporates (i) task-specific parameterization (TSP) that effectively encodes a sequence of propositions and (ii) a proposition-level biaffine attention (PLBA) that can predict a non-tree argument consisting of edges. Experimental results show that both TSP and PLBA boost edge prediction performance compared to baselines.

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A Span-based Linearization for Constituent Trees
Yang Wei | Yuanbin Wu | Man Lan

We propose a novel linearization of a constituent tree, together with a new locally normalized model. For each split point in a sentence, our model computes the normalizer on all spans ending with that split point, and then predicts a tree span from them. Compared with global models, our model is fast and parallelizable. Different from previous local models, our linearization method is tied on the spans directly and considers more local features when performing span prediction, which is more interpretable and effective. Experiments on PTB (95.8 F1) and CTB (92.4 F1) show that our model significantly outperforms existing local models and efficiently achieves competitive results with global models.

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An Empirical Comparison of Unsupervised Constituency Parsing Methods
Jun Li | Yifan Cao | Jiong Cai | Yong Jiang | Kewei Tu

Unsupervised constituency parsing aims to learn a constituency parser from a training corpus without parse tree annotations. While many methods have been proposed to tackle the problem, including statistical and neural methods, their experimental results are often not directly comparable due to discrepancies in datasets, data preprocessing, lexicalization, and evaluation metrics. In this paper, we first examine experimental settings used in previous work and propose to standardize the settings for better comparability between methods. We then empirically compare several existing methods, including decade-old and newly proposed ones, under the standardized settings on English and Japanese, two languages with different branching tendencies. We find that recent models do not show a clear advantage over decade-old models in our experiments. We hope our work can provide new insights into existing methods and facilitate future empirical evaluation of unsupervised constituency parsing.

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Efficient Constituency Parsing by Pointing
Thanh-Tung Nguyen | Xuan-Phi Nguyen | Shafiq Joty | Xiaoli Li

We propose a novel constituency parsing model that casts the parsing problem into a series of pointing tasks. Specifically, our model estimates the likelihood of a span being a legitimate tree constituent via the pointing score corresponding to the boundary words of the span. Our parsing model supports efficient top-down decoding and our learning objective is able to enforce structural consistency without resorting to the expensive CKY inference. The experiments on the standard English Penn Treebank parsing task show that our method achieves 92.78 F1 without using pre-trained models, which is higher than all the existing methods with similar time complexity. Using pre-trained BERT, our model achieves 95.48 F1, which is competitive with the state-of-the-art while being faster. Our approach also establishes new state-of-the-art in Basque and Swedish in the SPMRL shared tasks on multilingual constituency parsing.

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Efficient Second-Order TreeCRF for Neural Dependency Parsing
Yu Zhang | Zhenghua Li | Min Zhang

In the deep learning (DL) era, parsing models are extremely simplified with little hurt on performance, thanks to the remarkable capability of multi-layer BiLSTMs in context representation. As the most popular graph-based dependency parser due to its high efficiency and performance, the biaffine parser directly scores single dependencies under the arc-factorization assumption, and adopts a very simple local token-wise cross-entropy training loss. This paper for the first time presents a second-order TreeCRF extension to the biaffine parser. For a long time, the complexity and inefficiency of the inside-outside algorithm hinder the popularity of TreeCRF. To address this issue, we propose an effective way to batchify the inside and Viterbi algorithms for direct large matrix operation on GPUs, and to avoid the complex outside algorithm via efficient back-propagation. Experiments and analysis on 27 datasets from 13 languages clearly show that techniques developed before the DL era, such as structural learning (global TreeCRF loss) and high-order modeling are still useful, and can further boost parsing performance over the state-of-the-art biaffine parser, especially for partially annotated training data. We release our code at

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Representations of Syntax [MASK] Useful: Effects of Constituency and Dependency Structure in Recursive LSTMs
Michael Lepori | Tal Linzen | R. Thomas McCoy

Sequence-based neural networks show significant sensitivity to syntactic structure, but they still perform less well on syntactic tasks than tree-based networks. Such tree-based networks can be provided with a constituency parse, a dependency parse, or both. We evaluate which of these two representational schemes more effectively introduces biases for syntactic structure that increase performance on the subject-verb agreement prediction task. We find that a constituency-based network generalizes more robustly than a dependency-based one, and that combining the two types of structure does not yield further improvement. Finally, we show that the syntactic robustness of sequential models can be substantially improved by fine-tuning on a small amount of constructed data, suggesting that data augmentation is a viable alternative to explicit constituency structure for imparting the syntactic biases that sequential models are lacking.

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Structure-Level Knowledge Distillation For Multilingual Sequence Labeling
Xinyu Wang | Yong Jiang | Nguyen Bach | Tao Wang | Fei Huang | Kewei Tu

Multilingual sequence labeling is a task of predicting label sequences using a single unified model for multiple languages. Compared with relying on multiple monolingual models, using a multilingual model has the benefit of a smaller model size, easier in online serving, and generalizability to low-resource languages. However, current multilingual models still underperform individual monolingual models significantly due to model capacity limitations. In this paper, we propose to reduce the gap between monolingual models and the unified multilingual model by distilling the structural knowledge of several monolingual models (teachers) to the unified multilingual model (student). We propose two novel KD methods based on structure-level information: (1) approximately minimizes the distance between the student’s and the teachers’ structure-level probability distributions, (2) aggregates the structure-level knowledge to local distributions and minimizes the distance between two local probability distributions. Our experiments on 4 multilingual tasks with 25 datasets show that our approaches outperform several strong baselines and have stronger zero-shot generalizability than both the baseline model and teacher models.

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Dynamic Online Conversation Recommendation
Xingshan Zeng | Jing Li | Lu Wang | Zhiming Mao | Kam-Fai Wong

Trending topics in social media content evolve over time, and it is therefore crucial to understand social media users and their interpersonal communications in a dynamic manner. Here we study dynamic online conversation recommendation, to help users engage in conversations that satisfy their evolving interests. While most prior work assumes static user interests, our model is able to capture the temporal aspects of user interests, and further handle future conversations that are unseen during training time. Concretely, we propose a neural architecture to exploit changes of user interactions and interests over time, to predict which discussions they are likely to enter. We conduct experiments on large-scale collections of Reddit conversations, and results on three subreddits show that our model significantly outperforms state-of-the-art models that make a static assumption of user interests. We further evaluate on handling “cold start”, and observe consistently better performance by our model when considering various degrees of sparsity of user’s chatting history and conversation contexts. Lastly, analyses on our model outputs indicate user interest change, explaining the advantage and efficacy of our approach.

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Improving Multimodal Named Entity Recognition via Entity Span Detection with Unified Multimodal Transformer
Jianfei Yu | Jing Jiang | Li Yang | Rui Xia

In this paper, we study Multimodal Named Entity Recognition (MNER) for social media posts. Existing approaches for MNER mainly suffer from two drawbacks: (1) despite generating word-aware visual representations, their word representations are insensitive to the visual context; (2) most of them ignore the bias brought by the visual context. To tackle the first issue, we propose a multimodal interaction module to obtain both image-aware word representations and word-aware visual representations. To alleviate the visual bias, we further propose to leverage purely text-based entity span detection as an auxiliary module, and design a Unified Multimodal Transformer to guide the final predictions with the entity span predictions. Experiments show that our unified approach achieves the new state-of-the-art performance on two benchmark datasets.

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Stock Embeddings Acquired from News Articles and Price History, and an Application to Portfolio Optimization
Xin Du | Kumiko Tanaka-Ishii

Previous works that integrated news articles to better process stock prices used a variety of neural networks to predict price movements. The textual and price information were both encoded in the neural network, and it is therefore difficult to apply this approach in situations other than the original framework of the notoriously hard problem of price prediction. In contrast, this paper presents a method to encode the influence of news articles through a vector representation of stocks called a stock embedding. The stock embedding is acquired with a deep learning framework using both news articles and price history. Because the embedding takes the operational form of a vector, it is applicable to other financial problems besides price prediction. As one example application, we show the results of portfolio optimization using Reuters & Bloomberg headlines, producing a capital gain 2.8 times larger than that obtained with a baseline method using only stock price data. This suggests that the proposed stock embedding can leverage textual financial semantics to solve financial prediction problems.

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What Was Written vs. Who Read It: News Media Profiling Using Text Analysis and Social Media Context
Ramy Baly | Georgi Karadzhov | Jisun An | Haewoon Kwak | Yoan Dinkov | Ahmed Ali | James Glass | Preslav Nakov

Predicting the political bias and the factuality of reporting of entire news outlets are critical elements of media profiling, which is an understudied but an increasingly important research direction. The present level of proliferation of fake, biased, and propagandistic content online has made it impossible to fact-check every single suspicious claim, either manually or automatically. Thus, it has been proposed to profile entire news outlets and to look for those that are likely to publish fake or biased content. This makes it possible to detect likely “fake news” the moment they are published, by simply checking the reliability of their source. From a practical perspective, political bias and factuality of reporting have a linguistic aspect but also a social context. Here, we study the impact of both, namely (i) what was written (i.e., what was published by the target medium, and how it describes itself in Twitter) vs. (ii) who reads it (i.e., analyzing the target medium’s audience on social media). We further study (iii) what was written about the target medium (in Wikipedia). The evaluation results show that what was written matters most, and we further show that putting all information sources together yields huge improvements over the current state-of-the-art.

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An Analysis of the Utility of Explicit Negative Examples to Improve the Syntactic Abilities of Neural Language Models
Hiroshi Noji | Hiroya Takamura

We explore the utilities of explicit negative examples in training neural language models. Negative examples here are incorrect words in a sentence, such as barks in *The dogs barks. Neural language models are commonly trained only on positive examples, a set of sentences in the training data, but recent studies suggest that the models trained in this way are not capable of robustly handling complex syntactic constructions, such as long-distance agreement. In this paper, we first demonstrate that appropriately using negative examples about particular constructions (e.g., subject-verb agreement) will boost the model’s robustness on them in English, with a negligible loss of perplexity. The key to our success is an additional margin loss between the log-likelihoods of a correct word and an incorrect word. We then provide a detailed analysis of the trained models. One of our findings is the difficulty of object-relative clauses for RNNs. We find that even with our direct learning signals the models still suffer from resolving agreement across an object-relative clause. Augmentation of training sentences involving the constructions somewhat helps, but the accuracy still does not reach the level of subject-relative clauses. Although not directly cognitively appealing, our method can be a tool to analyze the true architectural limitation of neural models on challenging linguistic constructions.

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On the Robustness of Language Encoders against Grammatical Errors
Fan Yin | Quanyu Long | Tao Meng | Kai-Wei Chang

We conduct a thorough study to diagnose the behaviors of pre-trained language encoders (ELMo, BERT, and RoBERTa) when confronted with natural grammatical errors. Specifically, we collect real grammatical errors from non-native speakers and conduct adversarial attacks to simulate these errors on clean text data. We use this approach to facilitate debugging models on downstream applications. Results confirm that the performance of all tested models is affected but the degree of impact varies. To interpret model behaviors, we further design a linguistic acceptability task to reveal their abilities in identifying ungrammatical sentences and the position of errors. We find that fixed contextual encoders with a simple classifier trained on the prediction of sentence correctness are able to locate error positions. We also design a cloze test for BERT and discover that BERT captures the interaction between errors and specific tokens in context. Our results shed light on understanding the robustness and behaviors of language encoders against grammatical errors.

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Roles and Utilization of Attention Heads in Transformer-based Neural Language Models
Jae-young Jo | Sung-Hyon Myaeng

Sentence encoders based on the transformer architecture have shown promising results on various natural language tasks. The main impetus lies in the pre-trained neural language models that capture long-range dependencies among words, owing to multi-head attention that is unique in the architecture. However, little is known for how linguistic properties are processed, represented, and utilized for downstream tasks among hundreds of attention heads inside the pre-trained transformer-based model. For the initial goal of examining the roles of attention heads in handling a set of linguistic features, we conducted a set of experiments with ten probing tasks and three downstream tasks on four pre-trained transformer families (GPT, GPT2, BERT, and ELECTRA). Meaningful insights are shown through the lens of heat map visualization and utilized to propose a relatively simple sentence representation method that takes advantage of most influential attention heads, resulting in additional performance improvements on the downstream tasks.

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Understanding Attention for Text Classification
Xiaobing Sun | Wei Lu

Attention has been proven successful in many natural language processing (NLP) tasks. Recently, many researchers started to investigate the interpretability of attention on NLP tasks. Many existing approaches focused on examining whether the local attention weights could reflect the importance of input representations. In this work, we present a study on understanding the internal mechanism of attention by looking into the gradient update process, checking its behavior when approaching a local minimum during training. We propose to analyze for each word token the following two quantities: its polarity score and its attention score, where the latter is a global assessment on the token’s significance. We discuss conditions under which the attention mechanism may become more (or less) interpretable, and show how the interplay between the two quantities can contribute towards model performance.

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A Relational Memory-based Embedding Model for Triple Classification and Search Personalization
Dai Quoc Nguyen | Tu Nguyen | Dinh Phung

Knowledge graph embedding methods often suffer from a limitation of memorizing valid triples to predict new ones for triple classification and search personalization problems. To this end, we introduce a novel embedding model, named R-MeN, that explores a relational memory network to encode potential dependencies in relationship triples. R-MeN considers each triple as a sequence of 3 input vectors that recurrently interact with a memory using a transformer self-attention mechanism. Thus R-MeN encodes new information from interactions between the memory and each input vector to return a corresponding vector. Consequently, R-MeN feeds these 3 returned vectors to a convolutional neural network-based decoder to produce a scalar score for the triple. Experimental results show that our proposed R-MeN obtains state-of-the-art results on SEARCH17 for the search personalization task, and on WN11 and FB13 for the triple classification task.

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Do you have the right scissors? Tailoring Pre-trained Language Models via Monte-Carlo Methods
Ning Miao | Yuxuan Song | Hao Zhou | Lei Li

It has been a common approach to pre-train a language model on a large corpus and fine-tune it on task-specific data. In practice, we observe that fine-tuning a pre-trained model on a small dataset may lead to over- and/or under-estimate problem. In this paper, we propose MC-Tailor, a novel method to alleviate the above issue in text generation tasks by truncating and transferring the probability mass from over-estimated regions to under-estimated ones. Experiments on a variety of text generation datasets show that MC-Tailor consistently and significantly outperforms the fine-tuning approach.

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Enhancing Pre-trained Chinese Character Representation with Word-aligned Attention
Yanzeng Li | Bowen Yu | Xue Mengge | Tingwen Liu

Most Chinese pre-trained models take character as the basic unit and learn representation according to character’s external contexts, ignoring the semantics expressed in the word, which is the smallest meaningful utterance in Chinese. Hence, we propose a novel word-aligned attention to exploit explicit word information, which is complementary to various character-based Chinese pre-trained language models. Specifically, we devise a pooling mechanism to align the character-level attention to the word level and propose to alleviate the potential issue of segmentation error propagation by multi-source information fusion. As a result, word and character information are explicitly integrated at the fine-tuning procedure. Experimental results on five Chinese NLP benchmark tasks demonstrate that our method achieves significant improvements against BERT, ERNIE and BERT-wwm.

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On the Encoder-Decoder Incompatibility in Variational Text Modeling and Beyond
Chen Wu | Prince Zizhuang Wang | William Yang Wang

Variational autoencoders (VAEs) combine latent variables with amortized variational inference, whose optimization usually converges into a trivial local optimum termed posterior collapse, especially in text modeling. By tracking the optimization dynamics, we observe the encoder-decoder incompatibility that leads to poor parameterizations of the data manifold. We argue that the trivial local optimum may be avoided by improving the encoder and decoder parameterizations since the posterior network is part of a transition map between them. To this end, we propose Coupled-VAE, which couples a VAE model with a deterministic autoencoder with the same structure and improves the encoder and decoder parameterizations via encoder weight sharing and decoder signal matching. We apply the proposed Coupled-VAE approach to various VAE models with different regularization, posterior family, decoder structure, and optimization strategy. Experiments on benchmark datasets (i.e., PTB, Yelp, and Yahoo) show consistently improved results in terms of probability estimation and richness of the latent space. We also generalize our method to conditional language modeling and propose Coupled-CVAE, which largely improves the diversity of dialogue generation on the Switchboard dataset.

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SAFER: A Structure-free Approach for Certified Robustness to Adversarial Word Substitutions
Mao Ye | Chengyue Gong | Qiang Liu

State-of-the-art NLP models can often be fooled by human-unaware transformations such as synonymous word substitution. For security reasons, it is of critical importance to develop models with certified robustness that can provably guarantee that the prediction is can not be altered by any possible synonymous word substitution. In this work, we propose a certified robust method based on a new randomized smoothing technique, which constructs a stochastic ensemble by applying random word substitutions on the input sentences, and leverage the statistical properties of the ensemble to provably certify the robustness. Our method is simple and structure-free in that it only requires the black-box queries of the model outputs, and hence can be applied to any pre-trained models (such as BERT) and any types of models (world-level or subword-level). Our method significantly outperforms recent state-of-the-art methods for certified robustness on both IMDB and Amazon text classification tasks. To the best of our knowledge, we are the first work to achieve certified robustness on large systems such as BERT with practically meaningful certified accuracy.

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A Graph-based Coarse-to-fine Method for Unsupervised Bilingual Lexicon Induction
Shuo Ren | Shujie Liu | Ming Zhou | Shuai Ma

Unsupervised bilingual lexicon induction is the task of inducing word translations from monolingual corpora of two languages. Recent methods are mostly based on unsupervised cross-lingual word embeddings, the key to which is to find initial solutions of word translations, followed by the learning and refinement of mappings between the embedding spaces of two languages. However, previous methods find initial solutions just based on word-level information, which may be (1) limited and inaccurate, and (2) prone to contain some noise introduced by the insufficiently pre-trained embeddings of some words. To deal with those issues, in this paper, we propose a novel graph-based paradigm to induce bilingual lexicons in a coarse-to-fine way. We first build a graph for each language with its vertices representing different words. Then we extract word cliques from the graphs and map the cliques of two languages. Based on that, we induce the initial word translation solution with the central words of the aligned cliques. This coarse-to-fine approach not only leverages clique-level information, which is richer and more accurate, but also effectively reduces the bad effect of the noise in the pre-trained embeddings. Finally, we take the initial solution as the seed to learn cross-lingual embeddings, from which we induce bilingual lexicons. Experiments show that our approach improves the performance of bilingual lexicon induction compared with previous methods.

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A Reinforced Generation of Adversarial Examples for Neural Machine Translation
Wei Zou | Shujian Huang | Jun Xie | Xinyu Dai | Jiajun Chen

Neural machine translation systems tend to fail on less decent inputs despite its significant efficacy, which may significantly harm the credibility of these systems—fathoming how and when neural-based systems fail in such cases is critical for industrial maintenance. Instead of collecting and analyzing bad cases using limited handcrafted error features, here we investigate this issue by generating adversarial examples via a new paradigm based on reinforcement learning. Our paradigm could expose pitfalls for a given performance metric, e.g., BLEU, and could target any given neural machine translation architecture. We conduct experiments of adversarial attacks on two mainstream neural machine translation architectures, RNN-search, and Transformer. The results show that our method efficiently produces stable attacks with meaning-preserving adversarial examples. We also present a qualitative and quantitative analysis for the preference pattern of the attack, demonstrating its capability of pitfall exposure.

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A Retrieve-and-Rewrite Initialization Method for Unsupervised Machine Translation
Shuo Ren | Yu Wu | Shujie Liu | Ming Zhou | Shuai Ma

The commonly used framework for unsupervised machine translation builds initial translation models of both translation directions, and then performs iterative back-translation to jointly boost their translation performance. The initialization stage is very important since bad initialization may wrongly squeeze the search space, and too much noise introduced in this stage may hurt the final performance. In this paper, we propose a novel retrieval and rewriting based method to better initialize unsupervised translation models. We first retrieve semantically comparable sentences from monolingual corpora of two languages and then rewrite the target side to minimize the semantic gap between the source and retrieved targets with a designed rewriting model. The rewritten sentence pairs are used to initialize SMT models which are used to generate pseudo data for two NMT models, followed by the iterative back-translation. Experiments show that our method can build better initial unsupervised translation models and improve the final translation performance by over 4 BLEU scores. Our code is released at

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A Simple and Effective Unified Encoder for Document-Level Machine Translation
Shuming Ma | Dongdong Zhang | Ming Zhou

Most of the existing models for document-level machine translation adopt dual-encoder structures. The representation of the source sentences and the document-level contexts are modeled with two separate encoders. Although these models can make use of the document-level contexts, they do not fully model the interaction between the contexts and the source sentences, and can not directly adapt to the recent pre-training models (e.g., BERT) which encodes multiple sentences with a single encoder. In this work, we propose a simple and effective unified encoder that can outperform the baseline models of dual-encoder models in terms of BLEU and METEOR scores. Moreover, the pre-training models can further boost the performance of our proposed model.

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Does Multi-Encoder Help? A Case Study on Context-Aware Neural Machine Translation
Bei Li | Hui Liu | Ziyang Wang | Yufan Jiang | Tong Xiao | Jingbo Zhu | Tongran Liu | Changliang Li

In encoder-decoder neural models, multiple encoders are in general used to represent the contextual information in addition to the individual sentence. In this paper, we investigate multi-encoder approaches in document-level neural machine translation (NMT). Surprisingly, we find that the context encoder does not only encode the surrounding sentences but also behaves as a noise generator. This makes us rethink the real benefits of multi-encoder in context-aware translation - some of the improvements come from robust training. We compare several methods that introduce noise and/or well-tuned dropout setup into the training of these encoders. Experimental results show that noisy training plays an important role in multi-encoder-based NMT, especially when the training data is small. Also, we establish a new state-of-the-art on IWSLT Fr-En task by careful use of noise generation and dropout methods.

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Dynamically Adjusting Transformer Batch Size by Monitoring Gradient Direction Change
Hongfei Xu | Josef van Genabith | Deyi Xiong | Qiuhui Liu

The choice of hyper-parameters affects the performance of neural models. While much previous research (Sutskever et al., 2013; Duchi et al., 2011; Kingma and Ba, 2015) focuses on accelerating convergence and reducing the effects of the learning rate, comparatively few papers concentrate on the effect of batch size. In this paper, we analyze how increasing batch size affects gradient direction, and propose to evaluate the stability of gradients with their angle change. Based on our observations, the angle change of gradient direction first tends to stabilize (i.e. gradually decrease) while accumulating mini-batches, and then starts to fluctuate. We propose to automatically and dynamically determine batch sizes by accumulating gradients of mini-batches and performing an optimization step at just the time when the direction of gradients starts to fluctuate. To improve the efficiency of our approach for large models, we propose a sampling approach to select gradients of parameters sensitive to the batch size. Our approach dynamically determines proper and efficient batch sizes during training. In our experiments on the WMT 14 English to German and English to French tasks, our approach improves the Transformer with a fixed 25k batch size by +0.73 and +0.82 BLEU respectively.

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Knowledge Distillation for Multilingual Unsupervised Neural Machine Translation
Haipeng Sun | Rui Wang | Kehai Chen | Masao Utiyama | Eiichiro Sumita | Tiejun Zhao

Unsupervised neural machine translation (UNMT) has recently achieved remarkable results for several language pairs. However, it can only translate between a single language pair and cannot produce translation results for multiple language pairs at the same time. That is, research on multilingual UNMT has been limited. In this paper, we empirically introduce a simple method to translate between thirteen languages using a single encoder and a single decoder, making use of multilingual data to improve UNMT for all language pairs. On the basis of the empirical findings, we propose two knowledge distillation methods to further enhance multilingual UNMT performance. Our experiments on a dataset with English translated to and from twelve other languages (including three language families and six language branches) show remarkable results, surpassing strong unsupervised individual baselines while achieving promising performance between non-English language pairs in zero-shot translation scenarios and alleviating poor performance in low-resource language pairs.

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Lexically Constrained Neural Machine Translation with Levenshtein Transformer
Raymond Hendy Susanto | Shamil Chollampatt | Liling Tan

This paper proposes a simple and effective algorithm for incorporating lexical constraints in neural machine translation. Previous work either required re-training existing models with the lexical constraints or incorporating them during beam search decoding with significantly higher computational overheads. Leveraging the flexibility and speed of a recently proposed Levenshtein Transformer model (Gu et al., 2019), our method injects terminology constraints at inference time without any impact on decoding speed. Our method does not require any modification to the training procedure and can be easily applied at runtime with custom dictionaries. Experiments on English-German WMT datasets show that our approach improves an unconstrained baseline and previous approaches.

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On Exposure Bias, Hallucination and Domain Shift in Neural Machine Translation
Chaojun Wang | Rico Sennrich

The standard training algorithm in neural machine translation (NMT) suffers from exposure bias, and alternative algorithms have been proposed to mitigate this. However, the practical impact of exposure bias is under debate. In this paper, we link exposure bias to another well-known problem in NMT, namely the tendency to generate hallucinations under domain shift. In experiments on three datasets with multiple test domains, we show that exposure bias is partially to blame for hallucinations, and that training with Minimum Risk Training, which avoids exposure bias, can mitigate this. Our analysis explains why exposure bias is more problematic under domain shift, and also links exposure bias to the beam search problem, i.e. performance deterioration with increasing beam size. Our results provide a new justification for methods that reduce exposure bias: even if they do not increase performance on in-domain test sets, they can increase model robustness to domain shift.

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Automatic Machine Translation Evaluation using Source Language Inputs and Cross-lingual Language Model
Kosuke Takahashi | Katsuhito Sudoh | Satoshi Nakamura

We propose an automatic evaluation method of machine translation that uses source language sentences regarded as additional pseudo references. The proposed method evaluates a translation hypothesis in a regression model. The model takes the paired source, reference, and hypothesis sentence all together as an input. A pretrained large scale cross-lingual language model encodes the input to sentence-pair vectors, and the model predicts a human evaluation score with those vectors. Our experiments show that our proposed method using Cross-lingual Language Model (XLM) trained with a translation language modeling (TLM) objective achieves a higher correlation with human judgments than a baseline method that uses only hypothesis and reference sentences. Additionally, using source sentences in our proposed method is confirmed to improve the evaluation performance.

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ChartDialogs: Plotting from Natural Language Instructions
Yutong Shao | Ndapa Nakashole

This paper presents the problem of conversational plotting agents that carry out plotting actions from natural language instructions. To facilitate the development of such agents, we introduce ChartDialogs, a new multi-turn dialog dataset, covering a popular plotting library, matplotlib. The dataset contains over 15,000 dialog turns from 3,200 dialogs covering the majority of matplotlib plot types. Extensive experiments show the best-performing method achieving 61% plotting accuracy, demonstrating that the dataset presents a non-trivial challenge for future research on this task.

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GLUECoS: An Evaluation Benchmark for Code-Switched NLP
Simran Khanuja | Sandipan Dandapat | Anirudh Srinivasan | Sunayana Sitaram | Monojit Choudhury

Code-switching is the use of more than one language in the same conversation or utterance. Recently, multilingual contextual embedding models, trained on multiple monolingual corpora, have shown promising results on cross-lingual and multilingual tasks. We present an evaluation benchmark, GLUECoS, for code-switched languages, that spans several NLP tasks in English-Hindi and English-Spanish. Specifically, our evaluation benchmark includes Language Identification from text, POS tagging, Named Entity Recognition, Sentiment Analysis, Question Answering and a new task for code-switching, Natural Language Inference. We present results on all these tasks using cross-lingual word embedding models and multilingual models. In addition, we fine-tune multilingual models on artificially generated code-switched data. Although multilingual models perform significantly better than cross-lingual models, our results show that in most tasks, across both language pairs, multilingual models fine-tuned on code-switched data perform best, showing that multilingual models can be further optimized for code-switching tasks.

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MATINF: A Jointly Labeled Large-Scale Dataset for Classification, Question Answering and Summarization
Canwen Xu | Jiaxin Pei | Hongtao Wu | Yiyu Liu | Chenliang Li

Recently, large-scale datasets have vastly facilitated the development in nearly all domains of Natural Language Processing. However, there is currently no cross-task dataset in NLP, which hinders the development of multi-task learning. We propose MATINF, the first jointly labeled large-scale dataset for classification, question answering and summarization. MATINF contains 1.07 million question-answer pairs with human-labeled categories and user-generated question descriptions. Based on such rich information, MATINF is applicable for three major NLP tasks, including classification, question answering, and summarization. We benchmark existing methods and a novel multi-task baseline over MATINF to inspire further research. Our comprehensive comparison and experiments over MATINF and other datasets demonstrate the merits held by MATINF.

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MIND: A Large-scale Dataset for News Recommendation
Fangzhao Wu | Ying Qiao | Jiun-Hung Chen | Chuhan Wu | Tao Qi | Jianxun Lian | Danyang Liu | Xing Xie | Jianfeng Gao | Winnie Wu | Ming Zhou

News recommendation is an important technique for personalized news service. Compared with product and movie recommendations which have been comprehensively studied, the research on news recommendation is much more limited, mainly due to the lack of a high-quality benchmark dataset. In this paper, we present a large-scale dataset named MIND for news recommendation. Constructed from the user click logs of Microsoft News, MIND contains 1 million users and more than 160k English news articles, each of which has rich textual content such as title, abstract and body. We demonstrate MIND a good testbed for news recommendation through a comparative study of several state-of-the-art news recommendation methods which are originally developed on different proprietary datasets. Our results show the performance of news recommendation highly relies on the quality of news content understanding and user interest modeling. Many natural language processing techniques such as effective text representation methods and pre-trained language models can effectively improve the performance of news recommendation. The MIND dataset will be available at

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That is a Known Lie: Detecting Previously Fact-Checked Claims
Shaden Shaar | Nikolay Babulkov | Giovanni Da San Martino | Preslav Nakov

The recent proliferation of ”fake news” has triggered a number of responses, most notably the emergence of several manual fact-checking initiatives. As a result and over time, a large number of fact-checked claims have been accumulated, which increases the likelihood that a new claim in social media or a new statement by a politician might have already been fact-checked by some trusted fact-checking organization, as viral claims often come back after a while in social media, and politicians like to repeat their favorite statements, true or false, over and over again. As manual fact-checking is very time-consuming (and fully automatic fact-checking has credibility issues), it is important to try to save this effort and to avoid wasting time on claims that have already been fact-checked. Interestingly, despite the importance of the task, it has been largely ignored by the research community so far. Here, we aim to bridge this gap. In particular, we formulate the task and we discuss how it relates to, but also differs from, previous work. We further create a specialized dataset, which we release to the research community. Finally, we present learning-to-rank experiments that demonstrate sizable improvements over state-of-the-art retrieval and textual similarity approaches.

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Towards Holistic and Automatic Evaluation of Open-Domain Dialogue Generation
Bo Pang | Erik Nijkamp | Wenjuan Han | Linqi Zhou | Yixian Liu | Kewei Tu

Open-domain dialogue generation has gained increasing attention in Natural Language Processing. Its evaluation requires a holistic means. Human ratings are deemed as the gold standard. As human evaluation is inefficient and costly, an automated substitute is highly desirable. In this paper, we propose holistic evaluation metrics that capture different aspects of open-domain dialogues. Our metrics consist of (1) GPT-2 based context coherence between sentences in a dialogue, (2) GPT-2 based fluency in phrasing, (3) n-gram based diversity in responses to augmented queries, and (4) textual-entailment-inference based logical self-consistency. The empirical validity of our metrics is demonstrated by strong correlations with human judgments. We open source the code and relevant materials.

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BiRRE: Learning Bidirectional Residual Relation Embeddings for Supervised Hypernymy Detection
Chengyu Wang | Xiaofeng He

The hypernymy detection task has been addressed under various frameworks. Previously, the design of unsupervised hypernymy scores has been extensively studied. In contrast, supervised classifiers, especially distributional models, leverage the global contexts of terms to make predictions, but are more likely to suffer from “lexical memorization”. In this work, we revisit supervised distributional models for hypernymy detection. Rather than taking embeddings of two terms as classification inputs, we introduce a representation learning framework named Bidirectional Residual Relation Embeddings (BiRRE). In this model, a term pair is represented by a BiRRE vector as features for hypernymy classification, which models the possibility of a term being mapped to another in the embedding space by hypernymy relations. A Latent Projection Model with Negative Regularization (LPMNR) is proposed to simulate how hypernyms and hyponyms are generated by neural language models, and to generate BiRRE vectors based on bidirectional residuals of projections. Experiments verify BiRRE outperforms strong baselines over various evaluation frameworks.

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Biomedical Entity Representations with Synonym Marginalization
Mujeen Sung | Hwisang Jeon | Jinhyuk Lee | Jaewoo Kang

Biomedical named entities often play important roles in many biomedical text mining tools. However, due to the incompleteness of provided synonyms and numerous variations in their surface forms, normalization of biomedical entities is very challenging. In this paper, we focus on learning representations of biomedical entities solely based on the synonyms of entities. To learn from the incomplete synonyms, we use a model-based candidate selection and maximize the marginal likelihood of the synonyms present in top candidates. Our model-based candidates are iteratively updated to contain more difficult negative samples as our model evolves. In this way, we avoid the explicit pre-selection of negative samples from more than 400K candidates. On four biomedical entity normalization datasets having three different entity types (disease, chemical, adverse reaction), our model BioSyn consistently outperforms previous state-of-the-art models almost reaching the upper bound on each dataset.

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Hypernymy Detection for Low-Resource Languages via Meta Learning
Changlong Yu | Jialong Han | Haisong Zhang | Wilfred Ng

Hypernymy detection, a.k.a, lexical entailment, is a fundamental sub-task of many natural language understanding tasks. Previous explorations mostly focus on monolingual hypernymy detection on high-resource languages, e.g., English, but few investigate the low-resource scenarios. This paper addresses the problem of low-resource hypernymy detection by combining high-resource languages. We extensively compare three joint training paradigms and for the first time propose applying meta learning to relieve the low-resource issue. Experiments demonstrate the superiority of our method among the three settings, which substantially improves the performance of extremely low-resource languages by preventing over-fitting on small datasets.

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Investigating Word-Class Distributions in Word Vector Spaces
Ryohei Sasano | Anna Korhonen

This paper presents an investigation on the distribution of word vectors belonging to a certain word class in a pre-trained word vector space. To this end, we made several assumptions about the distribution, modeled the distribution accordingly, and validated each assumption by comparing the goodness of each model. Specifically, we considered two types of word classes – the semantic class of direct objects of a verb and the semantic class in a thesaurus – and tried to build models that properly estimate how likely it is that a word in the vector space is a member of a given word class. Our results on selectional preference and WordNet datasets show that the centroid-based model will fail to achieve good enough performance, the geometry of the distribution and the existence of subgroups will have limited impact, and also the negative instances need to be considered for adequate modeling of the distribution. We further investigated the relationship between the scores calculated by each model and the degree of membership and found that discriminative learning-based models are best in finding the boundaries of a class, while models based on the offset between positive and negative instances perform best in determining the degree of membership.

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Aspect Sentiment Classification with Document-level Sentiment Preference Modeling
Xiao Chen | Changlong Sun | Jingjing Wang | Shoushan Li | Luo Si | Min Zhang | Guodong Zhou

In the literature, existing studies always consider Aspect Sentiment Classification (ASC) as an independent sentence-level classification problem aspect by aspect, which largely ignore the document-level sentiment preference information, though obviously such information is crucial for alleviating the information deficiency problem in ASC. In this paper, we explore two kinds of sentiment preference information inside a document, i.e., contextual sentiment consistency w.r.t. the same aspect (namely intra-aspect sentiment consistency) and contextual sentiment tendency w.r.t. all the related aspects (namely inter-aspect sentiment tendency). On the basis, we propose a Cooperative Graph Attention Networks (CoGAN) approach for cooperatively learning the aspect-related sentence representation. Specifically, two graph attention networks are leveraged to model above two kinds of document-level sentiment preference information respectively, followed by an interactive mechanism to integrate the two-fold preference. Detailed evaluation demonstrates the great advantage of the proposed approach to ASC over the state-of-the-art baselines. This justifies the importance of the document-level sentiment preference information to ASC and the effectiveness of our approach capturing such information.

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Don’t Eclipse Your Arts Due to Small Discrepancies: Boundary Repositioning with a Pointer Network for Aspect Extraction
Zhenkai Wei | Yu Hong | Bowei Zou | Meng Cheng | Jianmin Yao

The current aspect extraction methods suffer from boundary errors. In general, these errors lead to a relatively minor difference between the extracted aspects and the ground-truth. However, they hurt the performance severely. In this paper, we propose to utilize a pointer network for repositioning the boundaries. Recycling mechanism is used, which enables the training data to be collected without manual intervention. We conduct the experiments on the benchmark datasets SE14 of laptop and SE14-16 of restaurant. Experimental results show that our method achieves substantial improvements over the baseline, and outperforms state-of-the-art methods.

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Relation-Aware Collaborative Learning for Unified Aspect-Based Sentiment Analysis
Zhuang Chen | Tieyun Qian

Aspect-based sentiment analysis (ABSA) involves three subtasks, i.e., aspect term extraction, opinion term extraction, and aspect-level sentiment classification. Most existing studies focused on one of these subtasks only. Several recent researches made successful attempts to solve the complete ABSA problem with a unified framework. However, the interactive relations among three subtasks are still under-exploited. We argue that such relations encode collaborative signals between different subtasks. For example, when the opinion term is “delicious”, the aspect term must be “food” rather than “place”. In order to fully exploit these relations, we propose a Relation-Aware Collaborative Learning (RACL) framework which allows the subtasks to work coordinately via the multi-task learning and relation propagation mechanisms in a stacked multi-layer network. Extensive experiments on three real-world datasets demonstrate that RACL significantly outperforms the state-of-the-art methods for the complete ABSA task.

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SentiBERT: A Transferable Transformer-Based Architecture for Compositional Sentiment Semantics
Da Yin | Tao Meng | Kai-Wei Chang

We propose SentiBERT, a variant of BERT that effectively captures compositional sentiment semantics. The model incorporates contextualized representation with binary constituency parse tree to capture semantic composition. Comprehensive experiments demonstrate that SentiBERT achieves competitive performance on phrase-level sentiment classification. We further demonstrate that the sentiment composition learned from the phrase-level annotations on SST can be transferred to other sentiment analysis tasks as well as related tasks, such as emotion classification tasks. Moreover, we conduct ablation studies and design visualization methods to understand SentiBERT. We show that SentiBERT is better than baseline approaches in capturing negation and the contrastive relation and model the compositional sentiment semantics.

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Transition-based Directed Graph Construction for Emotion-Cause Pair Extraction
Chuang Fan | Chaofa Yuan | Jiachen Du | Lin Gui | Min Yang | Ruifeng Xu

Emotion-cause pair extraction aims to extract all potential pairs of emotions and corresponding causes from unannotated emotion text. Most existing methods are pipelined framework, which identifies emotions and extracts causes separately, leading to a drawback of error propagation. Towards this issue, we propose a transition-based model to transform the task into a procedure of parsing-like directed graph construction. The proposed model incrementally generates the directed graph with labeled edges based on a sequence of actions, from which we can recognize emotions with the corresponding causes simultaneously, thereby optimizing separate subtasks jointly and maximizing mutual benefits of tasks interdependently. Experimental results show that our approach achieves the best performance, outperforming the state-of-the-art methods by 6.71% (p<0.01) in F1 measure.

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CH-SIMS: A Chinese Multimodal Sentiment Analysis Dataset with Fine-grained Annotation of Modality
Wenmeng Yu | Hua Xu | Fanyang Meng | Yilin Zhu | Yixiao Ma | Jiele Wu | Jiyun Zou | Kaicheng Yang

Previous studies in multimodal sentiment analysis have used limited datasets, which only contain unified multimodal annotations. However, the unified annotations do not always reflect the independent sentiment of single modalities and limit the model to capture the difference between modalities. In this paper, we introduce a Chinese single- and multi-modal sentiment analysis dataset, CH-SIMS, which contains 2,281 refined video segments in the wild with both multimodal and independent unimodal annotations. It allows researchers to study the interaction between modalities or use independent unimodal annotations for unimodal sentiment analysis. Furthermore, we propose a multi-task learning framework based on late fusion as the baseline. Extensive experiments on the CH-SIMS show that our methods achieve state-of-the-art performance and learn more distinctive unimodal representations. The full dataset and codes are available for use at

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Curriculum Pre-training for End-to-End Speech Translation
Chengyi Wang | Yu Wu | Shujie Liu | Ming Zhou | Zhenglu Yang

End-to-end speech translation poses a heavy burden on the encoder because it has to transcribe, understand, and learn cross-lingual semantics simultaneously. To obtain a powerful encoder, traditional methods pre-train it on ASR data to capture speech features. However, we argue that pre-training the encoder only through simple speech recognition is not enough, and high-level linguistic knowledge should be considered. Inspired by this, we propose a curriculum pre-training method that includes an elementary course for transcription learning and two advanced courses for understanding the utterance and mapping words in two languages. The difficulty of these courses is gradually increasing. Experiments show that our curriculum pre-training method leads to significant improvements on En-De and En-Fr speech translation benchmarks.

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How Accents Confound: Probing for Accent Information in End-to-End Speech Recognition Systems
Archiki Prasad | Preethi Jyothi

In this work, we present a detailed analysis of how accent information is reflected in the internal representation of speech in an end-to-end automatic speech recognition (ASR) system. We use a state-of-the-art end-to-end ASR system, comprising convolutional and recurrent layers, that is trained on a large amount of US-accented English speech and evaluate the model on speech samples from seven different English accents. We examine the effects of accent on the internal representation using three main probing techniques: a) Gradient-based explanation methods, b) Information-theoretic measures, and c) Outputs of accent and phone classifiers. We find different accents exhibiting similar trends irrespective of the probing technique used. We also find that most accent information is encoded within the first recurrent layer, which is suggestive of how one could adapt such an end-to-end model to learn representations that are invariant to accents.

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Improving Disfluency Detection by Self-Training a Self-Attentive Model
Paria Jamshid Lou | Mark Johnson

Self-attentive neural syntactic parsers using contextualized word embeddings (e.g. ELMo or BERT) currently produce state-of-the-art results in joint parsing and disfluency detection in speech transcripts. Since the contextualized word embeddings are pre-trained on a large amount of unlabeled data, using additional unlabeled data to train a neural model might seem redundant. However, we show that self-training — a semi-supervised technique for incorporating unlabeled data — sets a new state-of-the-art for the self-attentive parser on disfluency detection, demonstrating that self-training provides benefits orthogonal to the pre-trained contextualized word representations. We also show that ensembling self-trained parsers provides further gains for disfluency detection.

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Learning Spoken Language Representations with Neural Lattice Language Modeling
Chao-Wei Huang | Yun-Nung Chen

Pre-trained language models have achieved huge improvement on many NLP tasks. However, these methods are usually designed for written text, so they do not consider the properties of spoken language. Therefore, this paper aims at generalizing the idea of language model pre-training to lattices generated by recognition systems. We propose a framework that trains neural lattice language models to provide contextualized representations for spoken language understanding tasks. The proposed two-stage pre-training approach reduces the demands of speech data and has better efficiency. Experiments on intent detection and dialogue act recognition datasets demonstrate that our proposed method consistently outperforms strong baselines when evaluated on spoken inputs. The code is available at

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Meta-Transfer Learning for Code-Switched Speech Recognition
Genta Indra Winata | Samuel Cahyawijaya | Zhaojiang Lin | Zihan Liu | Peng Xu | Pascale Fung

An increasing number of people in the world today speak a mixed-language as a result of being multilingual. However, building a speech recognition system for code-switching remains difficult due to the availability of limited resources and the expense and significant effort required to collect mixed-language data. We therefore propose a new learning method, meta-transfer learning, to transfer learn on a code-switched speech recognition system in a low-resource setting by judiciously extracting information from high-resource monolingual datasets. Our model learns to recognize individual languages, and transfer them so as to better recognize mixed-language speech by conditioning the optimization on the code-switching data. Based on experimental results, our model outperforms existing baselines on speech recognition and language modeling tasks, and is faster to converge.

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Reasoning with Multimodal Sarcastic Tweets via Modeling Cross-Modality Contrast and Semantic Association
Nan Xu | Zhixiong Zeng | Wenji Mao

Sarcasm is a sophisticated linguistic phenomenon to express the opposite of what one really means. With the rapid growth of social media, multimodal sarcastic tweets are widely posted on various social platforms. In multimodal context, sarcasm is no longer a pure linguistic phenomenon, and due to the nature of social media short text, the opposite is more often manifested via cross-modality expressions. Thus traditional text-based methods are insufficient to detect multimodal sarcasm. To reason with multimodal sarcastic tweets, in this paper, we propose a novel method for modeling cross-modality contrast in the associated context. Our method models both cross-modality contrast and semantic association by constructing the Decomposition and Relation Network (namely D&R Net). The decomposition network represents the commonality and discrepancy between image and text, and the relation network models the semantic association in cross-modality context. Experimental results on a public dataset demonstrate the effectiveness of our model in multimodal sarcasm detection.

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SimulSpeech: End-to-End Simultaneous Speech to Text Translation
Yi Ren | Jinglin Liu | Xu Tan | Chen Zhang | Tao Qin | Zhou Zhao | Tie-Yan Liu

In this work, we develop SimulSpeech, an end-to-end simultaneous speech to text translation system which translates speech in source language to text in target language concurrently. SimulSpeech consists of a speech encoder, a speech segmenter and a text decoder, where 1) the segmenter builds upon the encoder and leverages a connectionist temporal classification (CTC) loss to split the input streaming speech in real time, 2) the encoder-decoder attention adopts a wait-k strategy for simultaneous translation. SimulSpeech is more challenging than previous cascaded systems (with simultaneous automatic speech recognition (ASR) and simultaneous neural machine translation (NMT)). We introduce two novel knowledge distillation methods to ensure the performance: 1) Attention-level knowledge distillation transfers the knowledge from the multiplication of the attention matrices of simultaneous NMT and ASR models to help the training of the attention mechanism in SimulSpeech; 2) Data-level knowledge distillation transfers the knowledge from the full-sentence NMT model and also reduces the complexity of data distribution to help on the optimization of SimulSpeech. Experiments on MuST-C English-Spanish and English-German spoken language translation datasets show that SimulSpeech achieves reasonable BLEU scores and lower delay compared to full-sentence end-to-end speech to text translation (without simultaneous translation), and better performance than the two-stage cascaded simultaneous translation model in terms of BLEU scores and translation delay.

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Towards end-2-end learning for predicting behavior codes from spoken utterances in psychotherapy conversations
Karan Singla | Zhuohao Chen | David Atkins | Shrikanth Narayanan

Spoken language understanding tasks usually rely on pipelines involving complex processing blocks such as voice activity detection, speaker diarization and Automatic speech recognition (ASR). We propose a novel framework for predicting utterance level labels directly from speech features, thus removing the dependency on first generating transcripts, and transcription free behavioral coding. Our classifier uses a pretrained Speech-2-Vector encoder as bottleneck to generate word-level representations from speech features. This pretrained encoder learns to encode speech features for a word using an objective similar to Word2Vec. Our proposed approach just uses speech features and word segmentation information for predicting spoken utterance-level target labels. We show that our model achieves competitive results to other state-of-the-art approaches which use transcribed text for the task of predicting psychotherapy-relevant behavior codes.

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Neural Temporal Opinion Modelling for Opinion Prediction on Twitter
Lixing Zhu | Yulan He | Deyu Zhou

Opinion prediction on Twitter is challenging due to the transient nature of tweet content and neighbourhood context. In this paper, we model users’ tweet posting behaviour as a temporal point process to jointly predict the posting time and the stance label of the next tweet given a user’s historical tweet sequence and tweets posted by their neighbours. We design a topic-driven attention mechanism to capture the dynamic topic shifts in the neighbourhood context. Experimental results show that the proposed model predicts both the posting time and the stance labels of future tweets more accurately compared to a number of competitive baselines.

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It Takes Two to Lie: One to Lie, and One to Listen
Denis Peskov | Benny Cheng | Ahmed Elgohary | Joe Barrow | Cristian Danescu-Niculescu-Mizil | Jordan Boyd-Graber

Trust is implicit in many online text conversations—striking up new friendships, or asking for tech support. But trust can be betrayed through deception. We study the language and dynamics of deception in the negotiation-based game Diplomacy, where seven players compete for world domination by forging and breaking alliances with each other. Our study with players from the Diplomacy community gathers 17,289 messages annotated by the sender for their intended truthfulness and by the receiver for their perceived truthfulness. Unlike existing datasets, this captures deception in long-lasting relationships, where the interlocutors strategically combine truth with lies to advance objectives. A model that uses power dynamics and conversational contexts can predict when a lie occurs nearly as well as human players.

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Learning Implicit Text Generation via Feature Matching
Inkit Padhi | Pierre Dognin | Ke Bai | Cícero Nogueira dos Santos | Vijil Chenthamarakshan | Youssef Mroueh | Payel Das

Generative feature matching network (GFMN) is an approach for training state-of-the-art implicit generative models for images by performing moment matching on features from pre-trained neural networks. In this paper, we present new GFMN formulations that are effective for sequential data. Our experimental results show the effectiveness of the proposed method, SeqGFMN, for three distinct generation tasks in English: unconditional text generation, class-conditional text generation, and unsupervised text style transfer. SeqGFMN is stable to train and outperforms various adversarial approaches for text generation and text style transfer.

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Two Birds, One Stone: A Simple, Unified Model for Text Generation from Structured and Unstructured Data
Hamidreza Shahidi | Ming Li | Jimmy Lin

A number of researchers have recently questioned the necessity of increasingly complex neural network (NN) architectures. In particular, several recent papers have shown that simpler, properly tuned models are at least competitive across several NLP tasks. In this work, we show that this is also the case for text generation from structured and unstructured data. We consider neural table-to-text generation and neural question generation (NQG) tasks for text generation from structured and unstructured data, respectively. Table-to-text generation aims to generate a description based on a given table, and NQG is the task of generating a question from a given passage where the generated question can be answered by a certain sub-span of the passage using NN models. Experimental results demonstrate that a basic attention-based seq2seq model trained with the exponential moving average technique achieves the state of the art in both tasks. Code is available at

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Bayesian Hierarchical Words Representation Learning
Oren Barkan | Idan Rejwan | Avi Caciularu | Noam Koenigstein

This paper presents the Bayesian Hierarchical Words Representation (BHWR) learning algorithm. BHWR facilitates Variational Bayes word representation learning combined with semantic taxonomy modeling via hierarchical priors. By propagating relevant information between related words, BHWR utilizes the taxonomy to improve the quality of such representations. Evaluation of several linguistic datasets demonstrates the advantages of BHWR over suitable alternatives that facilitate Bayesian modeling with or without semantic priors. Finally, we further show that BHWR produces better representations for rare words.

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Pre-training Is (Almost) All You Need: An Application to Commonsense Reasoning
Alexandre Tamborrino | Nicola Pellicanò | Baptiste Pannier | Pascal Voitot | Louise Naudin

Fine-tuning of pre-trained transformer models has become the standard approach for solving common NLP tasks. Most of the existing approaches rely on a randomly initialized classifier on top of such networks. We argue that this fine-tuning procedure is sub-optimal as the pre-trained model has no prior on the specific classifier labels, while it might have already learned an intrinsic textual representation of the task. In this paper, we introduce a new scoring method that casts a plausibility ranking task in a full-text format and leverages the masked language modeling head tuned during the pre-training phase. We study commonsense reasoning tasks where the model must rank a set of hypotheses given a premise, focusing on the COPA, Swag, HellaSwag and CommonsenseQA datasets. By exploiting our scoring method without fine-tuning, we are able to produce strong baselines (e.g. 80% test accuracy on COPA) that are comparable to supervised approaches. Moreover, when fine-tuning directly on the proposed scoring function, we show that our method provides a much more stable training phase across random restarts (e.g x10 standard deviation reduction on COPA test accuracy) and requires less annotated data than the standard classifier approach to reach equivalent performances.

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SEEK: Segmented Embedding of Knowledge Graphs
Wentao Xu | Shun Zheng | Liang He | Bin Shao | Jian Yin | Tie-Yan Liu

In recent years, knowledge graph embedding becomes a pretty hot research topic of artificial intelligence and plays increasingly vital roles in various downstream applications, such as recommendation and question answering. However, existing methods for knowledge graph embedding can not make a proper trade-off between the model complexity and the model expressiveness, which makes them still far from satisfactory. To mitigate this problem, we propose a lightweight modeling framework that can achieve highly competitive relational expressiveness without increasing the model complexity. Our framework focuses on the design of scoring functions and highlights two critical characteristics: 1) facilitating sufficient feature interactions; 2) preserving both symmetry and antisymmetry properties of relations. It is noteworthy that owing to the general and elegant design of scoring functions, our framework can incorporate many famous existing methods as special cases. Moreover, extensive experiments on public benchmarks demonstrate the efficiency and effectiveness of our framework. Source codes and data can be found at

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Selecting Backtranslated Data from Multiple Sources for Improved Neural Machine Translation
Xabier Soto | Dimitar Shterionov | Alberto Poncelas | Andy Way

Machine translation (MT) has benefited from using synthetic training data originating from translating monolingual corpora, a technique known as backtranslation. Combining backtranslated data from different sources has led to better results than when using such data in isolation. In this work we analyse the impact that data translated with rule-based, phrase-based statistical and neural MT systems has on new MT systems. We use a real-world low-resource use-case (Basque-to-Spanish in the clinical domain) as well as a high-resource language pair (German-to-English) to test different scenarios with backtranslation and employ data selection to optimise the synthetic corpora. We exploit different data selection strategies in order to reduce the amount of data used, while at the same time maintaining high-quality MT systems. We further tune the data selection method by taking into account the quality of the MT systems used for backtranslation and lexical diversity of the resulting corpora. Our experiments show that incorporating backtranslated data from different sources can be beneficial, and that availing of data selection can yield improved performance.

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Successfully Applying the Stabilized Lottery Ticket Hypothesis to the Transformer Architecture
Christopher Brix | Parnia Bahar | Hermann Ney

Sparse models require less memory for storage and enable a faster inference by reducing the necessary number of FLOPs. This is relevant both for time-critical and on-device computations using neural networks. The stabilized lottery ticket hypothesis states that networks can be pruned after none or few training iterations, using a mask computed based on the unpruned converged model. On the transformer architecture and the WMT 2014 English-to-German and English-to-French tasks, we show that stabilized lottery ticket pruning performs similar to magnitude pruning for sparsity levels of up to 85%, and propose a new combination of pruning techniques that outperforms all other techniques for even higher levels of sparsity. Furthermore, we confirm that the parameter’s initial sign and not its specific value is the primary factor for successful training, and show that magnitude pruning cannot be used to find winning lottery tickets.

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A Self-Training Method for Machine Reading Comprehension with Soft Evidence Extraction
Yilin Niu | Fangkai Jiao | Mantong Zhou | Ting Yao | Jingfang Xu | Minlie Huang

Neural models have achieved great success on machine reading comprehension (MRC), many of which typically consist of two components: an evidence extractor and an answer predictor. The former seeks the most relevant information from a reference text, while the latter is to locate or generate answers from the extracted evidence. Despite the importance of evidence labels for training the evidence extractor, they are not cheaply accessible, particularly in many non-extractive MRC tasks such as YES/NO question answering and multi-choice MRC. To address this problem, we present a Self-Training method (STM), which supervises the evidence extractor with auto-generated evidence labels in an iterative process. At each iteration, a base MRC model is trained with golden answers and noisy evidence labels. The trained model will predict pseudo evidence labels as extra supervision in the next iteration. We evaluate STM on seven datasets over three MRC tasks. Experimental results demonstrate the improvement on existing MRC models, and we also analyze how and why such a self-training method works in MRC.

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Graph-to-Tree Learning for Solving Math Word Problems
Jipeng Zhang | Lei Wang | Roy Ka-Wei Lee | Yi Bin | Yan Wang | Jie Shao | Ee-Peng Lim

While the recent tree-based neural models have demonstrated promising results in generating solution expression for the math word problem (MWP), most of these models do not capture the relationships and order information among the quantities well. This results in poor quantity representations and incorrect solution expressions. In this paper, we propose Graph2Tree, a novel deep learning architecture that combines the merits of the graph-based encoder and tree-based decoder to generate better solution expressions. Included in our Graph2Tree framework are two graphs, namely the Quantity Cell Graph and Quantity Comparison Graph, which are designed to address limitations of existing methods by effectively representing the relationships and order information among the quantities in MWPs. We conduct extensive experiments on two available datasets. Our experiment results show that Graph2Tree outperforms the state-of-the-art baselines on two benchmark datasets significantly. We also discuss case studies and empirically examine Graph2Tree’s effectiveness in translating the MWP text into solution expressions.

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An Effectiveness Metric for Ordinal Classification: Formal Properties and Experimental Results
Enrique Amigo | Julio Gonzalo | Stefano Mizzaro | Jorge Carrillo-de-Albornoz

In Ordinal Classification tasks, items have to be assigned to classes that have a relative ordering, such as “positive”, “neutral”, “negative” in sentiment analysis. Remarkably, the most popular evaluation metrics for ordinal classification tasks either ignore relevant information (for instance, precision/recall on each of the classes ignores their relative ordering) or assume additional information (for instance, Mean Average Error assumes absolute distances between classes). In this paper we propose a new metric for Ordinal Classification, Closeness Evaluation Measure, that is rooted on Measurement Theory and Information Theory. Our theoretical analysis and experimental results over both synthetic data and data from NLP shared tasks indicate that the proposed metric captures quality aspects from different traditional tasks simultaneously. In addition, it generalizes some popular classification (nominal scale) and error minimization (interval scale) metrics, depending on the measurement scale in which it is instantiated.

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Adaptive Compression of Word Embeddings
Yeachan Kim | Kang-Min Kim | SangKeun Lee

Distributed representations of words have been an indispensable component for natural language processing (NLP) tasks. However, the large memory footprint of word embeddings makes it challenging to deploy NLP models to memory-constrained devices (e.g., self-driving cars, mobile devices). In this paper, we propose a novel method to adaptively compress word embeddings. We fundamentally follow a code-book approach that represents words as discrete codes such as (8, 5, 2, 4). However, unlike prior works that assign the same length of codes to all words, we adaptively assign different lengths of codes to each word by learning downstream tasks. The proposed method works in two steps. First, each word directly learns to select its code length in an end-to-end manner by applying the Gumbel-softmax tricks. After selecting the code length, each word learns discrete codes through a neural network with a binary constraint. To showcase the general applicability of the proposed method, we evaluate the performance on four different downstream tasks. Comprehensive evaluation results clearly show that our method is effective and makes the highly compressed word embeddings without hurting the task accuracy. Moreover, we show that our model assigns word to each code-book by considering the significance of tasks.

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Analysing Lexical Semantic Change with Contextualised Word Representations
Mario Giulianelli | Marco Del Tredici | Raquel Fernández

This paper presents the first unsupervised approach to lexical semantic change that makes use of contextualised word representations. We propose a novel method that exploits the BERT neural language model to obtain representations of word usages, clusters these representations into usage types, and measures change along time with three proposed metrics. We create a new evaluation dataset and show that the model representations and the detected semantic shifts are positively correlated with human judgements. Our extensive qualitative analysis demonstrates that our method captures a variety of synchronic and diachronic linguistic phenomena. We expect our work to inspire further research in this direction.

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Autoencoding Keyword Correlation Graph for Document Clustering
Billy Chiu | Sunil Kumar Sahu | Derek Thomas | Neha Sengupta | Mohammady Mahdy

Document clustering requires a deep understanding of the complex structure of long-text; in particular, the intra-sentential (local) and inter-sentential features (global). Existing representation learning models do not fully capture these features. To address this, we present a novel graph-based representation for document clustering that builds a graph autoencoder (GAE) on a Keyword Correlation Graph. The graph is constructed with topical keywords as nodes and multiple local and global features as edges. A GAE is employed to aggregate the two sets of features by learning a latent representation which can jointly reconstruct them. Clustering is then performed on the learned representations, using vector dimensions as features for inducing document classes. Extensive experiments on two datasets show that the features learned by our approach can achieve better clustering performance than other existing features, including term frequency-inverse document frequency and average embedding.

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Autoencoding Pixies: Amortised Variational Inference with Graph Convolutions for Functional Distributional Semantics
Guy Emerson

Functional Distributional Semantics provides a linguistically interpretable framework for distributional semantics, by representing the meaning of a word as a function (a binary classifier), instead of a vector. However, the large number of latent variables means that inference is computationally expensive, and training a model is therefore slow to converge. In this paper, I introduce the Pixie Autoencoder, which augments the generative model of Functional Distributional Semantics with a graph-convolutional neural network to perform amortised variational inference. This allows the model to be trained more effectively, achieving better results on two tasks (semantic similarity in context and semantic composition), and outperforming BERT, a large pre-trained language model.

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BERTRAM: Improved Word Embeddings Have Big Impact on Contextualized Model Performance
Timo Schick | Hinrich Schütze

Pretraining deep language models has led to large performance gains in NLP. Despite this success, Schick and Schütze (2020) recently showed that these models struggle to understand rare words. For static word embeddings, this problem has been addressed by separately learning representations for rare words. In this work, we transfer this idea to pretrained language models: We introduce BERTRAM, a powerful architecture based on BERT that is capable of inferring high-quality embeddings for rare words that are suitable as input representations for deep language models. This is achieved by enabling the surface form and contexts of a word to interact with each other in a deep architecture. Integrating BERTRAM into BERT leads to large performance increases due to improved representations of rare and medium frequency words on both a rare word probing task and three downstream tasks.

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CluBERT: A Cluster-Based Approach for Learning Sense Distributions in Multiple Languages
Tommaso Pasini | Federico Scozzafava | Bianca Scarlini

Knowing the Most Frequent Sense (MFS) of a word has been proved to help Word Sense Disambiguation (WSD) models significantly. However, the scarcity of sense-annotated data makes it difficult to induce a reliable and high-coverage distribution of the meanings in a language vocabulary. To address this issue, in this paper we present CluBERT, an automatic and multilingual approach for inducing the distributions of word senses from a corpus of raw sentences. Our experiments show that CluBERT learns distributions over English senses that are of higher quality than those extracted by alternative approaches. When used to induce the MFS of a lemma, CluBERT attains state-of-the-art results on the English Word Sense Disambiguation tasks and helps to improve the disambiguation performance of two off-the-shelf WSD models. Moreover, our distributions also prove to be effective in other languages, beating all their alternatives for computing the MFS on the multilingual WSD tasks. We release our sense distributions in five different languages at

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Adversarial and Domain-Aware BERT for Cross-Domain Sentiment Analysis
Chunning Du | Haifeng Sun | Jingyu Wang | Qi Qi | Jianxin Liao

Cross-domain sentiment classification aims to address the lack of massive amounts of labeled data. It demands to predict sentiment polarity on a target domain utilizing a classifier learned from a source domain. In this paper, we investigate how to efficiently apply the pre-training language model BERT on the unsupervised domain adaptation. Due to the pre-training task and corpus, BERT is task-agnostic, which lacks domain awareness and can not distinguish the characteristic of source and target domain when transferring knowledge. To tackle these problems, we design a post-training procedure, which contains the target domain masked language model task and a novel domain-distinguish pre-training task. The post-training procedure will encourage BERT to be domain-aware and distill the domain-specific features in a self-supervised way. Based on this, we could then conduct the adversarial training to derive the enhanced domain-invariant features. Extensive experiments on Amazon dataset show that our model outperforms state-of-the-art methods by a large margin. The ablation study demonstrates that the remarkable improvement is not only from BERT but also from our method.

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From Arguments to Key Points: Towards Automatic Argument Summarization
Roy Bar-Haim | Lilach Eden | Roni Friedman | Yoav Kantor | Dan Lahav | Noam Slonim

Generating a concise summary from a large collection of arguments on a given topic is an intriguing yet understudied problem. We propose to represent such summaries as a small set of talking points, termed key points, each scored according to its salience. We show, by analyzing a large dataset of crowd-contributed arguments, that a small number of key points per topic is typically sufficient for covering the vast majority of the arguments. Furthermore, we found that a domain expert can often predict these key points in advance. We study the task of argument-to-key point mapping, and introduce a novel large-scale dataset for this task. We report empirical results for an extensive set of experiments with this dataset, showing promising performance.

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GoEmotions: A Dataset of Fine-Grained Emotions
Dorottya Demszky | Dana Movshovitz-Attias | Jeongwoo Ko | Alan Cowen | Gaurav Nemade | Sujith Ravi

Understanding emotion expressed in language has a wide range of applications, from building empathetic chatbots to detecting harmful online behavior. Advancement in this area can be improved using large-scale datasets with a fine-grained typology, adaptable to multiple downstream tasks. We introduce GoEmotions, the largest manually annotated dataset of 58k English Reddit comments, labeled for 27 emotion categories or Neutral. We demonstrate the high quality of the annotations via Principal Preserved Component Analysis. We conduct transfer learning experiments with existing emotion benchmarks to show that our dataset generalizes well to other domains and different emotion taxonomies. Our BERT-based model achieves an average F1-score of .46 across our proposed taxonomy, leaving much room for improvement.

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He said “who’s gonna take care of your children when you are at ACL?”: Reported Sexist Acts are Not Sexist
Patricia Chiril | Véronique Moriceau | Farah Benamara | Alda Mari | Gloria Origgi | Marlène Coulomb-Gully

In a context of offensive content mediation on social media now regulated by European laws, it is important not only to be able to automatically detect sexist content but also to identify if a message with a sexist content is really sexist or is a story of sexism experienced by a woman. We propose: (1) a new characterization of sexist content inspired by speech acts theory and discourse analysis studies, (2) the first French dataset annotated for sexism detection, and (3) a set of deep learning experiments trained on top of a combination of several tweet’s vectorial representations (word embeddings, linguistic features, and various generalization strategies). Our results are encouraging and constitute a first step towards offensive content moderation.

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SKEP: Sentiment Knowledge Enhanced Pre-training for Sentiment Analysis
Hao Tian | Can Gao | Xinyan Xiao | Hao Liu | Bolei He | Hua Wu | Haifeng Wang | Feng Wu

Recently, sentiment analysis has seen remarkable advance with the help of pre-training approaches. However, sentiment knowledge, such as sentiment words and aspect-sentiment pairs, is ignored in the process of pre-training, despite the fact that they are widely used in traditional sentiment analysis approaches. In this paper, we introduce Sentiment Knowledge Enhanced Pre-training (SKEP) in order to learn a unified sentiment representation for multiple sentiment analysis tasks. With the help of automatically-mined knowledge, SKEP conducts sentiment masking and constructs three sentiment knowledge prediction objectives, so as to embed sentiment information at the word, polarity and aspect level into pre-trained sentiment representation. In particular, the prediction of aspect-sentiment pairs is converted into multi-label classification, aiming to capture the dependency between words in a pair. Experiments on three kinds of sentiment tasks show that SKEP significantly outperforms strong pre-training baseline, and achieves new state-of-the-art results on most of the test datasets. We release our code at

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Do Neural Language Models Show Preferences for Syntactic Formalisms?
Artur Kulmizev | Vinit Ravishankar | Mostafa Abdou | Joakim Nivre

Recent work on the interpretability of deep neural language models has concluded that many properties of natural language syntax are encoded in their representational spaces. However, such studies often suffer from limited scope by focusing on a single language and a single linguistic formalism. In this study, we aim to investigate the extent to which the semblance of syntactic structure captured by language models adheres to a surface-syntactic or deep syntactic style of analysis, and whether the patterns are consistent across different languages. We apply a probe for extracting directed dependency trees to BERT and ELMo models trained on 13 different languages, probing for two different syntactic annotation styles: Universal Dependencies (UD), prioritizing deep syntactic relations, and Surface-Syntactic Universal Dependencies (SUD), focusing on surface structure. We find that both models exhibit a preference for UD over SUD — with interesting variations across languages and layers — and that the strength of this preference is correlated with differences in tree shape.

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Enriched In-Order Linearization for Faster Sequence-to-Sequence Constituent Parsing
Daniel Fernández-González | Carlos Gómez-Rodríguez

Sequence-to-sequence constituent parsing requires a linearization to represent trees as sequences. Top-down tree linearizations, which can be based on brackets or shift-reduce actions, have achieved the best accuracy to date. In this paper, we show that these results can be improved by using an in-order linearization instead. Based on this observation, we implement an enriched in-order shift-reduce linearization inspired by Vinyals et al. (2015)’s approach, achieving the best accuracy to date on the English PTB dataset among fully-supervised single-model sequence-to-sequence constituent parsers. Finally, we apply deterministic attention mechanisms to match the speed of state-of-the-art transition-based parsers, thus showing that sequence-to-sequence models can match them, not only in accuracy, but also in speed.

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Exact yet Efficient Graph Parsing, Bi-directional Locality and the Constructivist Hypothesis
Yajie Ye | Weiwei Sun

A key problem in processing graph-based meaning representations is graph parsing, i.e. computing all possible derivations of a given graph according to a (competence) grammar. We demonstrate, for the first time, that exact graph parsing can be efficient for large graphs and with large Hyperedge Replacement Grammars (HRGs). The advance is achieved by exploiting locality as terminal edge-adjacency in HRG rules. In particular, we highlight the importance of 1) a terminal edge-first parsing strategy, 2) a categorization of a subclass of HRG, i.e. what we call Weakly Regular Graph Grammar, and 3) distributing argument-structures to both lexical and phrasal rules.

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Max-Margin Incremental CCG Parsing
Miloš Stanojević | Mark Steedman

Incremental syntactic parsing has been an active research area both for cognitive scientists trying to model human sentence processing and for NLP researchers attempting to combine incremental parsing with language modelling for ASR and MT. Most effort has been directed at designing the right transition mechanism, but less has been done to answer the question of what a probabilistic model for those transition parsers should look like. A very incremental transition mechanism of a recently proposed CCG parser when trained in straightforward locally normalised discriminative fashion produces very bad results on English CCGbank. We identify three biases as the causes of this problem: label bias, exposure bias and imbalanced probabilities bias. While known techniques for tackling these biases improve results, they still do not make the parser state of the art. Instead, we tackle all of these three biases at the same time using an improved version of beam search optimisation that minimises all beam search violations instead of minimising only the biggest violation. The new incremental parser gives better results than all previously published incremental CCG parsers, and outperforms even some widely used non-incremental CCG parsers.

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Neural Reranking for Dependency Parsing: An Evaluation
Bich-Ngoc Do | Ines Rehbein

Recent work has shown that neural rerankers can improve results for dependency parsing over the top k trees produced by a base parser. However, all neural rerankers so far have been evaluated on English and Chinese only, both languages with a configurational word order and poor morphology. In the paper, we re-assess the potential of successful neural reranking models from the literature on English and on two morphologically rich(er) languages, German and Czech. In addition, we introduce a new variation of a discriminative reranker based on graph convolutional networks (GCNs). We show that the GCN not only outperforms previous models on English but is the only model that is able to improve results over the baselines on German and Czech. We explain the differences in reranking performance based on an analysis of a) the gold tree ratio and b) the variety in the k-best lists.

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Demographics Should Not Be the Reason of Toxicity: Mitigating Discrimination in Text Classifications with Instance Weighting
Guanhua Zhang | Bing Bai | Junqi Zhang | Kun Bai | Conghui Zhu | Tiejun Zhao

With the recent proliferation of the use of text classifications, researchers have found that there are certain unintended biases in text classification datasets. For example, texts containing some demographic identity-terms (e.g., “gay”, “black”) are more likely to be abusive in existing abusive language detection datasets. As a result, models trained with these datasets may consider sentences like “She makes me happy to be gay” as abusive simply because of the word “gay.” In this paper, we formalize the unintended biases in text classification datasets as a kind of selection bias from the non-discrimination distribution to the discrimination distribution. Based on this formalization, we further propose a model-agnostic debiasing training framework by recovering the non-discrimination distribution using instance weighting, which does not require any extra resources or annotations apart from a pre-defined set of demographic identity-terms. Experiments demonstrate that our method can effectively alleviate the impacts of the unintended biases without significantly hurting models’ generalization ability.

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Analyzing analytical methods: The case of phonology in neural models of spoken language
Grzegorz Chrupała | Bertrand Higy | Afra Alishahi

Given the fast development of analysis techniques for NLP and speech processing systems, few systematic studies have been conducted to compare the strengths and weaknesses of each method. As a step in this direction we study the case of representations of phonology in neural network models of spoken language. We use two commonly applied analytical techniques, diagnostic classifiers and representational similarity analysis, to quantify to what extent neural activation patterns encode phonemes and phoneme sequences. We manipulate two factors that can affect the outcome of analysis. First, we investigate the role of learning by comparing neural activations extracted from trained versus randomly-initialized models. Second, we examine the temporal scope of the activations by probing both local activations corresponding to a few milliseconds of the speech signal, and global activations pooled over the whole utterance. We conclude that reporting analysis results with randomly initialized models is crucial, and that global-scope methods tend to yield more consistent and interpretable results and we recommend their use as a complement to local-scope diagnostic methods.

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Make Up Your Mind! Adversarial Generation of Inconsistent Natural Language Explanations
Oana-Maria Camburu | Brendan Shillingford | Pasquale Minervini | Thomas Lukasiewicz | Phil Blunsom

To increase trust in artificial intelligence systems, a promising research direction consists of designing neural models capable of generating natural language explanations for their predictions. In this work, we show that such models are nonetheless prone to generating mutually inconsistent explanations, such as ”Because there is a dog in the image.” and ”Because there is no dog in the [same] image.”, exposing flaws in either the decision-making process of the model or in the generation of the explanations. We introduce a simple yet effective adversarial framework for sanity checking models against the generation of inconsistent natural language explanations. Moreover, as part of the framework, we address the problem of adversarial attacks with full target sequences, a scenario that was not previously addressed in sequence-to-sequence attacks. Finally, we apply our framework on a state-of-the-art neural natural language inference model that provides natural language explanations for its predictions. Our framework shows that this model is capable of generating a significant number of inconsistent explanations.

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Perturbed Masking: Parameter-free Probing for Analyzing and Interpreting BERT
Zhiyong Wu | Yun Chen | Ben Kao | Qun Liu

By introducing a small set of additional parameters, a probe learns to solve specific linguistic tasks (e.g., dependency parsing) in a supervised manner using feature representations (e.g., contextualized embeddings). The effectiveness of such probing tasks is taken as evidence that the pre-trained model encodes linguistic knowledge. However, this approach of evaluating a language model is undermined by the uncertainty of the amount of knowledge that is learned by the probe itself. Complementary to those works, we propose a parameter-free probing technique for analyzing pre-trained language models (e.g., BERT). Our method does not require direct supervision from the probing tasks, nor do we introduce additional parameters to the probing process. Our experiments on BERT show that syntactic trees recovered from BERT using our method are significantly better than linguistically-uninformed baselines. We further feed the empirically induced dependency structures into a downstream sentiment classification task and find its improvement compatible with or even superior to a human-designed dependency schema.

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Probing for Referential Information in Language Models
Ionut-Teodor Sorodoc | Kristina Gulordava | Gemma Boleda

Language models keep track of complex information about the preceding context – including, e.g., syntactic relations in a sentence. We investigate whether they also capture information beneficial for resolving pronominal anaphora in English. We analyze two state of the art models with LSTM and Transformer architectures, via probe tasks and analysis on a coreference annotated corpus. The Transformer outperforms the LSTM in all analyses. Our results suggest that language models are more successful at learning grammatical constraints than they are at learning truly referential information, in the sense of capturing the fact that we use language to refer to entities in the world. However, we find traces of the latter aspect, too.

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Quantifying Attention Flow in Transformers
Samira Abnar | Willem Zuidema

In the Transformer model, “self-attention” combines information from attended embeddings into the representation of the focal embedding in the next layer. Thus, across layers of the Transformer, information originating from different tokens gets increasingly mixed. This makes attention weights unreliable as explanations probes. In this paper, we consider the problem of quantifying this flow of information through self-attention. We propose two methods for approximating the attention to input tokens given attention weights, attention rollout and attention flow, as post hoc methods when we use attention weights as the relative relevance of the input tokens. We show that these methods give complementary views on the flow of information, and compared to raw attention, both yield higher correlations with importance scores of input tokens obtained using an ablation method and input gradients.

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Towards Faithfully Interpretable NLP Systems: How Should We Define and Evaluate Faithfulness?
Alon Jacovi | Yoav Goldberg

With the growing popularity of deep-learning based NLP models, comes a need for interpretable systems. But what is interpretability, and what constitutes a high-quality interpretation? In this opinion piece we reflect on the current state of interpretability evaluation research. We call for more clearly differentiating between different desired criteria an interpretation should satisfy, and focus on the faithfulness criteria. We survey the literature with respect to faithfulness evaluation, and arrange the current approaches around three assumptions, providing an explicit form to how faithfulness is “defined” by the community. We provide concrete guidelines on how evaluation of interpretation methods should and should not be conducted. Finally, we claim that the current binary definition for faithfulness sets a potentially unrealistic bar for being considered faithful. We call for discarding the binary notion of faithfulness in favor of a more graded one, which we believe will be of greater practical utility.

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Towards Transparent and Explainable Attention Models
Akash Kumar Mohankumar | Preksha Nema | Sharan Narasimhan | Mitesh M. Khapra | Balaji Vasan Srinivasan | Balaraman Ravindran

Recent studies on interpretability of attention distributions have led to notions of faithful and plausible explanations for a model’s predictions. Attention distributions can be considered a faithful explanation if a higher attention weight implies a greater impact on the model’s prediction. They can be considered a plausible explanation if they provide a human-understandable justification for the model’s predictions. In this work, we first explain why current attention mechanisms in LSTM based encoders can neither provide a faithful nor a plausible explanation of the model’s predictions. We observe that in LSTM based encoders the hidden representations at different time-steps are very similar to each other (high conicity) and attention weights in these situations do not carry much meaning because even a random permutation of the attention weights does not affect the model’s predictions. Based on experiments on a wide variety of tasks and datasets, we observe attention distributions often attribute the model’s predictions to unimportant words such as punctuation and fail to offer a plausible explanation for the predictions. To make attention mechanisms more faithful and plausible, we propose a modified LSTM cell with a diversity-driven training objective that ensures that the hidden representations learned at different time steps are diverse. We show that the resulting attention distributions offer more transparency as they (i) provide a more precise importance ranking of the hidden states (ii) are better indicative of words important for the model’s predictions (iii) correlate better with gradient-based attribution methods. Human evaluations indicate that the attention distributions learned by our model offer a plausible explanation of the model’s predictions. Our code has been made publicly available at

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Tchebycheff Procedure for Multi-task Text Classification
Yuren Mao | Shuang Yun | Weiwei Liu | Bo Du

Multi-task Learning methods have achieved great progress in text classification. However, existing methods assume that multi-task text classification problems are convex multiobjective optimization problems, which is unrealistic in real-world applications. To address this issue, this paper presents a novel Tchebycheff procedure to optimize the multi-task classification problems without convex assumption. The extensive experiments back up our theoretical analysis and validate the superiority of our proposals.

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Modeling Word Formation in English–German Neural Machine Translation
Marion Weller-Di Marco | Alexander Fraser

This paper studies strategies to model word formation in NMT using rich linguistic information, namely a word segmentation approach that goes beyond splitting into substrings by considering fusional morphology. Our linguistically sound segmentation is combined with a method for target-side inflection to accommodate modeling word formation. The best system variants employ source-side morphological analysis and model complex target-side words, improving over a standard system.

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Empowering Active Learning to Jointly Optimize System and User Demands
Ji-Ung Lee | Christian M. Meyer | Iryna Gurevych

Existing approaches to active learning maximize the system performance by sampling unlabeled instances for annotation that yield the most efficient training. However, when active learning is integrated with an end-user application, this can lead to frustration for participating users, as they spend time labeling instances that they would not otherwise be interested in reading. In this paper, we propose a new active learning approach that jointly optimizes the seemingly counteracting objectives of the active learning system (training efficiently) and the user (receiving useful instances). We study our approach in an educational application, which particularly benefits from this technique as the system needs to rapidly learn to predict the appropriateness of an exercise to a particular user, while the users should receive only exercises that match their skills. We evaluate multiple learning strategies and user types with data from real users and find that our joint approach better satisfies both objectives when alternative methods lead to many unsuitable exercises for end users.

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Encoder-Decoder Models Can Benefit from Pre-trained Masked Language Models in Grammatical Error Correction
Masahiro Kaneko | Masato Mita | Shun Kiyono | Jun Suzuki | Kentaro Inui

This paper investigates how to effectively incorporate a pre-trained masked language model (MLM), such as BERT, into an encoder-decoder (EncDec) model for grammatical error correction (GEC). The answer to this question is not as straightforward as one might expect because the previous common methods for incorporating a MLM into an EncDec model have potential drawbacks when applied to GEC. For example, the distribution of the inputs to a GEC model can be considerably different (erroneous, clumsy, etc.) from that of the corpora used for pre-training MLMs; however, this issue is not addressed in the previous methods. Our experiments show that our proposed method, where we first fine-tune a MLM with a given GEC corpus and then use the output of the fine-tuned MLM as additional features in the GEC model, maximizes the benefit of the MLM. The best-performing model achieves state-of-the-art performances on the BEA-2019 and CoNLL-2014 benchmarks. Our code is publicly available at:

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Graph Neural News Recommendation with Unsupervised Preference Disentanglement
Linmei Hu | Siyong Xu | Chen Li | Cheng Yang | Chuan Shi | Nan Duan | Xing Xie | Ming Zhou

With the explosion of news information, personalized news recommendation has become very important for users to quickly find their interested contents. Most existing methods usually learn the representations of users and news from news contents for recommendation. However, they seldom consider high-order connectivity underlying the user-news interactions. Moreover, existing methods failed to disentangle a user’s latent preference factors which cause her clicks on different news. In this paper, we model the user-news interactions as a bipartite graph and propose a novel Graph Neural News Recommendation model with Unsupervised Preference Disentanglement, named GNUD. Our model can encode high-order relationships into user and news representations by information propagation along the graph. Furthermore, the learned representations are disentangled with latent preference factors by a neighborhood routing algorithm, which can enhance expressiveness and interpretability. A preference regularizer is also designed to force each disentangled subspace to independently reflect an isolated preference, improving the quality of the disentangled representations. Experimental results on real-world news datasets demonstrate that our proposed model can effectively improve the performance of news recommendation and outperform state-of-the-art news recommendation methods.

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Identifying Principals and Accessories in a Complex Case based on the Comprehension of Fact Description
Yakun Hu | Zhunchen Luo | Wenhan Chao

In this paper, we study the problem of identifying the principals and accessories from the fact description with multiple defendants in a criminal case. We treat the fact descriptions as narrative texts and the defendants as roles over the narrative story. We propose to model the defendants with behavioral semantic information and statistical characteristics, then learning the importances of defendants within a learning-to-rank framework. Experimental results on a real-world dataset demonstrate the behavior analysis can effectively model the defendants’ impacts in a complex case.

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Joint Modelling of Emotion and Abusive Language Detection
Santhosh Rajamanickam | Pushkar Mishra | Helen Yannakoudakis | Ekaterina Shutova

The rise of online communication platforms has been accompanied by some undesirable effects, such as the proliferation of aggressive and abusive behaviour online. Aiming to tackle this problem, the natural language processing (NLP) community has experimented with a range of techniques for abuse detection. While achieving substantial success, these methods have so far only focused on modelling the linguistic properties of the comments and the online communities of users, disregarding the emotional state of the users and how this might affect their language. The latter is, however, inextricably linked to abusive behaviour. In this paper, we present the first joint model of emotion and abusive language detection, experimenting in a multi-task learning framework that allows one task to inform the other. Our results demonstrate that incorporating affective features leads to significant improvements in abuse detection performance across datasets.

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Programming in Natural Language with fuSE: Synthesizing Methods from Spoken Utterances Using Deep Natural Language Understanding
Sebastian Weigelt | Vanessa Steurer | Tobias Hey | Walter F. Tichy

The key to effortless end-user programming is natural language. We examine how to teach intelligent systems new functions, expressed in natural language. As a first step, we collected 3168 samples of teaching efforts in plain English. Then we built fuSE, a novel system that translates English function descriptions into code. Our approach is three-tiered and each task is evaluated separately. We first classify whether an intent to teach new functionality is present in the utterance (accuracy: 97.7% using BERT). Then we analyze the linguistic structure and construct a semantic model (accuracy: 97.6% using a BiLSTM). Finally, we synthesize the signature of the method, map the intermediate steps (instructions in the method body) to API calls and inject control structures (F1: 67.0% with information retrieval and knowledge-based methods). In an end-to-end evaluation on an unseen dataset fuSE synthesized 84.6% of the method signatures and 79.2% of the API calls correctly.

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