Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (2020)



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Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

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Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)
Bonnie Webber | Trevor Cohn | Yulan He | Yang Liu

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Detecting Attackable Sentences in Arguments
Yohan Jo | Seojin Bang | Emaad Manzoor | Eduard Hovy | Chris Reed

Finding attackable sentences in an argument is the first step toward successful refutation in argumentation. We present a first large-scale analysis of sentence attackability in online arguments. We analyze driving reasons for attacks in argumentation and identify relevant characteristics of sentences. We demonstrate that a sentence’s attackability is associated with many of these characteristics regarding the sentence’s content, proposition types, and tone, and that an external knowledge source can provide useful information about attackability. Building on these findings, we demonstrate that machine learning models can automatically detect attackable sentences in arguments, significantly better than several baselines and comparably well to laypeople.

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Extracting Implicitly Asserted Propositions in Argumentation
Yohan Jo | Jacky Visser | Chris Reed | Eduard Hovy

Argumentation accommodates various rhetorical devices, such as questions, reported speech, and imperatives. These rhetorical tools usually assert argumentatively relevant propositions rather implicitly, so understanding their true meaning is key to understanding certain arguments properly. However, most argument mining systems and computational linguistics research have paid little attention to implicitly asserted propositions in argumentation. In this paper, we examine a wide range of computational methods for extracting propositions that are implicitly asserted in questions, reported speech, and imperatives in argumentation. By evaluating the models on a corpus of 2016 U.S. presidential debates and online commentary, we demonstrate the effectiveness and limitations of the computational models. Our study may inform future research on argument mining and the semantics of these rhetorical devices in argumentation.

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Quantitative argument summarization and beyond: Cross-domain key point analysis
Roy Bar-Haim | Yoav Kantor | Lilach Eden | Roni Friedman | Dan Lahav | Noam Slonim

When summarizing a collection of views, arguments or opinions on some topic, it is often desirable not only to extract the most salient points, but also to quantify their prevalence. Work on multi-document summarization has traditionally focused on creating textual summaries, which lack this quantitative aspect. Recent work has proposed to summarize arguments by mapping them to a small set of expert-generated key points, where the salience of each key point corresponds to the number of its matching arguments. The current work advances key point analysis in two important respects: first, we develop a method for automatic extraction of key points, which enables fully automatic analysis, and is shown to achieve performance comparable to a human expert. Second, we demonstrate that the applicability of key point analysis goes well beyond argumentation data. Using models trained on publicly available argumentation datasets, we achieve promising results in two additional domains: municipal surveys and user reviews. An additional contribution is an in-depth evaluation of argument-to-key point matching models, where we substantially outperform previous results.

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Unsupervised stance detection for arguments from consequences
Jonathan Kobbe | Ioana Hulpuș | Heiner Stuckenschmidt

Social media platforms have become an essential venue for online deliberation where users discuss arguments, debate, and form opinions. In this paper, we propose an unsupervised method to detect the stance of argumentative claims with respect to a topic. Most related work focuses on topic-specific supervised models that need to be trained for every emergent debate topic. To address this limitation, we propose a topic independent approach that focuses on a frequently encountered class of arguments, specifically, on arguments from consequences. We do this by extracting the effects that claims refer to, and proposing a means for inferring if the effect is a good or bad consequence. Our experiments provide promising results that are comparable to, and in particular regards even outperform BERT. Furthermore, we publish a novel dataset of arguments relating to consequences, annotated with Amazon Mechanical Turk.

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BLEU might be Guilty but References are not Innocent
Markus Freitag | David Grangier | Isaac Caswell

The quality of automatic metrics for machine translation has been increasingly called into question, especially for high-quality systems. This paper demonstrates that, while choice of metric is important, the nature of the references is also critical. We study different methods to collect references and compare their value in automated evaluation by reporting correlation with human evaluation for a variety of systems and metrics. Motivated by the finding that typical references exhibit poor diversity, concentrating around translationese language, we develop a paraphrasing task for linguists to perform on existing reference translations, which counteracts this bias. Our method yields higher correlation with human judgment not only for the submissions of WMT 2019 English to German, but also for Back-translation and APE augmented MT output, which have been shown to have low correlation with automatic metrics using standard references. We demonstrate that our methodology improves correlation with all modern evaluation metrics we look at, including embedding-based methods. To complete this picture, we reveal that multi-reference BLEU does not improve the correlation for high quality output, and present an alternative multi-reference formulation that is more effective.

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Statistical Power and Translationese in Machine Translation Evaluation
Yvette Graham | Barry Haddow | Philipp Koehn

The term translationese has been used to describe features of translated text, and in this paper, we provide detailed analysis of potential adverse effects of translationese on machine translation evaluation. Our analysis shows differences in conclusions drawn from evaluations that include translationese in test data compared to experiments that tested only with text originally composed in that language. For this reason we recommend that reverse-created test data be omitted from future machine translation test sets. In addition, we provide a re-evaluation of a past machine translation evaluation claiming human-parity of MT. One important issue not previously considered is statistical power of significance tests applied to comparison of human and machine translation. Since the very aim of past evaluations was investigation of ties between human and MT systems, power analysis is of particular importance, to avoid, for example, claims of human parity simply corresponding to Type II error resulting from the application of a low powered test. We provide detailed analysis of tests used in such evaluations to provide an indication of a suitable minimum sample size for future studies.

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Simulated multiple reference training improves low-resource machine translation
Huda Khayrallah | Brian Thompson | Matt Post | Philipp Koehn

Many valid translations exist for a given sentence, yet machine translation (MT) is trained with a single reference translation, exacerbating data sparsity in low-resource settings. We introduce Simulated Multiple Reference Training (SMRT), a novel MT training method that approximates the full space of possible translations by sampling a paraphrase of the reference sentence from a paraphraser and training the MT model to predict the paraphraser’s distribution over possible tokens. We demonstrate the effectiveness of SMRT in low-resource settings when translating to English, with improvements of 1.2 to 7.0 BLEU. We also find SMRT is complementary to back-translation.

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Automatic Machine Translation Evaluation in Many Languages via Zero-Shot Paraphrasing
Brian Thompson | Matt Post

We frame the task of machine translation evaluation as one of scoring machine translation output with a sequence-to-sequence paraphraser, conditioned on a human reference. We propose training the paraphraser as a multilingual NMT system, treating paraphrasing as a zero-shot translation task (e.g., Czech to Czech). This results in the paraphraser’s output mode being centered around a copy of the input sequence, which represents the best case scenario where the MT system output matches a human reference. Our method is simple and intuitive, and does not require human judgements for training. Our single model (trained in 39 languages) outperforms or statistically ties with all prior metrics on the WMT 2019 segment-level shared metrics task in all languages (excluding Gujarati where the model had no training data). We also explore using our model for the task of quality estimation as a metric—conditioning on the source instead of the reference—and find that it significantly outperforms every submission to the WMT 2019 shared task on quality estimation in every language pair.

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PRover: Proof Generation for Interpretable Reasoning over Rules
Swarnadeep Saha | Sayan Ghosh | Shashank Srivastava | Mohit Bansal

Recent work by Clark et al. (2020) shows that transformers can act as “soft theorem provers” by answering questions over explicitly provided knowledge in natural language. In our work, we take a step closer to emulating formal theorem provers, by proposing PRover, an interpretable transformer-based model that jointly answers binary questions over rule-bases and generates the corresponding proofs. Our model learns to predict nodes and edges corresponding to proof graphs in an efficient constrained training paradigm. During inference, a valid proof, satisfying a set of global constraints is generated. We conduct experiments on synthetic, hand-authored, and human-paraphrased rule-bases to show promising results for QA and proof generation, with strong generalization performance. First, PRover generates proofs with an accuracy of 87%, while retaining or improving performance on the QA task, compared to RuleTakers (up to 6% improvement on zero-shot evaluation). Second, when trained on questions requiring lower depths of reasoning, it generalizes significantly better to higher depths (up to 15% improvement). Third, PRover obtains near perfect QA accuracy of 98% using only 40% of the training data. However, generating proofs for questions requiring higher depths of reasoning becomes challenging, and the accuracy drops to 65% for “depth 5”, indicating significant scope for future work.

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Learning to Explain: Datasets and Models for Identifying Valid Reasoning Chains in Multihop Question-Answering
Harsh Jhamtani | Peter Clark

Despite the rapid progress in multihop question-answering (QA), models still have trouble explaining why an answer is correct, with limited explanation training data available to learn from. To address this, we introduce three explanation datasets in which explanations formed from corpus facts are annotated. Our first dataset, eQASC contains over 98K explanation annotations for the multihop question answering dataset QASC, and is the first that annotates multiple candidate explanations for each answer. The second dataset eQASC-perturbed is constructed by crowd-sourcing perturbations (while preserving their validity) of a subset of explanations in QASC, to test consistency and generalization of explanation prediction models. The third dataset eOBQA is constructed by adding explanation annotations to the OBQA dataset to test generalization of models trained on eQASC. We show that this data can be used to significantly improve explanation quality (+14% absolute F1 over a strong retrieval baseline) using a BERT-based classifier, but still behind the upper bound, offering a new challenge for future research. We also explore a delexicalized chain representation in which repeated noun phrases are replaced by variables, thus turning them into generalized reasoning chains (for example: “X is a Y” AND “Y has Z” IMPLIES “X has Z”). We find that generalized chains maintain performance while also being more robust to certain perturbations.

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Self-Supervised Knowledge Triplet Learning for Zero-Shot Question Answering
Pratyay Banerjee | Chitta Baral

The aim of all Question Answering (QA) systems is to generalize to unseen questions. Current supervised methods are reliant on expensive data annotation. Moreover, such annotations can introduce unintended annotator bias, making systems focus more on the bias than the actual task. This work proposes Knowledge Triplet Learning (KTL), a self-supervised task over knowledge graphs. We propose heuristics to create synthetic graphs for commonsense and scientific knowledge. We propose using KTL to perform zero-shot question answering, and our experiments show considerable improvements over large pre-trained transformer language models.

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More Bang for Your Buck: Natural Perturbation for Robust Question Answering
Daniel Khashabi | Tushar Khot | Ashish Sabharwal

Deep learning models for linguistic tasks require large training datasets, which are expensive to create. As an alternative to the traditional approach of creating new instances by repeating the process of creating one instance, we propose doing so by first collecting a set of seed examples and then applying human-driven natural perturbations (as opposed to rule-based machine perturbations), which often change the gold label as well. Such perturbations have the advantage of being relatively easier (and hence cheaper) to create than writing out completely new examples. Further, they help address the issue that even models achieving human-level scores on NLP datasets are known to be considerably sensitive to small changes in input. To evaluate the idea, we consider a recent question-answering dataset (BOOLQ) and study our approach as a function of the perturbation cost ratio, the relative cost of perturbing an existing question vs. creating a new one from scratch. We find that when natural perturbations are moderately cheaper to create (cost ratio under 60%), it is more effective to use them for training BOOLQ models: such models exhibit 9% higher robustness and 4.5% stronger generalization, while retaining performance on the original BOOLQ dataset.

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A matter of framing: The impact of linguistic formalism on probing results
Ilia Kuznetsov | Iryna Gurevych

Deep pre-trained contextualized encoders like BERT demonstrate remarkable performance on a range of downstream tasks. A recent line of research in probing investigates the linguistic knowledge implicitly learned by these models during pre-training. While most work in probing operates on the task level, linguistic tasks are rarely uniform and can be represented in a variety of formalisms. Any linguistics-based probing study thereby inevitably commits to the formalism used to annotate the underlying data. Can the choice of formalism affect probing results? To investigate, we conduct an in-depth cross-formalism layer probing study in role semantics. We find linguistically meaningful differences in the encoding of semantic role- and proto-role information by BERT depending on the formalism and demonstrate that layer probing can detect subtle differences between the implementations of the same linguistic formalism. Our results suggest that linguistic formalism is an important dimension in probing studies, along with the commonly used cross-task and cross-lingual experimental settings.

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Information-Theoretic Probing with Minimum Description Length
Elena Voita | Ivan Titov

To measure how well pretrained representations encode some linguistic property, it is common to use accuracy of a probe, i.e. a classifier trained to predict the property from the representations. Despite widespread adoption of probes, differences in their accuracy fail to adequately reflect differences in representations. For example, they do not substantially favour pretrained representations over randomly initialized ones. Analogously, their accuracy can be similar when probing for genuine linguistic labels and probing for random synthetic tasks. To see reasonable differences in accuracy with respect to these random baselines, previous work had to constrain either the amount of probe training data or its model size. Instead, we propose an alternative to the standard probes, information-theoretic probing with minimum description length (MDL). With MDL probing, training a probe to predict labels is recast as teaching it to effectively transmit the data. Therefore, the measure of interest changes from probe accuracy to the description length of labels given representations. In addition to probe quality, the description length evaluates “the amount of effort” needed to achieve the quality. This amount of effort characterizes either (i) size of a probing model, or (ii) the amount of data needed to achieve the high quality. We consider two methods for estimating MDL which can be easily implemented on top of the standard probing pipelines: variational coding and online coding. We show that these methods agree in results and are more informative and stable than the standard probes.

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Intrinsic Probing through Dimension Selection
Lucas Torroba Hennigen | Adina Williams | Ryan Cotterell

Most modern NLP systems make use of pre-trained contextual representations that attain astonishingly high performance on a variety of tasks. Such high performance should not be possible unless some form of linguistic structure inheres in these representations, and a wealth of research has sprung up on probing for it. In this paper, we draw a distinction between intrinsic probing, which examines how linguistic information is structured within a representation, and the extrinsic probing popular in prior work, which only argues for the presence of such information by showing that it can be successfully extracted. To enable intrinsic probing, we propose a novel framework based on a decomposable multivariate Gaussian probe that allows us to determine whether the linguistic information in word embeddings is dispersed or focal. We then probe fastText and BERT for various morphosyntactic attributes across 36 languages. We find that most attributes are reliably encoded by only a few neurons, with fastText concentrating its linguistic structure more than BERT.

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Learning Which Features Matter: RoBERTa Acquires a Preference for Linguistic Generalizations (Eventually)
Alex Warstadt | Yian Zhang | Xiaocheng Li | Haokun Liu | Samuel R. Bowman

One reason pretraining on self-supervised linguistic tasks is effective is that it teaches models features that are helpful for language understanding. However, we want pretrained models to learn not only to represent linguistic features, but also to use those features preferentially during fine-turning. With this goal in mind, we introduce a new English-language diagnostic set called MSGS (the Mixed Signals Generalization Set), which consists of 20 ambiguous binary classification tasks that we use to test whether a pretrained model prefers linguistic or surface generalizations during finetuning. We pretrain RoBERTa from scratch on quantities of data ranging from 1M to 1B words and compare their performance on MSGS to the publicly available RoBERTa_BASE. We find that models can learn to represent linguistic features with little pretraining data, but require far more data to learn to prefer linguistic generalizations over surface ones. Eventually, with about 30B words of pretraining data, RoBERTa_BASE does consistently demonstrate a linguistic bias with some regularity. We conclude that while self-supervised pretraining is an effective way to learn helpful inductive biases, there is likely room to improve the rate at which models learn which features matter.

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Repulsive Attention: Rethinking Multi-head Attention as Bayesian Inference
Bang An | Jie Lyu | Zhenyi Wang | Chunyuan Li | Changwei Hu | Fei Tan | Ruiyi Zhang | Yifan Hu | Changyou Chen

The neural attention mechanism plays an important role in many natural language processing applications. In particular, multi-head attention extends single-head attention by allowing a model to jointly attend information from different perspectives. However, without explicit constraining, multi-head attention may suffer from attention collapse, an issue that makes different heads extract similar attentive features, thus limiting the model’s representation power. In this paper, for the first time, we provide a novel understanding of multi-head attention from a Bayesian perspective. Based on the recently developed particle-optimization sampling techniques, we propose a non-parametric approach that explicitly improves the repulsiveness in multi-head attention and consequently strengthens model’s expressiveness. Remarkably, our Bayesian interpretation provides theoretical inspirations on the not-well-understood questions: why and how one uses multi-head attention. Extensive experiments on various attention models and applications demonstrate that the proposed repulsive attention can improve the learned feature diversity, leading to more informative representations with consistent performance improvement on multiple tasks.

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KERMIT: Complementing Transformer Architectures with Encoders of Explicit Syntactic Interpretations
Fabio Massimo Zanzotto | Andrea Santilli | Leonardo Ranaldi | Dario Onorati | Pierfrancesco Tommasino | Francesca Fallucchi

Syntactic parsers have dominated natural language understanding for decades. Yet, their syntactic interpretations are losing centrality in downstream tasks due to the success of large-scale textual representation learners. In this paper, we propose KERMIT (Kernel-inspired Encoder with Recursive Mechanism for Interpretable Trees) to embed symbolic syntactic parse trees into artificial neural networks and to visualize how syntax is used in inference. We experimented with KERMIT paired with two state-of-the-art transformer-based universal sentence encoders (BERT and XLNet) and we showed that KERMIT can indeed boost their performance by effectively embedding human-coded universal syntactic representations in neural networks

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ETC: Encoding Long and Structured Inputs in Transformers
Joshua Ainslie | Santiago Ontanon | Chris Alberti | Vaclav Cvicek | Zachary Fisher | Philip Pham | Anirudh Ravula | Sumit Sanghai | Qifan Wang | Li Yang

Transformer models have advanced the state of the art in many Natural Language Processing (NLP) tasks. In this paper, we present a new Transformer architecture, “Extended Transformer Construction” (ETC), that addresses two key challenges of standard Transformer architectures, namely scaling input length and encoding structured inputs. To scale attention to longer inputs, we introduce a novel global-local attention mechanism between global tokens and regular input tokens. We also show that combining global-local attention with relative position encodings and a “Contrastive Predictive Coding” (CPC) pre-training objective allows ETC to encode structured inputs. We achieve state-of-the-art results on four natural language datasets requiring long and/or structured inputs.

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Pre-Training Transformers as Energy-Based Cloze Models
Kevin Clark | Minh-Thang Luong | Quoc Le | Christopher D. Manning

We introduce Electric, an energy-based cloze model for representation learning over text. Like BERT, it is a conditional generative model of tokens given their contexts. However, Electric does not use masking or output a full distribution over tokens that could occur in a context. Instead, it assigns a scalar energy score to each input token indicating how likely it is given its context. We train Electric using an algorithm based on noise-contrastive estimation and elucidate how this learning objective is closely related to the recently proposed ELECTRA pre-training method. Electric performs well when transferred to downstream tasks and is particularly effective at producing likelihood scores for text: it re-ranks speech recognition n-best lists better than language models and much faster than masked language models. Furthermore, it offers a clearer and more principled view of what ELECTRA learns during pre-training.

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Calibration of Pre-trained Transformers
Shrey Desai | Greg Durrett

Pre-trained Transformers are now ubiquitous in natural language processing, but despite their high end-task performance, little is known empirically about whether they are calibrated. Specifically, do these models’ posterior probabilities provide an accurate empirical measure of how likely the model is to be correct on a given example? We focus on BERT and RoBERTa in this work, and analyze their calibration across three tasks: natural language inference, paraphrase detection, and commonsense reasoning. For each task, we consider in-domain as well as challenging out-of-domain settings, where models face more examples they should be uncertain about. We show that: (1) when used out-of-the-box, pre-trained models are calibrated in-domain, and compared to baselines, their calibration error out-of-domain can be as much as 3.5x lower; (2) temperature scaling is effective at further reducing calibration error in-domain, and using label smoothing to deliberately increase empirical uncertainty helps calibrate posteriors out-of-domain.

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Near-imperceptible Neural Linguistic Steganography via Self-Adjusting Arithmetic Coding
Jiaming Shen | Heng Ji | Jiawei Han

Linguistic steganography studies how to hide secret messages in natural language cover texts. Traditional methods aim to transform a secret message into an innocent text via lexical substitution or syntactical modification. Recently, advances in neural language models (LMs) enable us to directly generate cover text conditioned on the secret message. In this study, we present a new linguistic steganography method which encodes secret messages using self-adjusting arithmetic coding based on a neural language model. We formally analyze the statistical imperceptibility of this method and empirically show it outperforms the previous state-of-the-art methods on four datasets by 15.3% and 38.9% in terms of bits/word and KL metrics, respectively. Finally, human evaluations show that 51% of generated cover texts can indeed fool eavesdroppers.

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Multi-Dimensional Gender Bias Classification
Emily Dinan | Angela Fan | Ledell Wu | Jason Weston | Douwe Kiela | Adina Williams

Machine learning models are trained to find patterns in data. NLP models can inadvertently learn socially undesirable patterns when training on gender biased text. In this work, we propose a novel, general framework that decomposes gender bias in text along several pragmatic and semantic dimensions: bias from the gender of the person being spoken about, bias from the gender of the person being spoken to, and bias from the gender of the speaker. Using this fine-grained framework, we automatically annotate eight large scale datasets with gender information. In addition, we collect a new, crowdsourced evaluation benchmark. Distinguishing between gender bias along multiple dimensions enables us to train better and more fine-grained gender bias classifiers. We show our classifiers are valuable for a variety of applications, like controlling for gender bias in generative models, detecting gender bias in arbitrary text, and classifying text as offensive based on its genderedness.

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FIND: Human-in-the-Loop Debugging Deep Text Classifiers
Piyawat Lertvittayakumjorn | Lucia Specia | Francesca Toni

Since obtaining a perfect training dataset (i.e., a dataset which is considerably large, unbiased, and well-representative of unseen cases) is hardly possible, many real-world text classifiers are trained on the available, yet imperfect, datasets. These classifiers are thus likely to have undesirable properties. For instance, they may have biases against some sub-populations or may not work effectively in the wild due to overfitting. In this paper, we propose FIND – a framework which enables humans to debug deep learning text classifiers by disabling irrelevant hidden features. Experiments show that by using FIND, humans can improve CNN text classifiers which were trained under different types of imperfect datasets (including datasets with biases and datasets with dissimilar train-test distributions).

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Conversational Document Prediction to Assist Customer Care Agents
Jatin Ganhotra | Haggai Roitman | Doron Cohen | Nathaniel Mills | Chulaka Gunasekara | Yosi Mass | Sachindra Joshi | Luis Lastras | David Konopnicki

A frequent pattern in customer care conversations is the agents responding with appropriate webpage URLs that address users’ needs. We study the task of predicting the documents that customer care agents can use to facilitate users’ needs. We also introduce a new public dataset which supports the aforementioned problem. Using this dataset and two others, we investigate state-of-the art deep learning (DL) and information retrieval (IR) models for the task. Additionally, we analyze the practicality of such systems in terms of inference time complexity. Our show that an hybrid IR+DL approach provides the best of both worlds.

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Incremental Processing in the Age of Non-Incremental Encoders: An Empirical Assessment of Bidirectional Models for Incremental NLU
Brielen Madureira | David Schlangen

While humans process language incrementally, the best language encoders currently used in NLP do not. Both bidirectional LSTMs and Transformers assume that the sequence that is to be encoded is available in full, to be processed either forwards and backwards (BiLSTMs) or as a whole (Transformers). We investigate how they behave under incremental interfaces, when partial output must be provided based on partial input seen up to a certain time step, which may happen in interactive systems. We test five models on various NLU datasets and compare their performance using three incremental evaluation metrics. The results support the possibility of using bidirectional encoders in incremental mode while retaining most of their non-incremental quality. The “omni-directional” BERT model, which achieves better non-incremental performance, is impacted more by the incremental access. This can be alleviated by adapting the training regime (truncated training), or the testing procedure, by delaying the output until some right context is available or by incorporating hypothetical right contexts generated by a language model like GPT-2.

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Augmented Natural Language for Generative Sequence Labeling
Ben Athiwaratkun | Cicero Nogueira dos Santos | Jason Krone | Bing Xiang

We propose a generative framework for joint sequence labeling and sentence-level classification. Our model performs multiple sequence labeling tasks at once using a single, shared natural language output space. Unlike prior discriminative methods, our model naturally incorporates label semantics and shares knowledge across tasks. Our framework general purpose, performing well on few-shot learning, low resource, and high resource tasks. We demonstrate these advantages on popular named entity recognition, slot labeling, and intent classification benchmarks. We set a new state-of-the-art for few-shot slot labeling, improving substantially upon the previous 5-shot (75.0% to 90.9%) and 1-shot (70.4% to 81.0%) state-of-the-art results. Furthermore, our model generates large improvements (46.27% to 63.83%) in low resource slot labeling over a BERT baseline by incorporating label semantics. We also maintain competitive results on high resource tasks, performing within two points of the state-of-the-art on all tasks and setting a new state-of-the-art on the SNIPS dataset.

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Dialogue Response Ranking Training with Large-Scale Human Feedback Data
Xiang Gao | Yizhe Zhang | Michel Galley | Chris Brockett | Bill Dolan

Existing open-domain dialog models are generally trained to minimize the perplexity of target human responses. However, some human replies are more engaging than others, spawning more followup interactions. Current conversational models are increasingly capable of producing turns that are context-relevant, but in order to produce compelling agents, these models need to be able to predict and optimize for turns that are genuinely engaging. We leverage social media feedback data (number of replies and upvotes) to build a large-scale training dataset for feedback prediction. To alleviate possible distortion between the feedback and engagingness, we convert the ranking problem to a comparison of response pairs which involve few confounding factors. We trained DialogRPT, a set of GPT-2 based models on 133M pairs of human feedback data and the resulting ranker outperformed several baselines. Particularly, our ranker outperforms the conventional dialog perplexity baseline with a large margin on predicting Reddit feedback. We finally combine the feedback prediction models and a human-like scoring model to rank the machine-generated dialog responses. Crowd-sourced human evaluation shows that our ranking method correlates better with real human preferences than baseline models.

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Semantic Evaluation for Text-to-SQL with Distilled Test Suites
Ruiqi Zhong | Tao Yu | Dan Klein

We propose test suite accuracy to approximate semantic accuracy for Text-to-SQL models. Our method distills a small test suite of databases that achieves high code coverage for the gold query from a large number of randomly generated databases. At evaluation time, it computes the denotation accuracy of the predicted queries on the distilled test suite, hence calculating a tight upper-bound for semantic accuracy efficiently. We use our proposed method to evaluate 21 models submitted to the Spider leader board and manually verify that our method is always correct on 100 examples. In contrast, the current Spider metric leads to a 2.5% false negative rate on average and 8.1% in the worst case, indicating that test suite accuracy is needed. Our implementation, along with distilled test suites for eleven Text-to-SQL datasets, is publicly available.

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Cross-Thought for Sentence Encoder Pre-training
Shuohang Wang | Yuwei Fang | Siqi Sun | Zhe Gan | Yu Cheng | Jingjing Liu | Jing Jiang

In this paper, we propose Cross-Thought, a novel approach to pre-training sequence encoder, which is instrumental in building reusable sequence embeddings for large-scale NLP tasks such as question answering. Instead of using the original signals of full sentences, we train a Transformer-based sequence encoder over a large set of short sequences, which allows the model to automatically select the most useful information for predicting masked words. Experiments on question answering and textual entailment tasks demonstrate that our pre-trained encoder can outperform state-of-the-art encoders trained with continuous sentence signals as well as traditional masked language modeling baselines. Our proposed approach also achieves new state of the art on HotpotQA (full-wiki setting) by improving intermediate information retrieval performance.

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AutoQA: From Databases To QA Semantic Parsers With Only Synthetic Training Data
Silei Xu | Sina Semnani | Giovanni Campagna | Monica Lam

We propose AutoQA, a methodology and toolkit to generate semantic parsers that answer questions on databases, with no manual effort. Given a database schema and its data, AutoQA automatically generates a large set of high-quality questions for training that covers different database operations. It uses automatic paraphrasing combined with template-based parsing to find alternative expressions of an attribute in different parts of speech. It also uses a novel filtered auto-paraphraser to generate correct paraphrases of entire sentences. We apply AutoQA to the Schema2QA dataset and obtain an average logical form accuracy of 62.9% when tested on natural questions, which is only 6.4% lower than a model trained with expert natural language annotations and paraphrase data collected from crowdworkers. To demonstrate the generality of AutoQA, we also apply it to the Overnight dataset. AutoQA achieves 69.8% answer accuracy, 16.4% higher than the state-of-the-art zero-shot models and only 5.2% lower than the same model trained with human data.

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A Spectral Method for Unsupervised Multi-Document Summarization
Kexiang Wang | Baobao Chang | Zhifang Sui

Multi-document summarization (MDS) aims at producing a good-quality summary for several related documents. In this paper, we propose a spectral-based hypothesis, which states that the goodness of summary candidate is closely linked to its so-called spectral impact. Here spectral impact considers the perturbation to the dominant eigenvalue of affinity matrix when dropping the summary candidate from the document cluster. The hypothesis is validated by three theoretical perspectives: semantic scaling, propagation dynamics and matrix perturbation. According to the hypothesis, we formulate the MDS task as the combinatorial optimization of spectral impact and propose an accelerated greedy solution based on a surrogate of spectral impact. The evaluation results on various datasets demonstrate: (1) The performance of the summary candidate is positively correlated with its spectral impact, which accords with our hypothesis; (2) Our spectral-based method has a competitive result as compared to state-of-the-art MDS systems.

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What Have We Achieved on Text Summarization?
Dandan Huang | Leyang Cui | Sen Yang | Guangsheng Bao | Kun Wang | Jun Xie | Yue Zhang

Deep learning has led to significant improvement in text summarization with various methods investigated and improved ROUGE scores reported over the years. However, gaps still exist between summaries produced by automatic summarizers and human professionals. Aiming to gain more understanding of summarization systems with respect to their strengths and limits on a fine-grained syntactic and semantic level, we consult the Multidimensional Quality Metric (MQM) and quantify 8 major sources of errors on 10 representative summarization models manually. Primarily, we find that 1) under similar settings, extractive summarizers are in general better than their abstractive counterparts thanks to strength in faithfulness and factual-consistency; 2) milestone techniques such as copy, coverage and hybrid extractive/abstractive methods do bring specific improvements but also demonstrate limitations; 3) pre-training techniques, and in particular sequence-to-sequence pre-training, are highly effective for improving text summarization, with BART giving the best results.

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Q-learning with Language Model for Edit-based Unsupervised Summarization
Ryosuke Kohita | Akifumi Wachi | Yang Zhao | Ryuki Tachibana

Unsupervised methods are promising for abstractive textsummarization in that the parallel corpora is not required. However, their performance is still far from being satisfied, therefore research on promising solutions is on-going. In this paper, we propose a new approach based on Q-learning with an edit-based summarization. The method combines two key modules to form an Editorial Agent and Language Model converter (EALM). The agent predicts edit actions (e.t., delete, keep, and replace), and then the LM converter deterministically generates a summary on the basis of the action signals. Q-learning is leveraged to train the agent to produce proper edit actions. Experimental results show that EALM delivered competitive performance compared with the previous encoder-decoder-based methods, even with truly zero paired data (i.e., no validation set). Defining the task as Q-learning enables us not only to develop a competitive method but also to make the latest techniques in reinforcement learning available for unsupervised summarization. We also conduct qualitative analysis, providing insights into future study on unsupervised summarizers.

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Friendly Topic Assistant for Transformer Based Abstractive Summarization
Zhengjue Wang | Zhibin Duan | Hao Zhang | Chaojie Wang | Long Tian | Bo Chen | Mingyuan Zhou

Abstractive document summarization is a comprehensive task including document understanding and summary generation, in which area Transformer-based models have achieved the state-of-the-art performance. Compared with Transformers, topic models are better at learning explicit document semantics, and hence could be integrated into Transformers to further boost their performance. To this end, we rearrange and explore the semantics learned by a topic model, and then propose a topic assistant (TA) including three modules. TA is compatible with various Transformer-based models and user-friendly since i) TA is a plug-and-play model that does not break any structure of the original Transformer network, making users easily fine-tune Transformer+TA based on a well pre-trained model; ii) TA only introduces a small number of extra parameters. Experimental results on three datasets demonstrate that TA is able to improve the performance of several Transformer-based models.

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Contrastive Distillation on Intermediate Representations for Language Model Compression
Siqi Sun | Zhe Gan | Yuwei Fang | Yu Cheng | Shuohang Wang | Jingjing Liu

Existing language model compression methods mostly use a simple L_2 loss to distill knowledge in the intermediate representations of a large BERT model to a smaller one. Although widely used, this objective by design assumes that all the dimensions of hidden representations are independent, failing to capture important structural knowledge in the intermediate layers of the teacher network. To achieve better distillation efficacy, we propose Contrastive Distillation on Intermediate Representations (CoDIR), a principled knowledge distillation framework where the student is trained to distill knowledge through intermediate layers of the teacher via a contrastive objective. By learning to distinguish positive sample from a large set of negative samples, CoDIR facilitates the student’s exploitation of rich information in teacher’s hidden layers. CoDIR can be readily applied to compress large-scale language models in both pre-training and finetuning stages, and achieves superb performance on the GLUE benchmark, outperforming state-of-the-art compression methods.

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TernaryBERT: Distillation-aware Ultra-low Bit BERT
Wei Zhang | Lu Hou | Yichun Yin | Lifeng Shang | Xiao Chen | Xin Jiang | Qun Liu

Transformer-based pre-training models like BERT have achieved remarkable performance in many natural language processing tasks. However, these models are both computation and memory expensive, hindering their deployment to resource-constrained devices. In this work, we propose TernaryBERT, which ternarizes the weights in a fine-tuned BERT model. Specifically, we use both approximation-based and loss-aware ternarization methods and empirically investigate the ternarization granularity of different parts of BERT. Moreover, to reduce the accuracy degradation caused by lower capacity of low bits, we leverage the knowledge distillation technique in the training process. Experiments on the GLUE benchmark and SQuAD show that our proposed TernaryBERT outperforms the other BERT quantization methods, and even achieves comparable performance as the full-precision model while being 14.9x smaller.

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Self-Supervised Meta-Learning for Few-Shot Natural Language Classification Tasks
Trapit Bansal | Rishikesh Jha | Tsendsuren Munkhdalai | Andrew McCallum

Self-supervised pre-training of transformer models has revolutionized NLP applications. Such pre-training with language modeling objectives provides a useful initial point for parameters that generalize well to new tasks with fine-tuning. However, fine-tuning is still data inefficient — when there are few labeled examples, accuracy can be low. Data efficiency can be improved by optimizing pre-training directly for future fine-tuning with few examples; this can be treated as a meta-learning problem. However, standard meta-learning techniques require many training tasks in order to generalize; unfortunately, finding a diverse set of such supervised tasks is usually difficult. This paper proposes a self-supervised approach to generate a large, rich, meta-learning task distribution from unlabeled text. This is achieved using a cloze-style objective, but creating separate multi-class classification tasks by gathering tokens-to-be blanked from among only a handful of vocabulary terms. This yields as many unique meta-training tasks as the number of subsets of vocabulary terms. We meta-train a transformer model on this distribution of tasks using a recent meta-learning framework. On 17 NLP tasks, we show that this meta-training leads to better few-shot generalization than language-model pre-training followed by finetuning. Furthermore, we show how the self-supervised tasks can be combined with supervised tasks for meta-learning, providing substantial accuracy gains over previous supervised meta-learning.

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Efficient Meta Lifelong-Learning with Limited Memory
Zirui Wang | Sanket Vaibhav Mehta | Barnabas Poczos | Jaime Carbonell

Current natural language processing models work well on a single task, yet they often fail to continuously learn new tasks without forgetting previous ones as they are re-trained throughout their lifetime, a challenge known as lifelong learning. State-of-the-art lifelong language learning methods store past examples in episodic memory and replay them at both training and inference time. However, as we show later in our experiments, there are three significant impediments: (1) needing unrealistically large memory module to achieve good performance, (2) suffering from negative transfer, (3) requiring multiple local adaptation steps for each test example that significantly slows down the inference speed. In this paper, we identify three common principles of lifelong learning methods and propose an efficient meta-lifelong framework that combines them in a synergistic fashion. To achieve sample efficiency, our method trains the model in a manner that it learns a better initialization for local adaptation. Extensive experiments on text classification and question answering benchmarks demonstrate the effectiveness of our framework by achieving state-of-the-art performance using merely 1% memory size and narrowing the gap with multi-task learning. We further show that our method alleviates both catastrophic forgetting and negative transfer at the same time.

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Don’t Use English Dev: On the Zero-Shot Cross-Lingual Evaluation of Contextual Embeddings
Phillip Keung | Yichao Lu | Julian Salazar | Vikas Bhardwaj

Multilingual contextual embeddings have demonstrated state-of-the-art performance in zero-shot cross-lingual transfer learning, where multilingual BERT is fine-tuned on one source language and evaluated on a different target language. However, published results for mBERT zero-shot accuracy vary as much as 17 points on the MLDoc classification task across four papers. We show that the standard practice of using English dev accuracy for model selection in the zero-shot setting makes it difficult to obtain reproducible results on the MLDoc and XNLI tasks. English dev accuracy is often uncorrelated (or even anti-correlated) with target language accuracy, and zero-shot performance varies greatly at different points in the same fine-tuning run and between different fine-tuning runs. These reproducibility issues are also present for other tasks with different pre-trained embeddings (e.g., MLQA with XLM-R). We recommend providing oracle scores alongside zero-shot results: still fine-tune using English data, but choose a checkpoint with the target dev set. Reporting this upper bound makes results more consistent by avoiding arbitrarily bad checkpoints.

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A Supervised Word Alignment Method based on Cross-Language Span Prediction using Multilingual BERT
Masaaki Nagata | Katsuki Chousa | Masaaki Nishino

We present a novel supervised word alignment method based on cross-language span prediction. We first formalize a word alignment problem as a collection of independent predictions from a token in the source sentence to a span in the target sentence. Since this step is equivalent to a SQuAD v2.0 style question answering task, we solve it using the multilingual BERT, which is fine-tuned on manually created gold word alignment data. It is nontrivial to obtain accurate alignment from a set of independently predicted spans. We greatly improved the word alignment accuracy by adding to the question the source token’s context and symmetrizing two directional predictions. In experiments using five word alignment datasets from among Chinese, Japanese, German, Romanian, French, and English, we show that our proposed method significantly outperformed previous supervised and unsupervised word alignment methods without any bitexts for pretraining. For example, we achieved 86.7 F1 score for the Chinese-English data, which is 13.3 points higher than the previous state-of-the-art supervised method.

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Accurate Word Alignment Induction from Neural Machine Translation
Yun Chen | Yang Liu | Guanhua Chen | Xin Jiang | Qun Liu

Despite its original goal to jointly learn to align and translate, prior researches suggest that Transformer captures poor word alignments through its attention mechanism. In this paper, we show that attention weights do capture accurate word alignments and propose two novel word alignment induction methods Shift-Att and Shift-AET. The main idea is to induce alignments at the step when the to-be-aligned target token is the decoder input rather than the decoder output as in previous work. Shift-Att is an interpretation method that induces alignments from the attention weights of Transformer and does not require parameter update or architecture change. Shift-AET extracts alignments from an additional alignment module which is tightly integrated into Transformer and trained in isolation with supervision from symmetrized Shift-Att alignments. Experiments on three publicly available datasets demonstrate that both methods perform better than their corresponding neural baselines and Shift-AET significantly outperforms GIZA++ by 1.4-4.8 AER points.

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ChrEn: Cherokee-English Machine Translation for Endangered Language Revitalization
Shiyue Zhang | Benjamin Frey | Mohit Bansal

Cherokee is a highly endangered Native American language spoken by the Cherokee people. The Cherokee culture is deeply embedded in its language. However, there are approximately only 2,000 fluent first language Cherokee speakers remaining in the world and the number is declining every year. To help save this endangered language, we introduce ChrEn, a Cherokee-English parallel dataset, to facilitate machine translation research between Cherokee and English. Compared to some popular machine translation language pairs, ChrEn is extremely low-resource, only containing 14k sentence pairs in total. We split our parallel data in ways that facilitate both in-domain and out-of-domain evaluation. We also collect 5k Cherokee monolingual data to enable semi-supervised learning. Besides these datasets, we propose several Cherokee-English and English-Cherokee machine translation systems. We compare SMT (phrase-based) versus NMT (RNN-based and Transformer-based) systems; supervised versus semi-supervised (via language model, back-translation, and BERT/Multilingual-BERT) methods; as well as transfer learning versus multilingual joint training with 4 other languages. Our best results are 15.8/12.7 BLEU for in-domain and 6.5/5.0 BLEU for out-of-domain Chr-En/EnChr translations, respectively; and we hope that our dataset and systems will encourage future work by the community for Cherokee language revitalization.

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Unsupervised Discovery of Implicit Gender Bias
Anjalie Field | Yulia Tsvetkov

Despite their prevalence in society, social biases are difficult to identify, primarily because human judgements in this domain can be unreliable. We take an unsupervised approach to identifying gender bias against women at a comment level and present a model that can surface text likely to contain bias. Our main challenge is forcing the model to focus on signs of implicit bias, rather than other artifacts in the data. Thus, our methodology involves reducing the influence of confounds through propensity matching and adversarial learning. Our analysis shows how biased comments directed towards female politicians contain mixed criticisms, while comments directed towards other female public figures focus on appearance and sexualization. Ultimately, our work offers a way to capture subtle biases in various domains without relying on subjective human judgements.

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Condolence and Empathy in Online Communities
Naitian Zhou | David Jurgens

Offering condolence is a natural reaction to hearing someone’s distress. Individuals frequently express distress in social media, where some communities can provide support. However, not all condolence is equal—trite responses offer little actual support despite their good intentions. Here, we develop computational tools to create a massive dataset of 11.4M expressions of distress and 2.8M corresponding offerings of condolence in order to examine the dynamics of condolence online. Our study reveals widespread disparity in what types of distress receive supportive condolence rather than just engagement. Building on studies from social psychology, we analyze the language of condolence and develop a new dataset for quantifying the empathy in a condolence using appraisal theory. Finally, we demonstrate that the features of condolence individuals find most helpful online differ substantially in their features from those seen in interpersonal settings.

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An Embedding Model for Estimating Legislative Preferences from the Frequency and Sentiment of Tweets
Gregory Spell | Brian Guay | Sunshine Hillygus | Lawrence Carin

Legislator preferences are typically represented as measures of general ideology estimated from roll call votes on legislation, potentially masking important nuances in legislators’ political attitudes. In this paper we introduce a method of measuring more specific legislator attitudes using an alternative expression of preferences: tweeting. Specifically, we present an embedding-based model for predicting the frequency and sentiment of legislator tweets. To illustrate our method, we model legislators’ attitudes towards President Donald Trump as vector embeddings that interact with embeddings for Trump himself constructed using a neural network from the text of his daily tweets. We demonstrate the predictive performance of our model on tweets authored by members of the U.S. House and Senate related to the president from November 2016 to February 2018. We further assess the quality of our learned representations for legislators by comparing to traditional measures of legislator preferences.

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Measuring Information Propagation in Literary Social Networks
Matthew Sims | David Bamman

We present the task of modeling information propagation in literature, in which we seek to identify pieces of information passing from character A to character B to character C, only given a description of their activity in text. We describe a new pipeline for measuring information propagation in this domain and publish a new dataset for speaker attribution, enabling the evaluation of an important component of this pipeline on a wider range of literary texts than previously studied. Using this pipeline, we analyze the dynamics of information propagation in over 5,000 works of fiction, finding that information flows through characters that fill structural holes connecting different communities, and that characters who are women are depicted as filling this role much more frequently than characters who are men.

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Social Chemistry 101: Learning to Reason about Social and Moral Norms
Maxwell Forbes | Jena D. Hwang | Vered Shwartz | Maarten Sap | Yejin Choi

Social norms—the unspoken commonsense rules about acceptable social behavior—are crucial in understanding the underlying causes and intents of people’s actions in narratives. For example, underlying an action such as “wanting to call cops on my neighbor” are social norms that inform our conduct, such as “It is expected that you report crimes.” We present SOCIAL CHEMISTRY, a new conceptual formalism to study people’s everyday social norms and moral judgments over a rich spectrum of real life situations described in natural language. We introduce SOCIAL-CHEM-101, a large-scale corpus that catalogs 292k rules-of-thumb such as “It is rude to run a blender at 5am” as the basic conceptual units. Each rule-of-thumb is further broken down with 12 different dimensions of people’s judgments, including social judgments of good and bad, moral foundations, expected cultural pressure, and assumed legality, which together amount to over 4.5 million annotations of categorical labels and free-text descriptions. Comprehensive empirical results based on state-of-the-art neural models demonstrate that computational modeling of social norms is a promising research direction. Our model framework, Neural Norm Transformer, learns and generalizes SOCIAL-CHEM-101 to successfully reason about previously unseen situations, generating relevant (and potentially novel) attribute-aware social rules-of-thumb.

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Event Extraction by Answering (Almost) Natural Questions
Xinya Du | Claire Cardie

The problem of event extraction requires detecting the event trigger and extracting its corresponding arguments. Existing work in event argument extraction typically relies heavily on entity recognition as a preprocessing/concurrent step, causing the well-known problem of error propagation. To avoid this issue, we introduce a new paradigm for event extraction by formulating it as a question answering (QA) task that extracts the event arguments in an end-to-end manner. Empirical results demonstrate that our framework outperforms prior methods substantially; in addition, it is capable of extracting event arguments for roles not seen at training time (i.e., in a zero-shot learning setting).

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Connecting the Dots: Event Graph Schema Induction with Path Language Modeling
Manling Li | Qi Zeng | Ying Lin | Kyunghyun Cho | Heng Ji | Jonathan May | Nathanael Chambers | Clare Voss

Event schemas can guide our understanding and ability to make predictions with respect to what might happen next. We propose a new Event Graph Schema, where two event types are connected through multiple paths involving entities that fill important roles in a coherent story. We then introduce Path Language Model, an auto-regressive language model trained on event-event paths, and select salient and coherent paths to probabilistically construct these graph schemas. We design two evaluation metrics, instance coverage and instance coherence, to evaluate the quality of graph schema induction, by checking when coherent event instances are covered by the schema graph. Intrinsic evaluations show that our approach is highly effective at inducing salient and coherent schemas. Extrinsic evaluations show the induced schema repository provides significant improvement to downstream end-to-end Information Extraction over a state-of-the-art joint neural extraction model, when used as additional global features to unfold instance graphs.

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Joint Constrained Learning for Event-Event Relation Extraction
Haoyu Wang | Muhao Chen | Hongming Zhang | Dan Roth

Understanding natural language involves recognizing how multiple event mentions structurally and temporally interact with each other. In this process, one can induce event complexes that organize multi-granular events with temporal order and membership relations interweaving among them. Due to the lack of jointly labeled data for these relational phenomena and the restriction on the structures they articulate, we propose a joint constrained learning framework for modeling event-event relations. Specifically, the framework enforces logical constraints within and across multiple temporal and subevent relations of events by converting these constraints into differentiable learning objectives. We show that our joint constrained learning approach effectively compensates for the lack of jointly labeled data, and outperforms SOTA methods on benchmarks for both temporal relation extraction and event hierarchy construction, replacing a commonly used but more expensive global inference process. We also present a promising case study to show the effectiveness of our approach to inducing event complexes on an external corpus.

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Incremental Event Detection via Knowledge Consolidation Networks
Pengfei Cao | Yubo Chen | Jun Zhao | Taifeng Wang

Conventional approaches to event detection usually require a fixed set of pre-defined event types. Such a requirement is often challenged in real-world applications, as new events continually occur. Due to huge computation cost and storage budge, it is infeasible to store all previous data and re-train the model with all previous data and new data, every time new events arrive. We formulate such challenging scenarios as incremental event detection, which requires a model to learn new classes incrementally without performance degradation on previous classes. However, existing incremental learning methods cannot handle semantic ambiguity and training data imbalance problems between old and new classes in the task of incremental event detection. In this paper, we propose a Knowledge Consolidation Network (KCN) to address the above issues. Specifically, we devise two components, prototype enhanced retrospection and hierarchical distillation, to mitigate the adverse effects of semantic ambiguity and class imbalance, respectively. Experimental results demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed method, outperforming the state-of-the-art model by 19% and 13.4% of whole F1 score on ACE benchmark and TAC KBP benchmark, respectively.

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Semi-supervised New Event Type Induction and Event Detection
Lifu Huang | Heng Ji

Most previous event extraction studies assume a set of target event types and corresponding event annotations are given, which could be very expensive. In this paper, we work on a new task of semi-supervised event type induction, aiming to automatically discover a set of unseen types from a given corpus by leveraging annotations available for a few seen types. We design a Semi-Supervised Vector Quantized Variational Autoencoder framework to automatically learn a discrete latent type representation for each seen and unseen type and optimize them using seen type event annotations. A variational autoencoder is further introduced to enforce the reconstruction of each event mention conditioned on its latent type distribution. Experiments show that our approach can not only achieve state-of-the-art performance on supervised event detection but also discover high-quality new event types.

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Language Generation with Multi-Hop Reasoning on Commonsense Knowledge Graph
Haozhe Ji | Pei Ke | Shaohan Huang | Furu Wei | Xiaoyan Zhu | Minlie Huang

Despite the success of generative pre-trained language models on a series of text generation tasks, they still suffer in cases where reasoning over underlying commonsense knowledge is required during generation. Existing approaches that integrate commonsense knowledge into generative pre-trained language models simply transfer relational knowledge by post-training on individual knowledge triples while ignoring rich connections within the knowledge graph. We argue that exploiting both the structural and semantic information of the knowledge graph facilitates commonsense-aware text generation. In this paper, we propose Generation with Multi-Hop Reasoning Flow (GRF) that enables pre-trained models with dynamic multi-hop reasoning on multi-relational paths extracted from the external commonsense knowledge graph. We empirically show that our model outperforms existing baselines on three text generation tasks that require reasoning over commonsense knowledge. We also demonstrate the effectiveness of the dynamic multi-hop reasoning module with reasoning paths inferred by the model that provide rationale to the generation.

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Reformulating Unsupervised Style Transfer as Paraphrase Generation
Kalpesh Krishna | John Wieting | Mohit Iyyer

Modern NLP defines the task of style transfer as modifying the style of a given sentence without appreciably changing its semantics, which implies that the outputs of style transfer systems should be paraphrases of their inputs. However, many existing systems purportedly designed for style transfer inherently warp the input’s meaning through attribute transfer, which changes semantic properties such as sentiment. In this paper, we reformulate unsupervised style transfer as a paraphrase generation problem, and present a simple methodology based on fine-tuning pretrained language models on automatically generated paraphrase data. Despite its simplicity, our method significantly outperforms state-of-the-art style transfer systems on both human and automatic evaluations. We also survey 23 style transfer papers and discover that existing automatic metrics can be easily gamed and propose fixed variants. Finally, we pivot to a more real-world style transfer setting by collecting a large dataset of 15M sentences in 11 diverse styles, which we use for an in-depth analysis of our system.

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De-Biased Court’s View Generation with Causality
Yiquan Wu | Kun Kuang | Yating Zhang | Xiaozhong Liu | Changlong Sun | Jun Xiao | Yueting Zhuang | Luo Si | Fei Wu

Court’s view generation is a novel but essential task for legal AI, aiming at improving the interpretability of judgment prediction results and enabling automatic legal document generation. While prior text-to-text natural language generation (NLG) approaches can be used to address this problem, neglecting the confounding bias from the data generation mechanism can limit the model performance, and the bias may pollute the learning outcomes. In this paper, we propose a novel Attentional and Counterfactual based Natural Language Generation (AC-NLG) method, consisting of an attentional encoder and a pair of innovative counterfactual decoders. The attentional encoder leverages the plaintiff’s claim and fact description as input to learn a claim-aware encoder from which the claim-related information in fact description can be emphasized. The counterfactual decoders are employed to eliminate the confounding bias in data and generate judgment-discriminative court’s views (both supportive and non-supportive views) by incorporating with a synergistic judgment predictive model. Comprehensive experiments show the effectiveness of our method under both quantitative and qualitative evaluation metrics.

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PAIR: Planning and Iterative Refinement in Pre-trained Transformers for Long Text Generation
Xinyu Hua | Lu Wang

Pre-trained Transformers have enabled impressive breakthroughs in generating long and fluent text, yet their outputs are often “rambling” without coherently arranged content. In this work, we present a novel content-controlled text generation framework, PAIR, with planning and iterative refinement, which is built upon a large model, BART. We first adapt the BERT model to automatically construct the content plans, consisting of keyphrase assignments and their corresponding sentence-level positions. The BART model is employed for generation without modifying its structure. We then propose a refinement algorithm to gradually enhance the generation quality within the sequence-to-sequence framework. Evaluation with automatic metrics shows that adding planning consistently improves the generation quality on three distinct domains, with an average of 20 BLEU points and 12 METEOR points improvements. In addition, human judges rate our system outputs to be more relevant and coherent than comparisons without planning.

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Back to the Future: Unsupervised Backprop-based Decoding for Counterfactual and Abductive Commonsense Reasoning
Lianhui Qin | Vered Shwartz | Peter West | Chandra Bhagavatula | Jena D. Hwang | Ronan Le Bras | Antoine Bosselut | Yejin Choi

Abductive and counterfactual reasoning, core abilities of everyday human cognition, require reasoning about what might have happened at time t, while conditioning on multiple contexts from the relative past and future. However, simultaneous incorporation of past and future contexts using generative language models (LMs) can be challenging, as they are trained either to condition only on the past context or to perform narrowly scoped text-infilling. In this paper, we propose DeLorean, a new unsupervised decoding algorithm that can flexibly incorporate both the past and future contexts using only off-the-shelf, left-to-right language models and no supervision. The key intuition of our algorithm is incorporating the future through back-propagation, during which, we only update the internal representation of the output while fixing the model parameters. By alternating between forward and backward propagation, DeLorean can decode the output representation that reflects both the left and right contexts. We demonstrate that our approach is general and applicable to two nonmonotonic reasoning tasks: abductive text generation and counterfactual story revision, where DeLorean outperforms a range of unsupervised and some supervised methods, based on automatic and human evaluation.

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Where Are You? Localization from Embodied Dialog
Meera Hahn | Jacob Krantz | Dhruv Batra | Devi Parikh | James Rehg | Stefan Lee | Peter Anderson

We present WHERE ARE YOU? (WAY), a dataset of ~6k dialogs in which two humans – an Observer and a Locator – complete a cooperative localization task. The Observer is spawned at random in a 3D environment and can navigate from first-person views while answering questions from the Locator. The Locator must localize the Observer in a detailed top-down map by asking questions and giving instructions. Based on this dataset, we define three challenging tasks: Localization from Embodied Dialog or LED (localizing the Observer from dialog history), Embodied Visual Dialog (modeling the Observer), and Cooperative Localization (modeling both agents). In this paper, we focus on the LED task – providing a strong baseline model with detailed ablations characterizing both dataset biases and the importance of various modeling choices. Our best model achieves 32.7% success at identifying the Observer’s location within 3m in unseen buildings, vs. 70.4% for human Locators.

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Learning to Represent Image and Text with Denotation Graph
Bowen Zhang | Hexiang Hu | Vihan Jain | Eugene Ie | Fei Sha

Learning to fuse vision and language information and representing them is an important research problem with many applications. Recent progresses have leveraged the ideas of pre-training (from language modeling) and attention layers in Transformers to learn representation from datasets containing images aligned with linguistic expressions that describe the images. In this paper, we propose learning representations from a set of implied, visually grounded expressions between image and text, automatically mined from those datasets. In particular, we use denotation graphs to represent how specific concepts (such as sentences describing images) can be linked to abstract and generic concepts (such as short phrases) that are also visually grounded. This type of generic-to-specific relations can be discovered using linguistic analysis tools. We propose methods to incorporate such relations into learning representation. We show that state-of-the-art multimodal learning models can be further improved by leveraging automatically harvested structural relations. The representations lead to stronger empirical results on downstream tasks of cross-modal image retrieval, referring expression, and compositional attribute-object recognition. Both our codes and the extracted denotation graphs on the Flickr30K and the COCO datasets are publically available on

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Video2Commonsense: Generating Commonsense Descriptions to Enrich Video Captioning
Zhiyuan Fang | Tejas Gokhale | Pratyay Banerjee | Chitta Baral | Yezhou Yang

Captioning is a crucial and challenging task for video understanding. In videos that involve active agents such as humans, the agent’s actions can bring about myriad changes in the scene. Observable changes such as movements, manipulations, and transformations of the objects in the scene, are reflected in conventional video captioning. Unlike images, actions in videos are also inherently linked to social aspects such as intentions (why the action is taking place), effects (what changes due to the action), and attributes that describe the agent. Thus for video understanding, such as when captioning videos or when answering questions about videos, one must have an understanding of these commonsense aspects. We present the first work on generating commonsense captions directly from videos, to describe latent aspects such as intentions, effects, and attributes. We present a new dataset “Video-to-Commonsense (V2C)” that contains ~9k videos of human agents performing various actions, annotated with 3 types of commonsense descriptions. Additionally we explore the use of open-ended video-based commonsense question answering (V2C-QA) as a way to enrich our captions. Both the generation task and the QA task can be used to enrich video captions.

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Does my multimodal model learn cross-modal interactions? It’s harder to tell than you might think!
Jack Hessel | Lillian Lee

Modeling expressive cross-modal interactions seems crucial in multimodal tasks, such as visual question answering. However, sometimes high-performing black-box algorithms turn out to be mostly exploiting unimodal signals in the data. We propose a new diagnostic tool, empirical multimodally-additive function projection (EMAP), for isolating whether or not cross-modal interactions improve performance for a given model on a given task. This function projection modifies model predictions so that cross-modal interactions are eliminated, isolating the additive, unimodal structure. For seven image+text classification tasks (on each of which we set new state-of-the-art benchmarks), we find that, in many cases, removing cross-modal interactions results in little to no performance degradation. Surprisingly, this holds even when expressive models, with capacity to consider interactions, otherwise outperform less expressive models; thus, performance improvements, even when present, often cannot be attributed to consideration of cross-modal feature interactions. We hence recommend that researchers in multimodal machine learning report the performance not only of unimodal baselines, but also the EMAP of their best-performing model.

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MUTANT: A Training Paradigm for Out-of-Distribution Generalization in Visual Question Answering
Tejas Gokhale | Pratyay Banerjee | Chitta Baral | Yezhou Yang

While progress has been made on the visual question answering leaderboards, models often utilize spurious correlations and priors in datasets under the i.i.d. setting. As such, evaluation on out-of-distribution (OOD) test samples has emerged as a proxy for generalization. In this paper, we present MUTANT, a training paradigm that exposes the model to perceptually similar, yet semantically distinct mutations of the input, to improve OOD generalization, such as the VQA-CP challenge. Under this paradigm, models utilize a consistency-constrained training objective to understand the effect of semantic changes in input (question-image pair) on the output (answer). Unlike existing methods on VQA-CP, MUTANT does not rely on the knowledge about the nature of train and test answer distributions. MUTANT establishes a new state-of-the-art accuracy on VQA-CP with a 10.57% improvement. Our work opens up avenues for the use of semantic input mutations for OOD generalization in question answering.

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Mitigating Gender Bias for Neural Dialogue Generation with Adversarial Learning
Haochen Liu | Wentao Wang | Yiqi Wang | Hui Liu | Zitao Liu | Jiliang Tang

Dialogue systems play an increasingly important role in various aspects of our daily life. It is evident from recent research that dialogue systems trained on human conversation data are biased. In particular, they can produce responses that reflect people’s gender prejudice. Many debiasing methods have been developed for various NLP tasks, such as word embedding. However, they are not directly applicable to dialogue systems because they are likely to force dialogue models to generate similar responses for different genders. This greatly degrades the diversity of the generated responses and immensely hurts the performance of the dialogue models. In this paper, we propose a novel adversarial learning framework Debiased-Chat to train dialogue models free from gender bias while keeping their performance. Extensive experiments on two real-world conversation datasets show that our framework significantly reduces gender bias in dialogue models while maintaining the response quality.

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Will I Sound Like Me? Improving Persona Consistency in Dialogues through Pragmatic Self-Consciousness
Hyunwoo Kim | Byeongchang Kim | Gunhee Kim

We explore the task of improving persona consistency of dialogue agents. Recent models tackling consistency often train with additional Natural Language Inference (NLI) labels or attach trained extra modules to the generative agent for maintaining consistency. However, such additional labels and training can be demanding. Also, we find even the best-performing persona-based agents are insensitive to contradictory words. Inspired by social cognition and pragmatics, we endow existing dialogue agents with public self-consciousness on the fly through an imaginary listener. Our approach, based on the Rational Speech Acts framework (Frank and Goodman, 2012), can enforce dialogue agents to refrain from uttering contradiction. We further extend the framework by learning the distractor selection, which has been usually done manually or randomly. Results on Dialogue NLI (Welleck et al., 2019) and PersonaChat (Zhang et al., 2018) dataset show that our approach reduces contradiction and improves consistency of existing dialogue models. Moreover, we show that it can be generalized to improve context-consistency beyond persona in dialogues.

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TOD-BERT: Pre-trained Natural Language Understanding for Task-Oriented Dialogue
Chien-Sheng Wu | Steven C.H. Hoi | Richard Socher | Caiming Xiong

The underlying difference of linguistic patterns between general text and task-oriented dialogue makes existing pre-trained language models less useful in practice. In this work, we unify nine human-human and multi-turn task-oriented dialogue datasets for language modeling. To better model dialogue behavior during pre-training, we incorporate user and system tokens into the masked language modeling. We propose a contrastive objective function to simulate the response selection task. Our pre-trained task-oriented dialogue BERT (TOD-BERT) outperforms strong baselines like BERT on four downstream task-oriented dialogue applications, including intention recognition, dialogue state tracking, dialogue act prediction, and response selection. We also show that TOD-BERT has a stronger few-shot ability that can mitigate the data scarcity problem for task-oriented dialogue.

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RiSAWOZ: A Large-Scale Multi-Domain Wizard-of-Oz Dataset with Rich Semantic Annotations for Task-Oriented Dialogue Modeling
Jun Quan | Shian Zhang | Qian Cao | Zizhong Li | Deyi Xiong

In order to alleviate the shortage of multi-domain data and to capture discourse phenomena for task-oriented dialogue modeling, we propose RiSAWOZ, a large-scale multi-domain Chinese Wizard-of-Oz dataset with Rich Semantic Annotations. RiSAWOZ contains 11.2K human-to-human (H2H) multi-turn semantically annotated dialogues, with more than 150K utterances spanning over 12 domains, which is larger than all previous annotated H2H conversational datasets. Both single- and multi-domain dialogues are constructed, accounting for 65% and 35%, respectively. Each dialogue is labeled with comprehensive dialogue annotations, including dialogue goal in the form of natural language description, domain, dialogue states and acts at both the user and system side. In addition to traditional dialogue annotations, we especially provide linguistic annotations on discourse phenomena, e.g., ellipsis and coreference, in dialogues, which are useful for dialogue coreference and ellipsis resolution tasks. Apart from the fully annotated dataset, we also present a detailed description of the data collection procedure, statistics and analysis of the dataset. A series of benchmark models and results are reported, including natural language understanding (intent detection & slot filling), dialogue state tracking and dialogue context-to-text generation, as well as coreference and ellipsis resolution, which facilitate the baseline comparison for future research on this corpus.

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Filtering Noisy Dialogue Corpora by Connectivity and Content Relatedness
Reina Akama | Sho Yokoi | Jun Suzuki | Kentaro Inui

Large-scale dialogue datasets have recently become available for training neural dialogue agents. However, these datasets have been reported to contain a non-negligible number of unacceptable utterance pairs. In this paper, we propose a method for scoring the quality of utterance pairs in terms of their connectivity and relatedness. The proposed scoring method is designed based on findings widely shared in the dialogue and linguistics research communities. We demonstrate that it has a relatively good correlation with the human judgment of dialogue quality. Furthermore, the method is applied to filter out potentially unacceptable utterance pairs from a large-scale noisy dialogue corpus to ensure its quality. We experimentally confirm that training data filtered by the proposed method improves the quality of neural dialogue agents in response generation.

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Latent Geographical Factors for Analyzing the Evolution of Dialects in Contact
Yugo Murawaki

Analyzing the evolution of dialects remains a challenging problem because contact phenomena hinder the application of the standard tree model. Previous statistical approaches to this problem resort to admixture analysis, where each dialect is seen as a mixture of latent ancestral populations. However, such ancestral populations are hardly interpretable in the context of the tree model. In this paper, we propose a probabilistic generative model that represents latent factors as geographical distributions. We argue that the proposed model has higher affinity with the tree model because a tree can alternatively be represented as a set of geographical distributions. Experiments involving synthetic and real data suggest that the proposed method is both quantitatively and qualitatively superior to the admixture model.

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Predicting Reference: What do Language Models Learn about Discourse Models?
Shiva Upadhye | Leon Bergen | Andrew Kehler

Whereas there is a growing literature that probes neural language models to assess the degree to which they have latently acquired grammatical knowledge, little if any research has investigated their acquisition of discourse modeling ability. We address this question by drawing on a rich psycholinguistic literature that has established how different contexts affect referential biases concerning who is likely to be referred to next. The results reveal that, for the most part, the prediction behavior of neural language models does not resemble that of human language users.

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Word class flexibility: A deep contextualized approach
Bai Li | Guillaume Thomas | Yang Xu | Frank Rudzicz

Word class flexibility refers to the phenomenon whereby a single word form is used across different grammatical categories. Extensive work in linguistic typology has sought to characterize word class flexibility across languages, but quantifying this phenomenon accurately and at scale has been fraught with difficulties. We propose a principled methodology to explore regularity in word class flexibility. Our method builds on recent work in contextualized word embeddings to quantify semantic shift between word classes (e.g., noun-to-verb, verb-to-noun), and we apply this method to 37 languages. We find that contextualized embeddings not only capture human judgment of class variation within words in English, but also uncover shared tendencies in class flexibility across languages. Specifically, we find greater semantic variation when flexible lemmas are used in their dominant word class, supporting the view that word class flexibility is a directional process. Our work highlights the utility of deep contextualized models in linguistic typology.

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Shallow-to-Deep Training for Neural Machine Translation
Bei Li | Ziyang Wang | Hui Liu | Yufan Jiang | Quan Du | Tong Xiao | Huizhen Wang | Jingbo Zhu

Deep encoders have been proven to be effective in improving neural machine translation (NMT) systems, but training an extremely deep encoder is time consuming. Moreover, why deep models help NMT is an open question. In this paper, we investigate the behavior of a well-tuned deep Transformer system. We find that stacking layers is helpful in improving the representation ability of NMT models and adjacent layers perform similarly. This inspires us to develop a shallow-to-deep training method that learns deep models by stacking shallow models. In this way, we successfully train a Transformer system with a 54-layer encoder. Experimental results on WMT’16 English-German and WMT’14 English-French translation tasks show that it is 1:4 faster than training from scratch, and achieves a BLEU score of 30:33 and 43:29 on two tasks. The code is publicly available at

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Iterative Refinement in the Continuous Space for Non-Autoregressive Neural Machine Translation
Jason Lee | Raphael Shu | Kyunghyun Cho

We propose an efficient inference procedure for non-autoregressive machine translation that iteratively refines translation purely in the continuous space. Given a continuous latent variable model for machine translation (Shu et al., 2020), we train an inference network to approximate the gradient of the marginal log probability of the target sentence, using the latent variable instead. This allows us to use gradient-based optimization to find the target sentence at inference time that approximately maximizes its marginal probability. As each refinement step only involves computation in the latent space of low dimensionality (we use 8 in our experiments), we avoid computational overhead incurred by existing non-autoregressive inference procedures that often refine in token space. We compare our approach to a recently proposed EM-like inference procedure (Shu et al., 2020) that optimizes in a hybrid space, consisting of both discrete and continuous variables. We evaluate our approach on WMT’14 En→De, WMT’16 Ro→En and IWSLT’16 De→En, and observe two advantages over the EM-like inference: (1) it is computationally efficient, i.e. each refinement step is twice as fast, and (2) it is more effective, resulting in higher marginal probabilities and BLEU scores with the same number of refinement steps. On WMT’14 En→De, for instance, our approach is able to decode 6.2 times faster than the autoregressive model with minimal degradation to translation quality (0.9 BLEU).

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Why Skip If You Can Combine: A Simple Knowledge Distillation Technique for Intermediate Layers
Yimeng Wu | Peyman Passban | Mehdi Rezagholizadeh | Qun Liu

With the growth of computing power neural machine translation (NMT) models also grow accordingly and become better. However, they also become harder to deploy on edge devices due to memory constraints. To cope with this problem, a common practice is to distill knowledge from a large and accurately-trained teacher network (T) into a compact student network (S). Although knowledge distillation (KD) is useful in most cases, our study shows that existing KD techniques might not be suitable enough for deep NMT engines, so we propose a novel alternative. In our model, besides matching T and S predictions we have a combinatorial mechanism to inject layer-level supervision from T to S. In this paper, we target low-resource settings and evaluate our translation engines for Portuguese→English, Turkish→English, and English→German directions. Students trained using our technique have 50% fewer parameters and can still deliver comparable results to those of 12-layer teachers.

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Multi-task Learning for Multilingual Neural Machine Translation
Yiren Wang | ChengXiang Zhai | Hany Hassan

While monolingual data has been shown to be useful in improving bilingual neural machine translation (NMT), effectively and efficiently leveraging monolingual data for Multilingual NMT (MNMT) systems is a less explored area. In this work, we propose a multi-task learning (MTL) framework that jointly trains the model with the translation task on bitext data and two denoising tasks on the monolingual data. We conduct extensive empirical studies on MNMT systems with 10 language pairs from WMT datasets. We show that the proposed approach can effectively improve the translation quality for both high-resource and low-resource languages with large margin, achieving significantly better results than the individual bilingual models. We also demonstrate the efficacy of the proposed approach in the zero-shot setup for language pairs without bitext training data. Furthermore, we show the effectiveness of MTL over pre-training approaches for both NMT and cross-lingual transfer learning NLU tasks; the proposed approach outperforms massive scale models trained on single task.

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Token-level Adaptive Training for Neural Machine Translation
Shuhao Gu | Jinchao Zhang | Fandong Meng | Yang Feng | Wanying Xie | Jie Zhou | Dong Yu

There exists a token imbalance phenomenon in natural language as different tokens appear with different frequencies, which leads to different learning difficulties for tokens in Neural Machine Translation (NMT). The vanilla NMT model usually adopts trivial equal-weighted objectives for target tokens with different frequencies and tends to generate more high-frequency tokens and less low-frequency tokens compared with the golden token distribution. However, low-frequency tokens may carry critical semantic information that will affect the translation quality once they are neglected. In this paper, we explored target token-level adaptive objectives based on token frequencies to assign appropriate weights for each target token during training. We aimed that those meaningful but relatively low-frequency words could be assigned with larger weights in objectives to encourage the model to pay more attention to these tokens. Our method yields consistent improvements in translation quality on ZH-EN, EN-RO, and EN-DE translation tasks, especially on sentences that contain more low-frequency tokens where we can get 1.68, 1.02, and 0.52 BLEU increases compared with baseline, respectively. Further analyses show that our method can also improve the lexical diversity of translation.

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Multi-Unit Transformers for Neural Machine Translation
Jianhao Yan | Fandong Meng | Jie Zhou

Transformer models achieve remarkable success in Neural Machine Translation. Many efforts have been devoted to deepening the Transformer by stacking several units (i.e., a combination of Multihead Attentions and FFN) in a cascade, while the investigation over multiple parallel units draws little attention. In this paper, we propose the Multi-Unit Transformer (MUTE) , which aim to promote the expressiveness of the Transformer by introducing diverse and complementary units. Specifically, we use several parallel units and show that modeling with multiple units improves model performance and introduces diversity. Further, to better leverage the advantage of the multi-unit setting, we design biased module and sequential dependency that guide and encourage complementariness among different units. Experimental results on three machine translation tasks, the NIST Chinese-to-English, WMT’14 English-to-German and WMT’18 Chinese-to-English, show that the MUTE models significantly outperform the Transformer-Base, by up to +1.52, +1.90 and +1.10 BLEU points, with only a mild drop in inference speed (about 3.1%). In addition, our methods also surpass the Transformer-Big model, with only 54% of its parameters. These results demonstrate the effectiveness of the MUTE, as well as its efficiency in both the inference process and parameter usage.

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On the Sparsity of Neural Machine Translation Models
Yong Wang | Longyue Wang | Victor Li | Zhaopeng Tu

Modern neural machine translation (NMT) models employ a large number of parameters, which leads to serious over-parameterization and typically causes the underutilization of computational resources. In response to this problem, we empirically investigate whether the redundant parameters can be reused to achieve better performance. Experiments and analyses are systematically conducted on different datasets and NMT architectures. We show that: 1) the pruned parameters can be rejuvenated to improve the baseline model by up to +0.8 BLEU points; 2) the rejuvenated parameters are reallocated to enhance the ability of modeling low-level lexical information.

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Incorporating a Local Translation Mechanism into Non-autoregressive Translation
Xiang Kong | Zhisong Zhang | Eduard Hovy

In this work, we introduce a novel local autoregressive translation (LAT) mechanism into non-autoregressive translation (NAT) models so as to capture local dependencies among target outputs. Specifically, for each target decoding position, instead of only one token, we predict a short sequence of tokens in an autoregressive way. We further design an efficient merging algorithm to align and merge the output pieces into one final output sequence. We integrate LAT into the conditional masked language model (CMLM) (Ghazvininejad et al.,2019) and similarly adopt iterative decoding. Empirical results on five translation tasks show that compared with CMLM, our method achieves comparable or better performance with fewer decoding iterations, bringing a 2.5x speedup. Further analysis indicates that our method reduces repeated translations and performs better at longer sentences. Our code will be released to the public.

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Self-Paced Learning for Neural Machine Translation
Yu Wan | Baosong Yang | Derek F. Wong | Yikai Zhou | Lidia S. Chao | Haibo Zhang | Boxing Chen

Recent studies have proven that the training of neural machine translation (NMT) can be facilitated by mimicking the learning process of humans. Nevertheless, achievements of such kind of curriculum learning rely on the quality of artificial schedule drawn up with the handcrafted features, e.g. sentence length or word rarity. We ameliorate this procedure with a more flexible manner by proposing self-paced learning, where NMT model is allowed to 1) automatically quantify the learning confidence over training examples; and 2) flexibly govern its learning via regulating the loss in each iteration step. Experimental results over multiple translation tasks demonstrate that the proposed model yields better performance than strong baselines and those models trained with human-designed curricula on both translation quality and convergence speed.

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Long-Short Term Masking Transformer: A Simple but Effective Baseline for Document-level Neural Machine Translation
Pei Zhang | Boxing Chen | Niyu Ge | Kai Fan

Many document-level neural machine translation (NMT) systems have explored the utility of context-aware architecture, usually requiring an increasing number of parameters and computational complexity. However, few attention is paid to the baseline model. In this paper, we research extensively the pros and cons of the standard transformer in document-level translation, and find that the auto-regressive property can simultaneously bring both the advantage of the consistency and the disadvantage of error accumulation. Therefore, we propose a surprisingly simple long-short term masking self-attention on top of the standard transformer to both effectively capture the long-range dependence and reduce the propagation of errors. We examine our approach on the two publicly available document-level datasets. We can achieve a strong result in BLEU and capture discourse phenomena.

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Generating Diverse Translation from Model Distribution with Dropout
Xuanfu Wu | Yang Feng | Chenze Shao

Despite the improvement of translation quality, neural machine translation (NMT) often suffers from the lack of diversity in its generation. In this paper, we propose to generate diverse translations by deriving a large number of possible models with Bayesian modelling and sampling models from them for inference. The possible models are obtained by applying concrete dropout to the NMT model and each of them has specific confidence for its prediction, which corresponds to a posterior model distribution under specific training data in the principle of Bayesian modeling. With variational inference, the posterior model distribution can be approximated with a variational distribution, from which the final models for inference are sampled. We conducted experiments on Chinese-English and English-German translation tasks and the results shows that our method makes a better trade-off between diversity and accuracy.

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Non-Autoregressive Machine Translation with Latent Alignments
Chitwan Saharia | William Chan | Saurabh Saxena | Mohammad Norouzi

This paper presents two strong methods, CTC and Imputer, for non-autoregressive machine translation that model latent alignments with dynamic programming. We revisit CTC for machine translation and demonstrate that a simple CTC model can achieve state-of-the-art for single-step non-autoregressive machine translation, contrary to what prior work indicates. In addition, we adapt the Imputer model for non-autoregressive machine translation and demonstrate that Imputer with just 4 generation steps can match the performance of an autoregressive Transformer baseline. Our latent alignment models are simpler than many existing non-autoregressive translation baselines; for example, we do not require target length prediction or re-scoring with an autoregressive model. On the competitive WMT’14 EnDe task, our CTC model achieves 25.7 BLEU with a single generation step, while Imputer achieves 27.5 BLEU with 2 generation steps, and 28.0 BLEU with 4 generation steps. This compares favourably to the autoregressive Transformer baseline at 27.8 BLEU.

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Look at the First Sentence: Position Bias in Question Answering
Miyoung Ko | Jinhyuk Lee | Hyunjae Kim | Gangwoo Kim | Jaewoo Kang

Many extractive question answering models are trained to predict start and end positions of answers. The choice of predicting answers as positions is mainly due to its simplicity and effectiveness. In this study, we hypothesize that when the distribution of the answer positions is highly skewed in the training set (e.g., answers lie only in the k-th sentence of each passage), QA models predicting answers as positions can learn spurious positional cues and fail to give answers in different positions. We first illustrate this position bias in popular extractive QA models such as BiDAF and BERT and thoroughly examine how position bias propagates through each layer of BERT. To safely deliver position information without position bias, we train models with various de-biasing methods including entropy regularization and bias ensembling. Among them, we found that using the prior distribution of answer positions as a bias model is very effective at reducing position bias, recovering the performance of BERT from 37.48% to 81.64% when trained on a biased SQuAD dataset.

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ProtoQA: A Question Answering Dataset for Prototypical Common-Sense Reasoning
Michael Boratko | Xiang Li | Tim O’Gorman | Rajarshi Das | Dan Le | Andrew McCallum

Given questions regarding some prototypical situation — such as Name something that people usually do before they leave the house for work? — a human can easily answer them via acquired experiences. There can be multiple right answers for such questions, with some more common for a situation than others. This paper introduces a new question answering dataset for training and evaluating common sense reasoning capabilities of artificial intelligence systems in such prototypical situations. The training set is gathered from an existing set of questions played in a long-running international trivia game show – Family Feud. The hidden evaluation set is created by gathering answers for each question from 100 crowd-workers. We also propose a generative evaluation task where a model has to output a ranked list of answers, ideally covering all prototypical answers for a question. After presenting multiple competitive baseline models, we find that human performance still exceeds model scores on all evaluation metrics with a meaningful gap, supporting the challenging nature of the task.

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IIRC: A Dataset of Incomplete Information Reading Comprehension Questions
James Ferguson | Matt Gardner | Hannaneh Hajishirzi | Tushar Khot | Pradeep Dasigi

Humans often have to read multiple documents to address their information needs. However, most existing reading comprehension (RC) tasks only focus on questions for which the contexts provide all the information required to answer them, thus not evaluating a system’s performance at identifying a potential lack of sufficient information and locating sources for that information. To fill this gap, we present a dataset, IIRC, with more than 13K questions over paragraphs from English Wikipedia that provide only partial information to answer them, with the missing information occurring in one or more linked documents. The questions were written by crowd workers who did not have access to any of the linked documents, leading to questions that have little lexical overlap with the contexts where the answers appear. This process also gave many questions without answers, and those that require discrete reasoning, increasing the difficulty of the task. We follow recent modeling work on various reading comprehension datasets to construct a baseline model for this dataset, finding that it achieves 31.1% F1 on this task, while estimated human performance is 88.4%. The dataset, code for the baseline system, and a leaderboard can be found at

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Unsupervised Adaptation of Question Answering Systems via Generative Self-training
Steven Rennie | Etienne Marcheret | Neil Mallinar | David Nahamoo | Vaibhava Goel

BERT-era question answering systems have recently achieved impressive performance on several question-answering (QA) tasks. These systems are based on representations that have been pre-trained on self-supervised tasks such as word masking and sentence entailment, using massive amounts of data. Nevertheless, additional pre-training closer to the end-task, such as training on synthetic QA pairs, has been shown to improve performance. While recent work has considered augmenting labelled data and leveraging large unlabelled datasets to generate synthetic QA data, directly adapting to target data has received little attention. In this paper we investigate the iterative generation of synthetic QA pairs as a way to realize unsupervised self adaptation. Motivated by the success of the roundtrip consistency method for filtering generated QA pairs, we present iterative generalizations of the approach, which maximize an approximation of a lower bound on the probability of the adaptation data. By adapting on synthetic QA pairs generated on the target data, our method is able to improve QA systems significantly, using an order of magnitude less synthetic data and training computation than existing augmentation approaches.

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TORQUE: A Reading Comprehension Dataset of Temporal Ordering Questions
Qiang Ning | Hao Wu | Rujun Han | Nanyun Peng | Matt Gardner | Dan Roth

A critical part of reading is being able to understand the temporal relationships between events described in a passage of text, even when those relationships are not explicitly stated. However, current machine reading comprehension benchmarks have practically no questions that test temporal phenomena, so systems trained on these benchmarks have no capacity to answer questions such as “what happened before/after [some event]?” We introduce TORQUE, a new English reading comprehension benchmark built on 3.2k news snippets with 21k human-generated questions querying temporal relationships. Results show that RoBERTa-large achieves an exact-match score of 51% on the test set of TORQUE, about 30% behind human performance.

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ToTTo: A Controlled Table-To-Text Generation Dataset
Ankur Parikh | Xuezhi Wang | Sebastian Gehrmann | Manaal Faruqui | Bhuwan Dhingra | Diyi Yang | Dipanjan Das

We present ToTTo, an open-domain English table-to-text dataset with over 120,000 training examples that proposes a controlled generation task: given a Wikipedia table and a set of highlighted table cells, produce a one-sentence description. To obtain generated targets that are natural but also faithful to the source table, we introduce a dataset construction process where annotators directly revise existing candidate sentences from Wikipedia. We present systematic analyses of our dataset and annotation process as well as results achieved by several state-of-the-art baselines. While usually fluent, existing methods often hallucinate phrases that are not supported by the table, suggesting that this dataset can serve as a useful research benchmark for high-precision conditional text generation.

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ENT-DESC: Entity Description Generation by Exploring Knowledge Graph
Liying Cheng | Dekun Wu | Lidong Bing | Yan Zhang | Zhanming Jie | Wei Lu | Luo Si

Previous works on knowledge-to-text generation take as input a few RDF triples or key-value pairs conveying the knowledge of some entities to generate a natural language description. Existing datasets, such as WIKIBIO, WebNLG, and E2E, basically have a good alignment between an input triple/pair set and its output text. However, in practice, the input knowledge could be more than enough, since the output description may only cover the most significant knowledge. In this paper, we introduce a large-scale and challenging dataset to facilitate the study of such a practical scenario in KG-to-text. Our dataset involves retrieving abundant knowledge of various types of main entities from a large knowledge graph (KG), which makes the current graph-to-sequence models severely suffer from the problems of information loss and parameter explosion while generating the descriptions. We address these challenges by proposing a multi-graph structure that is able to represent the original graph information more comprehensively. Furthermore, we also incorporate aggregation methods that learn to extract the rich graph information. Extensive experiments demonstrate the effectiveness of our model architecture.

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Small but Mighty: New Benchmarks for Split and Rephrase
Li Zhang | Huaiyu Zhu | Siddhartha Brahma | Yunyao Li

Split and Rephrase is a text simplification task of rewriting a complex sentence into simpler ones. As a relatively new task, it is paramount to ensure the soundness of its evaluation benchmark and metric. We find that the widely used benchmark dataset universally contains easily exploitable syntactic cues caused by its automatic generation process. Taking advantage of such cues, we show that even a simple rule-based model can perform on par with the state-of-the-art model. To remedy such limitations, we collect and release two crowdsourced benchmark datasets. We not only make sure that they contain significantly more diverse syntax, but also carefully control for their quality according to a well-defined set of criteria. While no satisfactory automatic metric exists, we apply fine-grained manual evaluation based on these criteria using crowdsourcing, showing that our datasets better represent the task and are significantly more challenging for the models.

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Online Back-Parsing for AMR-to-Text Generation
Xuefeng Bai | Linfeng Song | Yue Zhang

AMR-to-text generation aims to recover a text containing the same meaning as an input AMR graph. Current research develops increasingly powerful graph encoders to better represent AMR graphs, with decoders based on standard language modeling being used to generate outputs. We propose a decoder that back predicts projected AMR graphs on the target sentence during text generation. As the result, our outputs can better preserve the input meaning than standard decoders. Experiments on two AMR benchmarks show the superiority of our model over the previous state-of-the-art system based on graph Transformer.

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Reading Between the Lines: Exploring Infilling in Visual Narratives
Khyathi Raghavi Chandu | Ruo-Ping Dong | Alan W Black

Generating long form narratives such as stories and procedures from multiple modalities has been a long standing dream for artificial intelligence. In this regard, there is often crucial subtext that is derived from the surrounding contexts. The general seq2seq training methods render the models shorthanded while attempting to bridge the gap between these neighbouring contexts. In this paper, we tackle this problem by using infilling techniques involving prediction of missing steps in a narrative while generating textual descriptions from a sequence of images. We also present a new large scale visual procedure telling (ViPT) dataset with a total of 46,200 procedures and around 340k pairwise images and textual descriptions that is rich in such contextual dependencies. Generating steps using infilling technique demonstrates the effectiveness in visual procedures with more coherent texts. We conclusively show a METEOR score of 27.51 on procedures which is higher than the state-of-the-art on visual storytelling. We also demonstrate the effects of interposing new text with missing images during inference. The code and the dataset will be publicly available at

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Acrostic Poem Generation
Rajat Agarwal | Katharina Kann

We propose a new task in the area of computational creativity: acrostic poem generation in English. Acrostic poems are poems that contain a hidden message; typically, the first letter of each line spells out a word or short phrase. We define the task as a generation task with multiple constraints: given an input word, 1) the initial letters of each line should spell out the provided word, 2) the poem’s semantics should also relate to it, and 3) the poem should conform to a rhyming scheme. We further provide a baseline model for the task, which consists of a conditional neural language model in combination with a neural rhyming model. Since no dedicated datasets for acrostic poem generation exist, we create training data for our task by first training a separate topic prediction model on a small set of topic-annotated poems and then predicting topics for additional poems. Our experiments show that the acrostic poems generated by our baseline are received well by humans and do not lose much quality due to the additional constraints. Last, we confirm that poems generated by our model are indeed closely related to the provided prompts, and that pretraining on Wikipedia can boost performance.

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Local Additivity Based Data Augmentation for Semi-supervised NER
Jiaao Chen | Zhenghui Wang | Ran Tian | Zichao Yang | Diyi Yang

Named Entity Recognition (NER) is one of the first stages in deep language understanding yet current NER models heavily rely on human-annotated data. In this work, to alleviate the dependence on labeled data, we propose a Local Additivity based Data Augmentation (LADA) method for semi-supervised NER, in which we create virtual samples by interpolating sequences close to each other. Our approach has two variations: Intra-LADA and Inter-LADA, where Intra-LADA performs interpolations among tokens within one sentence, and Inter-LADA samples different sentences to interpolate. Through linear additions between sampled training data, LADA creates an infinite amount of labeled data and improves both entity and context learning. We further extend LADA to the semi-supervised setting by designing a novel consistency loss for unlabeled data. Experiments conducted on two NER benchmarks demonstrate the effectiveness of our methods over several strong baselines. We have publicly released our code at

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Grounded Compositional Outputs for Adaptive Language Modeling
Nikolaos Pappas | Phoebe Mulcaire | Noah A. Smith

Language models have emerged as a central component across NLP, and a great deal of progress depends on the ability to cheaply adapt them (e.g., through finetuning) to new domains and tasks. A language model’s vocabulary—typically selected before training and permanently fixed later—affects its size and is part of what makes it resistant to such adaptation. Prior work has used compositional input embeddings based on surface forms to ameliorate this issue. In this work, we go one step beyond and propose a fully compositional output embedding layer for language models, which is further grounded in information from a structured lexicon (WordNet), namely semantically related words and free-text definitions. To our knowledge, the result is the first word-level language model with a size that does not depend on the training vocabulary. We evaluate the model on conventional language modeling as well as challenging cross-domain settings with an open vocabulary, finding that it matches or outperforms previous state-of-the-art output embedding methods and adaptation approaches. Our analysis attributes the improvements to sample efficiency: our model is more accurate for low-frequency words.

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SSMBA: Self-Supervised Manifold Based Data Augmentation for Improving Out-of-Domain Robustness
Nathan Ng | Kyunghyun Cho | Marzyeh Ghassemi

Models that perform well on a training domain often fail to generalize to out-of-domain (OOD) examples. Data augmentation is a common method used to prevent overfitting and improve OOD generalization. However, in natural language, it is difficult to generate new examples that stay on the underlying data manifold. We introduce SSMBA, a data augmentation method for generating synthetic training examples by using a pair of corruption and reconstruction functions to move randomly on a data manifold. We investigate the use of SSMBA in the natural language domain, leveraging the manifold assumption to reconstruct corrupted text with masked language models. In experiments on robustness benchmarks across 3 tasks and 9 datasets, SSMBA consistently outperforms existing data augmentation methods and baseline models on both in-domain and OOD data, achieving gains of 0.8% on OOD Amazon reviews, 1.8% accuracy on OOD MNLI, and 1.4 BLEU on in-domain IWSLT14 German-English.

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SetConv: A New Approach for Learning from Imbalanced Data
Yang Gao | Yi-Fan Li | Yu Lin | Charu Aggarwal | Latifur Khan

For many real-world classification problems, e.g., sentiment classification, most existing machine learning methods are biased towards the majority class when the Imbalance Ratio (IR) is high. To address this problem, we propose a set convolution (SetConv) operation and an episodic training strategy to extract a single representative for each class, so that classifiers can later be trained on a balanced class distribution. We prove that our proposed algorithm is permutation-invariant despite the order of inputs, and experiments on multiple large-scale benchmark text datasets show the superiority of our proposed framework when compared to other SOTA methods.

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Scalable Multi-Hop Relational Reasoning for Knowledge-Aware Question Answering
Yanlin Feng | Xinyue Chen | Bill Yuchen Lin | Peifeng Wang | Jun Yan | Xiang Ren

Existing work on augmenting question answering (QA) models with external knowledge (e.g., knowledge graphs) either struggle to model multi-hop relations efficiently, or lack transparency into the model’s prediction rationale. In this paper, we propose a novel knowledge-aware approach that equips pre-trained language models (PTLMs) has with a multi-hop relational reasoning module, named multi-hop graph relation network (MHGRN). It performs multi-hop, multi-relational reasoning over subgraphs extracted from external knowledge graphs. The proposed reasoning module unifies path-based reasoning methods and graph neural networks to achieve better interpretability and scalability. We also empirically show its effectiveness and scalability on CommonsenseQA and OpenbookQA datasets, and interpret its behaviors with case studies, with the code for experiments released.

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Improving Bilingual Lexicon Induction for Low Frequency Words
Jiaji Huang | Xingyu Cai | Kenneth Church

This paper designs a Monolingual Lexicon Induction task and observes that two factors accompany the degraded accuracy of bilingual lexicon induction for rare words. First, a diminishing margin between similarities in low frequency regime, and secondly, exacerbated hubness at low frequency. Based on the observation, we further propose two methods to address these two factors, respectively. The larger issue is hubness. Addressing that improves induction accuracy significantly, especially for low-frequency words.

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Learning VAE-LDA Models with Rounded Reparameterization Trick
Runzhi Tian | Yongyi Mao | Richong Zhang

The introduction of VAE provides an efficient framework for the learning of generative models, including generative topic models. However, when the topic model is a Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA) model, a central technique of VAE, the reparameterization trick, fails to be applicable. This is because no reparameterization form of Dirichlet distributions is known to date that allows the use of the reparameterization trick. In this work, we propose a new method, which we call Rounded Reparameterization Trick (RRT), to reparameterize Dirichlet distributions for the learning of VAE-LDA models. This method, when applied to a VAE-LDA model, is shown experimentally to outperform the existing neural topic models on several benchmark datasets and on a synthetic dataset.

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Calibrated Language Model Fine-Tuning for In- and Out-of-Distribution Data
Lingkai Kong | Haoming Jiang | Yuchen Zhuang | Jie Lyu | Tuo Zhao | Chao Zhang

Fine-tuned pre-trained language models can suffer from severe miscalibration for both in-distribution and out-of-distribution (OOD) data due to over-parameterization. To mitigate this issue, we propose a regularized fine-tuning method. Our method introduces two types of regularization for better calibration: (1) On-manifold regularization, which generates pseudo on-manifold samples through interpolation within the data manifold. Augmented training with these pseudo samples imposes a smoothness regularization to improve in-distribution calibration. (2) Off-manifold regularization, which encourages the model to output uniform distributions for pseudo off-manifold samples to address the over-confidence issue for OOD data. Our experiments demonstrate that the proposed method outperforms existing calibration methods for text classification in terms of expectation calibration error, misclassification detection, and OOD detection on six datasets. Our code can be found at

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Scaling Hidden Markov Language Models
Justin Chiu | Alexander Rush

The hidden Markov model (HMM) is a fundamental tool for sequence modeling that cleanly separates the hidden state from the emission structure. However, this separation makes it difficult to fit HMMs to large datasets in modern NLP, and they have fallen out of use due to very poor performance compared to fully observed models. This work revisits the challenge of scaling HMMs to language modeling datasets, taking ideas from recent approaches to neural modeling. We propose methods for scaling HMMs to massive state spaces while maintaining efficient exact inference, a compact parameterization, and effective regularization. Experiments show that this approach leads to models that are much more accurate than previous HMMs and n-gram-based methods, making progress towards the performance of state-of-the-art NN models.

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Coding Textual Inputs Boosts the Accuracy of Neural Networks
Abdul Rafae Khan | Jia Xu | Weiwei Sun

Natural Language Processing (NLP) tasks are usually performed word by word on textual inputs. We can use arbitrary symbols to represent the linguistic meaning of a word and use these symbols as inputs. As “alternatives” to a text representation, we introduce Soundex, MetaPhone, NYSIIS, logogram to NLP, and develop fixed-output-length coding and its extension using Huffman coding. Each of those codings combines different character/digital sequences and constructs a new vocabulary based on codewords. We find that the integration of those codewords with text provides more reliable inputs to Neural-Network-based NLP systems through redundancy than text-alone inputs. Experiments demonstrate that our approach outperforms the state-of-the-art models on the application of machine translation, language modeling, and part-of-speech tagging. The source code is available at

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Learning from Task Descriptions
Orion Weller | Nicholas Lourie | Matt Gardner | Matthew E. Peters

Typically, machine learning systems solve new tasks by training on thousands of examples. In contrast, humans can solve new tasks by reading some instructions, with perhaps an example or two. To take a step toward closing this gap, we introduce a framework for developing NLP systems that solve new tasks after reading their descriptions, synthesizing prior work in this area. We instantiate this frame- work with a new English language dataset, ZEST, structured for task-oriented evaluation on unseen tasks. Formulating task descriptions as questions, we ensure each is general enough to apply to many possible inputs, thus comprehensively evaluating a model’s ability to solve each task. Moreover, the dataset’s structure tests specific types of systematic generalization. We find that the state-of-the-art T5 model achieves a score of 12% on ZEST, leaving a significant challenge for NLP researchers.

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Hashtags, Emotions, and Comments: A Large-Scale Dataset to Understand Fine-Grained Social Emotions to Online Topics
Keyang Ding | Jing Li | Yuji Zhang

This paper studies social emotions to online discussion topics. While most prior work focus on emotions from writers, we investigate readers’ responses and explore the public feelings to an online topic. A large-scale dataset is collected from Chinese microblog Sina Weibo with over 13 thousand trending topics, emotion votes in 24 fine-grained types from massive participants, and user comments to allow context understanding. In experiments, we examine baseline performance to predict a topic’s possible social emotions in a multilabel classification setting. The results show that a seq2seq model with user comment modeling performs the best, even surpassing human prediction. More analyses shed light on the effects of emotion types, topic description lengths, contexts from user comments, and the limited capacity of the existing models.

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Named Entity Recognition for Social Media Texts with Semantic Augmentation
Yuyang Nie | Yuanhe Tian | Xiang Wan | Yan Song | Bo Dai

Existing approaches for named entity recognition suffer from data sparsity problems when conducted on short and informal texts, especially user-generated social media content. Semantic augmentation is a potential way to alleviate this problem. Given that rich semantic information is implicitly preserved in pre-trained word embeddings, they are potential ideal resources for semantic augmentation. In this paper, we propose a neural-based approach to NER for social media texts where both local (from running text) and augmented semantics are taken into account. In particular, we obtain the augmented semantic information from a large-scale corpus, and propose an attentive semantic augmentation module and a gate module to encode and aggregate such information, respectively. Extensive experiments are performed on three benchmark datasets collected from English and Chinese social media platforms, where the results demonstrate the superiority of our approach to previous studies across all three datasets.

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Coupled Hierarchical Transformer for Stance-Aware Rumor Verification in Social Media Conversations
Jianfei Yu | Jing Jiang | Ling Min Serena Khoo | Hai Leong Chieu | Rui Xia

The prevalent use of social media enables rapid spread of rumors on a massive scale, which leads to the emerging need of automatic rumor verification (RV). A number of previous studies focus on leveraging stance classification to enhance RV with multi-task learning (MTL) methods. However, most of these methods failed to employ pre-trained contextualized embeddings such as BERT, and did not exploit inter-task dependencies by using predicted stance labels to improve the RV task. Therefore, in this paper, to extend BERT to obtain thread representations, we first propose a Hierarchical Transformer, which divides each long thread into shorter subthreads, and employs BERT to separately represent each subthread, followed by a global Transformer layer to encode all the subthreads. We further propose a Coupled Transformer Module to capture the inter-task interactions and a Post-Level Attention layer to use the predicted stance labels for RV, respectively. Experiments on two benchmark datasets show the superiority of our Coupled Hierarchical Transformer model over existing MTL approaches.

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Social Media Attributions in the Context of Water Crisis
Rupak Sarkar | Sayantan Mahinder | Hirak Sarkar | Ashiqur KhudaBukhsh

Attribution of natural disasters/collective misfortune is a widely-studied political science problem. However, such studies typically rely on surveys, or expert opinions, or external signals such as voting outcomes. In this paper, we explore the viability of using unstructured, noisy social media data to complement traditional surveys through automatically extracting attribution factors. We present a novel prediction task of attribution tie detection of identifying the factors (e.g., poor city planning, exploding population etc.) held responsible for the crisis in a social media document. We focus on the 2019 Chennai water crisis that rapidly escalated into a discussion topic with global importance following alarming water-crisis statistics. On a challenging data set constructed from YouTube comments (72,098 comments posted by 43,859 users on 623 videos relevant to the crisis), we present a neural baseline to identify attribution ties that achieves a reasonable performance (accuracy: 87.34% on attribution detection and 81.37% on attribution resolution). We release the first annotated data set of 2,500 comments in this important domain.

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On the Reliability and Validity of Detecting Approval of Political Actors in Tweets
Indira Sen | Fabian Flöck | Claudia Wagner

Social media sites like Twitter possess the potential to complement surveys that measure political opinions and, more specifically, political actors’ approval. However, new challenges related to the reliability and validity of social-media-based estimates arise. Various sentiment analysis and stance detection methods have been developed and used in previous research to measure users’ political opinions based on their content on social media. In this work, we attempt to gauge the efficacy of untargeted sentiment, targeted sentiment, and stance detection methods in labeling various political actors’ approval by benchmarking them across several datasets. We also contrast the performance of these pretrained methods that can be used in an off-the-shelf (OTS) manner against a set of models trained on minimal custom data. We find that OTS methods have low generalizability on unseen and familiar targets, while low-resource custom models are more robust. Our work sheds light on the strengths and limitations of existing methods proposed for understanding politicians’ approval from tweets.

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Towards Medical Machine Reading Comprehension with Structural Knowledge and Plain Text
Dongfang Li | Baotian Hu | Qingcai Chen | Weihua Peng | Anqi Wang

Machine reading comprehension (MRC) has achieved significant progress on the open domain in recent years, mainly due to large-scale pre-trained language models. However, it performs much worse in specific domains such as the medical field due to the lack of extensive training data and professional structural knowledge neglect. As an effort, we first collect a large scale medical multi-choice question dataset (more than 21k instances) for the National Licensed Pharmacist Examination in China. It is a challenging medical examination with a passing rate of less than 14.2% in 2018. Then we propose a novel reading comprehension model KMQA, which can fully exploit the structural medical knowledge (i.e., medical knowledge graph) and the reference medical plain text (i.e., text snippets retrieved from reference books). The experimental results indicate that the KMQA outperforms existing competitive models with a large margin and passes the exam with 61.8% accuracy rate on the test set.

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Generating Radiology Reports via Memory-driven Transformer
Zhihong Chen | Yan Song | Tsung-Hui Chang | Xiang Wan

Medical imaging is frequently used in clinical practice and trials for diagnosis and treatment. Writing imaging reports is time-consuming and can be error-prone for inexperienced radiologists. Therefore, automatically generating radiology reports is highly desired to lighten the workload of radiologists and accordingly promote clinical automation, which is an essential task to apply artificial intelligence to the medical domain. In this paper, we propose to generate radiology reports with memory-driven Transformer, where a relational memory is designed to record key information of the generation process and a memory-driven conditional layer normalization is applied to incorporating the memory into the decoder of Transformer. Experimental results on two prevailing radiology report datasets, IU X-Ray and MIMIC-CXR, show that our proposed approach outperforms previous models with respect to both language generation metrics and clinical evaluations. Particularly, this is the first work reporting the generation results on MIMIC-CXR to the best of our knowledge. Further analyses also demonstrate that our approach is able to generate long reports with necessary medical terms as well as meaningful image-text attention mappings.

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Planning and Generating Natural and Diverse Disfluent Texts as Augmentation for Disfluency Detection
Jingfeng Yang | Diyi Yang | Zhaoran Ma

Existing approaches to disfluency detection heavily depend on human-annotated data. Numbers of data augmentation methods have been proposed to alleviate the dependence on labeled data. However, current augmentation approaches such as random insertion or repetition fail to resemble training corpus well and usually resulted in unnatural and limited types of disfluencies. In this work, we propose a simple Planner-Generator based disfluency generation model to generate natural and diverse disfluent texts as augmented data, where the Planner decides on where to insert disfluent segments and the Generator follows the prediction to generate corresponding disfluent segments. We further utilize this augmented data for pretraining and leverage it for the task of disfluency detection. Experiments demonstrated that our two-stage disfluency generation model outperforms existing baselines; those disfluent sentences generated significantly aided the task of disfluency detection and led to state-of-the-art performance on Switchboard corpus.

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Predicting Clinical Trial Results by Implicit Evidence Integration
Qiao Jin | Chuanqi Tan | Mosha Chen | Xiaozhong Liu | Songfang Huang

Clinical trials provide essential guidance for practicing Evidence-Based Medicine, though often accompanying with unendurable costs and risks. To optimize the design of clinical trials, we introduce a novel Clinical Trial Result Prediction (CTRP) task. In the CTRP framework, a model takes a PICO-formatted clinical trial proposal with its background as input and predicts the result, i.e. how the Intervention group compares with the Comparison group in terms of the measured Outcome in the studied Population. While structured clinical evidence is prohibitively expensive for manual collection, we exploit large-scale unstructured sentences from medical literature that implicitly contain PICOs and results as evidence. Specifically, we pre-train a model to predict the disentangled results from such implicit evidence and fine-tune the model with limited data on the downstream datasets. Experiments on the benchmark Evidence Integration dataset show that the proposed model outperforms the baselines by large margins, e.g., with a 10.7% relative gain over BioBERT in macro-F1. Moreover, the performance improvement is also validated on another dataset composed of clinical trials related to COVID-19.

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Explainable Clinical Decision Support from Text
Jinyue Feng | Chantal Shaib | Frank Rudzicz

Clinical prediction models often use structured variables and provide outcomes that are not readily interpretable by clinicians. Further, free-text medical notes may contain information not immediately available in structured variables. We propose a hierarchical CNN-transformer model with explicit attention as an interpretable, multi-task clinical language model, which achieves an AUROC of 0.75 and 0.78 on sepsis and mortality prediction, respectively. We also explore the relationships between learned features from structured and unstructured variables using projection-weighted canonical correlation analysis. Finally, we outline a protocol to evaluate model usability in a clinical decision support context. From domain-expert evaluations, our model generates informative rationales that have promising real-life applications.

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A Knowledge-driven Generative Model for Multi-implication Chinese Medical Procedure Entity Normalization
Jinghui Yan | Yining Wang | Lu Xiang | Yu Zhou | Chengqing Zong

Medical entity normalization, which links medical mentions in the text to entities in knowledge bases, is an important research topic in medical natural language processing. In this paper, we focus on Chinese medical procedure entity normalization. However, nonstandard Chinese expressions and combined procedures present challenges in our problem. The existing strategies relying on the discriminative model are poorly to cope with normalizing combined procedure mentions. We propose a sequence generative framework to directly generate all the corresponding medical procedure entities. we adopt two strategies: category-based constraint decoding and category-based model refining to avoid unrealistic results. The method is capable of linking entities when a mention contains multiple procedure concepts and our comprehensive experiments demonstrate that the proposed model can achieve remarkable improvements over existing baselines, particularly significant in the case of multi-implication Chinese medical procedures.

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Combining Automatic Labelers and Expert Annotations for Accurate Radiology Report Labeling Using BERT
Akshay Smit | Saahil Jain | Pranav Rajpurkar | Anuj Pareek | Andrew Ng | Matthew Lungren

The extraction of labels from radiology text reports enables large-scale training of medical imaging models. Existing approaches to report labeling typically rely either on sophisticated feature engineering based on medical domain knowledge or manual annotations by experts. In this work, we introduce a BERT-based approach to medical image report labeling that exploits both the scale of available rule-based systems and the quality of expert annotations. We demonstrate superior performance of a biomedically pretrained BERT model first trained on annotations of a rule-based labeler and then finetuned on a small set of expert annotations augmented with automated backtranslation. We find that our final model, CheXbert, is able to outperform the previous best rules-based labeler with statistical significance, setting a new SOTA for report labeling on one of the largest datasets of chest x-rays.

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Benchmarking Meaning Representations in Neural Semantic Parsing
Jiaqi Guo | Qian Liu | Jian-Guang Lou | Zhenwen Li | Xueqing Liu | Tao Xie | Ting Liu

Meaning representation is an important component of semantic parsing. Although researchers have designed a lot of meaning representations, recent work focuses on only a few of them. Thus, the impact of meaning representation on semantic parsing is less understood. Furthermore, existing work’s performance is often not comprehensively evaluated due to the lack of readily-available execution engines. Upon identifying these gaps, we propose , a new unified benchmark on meaning representations, by integrating existing semantic parsing datasets, completing the missing logical forms, and implementing the missing execution engines. The resulting unified benchmark contains the complete enumeration of logical forms and execution engines over three datasets × four meaning representations. A thorough experimental study on Unimer reveals that neural semantic parsing approaches exhibit notably different performance when they are trained to generate different meaning representations. Also, program alias and grammar rules heavily impact the performance of different meaning representations. Our benchmark, execution engines and implementation can be found on:

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Analogous Process Structure Induction for Sub-event Sequence Prediction
Hongming Zhang | Muhao Chen | Haoyu Wang | Yangqiu Song | Dan Roth

Computational and cognitive studies of event understanding suggest that identifying, comprehending, and predicting events depend on having structured representations of a sequence of events and on conceptualizing (abstracting) its components into (soft) event categories. Thus, knowledge about a known process such as “buying a car” can be used in the context of a new but analogous process such as “buying a house”. Nevertheless, most event understanding work in NLP is still at the ground level and does not consider abstraction. In this paper, we propose an Analogous Process Structure Induction (APSI) framework, which leverages analogies among processes and conceptualization of sub-event instances to predict the whole sub-event sequence of previously unseen open-domain processes. As our experiments and analysis indicate, APSI supports the generation of meaningful sub-event sequences for unseen processes and can help predict missing events.

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SLM: Learning a Discourse Language Representation with Sentence Unshuffling
Haejun Lee | Drew A. Hudson | Kangwook Lee | Christopher D. Manning

We introduce Sentence-level Language Modeling, a new pre-training objective for learning a discourse language representation in a fully self-supervised manner. Recent pre-training methods in NLP focus on learning either bottom or top-level language representations: contextualized word representations derived from language model objectives at one extreme and a whole sequence representation learned by order classification of two given textual segments at the other. However, these models are not directly encouraged to capture representations of intermediate-size structures that exist in natural languages such as sentences and the relationships among them. To that end, we propose a new approach to encourage learning of a contextualized sentence-level representation by shuffling the sequence of input sentences and training a hierarchical transformer model to reconstruct the original ordering. Through experiments on downstream tasks such as GLUE, SQuAD, and DiscoEval, we show that this feature of our model improves the performance of the original BERT by large margins.

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Detecting Fine-Grained Cross-Lingual Semantic Divergences without Supervision by Learning to Rank
Eleftheria Briakou | Marine Carpuat

Detecting fine-grained differences in content conveyed in different languages matters for cross-lingual NLP and multilingual corpora analysis, but it is a challenging machine learning problem since annotation is expensive and hard to scale. This work improves the prediction and annotation of fine-grained semantic divergences. We introduce a training strategy for multilingual BERT models by learning to rank synthetic divergent examples of varying granularity. We evaluate our models on the Rationalized English-French Semantic Divergences, a new dataset released with this work, consisting of English-French sentence-pairs annotated with semantic divergence classes and token-level rationales. Learning to rank helps detect fine-grained sentence-level divergences more accurately than a strong sentence-level similarity model, while token-level predictions have the potential of further distinguishing between coarse and fine-grained divergences.

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A Bilingual Generative Transformer for Semantic Sentence Embedding
John Wieting | Graham Neubig | Taylor Berg-Kirkpatrick

Semantic sentence embedding models encode natural language sentences into vectors, such that closeness in embedding space indicates closeness in the semantics between the sentences. Bilingual data offers a useful signal for learning such embeddings: properties shared by both sentences in a translation pair are likely semantic, while divergent properties are likely stylistic or language-specific. We propose a deep latent variable model that attempts to perform source separation on parallel sentences, isolating what they have in common in a latent semantic vector, and explaining what is left over with language-specific latent vectors. Our proposed approach differs from past work on semantic sentence encoding in two ways. First, by using a variational probabilistic framework, we introduce priors that encourage source separation, and can use our model’s posterior to predict sentence embeddings for monolingual data at test time. Second, we use high-capacity transformers as both data generating distributions and inference networks – contrasting with most past work on sentence embeddings. In experiments, our approach substantially outperforms the state-of-the-art on a standard suite of unsupervised semantic similarity evaluations. Further, we demonstrate that our approach yields the largest gains on more difficult subsets of these evaluations where simple word overlap is not a good indicator of similarity.

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Semantically Inspired AMR Alignment for the Portuguese Language
Rafael Anchiêta | Thiago Pardo

Abstract Meaning Representation (AMR) is a graph-based semantic formalism where the nodes are concepts and edges are relations among them. Most of AMR parsing methods require alignment between the nodes of the graph and the words of the sentence. However, this alignment is not provided by manual annotations and available automatic aligners focus only on the English language, not performing well for other languages. Aiming to fulfill this gap, we developed an alignment method for the Portuguese language based on a more semantically matched word-concept pair. We performed both intrinsic and extrinsic evaluations and showed that our alignment approach outperforms the alignment strategies developed for English, improving AMR parsers, and achieving competitive results with a parser designed for the Portuguese language.

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An Unsupervised Sentence Embedding Method by Mutual Information Maximization
Yan Zhang | Ruidan He | Zuozhu Liu | Kwan Hui Lim | Lidong Bing

BERT is inefficient for sentence-pair tasks such as clustering or semantic search as it needs to evaluate combinatorially many sentence pairs which is very time-consuming. Sentence BERT (SBERT) attempted to solve this challenge by learning semantically meaningful representations of single sentences, such that similarity comparison can be easily accessed. However, SBERT is trained on corpus with high-quality labeled sentence pairs, which limits its application to tasks where labeled data is extremely scarce. In this paper, we propose a lightweight extension on top of BERT and a novel self-supervised learning objective based on mutual information maximization strategies to derive meaningful sentence embeddings in an unsupervised manner. Unlike SBERT, our method is not restricted by the availability of labeled data, such that it can be applied on different domain-specific corpus. Experimental results show that the proposed method significantly outperforms other unsupervised sentence embedding baselines on common semantic textual similarity (STS) tasks and downstream supervised tasks. It also outperforms SBERT in a setting where in-domain labeled data is not available, and achieves performance competitive with supervised methods on various tasks.

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Compositional Phrase Alignment and Beyond
Yuki Arase | Jun’ichi Tsujii

Phrase alignment is the basis for modelling sentence pair interactions, such as paraphrase and textual entailment recognition. Most phrase alignments are compositional processes such that an alignment of a phrase pair is constructed based on the alignments of their child phrases. Nonetheless, studies have revealed that non-compositional alignments involving long-distance phrase reordering are prevalent in practice. We address the phrase alignment problem by combining an unordered tree mapping algorithm and phrase representation modelling that explicitly embeds the similarity distribution in the sentences onto powerful contextualized representations. Experimental results demonstrate that our method effectively handles compositional and non-compositional global phrase alignments. Our method significantly outperforms that used in a previous study and achieves a performance competitive with that of experienced human annotators.

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Table Fact Verification with Structure-Aware Transformer
Hongzhi Zhang | Yingyao Wang | Sirui Wang | Xuezhi Cao | Fuzheng Zhang | Zhongyuan Wang

Verifying fact on semi-structured evidence like tables requires the ability to encode structural information and perform symbolic reasoning. Pre-trained language models trained on natural language could not be directly applied to encode tables, because simply linearizing tables into sequences will lose the cell alignment information. To better utilize pre-trained transformers for table representation, we propose a Structure-Aware Transformer (SAT), which injects the table structural information into the mask of the self-attention layer. A method to combine symbolic and linguistic reasoning is also explored for this task. Our method outperforms baseline with 4.93% on TabFact, a large scale table verification dataset.

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Double Graph Based Reasoning for Document-level Relation Extraction
Shuang Zeng | Runxin Xu | Baobao Chang | Lei Li

Document-level relation extraction aims to extract relations among entities within a document. Different from sentence-level relation extraction, it requires reasoning over multiple sentences across paragraphs. In this paper, we propose Graph Aggregation-and-Inference Network (GAIN), a method to recognize such relations for long paragraphs. GAIN constructs two graphs, a heterogeneous mention-level graph (MG) and an entity-level graph (EG). The former captures complex interaction among different mentions and the latter aggregates mentions underlying for the same entities. Based on the graphs we propose a novel path reasoning mechanism to infer relations between entities. Experiments on the public dataset, DocRED, show GAIN achieves a significant performance improvement (2.85 on F1) over the previous state-of-the-art. Our code is available at

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Event Extraction as Machine Reading Comprehension
Jian Liu | Yubo Chen | Kang Liu | Wei Bi | Xiaojiang Liu

Event extraction (EE) is a crucial information extraction task that aims to extract event information in texts. Previous methods for EE typically model it as a classification task, which are usually prone to the data scarcity problem. In this paper, we propose a new learning paradigm of EE, by explicitly casting it as a machine reading comprehension problem (MRC). Our approach includes an unsupervised question generation process, which can transfer event schema into a set of natural questions, followed by a BERT-based question-answering process to retrieve answers as EE results. This learning paradigm enables us to strengthen the reasoning process of EE, by introducing sophisticated models in MRC, and relieve the data scarcity problem, by introducing the large-scale datasets in MRC. The empirical results show that: i) our approach attains state-of-the-art performance by considerable margins over previous methods. ii) Our model is excelled in the data-scarce scenario, for example, obtaining 49.8% in F1 for event argument extraction with only 1% data, compared with 2.2% of the previous method. iii) Our model also fits with zero-shot scenarios, achieving 37.0% and 16% in F1 on two datasets without using any EE training data.

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MAVEN: A Massive General Domain Event Detection Dataset
Xiaozhi Wang | Ziqi Wang | Xu Han | Wangyi Jiang | Rong Han | Zhiyuan Liu | Juanzi Li | Peng Li | Yankai Lin | Jie Zhou

Event detection (ED), which means identifying event trigger words and classifying event types, is the first and most fundamental step for extracting event knowledge from plain text. Most existing datasets exhibit the following issues that limit further development of ED: (1) Data scarcity. Existing small-scale datasets are not sufficient for training and stably benchmarking increasingly sophisticated modern neural methods. (2) Low coverage. Limited event types of existing datasets cannot well cover general-domain events, which restricts the applications of ED models. To alleviate these problems, we present a MAssive eVENt detection dataset (MAVEN), which contains 4,480 Wikipedia documents, 118,732 event mention instances, and 168 event types. MAVEN alleviates the data scarcity problem and covers much more general event types. We reproduce the recent state-of-the-art ED models and conduct a thorough evaluation on MAVEN. The experimental results show that existing ED methods cannot achieve promising results on MAVEN as on the small datasets, which suggests that ED in the real world remains a challenging task and requires further research efforts. We also discuss further directions for general domain ED with empirical analyses. The source code and dataset can be obtained from

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Knowledge Graph Alignment with Entity-Pair Embedding
Zhichun Wang | Jinjian Yang | Xiaoju Ye

Knowledge Graph (KG) alignment is to match entities in different KGs, which is important to knowledge fusion and integration. Recently, a number of embedding-based approaches for KG alignment have been proposed and achieved promising results. These approaches first embed entities in low-dimensional vector spaces, and then obtain entity alignments by computations on their vector representations. Although continuous improvements have been achieved by recent work, the performances of existing approaches are still not satisfactory. In this work, we present a new approach that directly learns embeddings of entity-pairs for KG alignment. Our approach first generates a pair-wise connectivity graph (PCG) of two KGs, whose nodes are entity-pairs and edges correspond to relation-pairs; it then learns node (entity-pair) embeddings of the PCG, which are used to predict equivalent relations of entities. To get desirable embeddings, a convolutional neural network is used to generate similarity features of entity-pairs from their attributes; and a graph neural network is employed to propagate the similarity features and get the final embeddings of entity-pairs. Experiments on five real-world datasets show that our approach can achieve the state-of-the-art KG alignment results.

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Adaptive Attentional Network for Few-Shot Knowledge Graph Completion
Jiawei Sheng | Shu Guo | Zhenyu Chen | Juwei Yue | Lihong Wang | Tingwen Liu | Hongbo Xu

Few-shot Knowledge Graph (KG) completion is a focus of current research, where each task aims at querying unseen facts of a relation given its few-shot reference entity pairs. Recent attempts solve this problem by learning static representations of entities and references, ignoring their dynamic properties, i.e., entities may exhibit diverse roles within task relations, and references may make different contributions to queries. This work proposes an adaptive attentional network for few-shot KG completion by learning adaptive entity and reference representations. Specifically, entities are modeled by an adaptive neighbor encoder to discern their task-oriented roles, while references are modeled by an adaptive query-aware aggregator to differentiate their contributions. Through the attention mechanism, both entities and references can capture their fine-grained semantic meanings, and thus render more expressive representations. This will be more predictive for knowledge acquisition in the few-shot scenario. Evaluation in link prediction on two public datasets shows that our approach achieves new state-of-the-art results with different few-shot sizes. The source code is available at

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Pre-training Entity Relation Encoder with Intra-span and Inter-span Information
Yijun Wang | Changzhi Sun | Yuanbin Wu | Junchi Yan | Peng Gao | Guotong Xie

In this paper, we integrate span-related information into pre-trained encoder for entity relation extraction task. Instead of using general-purpose sentence encoder (e.g., existing universal pre-trained models), we introduce a span encoder and a span pair encoder to the pre-training network, which makes it easier to import intra-span and inter-span information into the pre-trained model. To learn the encoders, we devise three customized pre-training objectives from different perspectives, which target on tokens, spans, and span pairs. In particular, a span encoder is trained to recover a random shuffling of tokens in a span, and a span pair encoder is trained to predict positive pairs that are from the same sentences and negative pairs that are from different sentences using contrastive loss. Experimental results show that the proposed pre-training method outperforms distantly supervised pre-training, and achieves promising performance on two entity relation extraction benchmark datasets (ACE05, SciERC).

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Two are Better than One: Joint Entity and Relation Extraction with Table-Sequence Encoders
Jue Wang | Wei Lu

Named entity recognition and relation extraction are two important fundamental problems. Joint learning algorithms have been proposed to solve both tasks simultaneously, and many of them cast the joint task as a table-filling problem. However, they typically focused on learning a single encoder (usually learning representation in the form of a table) to capture information required for both tasks within the same space. We argue that it can be beneficial to design two distinct encoders to capture such two different types of information in the learning process. In this work, we propose the novel table-sequence encoders where two different encoders – a table encoder and a sequence encoder are designed to help each other in the representation learning process. Our experiments confirm the advantages of having two encoders over one encoder. On several standard datasets, our model shows significant improvements over existing approaches.

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Beyond [CLS] through Ranking by Generation
Cicero Nogueira dos Santos | Xiaofei Ma | Ramesh Nallapati | Zhiheng Huang | Bing Xiang

Generative models for Information Retrieval, where ranking of documents is viewed as the task of generating a query from a document’s language model, were very successful in various IR tasks in the past. However, with the advent of modern deep neural networks, attention has shifted to discriminative ranking functions that model the semantic similarity of documents and queries instead. Recently, deep generative models such as GPT2 and BART have been shown to be excellent text generators, but their effectiveness as rankers have not been demonstrated yet. In this work, we revisit the generative framework for information retrieval and show that our generative approaches are as effective as state-of-the-art semantic similarity-based discriminative models for the answer selection task. Additionally, we demonstrate the effectiveness of unlikelihood losses for IR.

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Tired of Topic Models? Clusters of Pretrained Word Embeddings Make for Fast and Good Topics too!
Suzanna Sia | Ayush Dalmia | Sabrina J. Mielke

Topic models are a useful analysis tool to uncover the underlying themes within document collections. The dominant approach is to use probabilistic topic models that posit a generative story, but in this paper we propose an alternative way to obtain topics: clustering pre-trained word embeddings while incorporating document information for weighted clustering and reranking top words. We provide benchmarks for the combination of different word embeddings and clustering algorithms, and analyse their performance under dimensionality reduction with PCA. The best performing combination for our approach performs as well as classical topic models, but with lower runtime and computational complexity.

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Multi-document Summarization with Maximal Marginal Relevance-guided Reinforcement Learning
Yuning Mao | Yanru Qu | Yiqing Xie | Xiang Ren | Jiawei Han

While neural sequence learning methods have made significant progress in single-document summarization (SDS), they produce unsatisfactory results on multi-document summarization (MDS). We observe two major challenges when adapting SDS advances to MDS: (1) MDS involves larger search space and yet more limited training data, setting obstacles for neural methods to learn adequate representations; (2) MDS needs to resolve higher information redundancy among the source documents, which SDS methods are less effective to handle. To close the gap, we present RL-MMR, Maximal Margin Relevance-guided Reinforcement Learning for MDS, which unifies advanced neural SDS methods and statistical measures used in classical MDS. RL-MMR casts MMR guidance on fewer promising candidates, which restrains the search space and thus leads to better representation learning. Additionally, the explicit redundancy measure in MMR helps the neural representation of the summary to better capture redundancy. Extensive experiments demonstrate that RL-MMR achieves state-of-the-art performance on benchmark MDS datasets. In particular, we show the benefits of incorporating MMR into end-to-end learning when adapting SDS to MDS in terms of both learning effectiveness and efficiency.

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Improving Neural Topic Models using Knowledge Distillation
Alexander Miserlis Hoyle | Pranav Goel | Philip Resnik

Topic models are often used to identify human-interpretable topics to help make sense of large document collections. We use knowledge distillation to combine the best attributes of probabilistic topic models and pretrained transformers. Our modular method can be straightforwardly applied with any neural topic model to improve topic quality, which we demonstrate using two models having disparate architectures, obtaining state-of-the-art topic coherence. We show that our adaptable framework not only improves performance in the aggregate over all estimated topics, as is commonly reported, but also in head-to-head comparisons of aligned topics.

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Short Text Topic Modeling with Topic Distribution Quantization and Negative Sampling Decoder
Xiaobao Wu | Chunping Li | Yan Zhu | Yishu Miao

Topic models have been prevailing for many years on discovering latent semantics while modeling long documents. However, for short texts they generally suffer from data sparsity because of extremely limited word co-occurrences; thus tend to yield repetitive or trivial topics with low quality. In this paper, to address this issue, we propose a novel neural topic model in the framework of autoencoding with a new topic distribution quantization approach generating peakier distributions that are more appropriate for modeling short texts. Besides the encoding, to tackle this issue in terms of decoding, we further propose a novel negative sampling decoder learning from negative samples to avoid yielding repetitive topics. We observe that our model can highly improve short text topic modeling performance. Through extensive experiments on real-world datasets, we demonstrate our model can outperform both strong traditional and neural baselines under extreme data sparsity scenes, producing high-quality topics.

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Querying Across Genres for Medical Claims in News
Chaoyuan Zuo | Narayan Acharya | Ritwik Banerjee

We present a query-based biomedical information retrieval task across two vastly different genres – newswire and research literature – where the goal is to find the research publication that supports the primary claim made in a health-related news article. For this task, we present a new dataset of 5,034 claims from news paired with research abstracts. Our approach consists of two steps: (i) selecting the most relevant candidates from a collection of 222k research abstracts, and (ii) re-ranking this list. We compare the classical IR approach using BM25 with more recent transformer-based models. Our results show that cross-genre medical IR is a viable task, but incorporating domain-specific knowledge is crucial.

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Incorporating Multimodal Information in Open-Domain Web Keyphrase Extraction
Yansen Wang | Zhen Fan | Carolyn Rose

Open-domain Keyphrase extraction (KPE) on the Web is a fundamental yet complex NLP task with a wide range of practical applications within the field of Information Retrieval. In contrast to other document types, web page designs are intended for easy navigation and information finding. Effective designs encode within the layout and formatting signals that point to where the important information can be found. In this work, we propose a modeling approach that leverages these multi-modal signals to aid in the KPE task. In particular, we leverage both lexical and visual features (e.g., size, font, position) at the micro-level to enable effective strategy induction and meta-level features that describe pages at a macro-level to aid in strategy selection. Our evaluation demonstrates that a combination of effective strategy induction and strategy selection within this approach for the KPE task outperforms state-of-the-art models. A qualitative post-hoc analysis illustrates how these features function within the model.

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CMU-MOSEAS: A Multimodal Language Dataset for Spanish, Portuguese, German and French
AmirAli Bagher Zadeh | Yansheng Cao | Simon Hessner | Paul Pu Liang | Soujanya Poria | Louis-Philippe Morency

Modeling multimodal language is a core research area in natural language processing. While languages such as English have relatively large multimodal language resources, other widely spoken languages across the globe have few or no large-scale datasets in this area. This disproportionately affects native speakers of languages other than English. As a step towards building more equitable and inclusive multimodal systems, we introduce the first large-scale multimodal language dataset for Spanish, Portuguese, German and French. The proposed dataset, called CMU-MOSEAS (CMU Multimodal Opinion Sentiment, Emotions and Attributes), is the largest of its kind with 40,000 total labelled sentences. It covers a diverse set topics and speakers, and carries supervision of 20 labels including sentiment (and subjectivity), emotions, and attributes. Our evaluations on a state-of-the-art multimodal model demonstrates that CMU-MOSEAS enables further research for multilingual studies in multimodal language.

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Combining Self-Training and Self-Supervised Learning for Unsupervised Disfluency Detection
Shaolei Wang | Zhongyuan Wang | Wanxiang Che | Ting Liu

Most existing approaches to disfluency detection heavily rely on human-annotated corpora, which is expensive to obtain in practice. There have been several proposals to alleviate this issue with, for instance, self-supervised learning techniques, but they still require human-annotated corpora. In this work, we explore the unsupervised learning paradigm which can potentially work with unlabeled text corpora that are cheaper and easier to obtain. Our model builds upon the recent work on Noisy Student Training, a semi-supervised learning approach that extends the idea of self-training. Experimental results on the commonly used English Switchboard test set show that our approach achieves competitive performance compared to the previous state-of-the-art supervised systems using contextualized word embeddings (e.g. BERT and ELECTRA).

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Multimodal Routing: Improving Local and Global Interpretability of Multimodal Language Analysis
Yao-Hung Hubert Tsai | Martin Ma | Muqiao Yang | Ruslan Salakhutdinov | Louis-Philippe Morency

The human language can be expressed through multiple sources of information known as modalities, including tones of voice, facial gestures, and spoken language. Recent multimodal learning with strong performances on human-centric tasks such as sentiment analysis and emotion recognition are often black-box, with very limited interpretability. In this paper we propose, which dynamically adjusts weights between input modalities and output representations differently for each input sample. Multimodal routing can identify relative importance of both individual modalities and cross-modality factors. Moreover, the weight assignment by routing allows us to interpret modality-prediction relationships not only globally (i.e. general trends over the whole dataset), but also locally for each single input sample, meanwhile keeping competitive performance compared to state-of-the-art methods.

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Multistage Fusion with Forget Gate for Multimodal Summarization in Open-Domain Videos
Nayu Liu | Xian Sun | Hongfeng Yu | Wenkai Zhang | Guangluan Xu

Multimodal summarization for open-domain videos is an emerging task, aiming to generate a summary from multisource information (video, audio, transcript). Despite the success of recent multiencoder-decoder frameworks on this task, existing methods lack fine-grained multimodality interactions of multisource inputs. Besides, unlike other multimodal tasks, this task has longer multimodal sequences with more redundancy and noise. To address these two issues, we propose a multistage fusion network with the fusion forget gate module, which builds upon this approach by modeling fine-grained interactions between the modalities through a multistep fusion schema and controlling the flow of redundant information between multimodal long sequences via a forgetting module. Experimental results on the How2 dataset show that our proposed model achieves a new state-of-the-art performance. Comprehensive analysis empirically verifies the effectiveness of our fusion schema and forgetting module on multiple encoder-decoder architectures. Specially, when using high noise ASR transcripts (WER>30%), our model still achieves performance close to the ground-truth transcript model, which reduces manual annotation cost.

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BiST: Bi-directional Spatio-Temporal Reasoning for Video-Grounded Dialogues
Hung Le | Doyen Sahoo | Nancy Chen | Steven C.H. Hoi

Video-grounded dialogues are very challenging due to (i) the complexity of videos which contain both spatial and temporal variations, and (ii) the complexity of user utterances which query different segments and/or different objects in videos over multiple dialogue turns. However, existing approaches to video-grounded dialogues often focus on superficial temporal-level visual cues, but neglect more fine-grained spatial signals from videos. To address this drawback, we proposed Bi-directional Spatio-Temporal Learning (BiST), a vision-language neural framework for high-resolution queries in videos based on textual cues. Specifically, our approach not only exploits both spatial and temporal-level information, but also learns dynamic information diffusion between the two feature spaces through spatial-to-temporal and temporal-to-spatial reasoning. The bidirectional strategy aims to tackle the evolving semantics of user queries in the dialogue setting. The retrieved visual cues are used as contextual information to construct relevant responses to the users. Our empirical results and comprehensive qualitative analysis show that BiST achieves competitive performance and generates reasonable responses on a large-scale AVSD benchmark. We also adapt our BiST models to the Video QA setting, and substantially outperform prior approaches on the TGIF-QA benchmark.

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UniConv: A Unified Conversational Neural Architecture for Multi-domain Task-oriented Dialogues
Hung Le | Doyen Sahoo | Chenghao Liu | Nancy Chen | Steven C.H. Hoi

Building an end-to-end conversational agent for multi-domain task-oriented dialogues has been an open challenge for two main reasons. First, tracking dialogue states of multiple domains is non-trivial as the dialogue agent must obtain complete states from all relevant domains, some of which might have shared slots among domains as well as unique slots specifically for one domain only. Second, the dialogue agent must also process various types of information across domains, including dialogue context, dialogue states, and database, to generate natural responses to users. Unlike the existing approaches that are often designed to train each module separately, we propose “UniConv” - a novel unified neural architecture for end-to-end conversational systems in multi-domain task-oriented dialogues, which is designed to jointly train (i) a Bi-level State Tracker which tracks dialogue states by learning signals at both slot and domain level independently, and (ii) a Joint Dialogue Act and Response Generator which incorporates information from various input components and models dialogue acts and target responses simultaneously. We conduct comprehensive experiments in dialogue state tracking, context-to-text, and end-to-end settings on the MultiWOZ2.1 benchmark, achieving superior performance over competitive baselines.

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GraphDialog: Integrating Graph Knowledge into End-to-End Task-Oriented Dialogue Systems
Shiquan Yang | Rui Zhang | Sarah Erfani

End-to-end task-oriented dialogue systems aim to generate system responses directly from plain text inputs. There are two challenges for such systems: one is how to effectively incorporate external knowledge bases (KBs) into the learning framework; the other is how to accurately capture the semantics of dialogue history. In this paper, we address these two challenges by exploiting the graph structural information in the knowledge base and in the dependency parsing tree of the dialogue. To effectively leverage the structural information in dialogue history, we propose a new recurrent cell architecture which allows representation learning on graphs. To exploit the relations between entities in KBs, the model combines multi-hop reasoning ability based on the graph structure. Experimental results show that the proposed model achieves consistent improvement over state-of-the-art models on two different task-oriented dialogue datasets.

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Structured Attention for Unsupervised Dialogue Structure Induction
Liang Qiu | Yizhou Zhao | Weiyan Shi | Yuan Liang | Feng Shi | Tao Yuan | Zhou Yu | Song-Chun Zhu

Inducing a meaningful structural representation from one or a set of dialogues is a crucial but challenging task in computational linguistics. Advancement made in this area is critical for dialogue system design and discourse analysis. It can also be extended to solve grammatical inference. In this work, we propose to incorporate structured attention layers into a Variational Recurrent Neural Network (VRNN) model with discrete latent states to learn dialogue structure in an unsupervised fashion. Compared to a vanilla VRNN, structured attention enables a model to focus on different parts of the source sentence embeddings while enforcing a structural inductive bias. Experiments show that on two-party dialogue datasets, VRNN with structured attention learns semantic structures that are similar to templates used to generate this dialogue corpus. While on multi-party dialogue datasets, our model learns an interactive structure demonstrating its capability of distinguishing speakers or addresses, automatically disentangling dialogues without explicit human annotation.

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Cross Copy Network for Dialogue Generation
Changzhen Ji | Xin Zhou | Yating Zhang | Xiaozhong Liu | Changlong Sun | Conghui Zhu | Tiejun Zhao

In the past few years, audiences from different fields witness the achievements of sequence-to-sequence models (e.g., LSTM+attention, Pointer Generator Networks and Transformer) to enhance dialogue content generation. While content fluency and accuracy often serve as the major indicators for model training, dialogue logics, carrying critical information for some particular domains, are often ignored. Take customer service and court debate dialogue as examples, compatible logics can be observed across different dialogue instances, and this information can provide vital evidence for utterance generation. In this paper, we propose a novel network architecture - Cross Copy Networks (CCN) to explore the current dialog context and similar dialogue instances’ logical structure simultaneously. Experiments with two tasks, court debate and customer service content generation, proved that the proposed algorithm is superior to existing state-of-art content generation models.

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Multi-turn Response Selection using Dialogue Dependency Relations
Qi Jia | Yizhu Liu | Siyu Ren | Kenny Zhu | Haifeng Tang

Multi-turn response selection is a task designed for developing dialogue agents. The performance on this task has a remarkable improvement with pre-trained language models. However, these models simply concatenate the turns in dialogue history as the input and largely ignore the dependencies between the turns. In this paper, we propose a dialogue extraction algorithm to transform a dialogue history into threads based on their dependency relations. Each thread can be regarded as a self-contained sub-dialogue. We also propose Thread-Encoder model to encode threads and candidates into compact representations by pre-trained Transformers and finally get the matching score through an attention layer. The experiments show that dependency relations are helpful for dialogue context understanding, and our model outperforms the state-of-the-art baselines on both DSTC7 and DSTC8*, with competitive results on UbuntuV2.

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Parallel Interactive Networks for Multi-Domain Dialogue State Generation
Junfan Chen | Richong Zhang | Yongyi Mao | Jie Xu

The dependencies between system and user utterances in the same turn and across different turns are not fully considered in existing multidomain dialogue state tracking (MDST) models. In this study, we argue that the incorporation of these dependencies is crucial for the design of MDST and propose Parallel Interactive Networks (PIN) to model these dependencies. Specifically, we integrate an interactive encoder to jointly model the in-turn dependencies and cross-turn dependencies. The slot-level context is introduced to extract more expressive features for different slots. And a distributed copy mechanism is utilized to selectively copy words from historical system utterances or historical user utterances. Empirical studies demonstrated the superiority of the proposed PIN model.

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SlotRefine: A Fast Non-Autoregressive Model for Joint Intent Detection and Slot Filling
Di Wu | Liang Ding | Fan Lu | Jian Xie

Slot filling and intent detection are two main tasks in spoken language understanding (SLU) system. In this paper, we propose a novel non-autoregressive model named SlotRefine for joint intent detection and slot filling. Besides, we design a novel two-pass iteration mechanism to handle the uncoordinated slots problem caused by conditional independence of non-autoregressive model. Experiments demonstrate that our model significantly outperforms previous models in slot filling task, while considerably speeding up the decoding (up to x10.77). In-depth analysis show that 1) pretraining schemes could further enhance our model; 2) two-pass mechanism indeed remedy the uncoordinated slots.

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An Information Bottleneck Approach for Controlling Conciseness in Rationale Extraction
Bhargavi Paranjape | Mandar Joshi | John Thickstun | Hannaneh Hajishirzi | Luke Zettlemoyer

Decisions of complex models for language understanding can be explained by limiting the inputs they are provided to a relevant subsequence of the original text — a rationale. Models that condition predictions on a concise rationale, while being more interpretable, tend to be less accurate than models that are able to use the entire context. In this paper, we show that it is possible to better manage the trade-off between concise explanations and high task accuracy by optimizing a bound on the Information Bottleneck (IB) objective. Our approach jointly learns an explainer that predicts sparse binary masks over input sentences without explicit supervision, and an end-task predictor that considers only the residual sentences. Using IB, we derive a learning objective that allows direct control of mask sparsity levels through a tunable sparse prior. Experiments on the ERASER benchmark demonstrate significant gains over previous work for both task performance and agreement with human rationales. Furthermore, we find that in the semi-supervised setting, a modest amount of gold rationales (25% of training examples with gold masks) can close the performance gap with a model that uses the full input.

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CrowS-Pairs: A Challenge Dataset for Measuring Social Biases in Masked Language Models
Nikita Nangia | Clara Vania | Rasika Bhalerao | Samuel R. Bowman

Pretrained language models, especially masked language models (MLMs) have seen success across many NLP tasks. However, there is ample evidence that they use the cultural biases that are undoubtedly present in the corpora they are trained on, implicitly creating harm with biased representations. To measure some forms of social bias in language models against protected demographic groups in the US, we introduce the Crowdsourced Stereotype Pairs benchmark (CrowS-Pairs). CrowS-Pairs has 1508 examples that cover stereotypes dealing with nine types of bias, like race, religion, and age. In CrowS-Pairs a model is presented with two sentences: one that is more stereotyping and another that is less stereotyping. The data focuses on stereotypes about historically disadvantaged groups and contrasts them with advantaged groups. We find that all three of the widely-used MLMs we evaluate substantially favor sentences that express stereotypes in every category in CrowS-Pairs. As work on building less biased models advances, this dataset can be used as a benchmark to evaluate progress.

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LOGAN: Local Group Bias Detection by Clustering
Jieyu Zhao | Kai-Wei Chang

Machine learning techniques have been widely used in natural language processing (NLP). However, as revealed by many recent studies, machine learning models often inherit and amplify the societal biases in data. Various metrics have been proposed to quantify biases in model predictions. In particular, several of them evaluate disparity in model performance between protected groups and advantaged groups in the test corpus. However, we argue that evaluating bias at the corpus level is not enough for understanding how biases are embedded in a model. In fact, a model with similar aggregated performance between different groups on the entire data may behave differently on instances in a local region. To analyze and detect such local bias, we propose LOGAN, a new bias detection technique based on clustering. Experiments on toxicity classification and object classification tasks show that LOGAN identifies bias in a local region and allows us to better analyze the biases in model predictions.

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RNNs can generate bounded hierarchical languages with optimal memory
John Hewitt | Michael Hahn | Surya Ganguli | Percy Liang | Christopher D. Manning

Recurrent neural networks empirically generate natural language with high syntactic fidelity. However, their success is not well-understood theoretically. We provide theoretical insight into this success, proving in a finite-precision setting that RNNs can efficiently generate bounded hierarchical languages that reflect the scaffolding of natural language syntax. We introduce Dyck-(k,m), the language of well-nested brackets (of k types) and m-bounded nesting depth, reflecting the bounded memory needs and long-distance dependencies of natural language syntax. The best known results use O(km2) memory (hidden units) to generate these languages. We prove that an RNN with O(m log k) hidden units suffices, an exponential reduction in memory, by an explicit construction. Finally, we show that no algorithm, even with unbounded computation, can suffice with o(m log k) hidden units.

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Detecting Independent Pronoun Bias with Partially-Synthetic Data Generation
Robert Munro | Alex (Carmen) Morrison

We report that state-of-the-art parsers consistently failed to identify “hers” and “theirs” as pronouns but identified the masculine equivalent “his”. We find that the same biases exist in recent language models like BERT. While some of the bias comes from known sources, like training data with gender imbalances, we find that the bias is _amplified_ in the language models and that linguistic differences between English pronouns that are not inherently biased can become biases in some machine learning models. We introduce a new technique for measuring bias in models, using Bayesian approximations to generate partially-synthetic data from the model itself.

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Visually Grounded Continual Learning of Compositional Phrases
Xisen Jin | Junyi Du | Arka Sadhu | Ram Nevatia | Xiang Ren

Humans acquire language continually with much more limited access to data samples at a time, as compared to contemporary NLP systems. To study this human-like language acquisition ability, we present VisCOLL, a visually grounded language learning task, which simulates the continual acquisition of compositional phrases from streaming visual scenes. In the task, models are trained on a paired image-caption stream which has shifting object distribution; while being constantly evaluated by a visually-grounded masked language prediction task on held-out test sets. VisCOLL compounds the challenges of continual learning (i.e., learning from continuously shifting data distribution) and compositional generalization (i.e., generalizing to novel compositions). To facilitate research on VisCOLL, we construct two datasets, COCO-shift and Flickr-shift, and benchmark them using different continual learning methods. Results reveal that SoTA continual learning approaches provide little to no improvements on VisCOLL, since storing examples of all possible compositions is infeasible. We conduct further ablations and analysis to guide future work.

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MAF: Multimodal Alignment Framework for Weakly-Supervised Phrase Grounding
Qinxin Wang | Hao Tan | Sheng Shen | Michael Mahoney | Zhewei Yao

Phrase localization is a task that studies the mapping from textual phrases to regions of an image. Given difficulties in annotating phrase-to-object datasets at scale, we develop a Multimodal Alignment Framework (MAF) to leverage more widely-available caption-image datasets, which can then be used as a form of weak supervision. We first present algorithms to model phrase-object relevance by leveraging fine-grained visual representations and visually-aware language representations. By adopting a contrastive objective, our method uses information in caption-image pairs to boost the performance in weakly-supervised scenarios. Experiments conducted on the widely-adopted Flickr30k dataset show a significant improvement over existing weakly-supervised methods. With the help of the visually-aware language representations, we can also improve the previous best unsupervised result by 5.56%. We conduct ablation studies to show that both our novel model and our weakly-supervised strategies significantly contribute to our strong results.

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Domain-Specific Lexical Grounding in Noisy Visual-Textual Documents
Gregory Yauney | Jack Hessel | David Mimno

Images can give us insights into the contextual meanings of words, but current image-text grounding approaches require detailed annotations. Such granular annotation is rare, expensive, and unavailable in most domain-specific contexts. In contrast, unlabeled multi-image, multi-sentence documents are abundant. Can lexical grounding be learned from such documents, even though they have significant lexical and visual overlap? Working with a case study dataset of real estate listings, we demonstrate the challenge of distinguishing highly correlated grounded terms, such as “kitchen” and “bedroom”, and introduce metrics to assess this document similarity. We present a simple unsupervised clustering-based method that increases precision and recall beyond object detection and image tagging baselines when evaluated on labeled subsets of the dataset. The proposed method is particularly effective for local contextual meanings of a word, for example associating “granite” with countertops in the real estate dataset and with rocky landscapes in a Wikipedia dataset.

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HERO: Hierarchical Encoder for Video+Language Omni-representation Pre-training
Linjie Li | Yen-Chun Chen | Yu Cheng | Zhe Gan | Licheng Yu | Jingjing Liu

We present HERO, a novel framework for large-scale video+language omni-representation learning. HERO encodes multimodal inputs in a hierarchical structure, where local context of a video frame is captured by a Cross-modal Transformer via multimodal fusion, and global video context is captured by a Temporal Transformer. In addition to standard Masked Language Modeling (MLM) and Masked Frame Modeling (MFM) objectives, we design two new pre-training tasks: (i) Video-Subtitle Matching (VSM), where the model predicts both global and local temporal alignment; and (ii) Frame Order Modeling (FOM), where the model predicts the right order of shuffled video frames. HERO is jointly trained on HowTo100M and large-scale TV datasets to gain deep understanding of complex social dynamics with multi-character interactions. Comprehensive experiments demonstrate that HERO achieves new state of the art on multiple benchmarks over Text-based Video/Video-moment Retrieval, Video Question Answering (QA), Video-and-language Inference and Video Captioning tasks across different domains. We also introduce two new challenging benchmarks How2QA and How2R for Video QA and Retrieval, collected from diverse video content over multimodalities.

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Vokenization: Improving Language Understanding with Contextualized, Visual-Grounded Supervision
Hao Tan | Mohit Bansal

Humans learn language by listening, speaking, writing, reading, and also, via interaction with the multimodal real world. Existing language pre-training frameworks show the effectiveness of text-only self-supervision while we explore the idea of a visually-supervised language model in this paper. We find that the main reason hindering this exploration is the large divergence in magnitude and distributions between the visually-grounded language datasets and pure-language corpora. Therefore, we develop a technique named “vokenization” that extrapolates multimodal alignments to language-only data by contextually mapping language tokens to their related images (which we call “vokens”). The “vokenizer” is trained on relatively small image captioning datasets and we then apply it to generate vokens for large language corpora. Trained with these contextually generated vokens, our visually-supervised language models show consistent improvements over self-supervised alternatives on multiple pure-language tasks such as GLUE, SQuAD, and SWAG.

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Detecting Cross-Modal Inconsistency to Defend Against Neural Fake News
Reuben Tan | Bryan Plummer | Kate Saenko

Large-scale dissemination of disinformation online intended to mislead or deceive the general population is a major societal problem. Rapid progression in image, video, and natural language generative models has only exacerbated this situation and intensified our need for an effective defense mechanism. While existing approaches have been proposed to defend against neural fake news, they are generally constrained to the very limited setting where articles only have text and metadata such as the title and authors. In this paper, we introduce the more realistic and challenging task of defending against machine-generated news that also includes images and captions. To identify the possible weaknesses that adversaries can exploit, we create a NeuralNews dataset which is comprised of 4 different types of generated articles as well as conduct a series of human user study experiments based on this dataset. Coupled with providing a relatively effective approach based on detecting visual-semantic inconsistencies, the valuable insights gleaned from our user study experiments and, consequently, this paper will serve as an effective first line of defense and a valuable reference for future work in defending against machine-generated disinformation.

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Enhancing Aspect Term Extraction with Soft Prototypes
Zhuang Chen | Tieyun Qian

Aspect term extraction (ATE) aims to extract aspect terms from a review sentence that users have expressed opinions on. Existing studies mostly focus on designing neural sequence taggers to extract linguistic features from the token level. However, since the aspect terms and context words usually exhibit long-tail distributions, these taggers often converge to an inferior state without enough sample exposure. In this paper, we propose to tackle this problem by correlating words with each other through soft prototypes. These prototypes, generated by a soft retrieval process, can introduce global knowledge from internal or external data and serve as the supporting evidence for discovering the aspect terms. Our proposed model is a general framework and can be combined with almost all sequence taggers. Experiments on four SemEval datasets show that our model boosts the performance of three typical ATE methods by a large margin.

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FedED: Federated Learning via Ensemble Distillation for Medical Relation Extraction
Dianbo Sui | Yubo Chen | Jun Zhao | Yantao Jia | Yuantao Xie | Weijian Sun

Unlike other domains, medical texts are inevitably accompanied by private information, so sharing or copying these texts is strictly restricted. However, training a medical relation extraction model requires collecting these privacy-sensitive texts and storing them on one machine, which comes in conflict with privacy protection. In this paper, we propose a privacy-preserving medical relation extraction model based on federated learning, which enables training a central model with no single piece of private local data being shared or exchanged. Though federated learning has distinct advantages in privacy protection, it suffers from the communication bottleneck, which is mainly caused by the need to upload cumbersome local parameters. To overcome this bottleneck, we leverage a strategy based on knowledge distillation. Such a strategy uses the uploaded predictions of ensemble local models to train the central model without requiring uploading local parameters. Experiments on three publicly available medical relation extraction datasets demonstrate the effectiveness of our method.

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Multimodal Joint Attribute Prediction and Value Extraction for E-commerce Product
Tiangang Zhu | Yue Wang | Haoran Li | Youzheng Wu | Xiaodong He | Bowen Zhou

Product attribute values are essential in many e-commerce scenarios, such as customer service robots, product recommendations, and product retrieval. While in the real world, the attribute values of a product are usually incomplete and vary over time, which greatly hinders the practical applications. In this paper, we propose a multimodal method to jointly predict product attributes and extract values from textual product descriptions with the help of the product images. We argue that product attributes and values are highly correlated, e.g., it will be easier to extract the values on condition that the product attributes are given. Thus, we jointly model the attribute prediction and value extraction tasks from multiple aspects towards the interactions between attributes and values. Moreover, product images have distinct effects on our tasks for different product attributes and values. Thus, we selectively draw useful visual information from product images to enhance our model. We annotate a multimodal product attribute value dataset that contains 87,194 instances, and the experimental results on this dataset demonstrate that explicitly modeling the relationship between attributes and values facilitates our method to establish the correspondence between them, and selectively utilizing visual product information is necessary for the task. Our code and dataset are available at

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A Predicate-Function-Argument Annotation of Natural Language for Open-Domain Information eXpression
Mingming Sun | Wenyue Hua | Zoey Liu | Xin Wang | Kangjie Zheng | Ping Li

Existing OIE (Open Information Extraction) algorithms are independent of each other such that there exist lots of redundant works; the featured strategies are not reusable and not adaptive to new tasks. This paper proposes a new pipeline to build OIE systems, where an Open-domain Information eXpression (OIX) task is proposed to provide a platform for all OIE strategies. The OIX is an OIE friendly expression of a sentence without information loss. The generation procedure of OIX contains shared works of OIE algorithms so that OIE strategies can be developed on the platform of OIX as inference operations focusing on more critical problems. Based on the same platform of OIX, the OIE strategies are reusable, and people can select a set of strategies to assemble their algorithm for a specific task so that the adaptability may be significantly increased. This paper focuses on the task of OIX and propose a solution – Open Information Annotation (OIA). OIA is a predicate-function-argument annotation for sentences. We label a data set of sentence-OIA pairs and propose a dependency-based rule system to generate OIA annotations from sentences. The evaluation results reveal that learning the OIA from a sentence is a challenge owing to the complexity of natural language sentences, and it is worthy of attracting more attention from the research community.

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Retrofitting Structure-aware Transformer Language Model for End Tasks
Hao Fei | Yafeng Ren | Donghong Ji

We consider retrofitting structure-aware Transformer language model for facilitating end tasks by proposing to exploit syntactic distance to encode both the phrasal constituency and dependency connection into the language model. A middle-layer structural learning strategy is leveraged for structure integration, accomplished with main semantic task training under multi-task learning scheme. Experimental results show that the retrofitted structure-aware Transformer language model achieves improved perplexity, meanwhile inducing accurate syntactic phrases. By performing structure-aware fine-tuning, our model achieves significant improvements for both semantic- and syntactic-dependent tasks.

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Lightweight, Dynamic Graph Convolutional Networks for AMR-to-Text Generation
Yan Zhang | Zhijiang Guo | Zhiyang Teng | Wei Lu | Shay B. Cohen | Zuozhu Liu | Lidong Bing

AMR-to-text generation is used to transduce Abstract Meaning Representation structures (AMR) into text. A key challenge in this task is to efficiently learn effective graph representations. Previously, Graph Convolution Networks (GCNs) were used to encode input AMRs, however, vanilla GCNs are not able to capture non-local information and additionally, they follow a local (first-order) information aggregation scheme. To account for these issues, larger and deeper GCN models are required to capture more complex interactions. In this paper, we introduce a dynamic fusion mechanism, proposing Lightweight Dynamic Graph Convolutional Networks (LDGCNs) that capture richer non-local interactions by synthesizing higher order information from the input graphs. We further develop two novel parameter saving strategies based on the group graph convolutions and weight tied convolutions to reduce memory usage and model complexity. With the help of these strategies, we are able to train a model with fewer parameters while maintaining the model capacity. Experiments demonstrate that LDGCNs outperform state-of-the-art models on two benchmark datasets for AMR-to-text generation with significantly fewer parameters.

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If beam search is the answer, what was the question?
Clara Meister | Ryan Cotterell | Tim Vieira

Quite surprisingly, exact maximum a posteriori (MAP) decoding of neural language generators frequently leads to low-quality results. Rather, most state-of-the-art results on language generation tasks are attained using beam search despite its overwhelmingly high search error rate. This implies that the MAP objective alone does not express the properties we desire in text, which merits the question: if beam search is the answer, what was the question? We frame beam search as the exact solution to a different decoding objective in order to gain insights into why high probability under a model alone may not indicate adequacy. We find that beam search enforces uniform information density in text, a property motivated by cognitive science. We suggest a set of decoding objectives that explicitly enforce this property and find that exact decoding with these objectives alleviates the problems encountered when decoding poorly calibrated language generation models. Additionally, we analyze the text produced using various decoding strategies and see that, in our neural machine translation experiments, the extent to which this property is adhered to strongly correlates with BLEU.

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Understanding the Mechanics of SPIGOT: Surrogate Gradients for Latent Structure Learning
Tsvetomila Mihaylova | Vlad Niculae | André F. T. Martins

Latent structure models are a powerful tool for modeling language data: they can mitigate the error propagation and annotation bottleneck in pipeline systems, while simultaneously uncovering linguistic insights about the data. One challenge with end-to-end training of these models is the argmax operation, which has null gradient. In this paper, we focus on surrogate gradients, a popular strategy to deal with this problem. We explore latent structure learning through the angle of pulling back the downstream learning objective. In this paradigm, we discover a principled motivation for both the straight-through estimator (STE) as well as the recently-proposed SPIGOT – a variant of STE for structured models. Our perspective leads to new algorithms in the same family. We empirically compare the known and the novel pulled-back estimators against the popular alternatives, yielding new insight for practitioners and revealing intriguing failure cases.

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Is the Best Better? Bayesian Statistical Model Comparison for Natural Language Processing
Piotr Szymański | Kyle Gorman

Recent work raises concerns about the use of standard splits to compare natural language processing models. We propose a Bayesian statistical model comparison technique which uses k-fold cross-validation across multiple data sets to estimate the likelihood that one model will outperform the other, or that the two will produce practically equivalent results. We use this technique to rank six English part-of-speech taggers across two data sets and three evaluation metrics.

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Exploring Logically Dependent Multi-task Learning with Causal Inference
Wenqing Chen | Jidong Tian | Liqiang Xiao | Hao He | Yaohui Jin

Previous studies have shown that hierarchical multi-task learning (MTL) can utilize task dependencies by stacking encoders and outperform democratic MTL. However, stacking encoders only considers the dependencies of feature representations and ignores the label dependencies in logically dependent tasks. Furthermore, how to properly utilize the labels remains an issue due to the cascading errors between tasks. In this paper, we view logically dependent MTL from the perspective of causal inference and suggest a mediation assumption instead of the confounding assumption in conventional MTL models. We propose a model including two key mechanisms: label transfer (LT) for each task to utilize the labels of all its lower-level tasks, and Gumbel sampling (GS) to deal with cascading errors. In the field of causal inference, GS in our model is essentially a counterfactual reasoning process, trying to estimate the causal effect between tasks and utilize it to improve MTL. We conduct experiments on two English datasets and one Chinese dataset. Experiment results show that our model achieves state-of-the-art on six out of seven subtasks and improves predictions’ consistency.

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Masking as an Efficient Alternative to Finetuning for Pretrained Language Models
Mengjie Zhao | Tao Lin | Fei Mi | Martin Jaggi | Hinrich Schütze

We present an efficient method of utilizing pretrained language models, where we learn selective binary masks for pretrained weights in lieu of modifying them through finetuning. Extensive evaluations of masking BERT, RoBERTa, and DistilBERT on eleven diverse NLP tasks show that our masking scheme yields performance comparable to finetuning, yet has a much smaller memory footprint when several tasks need to be inferred. Intrinsic evaluations show that representations computed by our binary masked language models encode information necessary for solving downstream tasks. Analyzing the loss landscape, we show that masking and finetuning produce models that reside in minima that can be connected by a line segment with nearly constant test accuracy. This confirms that masking can be utilized as an efficient alternative to finetuning.

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Dynamic Context Selection for Document-level Neural Machine Translation via Reinforcement Learning
Xiaomian Kang | Yang Zhao | Jiajun Zhang | Chengqing Zong

Document-level neural machine translation has yielded attractive improvements. However, majority of existing methods roughly use all context sentences in a fixed scope. They neglect the fact that different source sentences need different sizes of context. To address this problem, we propose an effective approach to select dynamic context so that the document-level translation model can utilize the more useful selected context sentences to produce better translations. Specifically, we introduce a selection module that is independent of the translation module to score each candidate context sentence. Then, we propose two strategies to explicitly select a variable number of context sentences and feed them into the translation module. We train the two modules end-to-end via reinforcement learning. A novel reward is proposed to encourage the selection and utilization of dynamic context sentences. Experiments demonstrate that our approach can select adaptive context sentences for different source sentences, and significantly improves the performance of document-level translation methods.

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Data Rejuvenation: Exploiting Inactive Training Examples for Neural Machine Translation
Wenxiang Jiao | Xing Wang | Shilin He | Irwin King | Michael Lyu | Zhaopeng Tu

Large-scale training datasets lie at the core of the recent success of neural machine translation (NMT) models. However, the complex patterns and potential noises in the large-scale data make training NMT models difficult. In this work, we explore to identify the inactive training examples which contribute less to the model performance, and show that the existence of inactive examples depends on the data distribution. We further introduce data rejuvenation to improve the training of NMT models on large-scale datasets by exploiting inactive examples. The proposed framework consists of three phases. First, we train an identification model on the original training data, and use it to distinguish inactive examples and active examples by their sentence-level output probabilities. Then, we train a rejuvenation model on the active examples, which is used to re-label the inactive examples with forward- translation. Finally, the rejuvenated examples and the active examples are combined to train the final NMT model. Experimental results on WMT14 English-German and English-French datasets show that the proposed data rejuvenation consistently and significantly improves performance for several strong NMT models. Extensive analyses reveal that our approach stabilizes and accelerates the training process of NMT models, resulting in final models with better generalization capability.

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Pronoun-Targeted Fine-tuning for NMT with Hybrid Losses
Prathyusha Jwalapuram | Shafiq Joty | Youlin Shen

Popular Neural Machine Translation model training uses strategies like backtranslation to improve BLEU scores, requiring large amounts of additional data and training. We introduce a class of conditional generative-discriminative hybrid losses that we use to fine-tune a trained machine translation model. Through a combination of targeted fine-tuning objectives and intuitive re-use of the training data the model has failed to adequately learn from, we improve the model performance of both a sentence-level and a contextual model without using any additional data. We target the improvement of pronoun translations through our fine-tuning and evaluate our models on a pronoun benchmark testset. Our sentence-level model shows a 0.5 BLEU improvement on both the WMT14 and the IWSLT13 De-En testsets, while our contextual model achieves the best results, improving from 31.81 to 32 BLEU on WMT14 De-En testset, and from 32.10 to 33.13 on the IWSLT13 De-En testset, with corresponding improvements in pronoun translation. We further show the generalizability of our method by reproducing the improvements on two additional language pairs, Fr-En and Cs-En.

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Learning Adaptive Segmentation Policy for Simultaneous Translation
Ruiqing Zhang | Chuanqiang Zhang | Zhongjun He | Hua Wu | Haifeng Wang

Balancing accuracy and latency is a great challenge for simultaneous translation. To achieve high accuracy, the model usually needs to wait for more streaming text before translation, which results in increased latency. However, keeping low latency would probably hurt accuracy. Therefore, it is essential to segment the ASR output into appropriate units for translation. Inspired by human interpreters, we propose a novel adaptive segmentation policy for simultaneous translation. The policy learns to segment the source text by considering possible translations produced by the translation model, maintaining consistency between the segmentation and translation. Experimental results on Chinese-English and German-English translation show that our method achieves a better accuracy-latency trade-off over recently proposed state-of-the-art methods.

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Learn to Cross-lingual Transfer with Meta Graph Learning Across Heterogeneous Languages
Zheng Li | Mukul Kumar | William Headden | Bing Yin | Ying Wei | Yu Zhang | Qiang Yang

Recent emergence of multilingual pre-training language model (mPLM) has enabled breakthroughs on various downstream cross-lingual transfer (CLT) tasks. However, mPLM-based methods usually involve two problems: (1) simply fine-tuning may not adapt general-purpose multilingual representations to be task-aware on low-resource languages; (2) ignore how cross-lingual adaptation happens for downstream tasks. To address the issues, we propose a meta graph learning (MGL) method. Unlike prior works that transfer from scratch, MGL can learn to cross-lingual transfer by extracting meta-knowledge from historical CLT experiences (tasks), making mPLM insensitive to low-resource languages. Besides, for each CLT task, MGL formulates its transfer process as information propagation over a dynamic graph, where the geometric structure can automatically capture intrinsic language relationships to explicitly guide cross-lingual transfer. Empirically, extensive experiments on both public and real-world datasets demonstrate the effectiveness of the MGL method.

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UDapter: Language Adaptation for Truly Universal Dependency Parsing
Ahmet Üstün | Arianna Bisazza | Gosse Bouma | Gertjan van Noord

Recent advances in multilingual dependency parsing have brought the idea of a truly universal parser closer to reality. However, cross-language interference and restrained model capacity remain major obstacles. To address this, we propose a novel multilingual task adaptation approach based on contextual parameter generation and adapter modules. This approach enables to learn adapters via language embeddings while sharing model parameters across languages. It also allows for an easy but effective integration of existing linguistic typology features into the parsing network. The resulting parser, UDapter, outperforms strong monolingual and multilingual baselines on the majority of both high-resource and low-resource (zero-shot) languages, showing the success of the proposed adaptation approach. Our in-depth analyses show that soft parameter sharing via typological features is key to this success.

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Uncertainty-Aware Label Refinement for Sequence Labeling
Tao Gui | Jiacheng Ye | Qi Zhang | Zhengyan Li | Zichu Fei | Yeyun Gong | Xuanjing Huang

Conditional random fields (CRF) for label decoding has become ubiquitous in sequence labeling tasks. However, the local label dependencies and inefficient Viterbi decoding have always been a problem to be solved. In this work, we introduce a novel two-stage label decoding framework to model long-term label dependencies, while being much more computationally efficient. A base model first predicts draft labels, and then a novel two-stream self-attention model makes refinements on these draft predictions based on long-range label dependencies, which can achieve parallel decoding for a faster prediction. In addition, in order to mitigate the side effects of incorrect draft labels, Bayesian neural networks are used to indicate the labels with a high probability of being wrong, which can greatly assist in preventing error propagation. The experimental results on three sequence labeling benchmarks demonstrated that the proposed method not only outperformed the CRF-based methods but also greatly accelerated the inference process.

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Adversarial Attack and Defense of Structured Prediction Models
Wenjuan Han | Liwen Zhang | Yong Jiang | Kewei Tu

Building an effective adversarial attacker and elaborating on countermeasures for adversarial attacks for natural language processing (NLP) have attracted a lot of research in recent years. However, most of the existing approaches focus on classification problems. In this paper, we investigate attacks and defenses for structured prediction tasks in NLP. Besides the difficulty of perturbing discrete words and the sentence fluency problem faced by attackers in any NLP tasks, there is a specific challenge to attackers of structured prediction models: the structured output of structured prediction models is sensitive to small perturbations in the input. To address these problems, we propose a novel and unified framework that learns to attack a structured prediction model using a sequence-to-sequence model with feedbacks from multiple reference models of the same structured prediction task. Based on the proposed attack, we further reinforce the victim model with adversarial training, making its prediction more robust and accurate. We evaluate the proposed framework in dependency parsing and part-of-speech tagging. Automatic and human evaluations show that our proposed framework succeeds in both attacking state-of-the-art structured prediction models and boosting them with adversarial training.

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Position-Aware Tagging for Aspect Sentiment Triplet Extraction
Lu Xu | Hao Li | Wei Lu | Lidong Bing

Aspect Sentiment Triplet Extraction (ASTE) is the task of extracting the triplets of target entities, their associated sentiment, and opinion spans explaining the reason for the sentiment. Existing research efforts mostly solve this problem using pipeline approaches, which break the triplet extraction process into several stages. Our observation is that the three elements within a triplet are highly related to each other, and this motivates us to build a joint model to extract such triplets using a sequence tagging approach. However, how to effectively design a tagging approach to extract the triplets that can capture the rich interactions among the elements is a challenging research question. In this work, we propose the first end-to-end model with a novel position-aware tagging scheme that is capable of jointly extracting the triplets. Our experimental results on several existing datasets show that jointly capturing elements in the triplet using our approach leads to improved performance over the existing approaches. We also conducted extensive experiments to investigate the model effectiveness and robustness.

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Simultaneous Machine Translation with Visual Context
Ozan Caglayan | Julia Ive | Veneta Haralampieva | Pranava Madhyastha | Loïc Barrault | Lucia Specia

Simultaneous machine translation (SiMT) aims to translate a continuous input text stream into another language with the lowest latency and highest quality possible. The translation thus has to start with an incomplete source text, which is read progressively, creating the need for anticipation. In this paper, we seek to understand whether the addition of visual information can compensate for the missing source context. To this end, we analyse the impact of different multimodal approaches and visual features on state-of-the-art SiMT frameworks. Our results show that visual context is helpful and that visually-grounded models based on explicit object region information are much better than commonly used global features, reaching up to 3 BLEU points improvement under low latency scenarios. Our qualitative analysis illustrates cases where only the multimodal systems are able to translate correctly from English into gender-marked languages, as well as deal with differences in word order, such as adjective-noun placement between English and French.

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XCOPA: A Multilingual Dataset for Causal Commonsense Reasoning
Edoardo Maria Ponti | Goran Glavaš | Olga Majewska | Qianchu Liu | Ivan Vulić | Anna Korhonen

In order to simulate human language capacity, natural language processing systems must be able to reason about the dynamics of everyday situations, including their possible causes and effects. Moreover, they should be able to generalise the acquired world knowledge to new languages, modulo cultural differences. Advances in machine reasoning and cross-lingual transfer depend on the availability of challenging evaluation benchmarks. Motivated by both demands, we introduce Cross-lingual Choice of Plausible Alternatives (XCOPA), a typologically diverse multilingual dataset for causal commonsense reasoning in 11 languages, which includes resource-poor languages like Eastern Apurímac Quechua and Haitian Creole. We evaluate a range of state-of-the-art models on this novel dataset, revealing that the performance of current methods based on multilingual pretraining and zero-shot fine-tuning falls short compared to translation-based transfer. Finally, we propose strategies to adapt multilingual models to out-of-sample resource-lean languages where only a small corpus or a bilingual dictionary is available, and report substantial improvements over the random baseline. The XCOPA dataset is freely available at

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The Secret is in the Spectra: Predicting Cross-lingual Task Performance with Spectral Similarity Measures
Haim Dubossarsky | Ivan Vulić | Roi Reichart | Anna Korhonen

Performance in cross-lingual NLP tasks is impacted by the (dis)similarity of languages at hand: e.g., previous work has suggested there is a connection between the expected success of bilingual lexicon induction (BLI) and the assumption of (approximate) isomorphism between monolingual embedding spaces. In this work we present a large-scale study focused on the correlations between monolingual embedding space similarity and task performance, covering thousands of language pairs and four different tasks: BLI, parsing, POS tagging and MT. We hypothesize that statistics of the spectrum of each monolingual embedding space indicate how well they can be aligned. We then introduce several isomorphism measures between two embedding spaces, based on the relevant statistics of their individual spectra. We empirically show that (1) language similarity scores derived from such spectral isomorphism measures are strongly associated with performance observed in different cross-lingual tasks, and (2) our spectral-based measures consistently outperform previous standard isomorphism measures, while being computationally more tractable and easier to interpret. Finally, our measures capture complementary information to typologically driven language distance measures, and the combination of measures from the two families yields even higher task performance correlations.

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Bridging Linguistic Typology and Multilingual Machine Translation with Multi-View Language Representations
Arturo Oncevay | Barry Haddow | Alexandra Birch

Sparse language vectors from linguistic typology databases and learned embeddings from tasks like multilingual machine translation have been investigated in isolation, without analysing how they could benefit from each other’s language characterisation. We propose to fuse both views using singular vector canonical correlation analysis and study what kind of information is induced from each source. By inferring typological features and language phylogenies, we observe that our representations embed typology and strengthen correlations with language relationships. We then take advantage of our multi-view language vector space for multilingual machine translation, where we achieve competitive overall translation accuracy in tasks that require information about language similarities, such as language clustering and ranking candidates for multilingual transfer. With our method, we can easily project and assess new languages without expensive retraining of massive multilingual or ranking models, which are major disadvantages of related approaches.

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AnswerFact: Fact Checking in Product Question Answering
Wenxuan Zhang | Yang Deng | Jing Ma | Wai Lam

Product-related question answering platforms nowadays are widely employed in many E-commerce sites, providing a convenient way for potential customers to address their concerns during online shopping. However, the misinformation in the answers on those platforms poses unprecedented challenges for users to obtain reliable and truthful product information, which may even cause a commercial loss in E-commerce business. To tackle this issue, we investigate to predict the veracity of answers in this paper and introduce AnswerFact, a large scale fact checking dataset from product question answering forums. Each answer is accompanied by its veracity label and associated evidence sentences, providing a valuable testbed for evidence-based fact checking tasks in QA settings. We further propose a novel neural model with tailored evidence ranking components to handle the concerned answer veracity prediction problem. Extensive experiments are conducted with our proposed model and various existing fact checking methods, showing that our method outperforms all baselines on this task.

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Context-Aware Answer Extraction in Question Answering
Yeon Seonwoo | Ji-Hoon Kim | Jung-Woo Ha | Alice Oh

Extractive QA models have shown very promising performance in predicting the correct answer to a question for a given passage. However, they sometimes result in predicting the correct answer text but in a context irrelevant to the given question. This discrepancy becomes especially important as the number of occurrences of the answer text in a passage increases. To resolve this issue, we propose BLANC (BLock AttentioN for Context prediction) based on two main ideas: context prediction as an auxiliary task in multi-task learning manner, and a block attention method that learns the context prediction task. With experiments on reading comprehension, we show that BLANC outperforms the state-of-the-art QA models, and the performance gap increases as the number of answer text occurrences increases. We also conduct an experiment of training the models using SQuAD and predicting the supporting facts on HotpotQA and show that BLANC outperforms all baseline models in this zero-shot setting.

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What do Models Learn from Question Answering Datasets?
Priyanka Sen | Amir Saffari

While models have reached superhuman performance on popular question answering (QA) datasets such as SQuAD, they have yet to outperform humans on the task of question answering itself. In this paper, we investigate if models are learning reading comprehension from QA datasets by evaluating BERT-based models across five datasets. We evaluate models on their generalizability to out-of-domain examples, responses to missing or incorrect data, and ability to handle question variations. We find that no single dataset is robust to all of our experiments and identify shortcomings in both datasets and evaluation methods. Following our analysis, we make recommendations for building future QA datasets that better evaluate the task of question answering through reading comprehension. We also release code to convert QA datasets to a shared format for easier experimentation at

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Discern: Discourse-Aware Entailment Reasoning Network for Conversational Machine Reading
Yifan Gao | Chien-Sheng Wu | Jingjing Li | Shafiq Joty | Steven C.H. Hoi | Caiming Xiong | Irwin King | Michael Lyu

Document interpretation and dialog understanding are the two major challenges for conversational machine reading. In this work, we propose “Discern”, a discourse-aware entailment reasoning network to strengthen the connection and enhance the understanding of both document and dialog. Specifically, we split the document into clause-like elementary discourse units (EDU) using a pre-trained discourse segmentation model, and we train our model in a weakly-supervised manner to predict whether each EDU is entailed by the user feedback in a conversation. Based on the learned EDU and entailment representations, we either reply to the user our final decision “yes/no/irrelevant” of the initial question, or generate a follow-up question to inquiry more information. Our experiments on the ShARC benchmark (blind, held-out test set) show that Discern achieves state-of-the-art results of 78.3% macro-averaged accuracy on decision making and 64.0 BLEU1 on follow-up question generation. Code and models are released at

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A Method for Building a Commonsense Inference Dataset based on Basic Events
Kazumasa Omura | Daisuke Kawahara | Sadao Kurohashi

We present a scalable, low-bias, and low-cost method for building a commonsense inference dataset that combines automatic extraction from a corpus and crowdsourcing. Each problem is a multiple-choice question that asks contingency between basic events. We applied the proposed method to a Japanese corpus and acquired 104k problems. While humans can solve the resulting problems with high accuracy (88.9%), the accuracy of a high-performance transfer learning model is reasonably low (76.0%). We also confirmed through dataset analysis that the resulting dataset contains low bias. We released the datatset to facilitate language understanding research.

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Neural Deepfake Detection with Factual Structure of Text
Wanjun Zhong | Duyu Tang | Zenan Xu | Ruize Wang | Nan Duan | Ming Zhou | Jiahai Wang | Jian Yin

Deepfake detection, the task of automatically discriminating machine-generated text, is increasingly critical with recent advances in natural language generative models. Existing approaches to deepfake detection typically represent documents with coarse-grained representations. However, they struggle to capture factual structures of documents, which is a discriminative factor between machine-generated and human-written text according to our statistical analysis. To address this, we propose a graph-based model that utilizes the factual structure of a document for deepfake detection of text. Our approach represents the factual structure of a given document as an entity graph, which is further utilized to learn sentence representations with a graph neural network. Sentence representations are then composed to a document representation for making predictions, where consistent relations between neighboring sentences are sequentially modeled. Results of experiments on two public deepfake datasets show that our approach significantly improves strong base models built with RoBERTa. Model analysis further indicates that our model can distinguish the difference in the factual structure between machine-generated text and human-written text.

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MultiCQA: Zero-Shot Transfer of Self-Supervised Text Matching Models on a Massive Scale
Andreas Rücklé | Jonas Pfeiffer | Iryna Gurevych

We study the zero-shot transfer capabilities of text matching models on a massive scale, by self-supervised training on 140 source domains from community question answering forums in English. We investigate the model performances on nine benchmarks of answer selection and question similarity tasks, and show that all 140 models transfer surprisingly well, where the large majority of models substantially outperforms common IR baselines. We also demonstrate that considering a broad selection of source domains is crucial for obtaining the best zero-shot transfer performances, which contrasts the standard procedure that merely relies on the largest and most similar domains. In addition, we extensively study how to best combine multiple source domains. We propose to incorporate self-supervised with supervised multi-task learning on all available source domains. Our best zero-shot transfer model considerably outperforms in-domain BERT and the previous state of the art on six benchmarks. Fine-tuning of our model with in-domain data results in additional large gains and achieves the new state of the art on all nine benchmarks.

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XL-AMR: Enabling Cross-Lingual AMR Parsing with Transfer Learning Techniques
Rexhina Blloshmi | Rocco Tripodi | Roberto Navigli

Abstract Meaning Representation (AMR) is a popular formalism of natural language that represents the meaning of a sentence as a semantic graph. It is agnostic about how to derive meanings from strings and for this reason it lends itself well to the encoding of semantics across languages. However, cross-lingual AMR parsing is a hard task, because training data are scarce in languages other than English and the existing English AMR parsers are not directly suited to being used in a cross-lingual setting. In this work we tackle these two problems so as to enable cross-lingual AMR parsing: we explore different transfer learning techniques for producing automatic AMR annotations across languages and develop a cross-lingual AMR parser, XL-AMR. This can be trained on the produced data and does not rely on AMR aligners or source-copy mechanisms as is commonly the case in English AMR parsing. The results of XL-AMR significantly surpass those previously reported in Chinese, German, Italian and Spanish. Finally we provide a qualitative analysis which sheds light on the suitability of AMR across languages. We release XL-AMR at

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Improving AMR Parsing with Sequence-to-Sequence Pre-training
Dongqin Xu | Junhui Li | Muhua Zhu | Min Zhang | Guodong Zhou

In the literature, the research on abstract meaning representation (AMR) parsing is much restricted by the size of human-curated dataset which is critical to build an AMR parser with good performance. To alleviate such data size restriction, pre-trained models have been drawing more and more attention in AMR parsing. However, previous pre-trained models, like BERT, are implemented for general purpose which may not work as expected for the specific task of AMR parsing. In this paper, we focus on sequence-to-sequence (seq2seq) AMR parsing and propose a seq2seq pre-training approach to build pre-trained models in both single and joint way on three relevant tasks, i.e., machine translation, syntactic parsing, and AMR parsing itself. Moreover, we extend the vanilla fine-tuning method to a multi-task learning fine-tuning method that optimizes for the performance of AMR parsing while endeavors to preserve the response of pre-trained models. Extensive experimental results on two English benchmark datasets show that both the single and joint pre-trained models significantly improve the performance (e.g., from 71.5 to 80.2 on AMR 2.0), which reaches the state of the art. The result is very encouraging since we achieve this with seq2seq models rather than complex models. We make our code and model available at

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Hate-Speech and Offensive Language Detection in Roman Urdu
Hammad Rizwan | Muhammad Haroon Shakeel | Asim Karim

The task of automatic hate-speech and offensive language detection in social media content is of utmost importance due to its implications in unprejudiced society concerning race, gender, or religion. Existing research in this area, however, is mainly focused on the English language, limiting the applicability to particular demographics. Despite its prevalence, Roman Urdu (RU) lacks language resources, annotated datasets, and language models for this task. In this study, we: (1) Present a lexicon of hateful words in RU, (2) Develop an annotated dataset called RUHSOLD consisting of 10,012 tweets in RU with both coarse-grained and fine-grained labels of hate-speech and offensive language, (3) Explore the feasibility of transfer learning of five existing embedding models to RU, (4) Propose a novel deep learning architecture called CNN-gram for hate-speech and offensive language detection and compare its performance with seven current baseline approaches on RUHSOLD dataset, and (5) Train domain-specific embeddings on more than 4.7 million tweets and make them publicly available. We conclude that transfer learning is more beneficial as compared to training embedding from scratch and that the proposed model exhibits greater robustness as compared to the baselines.

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Suicidal Risk Detection for Military Personnel
Sungjoon Park | Kiwoong Park | Jaimeen Ahn | Alice Oh

We analyze social media for detecting the suicidal risk of military personnel, which is especially crucial for countries with compulsory military service such as the Republic of Korea. From a widely-used Korean social Q&A site, we collect posts containing military-relevant content written by active-duty military personnel. We then annotate the posts with two groups of experts: military experts and mental health experts. Our dataset includes 2,791 posts with 13,955 corresponding expert annotations of suicidal risk levels, and this dataset is available to researchers who consent to research ethics agreement. Using various fine-tuned state-of-the-art language models, we predict the level of suicide risk, reaching .88 F1 score for classifying the risks.

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Comparative Evaluation of Label-Agnostic Selection Bias in Multilingual Hate Speech Datasets
Nedjma Ousidhoum | Yangqiu Song | Dit-Yan Yeung

Work on bias in hate speech typically aims to improve classification performance while relatively overlooking the quality of the data. We examine selection bias in hate speech in a language and label independent fashion. We first use topic models to discover latent semantics in eleven hate speech corpora, then, we present two bias evaluation metrics based on the semantic similarity between topics and search words frequently used to build corpora. We discuss the possibility of revising the data collection process by comparing datasets and analyzing contrastive case studies.

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HENIN: Learning Heterogeneous Neural Interaction Networks for Explainable Cyberbullying Detection on Social Media
Hsin-Yu Chen | Cheng-Te Li

In the computational detection of cyberbullying, existing work largely focused on building generic classifiers that rely exclusively on text analysis of social media sessions. Despite their empirical success, we argue that a critical missing piece is the model explainability, i.e., why a particular piece of media session is detected as cyberbullying. In this paper, therefore, we propose a novel deep model, HEterogeneous Neural Interaction Networks (HENIN), for explainable cyberbullying detection. HENIN contains the following components: a comment encoder, a post-comment co-attention sub-network, and session-session and post-post interaction extractors. Extensive experiments conducted on real datasets exhibit not only the promising performance of HENIN, but also highlight evidential comments so that one can understand why a media session is identified as cyberbullying.

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Reactive Supervision: A New Method for Collecting Sarcasm Data
Boaz Shmueli | Lun-Wei Ku | Soumya Ray

Sarcasm detection is an important task in affective computing, requiring large amounts of labeled data. We introduce reactive supervision, a novel data collection method that utilizes the dynamics of online conversations to overcome the limitations of existing data collection techniques. We use the new method to create and release a first-of-its-kind large dataset of tweets with sarcasm perspective labels and new contextual features. The dataset is expected to advance sarcasm detection research. Our method can be adapted to other affective computing domains, thus opening up new research opportunities.

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Self-Induced Curriculum Learning in Self-Supervised Neural Machine Translation
Dana Ruiter | Josef van Genabith | Cristina España-Bonet

Self-supervised neural machine translation (SSNMT) jointly learns to identify and select suitable training data from comparable (rather than parallel) corpora and to translate, in a way that the two tasks support each other in a virtuous circle. In this study, we provide an in-depth analysis of the sampling choices the SSNMT model makes during training. We show how, without it having been told to do so, the model self-selects samples of increasing (i) complexity and (ii) task-relevance in combination with (iii) performing a denoising curriculum. We observe that the dynamics of the mutual-supervision signals of both system internal representation types are vital for the extraction and translation performance. We show that in terms of the Gunning-Fog Readability index, SSNMT starts extracting and learning from Wikipedia data suitable for high school students and quickly moves towards content suitable for first year undergraduate students.

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Towards Reasonably-Sized Character-Level Transformer NMT by Finetuning Subword Systems
Jindřich Libovický | Alexander Fraser

Applying the Transformer architecture on the character level usually requires very deep architectures that are difficult and slow to train. These problems can be partially overcome by incorporating a segmentation into tokens in the model. We show that by initially training a subword model and then finetuning it on characters, we can obtain a neural machine translation model that works at the character level without requiring token segmentation. We use only the vanilla 6-layer Transformer Base architecture. Our character-level models better capture morphological phenomena and show more robustness to noise at the expense of somewhat worse overall translation quality. Our study is a significant step towards high-performance and easy to train character-based models that are not extremely large.

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Transfer Learning and Distant Supervision for Multilingual Transformer Models: A Study on African Languages
Michael A. Hedderich | David Adelani | Dawei Zhu | Jesujoba Alabi | Udia Markus | Dietrich Klakow

Multilingual transformer models like mBERT and XLM-RoBERTa have obtained great improvements for many NLP tasks on a variety of languages. However, recent works also showed that results from high-resource languages could not be easily transferred to realistic, low-resource scenarios. In this work, we study trends in performance for different amounts of available resources for the three African languages Hausa, isiXhosa and on both NER and topic classification. We show that in combination with transfer learning or distant supervision, these models can achieve with as little as 10 or 100 labeled sentences the same performance as baselines with much more supervised training data. However, we also find settings where this does not hold. Our discussions and additional experiments on assumptions such as time and hardware restrictions highlight challenges and opportunities in low-resource learning.

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Translation Quality Estimation by Jointly Learning to Score and Rank
Jingyi Zhang | Josef van Genabith

The translation quality estimation (QE) task, particularly the QE as a Metric task, aims to evaluate the general quality of a translation based on the translation and the source sentence without using reference translations. Supervised learning of this QE task requires human evaluation of translation quality as training data. Human evaluation of translation quality can be performed in different ways, including assigning an absolute score to a translation or ranking different translations. In order to make use of different types of human evaluation data for supervised learning, we present a multi-task learning QE model that jointly learns two tasks: score a translation and rank two translations. Our QE model exploits cross-lingual sentence embeddings from pre-trained multilingual language models. We obtain new state-of-the-art results on the WMT 2019 QE as a Metric task and outperform sentBLEU on the WMT 2019 Metrics task.

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Direct Segmentation Models for Streaming Speech Translation
Javier Iranzo-Sánchez | Adrià Giménez Pastor | Joan Albert Silvestre-Cerdà | Pau Baquero-Arnal | Jorge Civera Saiz | Alfons Juan

The cascade approach to Speech Translation (ST) is based on a pipeline that concatenates an Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) system followed by a Machine Translation (MT) system. These systems are usually connected by a segmenter that splits the ASR output into hopefully, semantically self-contained chunks to be fed into the MT system. This is specially challenging in the case of streaming ST, where latency requirements must also be taken into account. This work proposes novel segmentation models for streaming ST that incorporate not only textual, but also acoustic information to decide when the ASR output is split into a chunk. An extensive and throughly experimental setup is carried out on the Europarl-ST dataset to prove the contribution of acoustic information to the performance of the segmentation model in terms of BLEU score in a streaming ST scenario. Finally, comparative results with previous work also show the superiority of the segmentation models proposed in this work.

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Not Low-Resource Anymore: Aligner Ensembling, Batch Filtering, and New Datasets for Bengali-English Machine Translation
Tahmid Hasan | Abhik Bhattacharjee | Kazi Samin | Masum Hasan | Madhusudan Basak | M. Sohel Rahman | Rifat Shahriyar

Despite being the seventh most widely spoken language in the world, Bengali has received much less attention in machine translation literature due to being low in resources. Most publicly available parallel corpora for Bengali are not large enough; and have rather poor quality, mostly because of incorrect sentence alignments resulting from erroneous sentence segmentation, and also because of a high volume of noise present in them. In this work, we build a customized sentence segmenter for Bengali and propose two novel methods for parallel corpus creation on low-resource setups: aligner ensembling and batch filtering. With the segmenter and the two methods combined, we compile a high-quality Bengali-English parallel corpus comprising of 2.75 million sentence pairs, more than 2 million of which were not available before. Training on neural models, we achieve an improvement of more than 9 BLEU score over previous approaches to Bengali-English machine translation. We also evaluate on a new test set of 1000 pairs made with extensive quality control. We release the segmenter, parallel corpus, and the evaluation set, thus elevating Bengali from its low-resource status. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first ever large scale study on Bengali-English machine translation. We believe our study will pave the way for future research on Bengali-English machine translation as well as other low-resource languages. Our data and code are available at

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CSP:Code-Switching Pre-training for Neural Machine Translation
Zhen Yang | Bojie Hu | Ambyera Han | Shen Huang | Qi Ju

This paper proposes a new pre-training method, called Code-Switching Pre-training (CSP for short) for Neural Machine Translation (NMT). Unlike traditional pre-training method which randomly masks some fragments of the input sentence, the proposed CSP randomly replaces some words in the source sentence with their translation words in the target language. Specifically, we firstly perform lexicon induction with unsupervised word embedding mapping between the source and target languages, and then randomly replace some words in the input sentence with their translation words according to the extracted translation lexicons. CSP adopts the encoder-decoder framework: its encoder takes the code-mixed sentence as input, and its decoder predicts the replaced fragment of the input sentence. In this way, CSP is able to pre-train the NMT model by explicitly making the most of the alignment information extracted from the source and target monolingual corpus. Additionally, we relieve the pretrain-finetune discrepancy caused by the artificial symbols like [mask]. To verify the effectiveness of the proposed method, we conduct extensive experiments on unsupervised and supervised NMT. Experimental results show that CSP achieves significant improvements over baselines without pre-training or with other pre-training methods.

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Type B Reflexivization as an Unambiguous Testbed for Multilingual Multi-Task Gender Bias
Ana Valeria González | Maria Barrett | Rasmus Hvingelby | Kellie Webster | Anders Søgaard

The one-sided focus on English in previous studies of gender bias in NLP misses out on opportunities in other languages: English challenge datasets such as GAP and WinoGender highlight model preferences that are “hallucinatory”, e.g., disambiguating gender-ambiguous occurrences of ‘doctor’ as male doctors. We show that for languages with type B reflexivization, e.g., Swedish and Russian, we can construct multi-task challenge datasets for detecting gender bias that lead to unambiguously wrong model predictions: In these languages, the direct translation of ‘the doctor removed his mask’ is not ambiguous between a coreferential reading and a disjoint reading. Instead, the coreferential reading requires a non-gendered pronoun, and the gendered, possessive pronouns are anti-reflexive. We present a multilingual, multi-task challenge dataset, which spans four languages and four NLP tasks and focuses only on this phenomenon. We find evidence for gender bias across all task-language combinations and correlate model bias with national labor market statistics.

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Pre-training Multilingual Neural Machine Translation by Leveraging Alignment Information
Zehui Lin | Xiao Pan | Mingxuan Wang | Xipeng Qiu | Jiangtao Feng | Hao Zhou | Lei Li

We investigate the following question for machine translation (MT): can we develop a single universal MT model to serve as the common seed and obtain derivative and improved models on arbitrary language pairs? We propose mRASP, an approach to pre-train a universal multilingual neural machine translation model. Our key idea in mRASP is its novel technique of random aligned substitution, which brings words and phrases with similar meanings across multiple languages closer in the representation space. We pre-train a mRASP model on 32 language pairs jointly with only public datasets. The model is then fine-tuned on downstream language pairs to obtain specialized MT models. We carry out extensive experiments on 42 translation directions across a diverse settings, including low, medium, rich resource, and as well as transferring to exotic language pairs. Experimental results demonstrate that mRASP achieves significant performance improvement compared to directly training on those target pairs. It is the first time to verify that multiple lowresource language pairs can be utilized to improve rich resource MT. Surprisingly, mRASP is even able to improve the translation quality on exotic languages that never occur in the pretraining corpus. Code, data, and pre-trained models are available at

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Losing Heads in the Lottery: Pruning Transformer Attention in Neural Machine Translation
Maximiliana Behnke | Kenneth Heafield

The attention mechanism is the crucial component of the transformer architecture. Recent research shows that most attention heads are not confident in their decisions and can be pruned. However, removing them before training a model results in lower quality. In this paper, we apply the lottery ticket hypothesis to prune heads in the early stages of training. Our experiments on machine translation show that it is possible to remove up to three-quarters of attention heads from transformer-big during early training with an average -0.1 change in BLEU for Turkish→English. The pruned model is 1.5 times as fast at inference, albeit at the cost of longer training. Our method is complementary to other approaches, such as teacher-student, with English→German student model gaining an additional 10% speed-up with 75% encoder attention removed and 0.2 BLEU loss.

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Towards Enhancing Faithfulness for Neural Machine Translation
Rongxiang Weng | Heng Yu | Xiangpeng Wei | Weihua Luo

Neural machine translation (NMT) has achieved great success due to the ability to generate high-quality sentences. Compared with human translations, one of the drawbacks of current NMT is that translations are not usually faithful to the input, e.g., omitting information or generating unrelated fragments, which inevitably decreases the overall quality, especially for human readers. In this paper, we propose a novel training strategy with a multi-task learning paradigm to build a faithfulness enhanced NMT model (named FEnmt). During the NMT training process, we sample a subset from the training set and translate them to get fragments that have been mistranslated. Afterward, the proposed multi-task learning paradigm is employed on both encoder and decoder to guide NMT to correctly translate these fragments. Both automatic and human evaluations verify that our FEnmt could improve translation quality by effectively reducing unfaithful translations.

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COMET: A Neural Framework for MT Evaluation
Ricardo Rei | Craig Stewart | Ana C Farinha | Alon Lavie

We present COMET, a neural framework for training multilingual machine translation evaluation models which obtains new state-of-the-art levels of correlation with human judgements. Our framework leverages recent breakthroughs in cross-lingual pretrained language modeling resulting in highly multilingual and adaptable MT evaluation models that exploit information from both the source input and a target-language reference translation in order to more accurately predict MT quality. To showcase our framework, we train three models with different types of human judgements: Direct Assessments, Human-mediated Translation Edit Rate and Multidimensional Quality Metric. Our models achieve new state-of-the-art performance on the WMT 2019 Metrics shared task and demonstrate robustness to high-performing systems.

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Reusing a Pretrained Language Model on Languages with Limited Corpora for Unsupervised NMT
Alexandra Chronopoulou | Dario Stojanovski | Alexander Fraser

Using a language model (LM) pretrained on two languages with large monolingual data in order to initialize an unsupervised neural machine translation (UNMT) system yields state-of-the-art results. When limited data is available for one language, however, this method leads to poor translations. We present an effective approach that reuses an LM that is pretrained only on the high-resource language. The monolingual LM is fine-tuned on both languages and is then used to initialize a UNMT model. To reuse the pretrained LM, we have to modify its predefined vocabulary, to account for the new language. We therefore propose a novel vocabulary extension method. Our approach, RE-LM, outperforms a competitive cross-lingual pretraining model (XLM) in English-Macedonian (En-Mk) and English-Albanian (En-Sq), yielding more than +8.3 BLEU points for all four translation directions.

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LNMap: Departures from Isomorphic Assumption in Bilingual Lexicon Induction Through Non-Linear Mapping in Latent Space
Tasnim Mohiuddin | M Saiful Bari | Shafiq Joty

Most of the successful and predominant methods for Bilingual Lexicon Induction (BLI) are mapping-based, where a linear mapping function is learned with the assumption that the word embedding spaces of different languages exhibit similar geometric structures (i.e. approximately isomorphic). However, several recent studies have criticized this simplified assumption showing that it does not hold in general even for closely related languages. In this work, we propose a novel semi-supervised method to learn cross-lingual word embeddings for BLI. Our model is independent of the isomorphic assumption and uses non-linear mapping in the latent space of two independently pre-trained autoencoders. Through extensive experiments on fifteen (15) different language pairs (in both directions) comprising resource-rich and low-resource languages from two different datasets, we demonstrate that our method outperforms existing models by a good margin. Ablation studies show the importance of different model components and the necessity of non-linear mapping.

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Uncertainty-Aware Semantic Augmentation for Neural Machine Translation
Xiangpeng Wei | Heng Yu | Yue Hu | Rongxiang Weng | Luxi Xing | Weihua Luo

As a sequence-to-sequence generation task, neural machine translation (NMT) naturally contains intrinsic uncertainty, where a single sentence in one language has multiple valid counterparts in the other. However, the dominant methods for NMT only observe one of them from the parallel corpora for the model training but have to deal with adequate variations under the same meaning at inference. This leads to a discrepancy of the data distribution between the training and the inference phases. To address this problem, we propose uncertainty-aware semantic augmentation, which explicitly captures the universal semantic information among multiple semantically-equivalent source sentences and enhances the hidden representations with this information for better translations. Extensive experiments on various translation tasks reveal that our approach significantly outperforms the strong baselines and the existing methods.

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Can Automatic Post-Editing Improve NMT?
Shamil Chollampatt | Raymond Hendy Susanto | Liling Tan | Ewa Szymanska

Automatic post-editing (APE) aims to improve machine translations, thereby reducing human post-editing effort. APE has had notable success when used with statistical machine translation (SMT) systems but has not been as successful over neural machine translation (NMT) systems. This has raised questions on the relevance of APE task in the current scenario. However, the training of APE models has been heavily reliant on large-scale artificial corpora combined with only limited human post-edited data. We hypothesize that APE models have been underperforming in improving NMT translations due to the lack of adequate supervision. To ascertain our hypothesis, we compile a larger corpus of human post-edits of English to German NMT. We empirically show that a state-of-art neural APE model trained on this corpus can significantly improve a strong in-domain NMT system, challenging the current understanding in the field. We further investigate the effects of varying training data sizes, using artificial training data, and domain specificity for the APE task. We release this new corpus under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license at

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Parsing Gapping Constructions Based on Grammatical and Semantic Roles
Yoshihide Kato | Shigeki Matsubara

A gapping construction consists of a coordinated structure where redundant elements are elided from all but one conjuncts. This paper proposes a method of parsing sentences with gapping to recover elided elements. The proposed method is based on constituent trees annotated with grammatical and semantic roles that are useful for identifying elided elements. Our method outperforms the previous method in terms of F-measure and recall.

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Span-based discontinuous constituency parsing: a family of exact chart-based algorithms with time complexities from O(nˆ6) down to O(nˆ3)
Caio Corro

We introduce a novel chart-based algorithm for span-based parsing of discontinuous constituency trees of block degree two, including ill-nested structures. In particular, we show that we can build variants of our parser with smaller search spaces and time complexities ranging from O(nˆ6) down to O(nˆ3). The cubic time variant covers 98% of constituents observed in linguistic treebanks while having the same complexity as continuous constituency parsers. We evaluate our approach on German and English treebanks (Negra, Tiger, and DPTB) and report state-of-the-art results in the fully supervised setting. We also experiment with pre-trained word embeddings and Bert-based neural networks.

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Some Languages Seem Easier to Parse Because Their Treebanks Leak
Anders Søgaard

Cross-language differences in (universal) dependency parsing performance are mostly attributed to treebank size, average sentence length, average dependency length, morphological complexity, and domain differences. We point at a factor not previously discussed: If we abstract away from words and dependency labels, how many graphs in the test data were seen in the training data? We compute graph isomorphisms, and show that, treebank size aside, overlap between training and test graphs explain more of the observed variation than standard explanations such as the above.

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Discontinuous Constituent Parsing as Sequence Labeling
David Vilares | Carlos Gómez-Rodríguez

This paper reduces discontinuous parsing to sequence labeling. It first shows that existing reductions for constituent parsing as labeling do not support discontinuities. Second, it fills this gap and proposes to encode tree discontinuities as nearly ordered permutations of the input sequence. Third, it studies whether such discontinuous representations are learnable. The experiments show that despite the architectural simplicity, under the right representation, the models are fast and accurate.

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Modularized Syntactic Neural Networks for Sentence Classification
Haiyan Wu | Ying Liu | Shaoyun Shi

This paper focuses on tree-based modeling for the sentence classification task. In existing works, aggregating on a syntax tree usually considers local information of sub-trees. In contrast, in addition to the local information, our proposed Modularized Syntactic Neural Network (MSNN) utilizes the syntax category labels and takes advantage of the global context while modeling sub-trees. In MSNN, each node of a syntax tree is modeled by a label-related syntax module. Each syntax module aggregates the outputs of lower-level modules, and finally, the root module provides the sentence representation. We design a tree-parallel mini-batch strategy for efficient training and predicting. Experimental results on four benchmark datasets show that our MSNN significantly outperforms previous state-of-the-art tree-based methods on the sentence classification task.

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TED-CDB: A Large-Scale Chinese Discourse Relation Dataset on TED Talks
Wanqiu Long | Bonnie Webber | Deyi Xiong

As different genres are known to differ in their communicative properties and as previously, for Chinese, discourse relations have only been annotated over news text, we have created the TED-CDB dataset. TED-CDB comprises a large set of TED talks in Chinese that have been manually annotated according to the goals and principles of Penn Discourse Treebank, but adapted to features that are not present in English. It serves as a unique Chinese corpus of spoken discourse. Benchmark experiments show that TED-CDB poses a challenge for state-of-the-art discourse relation classifiers, whose F1 performance on 4-way classification is 60%. This is a dramatic drop of 35% from performance on the news text in the Chinese Discourse Treebank. Transfer learning experiments have been carried out with the TED-CDB for both same-language cross-domain transfer and same-domain cross-language transfer. Both demonstrate that the TED-CDB can improve the performance of systems being developed for languages other than Chinese and would be helpful for insufficient or unbalanced data in other corpora. The dataset and our Chinese annotation guidelines will be made freely available.

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QADiscourse - Discourse Relations as QA Pairs: Representation, Crowdsourcing and Baselines
Valentina Pyatkin | Ayal Klein | Reut Tsarfaty | Ido Dagan

Discourse relations describe how two propositions relate to one another, and identifying them automatically is an integral part of natural language understanding. However, annotating discourse relations typically requires expert annotators. Recently, different semantic aspects of a sentence have been represented and crowd-sourced via question-and-answer (QA) pairs. This paper proposes a novel representation of discourse relations as QA pairs, which in turn allows us to crowd-source wide-coverage data annotated with discourse relations, via an intuitively appealing interface for composing such questions and answers. Based on our proposed representation, we collect a novel and wide-coverage QADiscourse dataset, and present baseline algorithms for predicting QADiscourse relations.

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Discourse Self-Attention for Discourse Element Identification in Argumentative Student Essays
Wei Song | Ziyao Song | Ruiji Fu | Lizhen Liu | Miaomiao Cheng | Ting Liu

This paper proposes to adapt self-attention to discourse level for modeling discourse elements in argumentative student essays. Specifically, we focus on two issues. First, we propose structural sentence positional encodings to explicitly represent sentence positions. Second, we propose to use inter-sentence attentions to capture sentence interactions and enhance sentence representation. We conduct experiments on two datasets: a Chinese dataset and an English dataset. We find that (i) sentence positional encoding can lead to a large improvement for identifying discourse elements; (ii) a structural relative positional encoding of sentences shows to be most effective; (iii) inter-sentence attention vectors are useful as a kind of sentence representations for identifying discourse elements.

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MEGATRON-CNTRL: Controllable Story Generation with External Knowledge Using Large-Scale Language Models
Peng Xu | Mostofa Patwary | Mohammad Shoeybi | Raul Puri | Pascale Fung | Anima Anandkumar | Bryan Catanzaro

Existing pre-trained large language models have shown unparalleled generative capabilities. However, they are not controllable. In this paper, we propose MEGATRON-CNTRL, a novel framework that uses large-scale language models and adds control to text generation by incorporating an external knowledge base. Our framework consists of a keyword predictor, a knowledge retriever, a contextual knowledge ranker, and a conditional text generator. As we do not have access to ground-truth supervision for the knowledge ranker, we make use of weak supervision from sentence embedding. The empirical results show that our model generates more fluent, consistent, and coherent stories with less repetition and higher diversity compared to prior work on the ROC story dataset. We showcase the controllability of our model by replacing the keywords used to generate stories and re-running the generation process. Human evaluation results show that 77.5% of these stories are successfully controlled by the new keywords. Furthermore, by scaling our model from 124 million to 8.3 billion parameters we demonstrate that larger models improve both the quality of generation (from 74.5% to 93.0% for consistency) and controllability (from 77.5% to 91.5%).

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Incomplete Utterance Rewriting as Semantic Segmentation
Qian Liu | Bei Chen | Jian-Guang Lou | Bin Zhou | Dongmei Zhang

Recent years the task of incomplete utterance rewriting has raised a large attention. Previous works usually shape it as a machine translation task and employ sequence to sequence based architecture with copy mechanism. In this paper, we present a novel and extensive approach, which formulates it as a semantic segmentation task. Instead of generating from scratch, such a formulation introduces edit operations and shapes the problem as prediction of a word-level edit matrix. Benefiting from being able to capture both local and global information, our approach achieves state-of-the-art performance on several public datasets. Furthermore, our approach is four times faster than the standard approach in inference.

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Improving Grammatical Error Correction Models with Purpose-Built Adversarial Examples
Lihao Wang | Xiaoqing Zheng

A sequence-to-sequence (seq2seq) learning with neural networks empirically shows to be an effective framework for grammatical error correction (GEC), which takes a sentence with errors as input and outputs the corrected one. However, the performance of GEC models with the seq2seq framework heavily relies on the size and quality of the corpus on hand. We propose a method inspired by adversarial training to generate more meaningful and valuable training examples by continually identifying the weak spots of a model, and to enhance the model by gradually adding the generated adversarial examples to the training set. Extensive experimental results show that such adversarial training can improve both the generalization and robustness of GEC models.

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Homophonic Pun Generation with Lexically Constrained Rewriting
Zhiwei Yu | Hongyu Zang | Xiaojun Wan

Punning is a creative way to make conversation enjoyable and literary writing elegant. In this paper, we focus on the task of generating a pun sentence given a pair of homophones. We first find the constraint words supporting the semantic incongruity for a sentence. Then we rewrite the sentence with explicit positive and negative constraints. Our model achieves the state-of-the-art results in both automatic and human evaluations. We further make an error analysis and discuss the challenges for the computational pun models.

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How to Make Neural Natural Language Generation as Reliable as Templates in Task-Oriented Dialogue
Henry Elder | Alexander O’Connor | Jennifer Foster

Neural Natural Language Generation (NLG) systems are well known for their unreliability. To overcome this issue, we propose a data augmentation approach which allows us to restrict the output of a network and guarantee reliability. While this restriction means generation will be less diverse than if randomly sampled, we include experiments that demonstrate the tendency of existing neural generation approaches to produce dull and repetitive text, and we argue that reliability is more important than diversity for this task. The system trained using this approach scored 100% in semantic accuracy on the E2E NLG Challenge dataset, the same as a template system.

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Multilingual AMR-to-Text Generation
Angela Fan | Claire Gardent

Generating text from structured data is challenging because it requires bridging the gap between (i) structure and natural language (NL) and (ii) semantically underspecified input and fully specified NL output. Multilingual generation brings in an additional challenge: that of generating into languages with varied word order and morphological properties. In this work, we focus on Abstract Meaning Representations (AMRs) as structured input, where previous research has overwhelmingly focused on generating only into English. We leverage advances in cross-lingual embeddings, pretraining, and multilingual models to create multilingual AMR-to-text models that generate in twenty one different languages. Our multilingual models surpass baselines that generate into one language in eighteen languages, based on automatic metrics. We analyze the ability of our multilingual models to accurately capture morphology and word order using human evaluation, and find that native speakers judge our generations to be fluent.

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Exploring the Linear Subspace Hypothesis in Gender Bias Mitigation
Francisco Vargas | Ryan Cotterell

Bolukbasi et al. (2016) presents one of the first gender bias mitigation techniques for word embeddings. Their method takes pre-trained word embeddings as input and attempts to isolate a linear subspace that captures most of the gender bias in the embeddings. As judged by an analogical evaluation task, their method virtually eliminates gender bias in the embeddings. However, an implicit and untested assumption of their method is that the bias subspace is actually linear. In this work, we generalize their method to a kernelized, non-linear version. We take inspiration from kernel principal component analysis and derive a non-linear bias isolation technique. We discuss and overcome some of the practical drawbacks of our method for non-linear gender bias mitigation in word embeddings and analyze empirically whether the bias subspace is actually linear. Our analysis shows that gender bias is in fact well captured by a linear subspace, justifying the assumption of Bolukbasi et al. (2016).

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Lifelong Language Knowledge Distillation
Yung-Sung Chuang | Shang-Yu Su | Yun-Nung Chen

It is challenging to perform lifelong language learning (LLL) on a stream of different tasks without any performance degradation comparing to the multi-task counterparts. To address this issue, we present Lifelong Language Knowledge Distillation (L2KD), a simple but efficient method that can be easily applied to existing LLL architectures in order to mitigate the degradation. Specifically, when the LLL model is trained on a new task, we assign a teacher model to first learn the new task, and pass the knowledge to the LLL model via knowledge distillation. Therefore, the LLL model can better adapt to the new task while keeping the previously learned knowledge. Experiments show that the proposed L2KD consistently improves previous state-of-the-art models, and the degradation comparing to multi-task models in LLL tasks is well mitigated for both sequence generation and text classification tasks.

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Sparse Parallel Training of Hierarchical Dirichlet Process Topic Models
Alexander Terenin | Måns Magnusson | Leif Jonsson

To scale non-parametric extensions of probabilistic topic models such as Latent Dirichlet allocation to larger data sets, practitioners rely increasingly on parallel and distributed systems. In this work, we study data-parallel training for the hierarchical Dirichlet process (HDP) topic model. Based upon a representation of certain conditional distributions within an HDP, we propose a doubly sparse data-parallel sampler for the HDP topic model. This sampler utilizes all available sources of sparsity found in natural language - an important way to make computation efficient. We benchmark our method on a well-known corpus (PubMed) with 8m documents and 768m tokens, using a single multi-core machine in under four days.

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Multi-label Few/Zero-shot Learning with Knowledge Aggregated from Multiple Label Graphs
Jueqing Lu | Lan Du | Ming Liu | Joanna Dipnall

Few/Zero-shot learning is a big challenge of many classifications tasks, where a classifier is required to recognise instances of classes that have very few or even no training samples. It becomes more difficult in multi-label classification, where each instance is labelled with more than one class. In this paper, we present a simple multi-graph aggregation model that fuses knowledge from multiple label graphs encoding different semantic label relationships in order to study how the aggregated knowledge can benefit multi-label zero/few-shot document classification. The model utilises three kinds of semantic information, i.e., the pre-trained word embeddings, label description, and pre-defined label relations. Experimental results derived on two large clinical datasets (i.e., MIMIC-II and MIMIC-III ) and the EU legislation dataset show that methods equipped with the multi-graph knowledge aggregation achieve significant performance improvement across almost all the measures on few/zero-shot labels.

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Word Rotator’s Distance
Sho Yokoi | Ryo Takahashi | Reina Akama | Jun Suzuki | Kentaro Inui

One key principle for assessing textual similarity is measuring the degree of semantic overlap between texts by considering the word alignment. Such alignment-based approaches are both intuitive and interpretable; however, they are empirically inferior to the simple cosine similarity between general-purpose sentence vectors. We focus on the fact that the norm of word vectors is a good proxy for word importance, and the angle of them is a good proxy for word similarity. However, alignment-based approaches do not distinguish the norm and direction, whereas sentence-vector approaches automatically use the norm as the word importance. Accordingly, we propose decoupling word vectors into their norm and direction then computing the alignment-based similarity with the help of earth mover’s distance (optimal transport), which we refer to as word rotator’s distance. Furthermore, we demonstrate how to grow the norm and direction of word vectors (vector converter); this is a new systematic approach derived from the sentence-vector estimation methods, which can significantly improve the performance of the proposed method. On several STS benchmarks, the proposed methods outperform not only alignment-based approaches but also strong baselines. The source code is avaliable at

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Disentangle-based Continual Graph Representation Learning
Xiaoyu Kou | Yankai Lin | Shaobo Liu | Peng Li | Jie Zhou | Yan Zhang

Graph embedding (GE) methods embed nodes (and/or edges) in graph into a low-dimensional semantic space, and have shown its effectiveness in modeling multi-relational data. However, existing GE models are not practical in real-world applications since it overlooked the streaming nature of incoming data. To address this issue, we study the problem of continual graph representation learning which aims to continually train a GE model on new data to learn incessantly emerging multi-relational data while avoiding catastrophically forgetting old learned knowledge. Moreover, we propose a disentangle-based continual graph representation learning (DiCGRL) framework inspired by the human’s ability to learn procedural knowledge. The experimental results show that DiCGRL could effectively alleviate the catastrophic forgetting problem and outperform state-of-the-art continual learning models. The code and datasets are released on

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Semi-Supervised Bilingual Lexicon Induction with Two-way Interaction
Xu Zhao | Zihao Wang | Hao Wu | Yong Zhang

Semi-supervision is a promising paradigm for Bilingual Lexicon Induction (BLI) with limited annotations. However, previous semisupervised methods do not fully utilize the knowledge hidden in annotated and nonannotated data, which hinders further improvement of their performance. In this paper, we propose a new semi-supervised BLI framework to encourage the interaction between the supervised signal and unsupervised alignment. We design two message-passing mechanisms to transfer knowledge between annotated and non-annotated data, named prior optimal transport and bi-directional lexicon update respectively. Then, we perform semi-supervised learning based on a cyclic or a parallel parameter feeding routine to update our models. Our framework is a general framework that can incorporate any supervised and unsupervised BLI methods based on optimal transport. Experimental results on MUSE and VecMap datasets show significant improvement of our models. Ablation study also proves that the two-way interaction between the supervised signal and unsupervised alignment accounts for the gain of the overall performance. Results on distant language pairs further illustrate the advantage and robustness of our proposed method.

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Wasserstein Distance Regularized Sequence Representation for Text Matching in Asymmetrical Domains
Weijie Yu | Chen Xu | Jun Xu | Liang Pang | Xiaopeng Gao | Xiaozhao Wang | Ji-Rong Wen

One approach to matching texts from asymmetrical domains is projecting the input sequences into a common semantic space as feature vectors upon which the matching function can be readily defined and learned. In real-world matching practices, it is often observed that with the training goes on, the feature vectors projected from different domains tend to be indistinguishable. The phenomenon, however, is often overlooked in existing matching models. As a result, the feature vectors are constructed without any regularization, which inevitably increases the difficulty of learning the downstream matching functions. In this paper, we propose a novel match method tailored for text matching in asymmetrical domains, called WD-Match. In WD-Match, a Wasserstein distance-based regularizer is defined to regularize the features vectors projected from different domains. As a result, the method enforces the feature projection function to generate vectors such that those correspond to different domains cannot be easily discriminated. The training process of WD-Match amounts to a game that minimizes the matching loss regularized by the Wasserstein distance. WD-Match can be used to improve different text matching methods, by using the method as its underlying matching model. Four popular text matching methods have been exploited in the paper. Experimental results based on four publicly available benchmarks showed that WD-Match consistently outperformed the underlying methods and the baselines.

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A Simple Approach to Learning Unsupervised Multilingual Embeddings
Pratik Jawanpuria | Mayank Meghwanshi | Bamdev Mishra

Recent progress on unsupervised cross-lingual embeddings in the bilingual setting has given the impetus to learning a shared embedding space for several languages. A popular framework to solve the latter problem is to solve the following two sub-problems jointly: 1) learning unsupervised word alignment between several language pairs, and 2) learning how to map the monolingual embeddings of every language to shared multilingual space. In contrast, we propose a simple approach by decoupling the above two sub-problems and solving them separately, one after another, using existing techniques. We show that this proposed approach obtains surprisingly good performance in tasks such as bilingual lexicon induction, cross-lingual word similarity, multilingual document classification, and multilingual dependency parsing. When distant languages are involved, the proposed approach shows robust behavior and outperforms existing unsupervised multilingual word embedding approaches.

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Bootstrapped Q-learning with Context Relevant Observation Pruning to Generalize in Text-based Games
Subhajit Chaudhury | Daiki Kimura | Kartik Talamadupula | Michiaki Tatsubori | Asim Munawar | Ryuki Tachibana

We show that Reinforcement Learning (RL) methods for solving Text-Based Games (TBGs) often fail to generalize on unseen games, especially in small data regimes. To address this issue, we propose Context Relevant Episodic State Truncation (CREST) for irrelevant token removal in observation text for improved generalization. Our method first trains a base model using Q-learning, which typically overfits the training games. The base model’s action token distribution is used to perform observation pruning that removes irrelevant tokens. A second bootstrapped model is then retrained on the pruned observation text. Our bootstrapped agent shows improved generalization in solving unseen TextWorld games, using 10x-20x fewer training games compared to previous state-of-the-art (SOTA) methods despite requiring fewer number of training episodes.

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BERT-EMD: Many-to-Many Layer Mapping for BERT Compression with Earth Mover’s Distance
Jianquan Li | Xiaokang Liu | Honghong Zhao | Ruifeng Xu | Min Yang | Yaohong Jin

Pre-trained language models (e.g., BERT) have achieved significant success in various natural language processing (NLP) tasks. However, high storage and computational costs obstruct pre-trained language models to be effectively deployed on resource-constrained devices. In this paper, we propose a novel BERT distillation method based on many-to-many layer mapping, which allows each intermediate student layer to learn from any intermediate teacher layers. In this way, our model can learn from different teacher layers adaptively for different NLP tasks. In addition, we leverage Earth Mover’s Distance (EMD) to compute the minimum cumulative cost that must be paid to transform knowledge from teacher network to student network. EMD enables effective matching for the many-to-many layer mapping. Furthermore, we propose a cost attention mechanism to learn the layer weights used in EMD automatically, which is supposed to further improve the model’s performance and accelerate convergence time. Extensive experiments on GLUE benchmark demonstrate that our model achieves competitive performance compared to strong competitors in terms of both accuracy and model compression

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Slot Attention with Value Normalization for Multi-Domain Dialogue State Tracking
Yexiang Wang | Yi Guo | Siqi Zhu

Incompleteness of domain ontology and unavailability of some values are two inevitable problems of dialogue state tracking (DST). Existing approaches generally fall into two extremes: choosing models without ontology or embedding ontology in models leading to over-dependence. In this paper, we propose a new architecture to cleverly exploit ontology, which consists of Slot Attention (SA) and Value Normalization (VN), referred to as SAVN. Moreover, we supplement the annotation of supporting span for MultiWOZ 2.1, which is the shortest span in utterances to support the labeled value. SA shares knowledge between slots and utterances and only needs a simple structure to predict the supporting span. VN is designed specifically for the use of ontology, which can convert supporting spans to the values. Empirical results demonstrate that SAVN achieves the state-of-the-art joint accuracy of 54.52% on MultiWOZ 2.0 and 54.86% on MultiWOZ 2.1. Besides, we evaluate VN with incomplete ontology. The results show that even if only 30% ontology is used, VN can also contribute to our model.

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Don’t Read Too Much Into It: Adaptive Computation for Open-Domain Question Answering
Yuxiang Wu | Sebastian Riedel | Pasquale Minervini | Pontus Stenetorp

Most approaches to Open-Domain Question Answering consist of a light-weight retriever that selects a set of candidate passages, and a computationally expensive reader that examines the passages to identify the correct answer. Previous works have shown that as the number of retrieved passages increases, so does the performance of the reader. However, they assume all retrieved passages are of equal importance and allocate the same amount of computation to them, leading to a substantial increase in computational cost. To reduce this cost, we propose the use of adaptive computation to control the computational budget allocated for the passages to be read. We first introduce a technique operating on individual passages in isolation which relies on anytime prediction and a per-layer estimation of early exit probability. We then introduce SKYLINEBUILDER, an approach for dynamically deciding on which passage to allocate computation at each step, based on a resource allocation policy trained via reinforcement learning. Our results on SQuAD-Open show that adaptive computation with global prioritisation improves over several strong static and adaptive methods, leading to a 4.3x reduction in computation while retaining 95% performance of the full model.

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Multi-Step Inference for Reasoning Over Paragraphs
Jiangming Liu | Matt Gardner | Shay B. Cohen | Mirella Lapata

Complex reasoning over text requires understanding and chaining together free-form predicates and logical connectives. Prior work has largely tried to do this either symbolically or with black-box transformers. We present a middle ground between these two extremes: a compositional model reminiscent of neural module networks that can perform chained logical reasoning. This model first finds relevant sentences in the context and then chains them together using neural modules. Our model gives significant performance improvements (up to 29% relative error reduction when combined with a reranker) on ROPES, a recently-introduced complex reasoning dataset.

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Learning a Cost-Effective Annotation Policy for Question Answering
Bernhard Kratzwald | Stefan Feuerriegel | Huan Sun

State-of-the-art question answering (QA) relies upon large amounts of training data for which labeling is time consuming and thus expensive. For this reason, customizing QA systems is challenging. As a remedy, we propose a novel framework for annotating QA datasets that entails learning a cost-effective annotation policy and a semi-supervised annotation scheme. The latter reduces the human effort: it leverages the underlying QA system to suggest potential candidate annotations. Human annotators then simply provide binary feedback on these candidates. Our system is designed such that past annotations continuously improve the future performance and thus overall annotation cost. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first paper to address the problem of annotating questions with minimal annotation cost. We compare our framework against traditional manual annotations in an extensive set of experiments. We find that our approach can reduce up to 21.1% of the annotation cost.

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Scene Restoring for Narrative Machine Reading Comprehension
Zhixing Tian | Yuanzhe Zhang | Kang Liu | Jun Zhao | Yantao Jia | Zhicheng Sheng

This paper focuses on machine reading comprehension for narrative passages. Narrative passages usually describe a chain of events. When reading this kind of passage, humans tend to restore a scene according to the text with their prior knowledge, which helps them understand the passage comprehensively. Inspired by this behavior of humans, we propose a method to let the machine imagine a scene during reading narrative for better comprehension. Specifically, we build a scene graph by utilizing Atomic as the external knowledge and propose a novel Graph Dimensional-Iteration Network (GDIN) to encode the graph. We conduct experiments on the ROCStories, a dataset of Story Cloze Test (SCT), and CosmosQA, a dataset of multiple choice. Our method achieves state-of-the-art.

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A Simple and Effective Model for Answering Multi-span Questions
Elad Segal | Avia Efrat | Mor Shoham | Amir Globerson | Jonathan Berant

Models for reading comprehension (RC) commonly restrict their output space to the set of all single contiguous spans from the input, in order to alleviate the learning problem and avoid the need for a model that generates text explicitly. However, forcing an answer to be a single span can be restrictive, and some recent datasets also include multi-span questions, i.e., questions whose answer is a set of non-contiguous spans in the text. Naturally, models that return single spans cannot answer these questions. In this work, we propose a simple architecture for answering multi-span questions by casting the task as a sequence tagging problem, namely, predicting for each input token whether it should be part of the output or not. Our model substantially improves performance on span extraction questions from DROP and Quoref by 9.9 and 5.5 EM points respectively.

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Top-Rank-Focused Adaptive Vote Collection for the Evaluation of Domain-Specific Semantic Models
Pierangelo Lombardo | Alessio Boiardi | Luca Colombo | Angelo Schiavone | Nicolò Tamagnone

The growth of domain-specific applications of semantic models, boosted by the recent achievements of unsupervised embedding learning algorithms, demands domain-specific evaluation datasets. In many cases, content-based recommenders being a prime example, these models are required to rank words or texts according to their semantic relatedness to a given concept, with particular focus on top ranks. In this work, we give a threefold contribution to address these requirements: (i) we define a protocol for the construction, based on adaptive pairwise comparisons, of a relatedness-based evaluation dataset tailored on the available resources and optimized to be particularly accurate in top-rank evaluation; (ii) we define appropriate metrics, extensions of well-known ranking correlation coefficients, to evaluate a semantic model via the aforementioned dataset by taking into account the greater significance of top ranks. Finally, (iii) we define a stochastic transitivity model to simulate semantic-driven pairwise comparisons, which confirms the effectiveness of the proposed dataset construction protocol.

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Meta Fine-Tuning Neural Language Models for Multi-Domain Text Mining
Chengyu Wang | Minghui Qiu | Jun Huang | Xiaofeng He

Pre-trained neural language models bring significant improvement for various NLP tasks, by fine-tuning the models on task-specific training sets. During fine-tuning, the parameters are initialized from pre-trained models directly, which ignores how the learning process of similar NLP tasks in different domains is correlated and mutually reinforced. In this paper, we propose an effective learning procedure named Meta Fine-Tuning (MFT), serving as a meta-learner to solve a group of similar NLP tasks for neural language models. Instead of simply multi-task training over all the datasets, MFT only learns from typical instances of various domains to acquire highly transferable knowledge. It further encourages the language model to encode domain-invariant representations by optimizing a series of novel domain corruption loss functions. After MFT, the model can be fine-tuned for each domain with better parameter initializations and higher generalization ability. We implement MFT upon BERT to solve several multi-domain text mining tasks. Experimental results confirm the effectiveness of MFT and its usefulness for few-shot learning.

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Incorporating Behavioral Hypotheses for Query Generation
Ruey-Cheng Chen | Chia-Jung Lee

Generative neural networks have been shown effective on query suggestion. Commonly posed as a conditional generation problem, the task aims to leverage earlier inputs from users in a search session to predict queries that they will likely issue at a later time. User inputs come in various forms such as querying and clicking, each of which can imply different semantic signals channeled through the corresponding behavioral patterns. This paper induces these behavioral biases as hypotheses for query generation, where a generic encoder-decoder Transformer framework is presented to aggregate arbitrary hypotheses of choice. Our experimental results show that the proposed approach leads to significant improvements on top-k word error rate and Bert F1 Score compared to a recent BART model.

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Conditional Causal Relationships between Emotions and Causes in Texts
Xinhong Chen | Qing Li | Jianping Wang

The causal relationships between emotions and causes in text have recently received a lot of attention. Most of the existing works focus on the extraction of the causally related clauses from documents. However, none of these works has considered the possibility that the causal relationships among the extracted emotion and cause clauses may only be valid under a specific context, without which the extracted clauses may not be causally related. To address such an issue, we propose a new task of determining whether or not an input pair of emotion and cause has a valid causal relationship under different contexts, and construct a corresponding dataset via manual annotation and negative sampling based on an existing benchmark dataset. Furthermore, we propose a prediction aggregation module with low computational overhead to fine-tune the prediction results based on the characteristics of the input clauses. Experiments demonstrate the effectiveness and generality of our aggregation module.

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COMETA: A Corpus for Medical Entity Linking in the Social Media
Marco Basaldella | Fangyu Liu | Ehsan Shareghi | Nigel Collier

Whilst there has been growing progress in Entity Linking (EL) for general language, existing datasets fail to address the complex nature of health terminology in layman’s language. Meanwhile, there is a growing need for applications that can understand the public’s voice in the health domain. To address this we introduce a new corpus called COMETA, consisting of 20k English biomedical entity mentions from Reddit expert-annotated with links to SNOMED CT, a widely-used medical knowledge graph. Our corpus satisfies a combination of desirable properties, from scale and coverage to diversity and quality, that to the best of our knowledge has not been met by any of the existing resources in the field. Through benchmark experiments on 20 EL baselines from string- to neural-based models we shed light on the ability of these systems to perform complex inference on entities and concepts under 2 challenging evaluation scenarios. Our experimental results on COMETA illustrate that no golden bullet exists and even the best mainstream techniques still have a significant performance gap to fill, while the best solution relies on combining different views of data.

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Pareto Probing: Trading Off Accuracy for Complexity
Tiago Pimentel | Naomi Saphra | Adina Williams | Ryan Cotterell

The question of how to probe contextual word representations in a way that is principled and useful has seen significant recent attention. In our contribution to this discussion, we argue, first, for a probe metric that reflects the trade-off between probe complexity and performance: the Pareto hypervolume. To measure complexity, we present a number of parametric and non-parametric metrics. Our experiments with such metrics show that probe’s performance curves often fail to align with widely accepted rankings between language representations (with, e.g., non-contextual representations outperforming contextual ones). These results lead us to argue, second, that common simplistic probe tasks such as POS labeling and dependency arc labeling, are inadequate to evaluate the properties encoded in contextual word representations. We propose full dependency parsing as an example probe task, and demonstrate it with the Pareto hypervolume. In support of our arguments, the results of this illustrative experiment conform closer to accepted rankings among contextual word representations.

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Interpretation of NLP models through input marginalization
Siwon Kim | Jihun Yi | Eunji Kim | Sungroh Yoon

To demystify the “black box” property of deep neural networks for natural language processing (NLP), several methods have been proposed to interpret their predictions by measuring the change in prediction probability after erasing each token of an input. Since existing methods replace each token with a predefined value (i.e., zero), the resulting sentence lies out of the training data distribution, yielding misleading interpretations. In this study, we raise the out-of-distribution problem induced by the existing interpretation methods and present a remedy; we propose to marginalize each token out. We interpret various NLP models trained for sentiment analysis and natural language inference using the proposed method.

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Generating Label Cohesive and Well-Formed Adversarial Claims
Pepa Atanasova | Dustin Wright | Isabelle Augenstein

Adversarial attacks reveal important vulnerabilities and flaws of trained models. One potent type of attack are universal adversarial triggers, which are individual n-grams that, when appended to instances of a class under attack, can trick a model into predicting a target class. However, for inference tasks such as fact checking, these triggers often inadvertently invert the meaning of instances they are inserted in. In addition, such attacks produce semantically nonsensical inputs, as they simply concatenate triggers to existing samples. Here, we investigate how to generate adversarial attacks against fact checking systems that preserve the ground truth meaning and are semantically valid. We extend the HotFlip attack algorithm used for universal trigger generation by jointly minimizing the target class loss of a fact checking model and the entailment class loss of an auxiliary natural language inference model. We then train a conditional language model to generate semantically valid statements, which include the found universal triggers. We find that the generated attacks maintain the directionality and semantic validity of the claim better than previous work.

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Are All Good Word Vector Spaces Isomorphic?
Ivan Vulić | Sebastian Ruder | Anders Søgaard

Existing algorithms for aligning cross-lingual word vector spaces assume that vector spaces are approximately isomorphic. As a result, they perform poorly or fail completely on non-isomorphic spaces. Such non-isomorphism has been hypothesised to result from typological differences between languages. In this work, we ask whether non-isomorphism is also crucially a sign of degenerate word vector spaces. We present a series of experiments across diverse languages which show that variance in performance across language pairs is not only due to typological differences, but can mostly be attributed to the size of the monolingual resources available, and to the properties and duration of monolingual training (e.g. “under-training”).

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Cold-Start and Interpretability: Turning Regular Expressions into Trainable Recurrent Neural Networks
Chengyue Jiang | Yinggong Zhao | Shanbo Chu | Libin Shen | Kewei Tu

Neural networks can achieve impressive performance on many natural language processing applications, but they typically need large labeled data for training and are not easily interpretable. On the other hand, symbolic rules such as regular expressions are interpretable, require no training, and often achieve decent accuracy; but rules cannot benefit from labeled data when available and hence underperform neural networks in rich-resource scenarios. In this paper, we propose a type of recurrent neural networks called FA-RNNs that combine the advantages of neural networks and regular expression rules. An FA-RNN can be converted from regular expressions and deployed in zero-shot and cold-start scenarios. It can also utilize labeled data for training to achieve improved prediction accuracy. After training, an FA-RNN often remains interpretable and can be converted back into regular expressions. We apply FA-RNNs to text classification and observe that FA-RNNs significantly outperform previous neural approaches in both zero-shot and low-resource settings and remain very competitive in rich-resource settings.

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When BERT Plays the Lottery, All Tickets Are Winning
Sai Prasanna | Anna Rogers | Anna Rumshisky

Large Transformer-based models were shown to be reducible to a smaller number of self-attention heads and layers. We consider this phenomenon from the perspective of the lottery ticket hypothesis, using both structured and magnitude pruning. For fine-tuned BERT, we show that (a) it is possible to find subnetworks achieving performance that is comparable with that of the full model, and (b) similarly-sized subnetworks sampled from the rest of the model perform worse. Strikingly, with structured pruning even the worst possible subnetworks remain highly trainable, indicating that most pre-trained BERT weights are potentially useful. We also study the “good” subnetworks to see if their success can be attributed to superior linguistic knowledge, but find them unstable, and not explained by meaningful self-attention patterns.

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On the weak link between importance and prunability of attention heads
Aakriti Budhraja | Madhura Pande | Preksha Nema | Pratyush Kumar | Mitesh M. Khapra

Given the success of Transformer-based models, two directions of study have emerged: interpreting role of individual attention heads and down-sizing the models for efficiency. Our work straddles these two streams: We analyse the importance of basing pruning strategies on the interpreted role of the attention heads. We evaluate this on Transformer and BERT models on multiple NLP tasks. Firstly, we find that a large fraction of the attention heads can be randomly pruned with limited effect on accuracy. Secondly, for Transformers, we find no advantage in pruning attention heads identified to be important based on existing studies that relate importance to the location of a head. On the BERT model too we find no preference for top or bottom layers, though the latter are reported to have higher importance. However, strategies that avoid pruning middle layers and consecutive layers perform better. Finally, during fine-tuning the compensation for pruned attention heads is roughly equally distributed across the un-pruned heads. Our results thus suggest that interpretation of attention heads does not strongly inform pruning.

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Towards Interpreting BERT for Reading Comprehension Based QA
Sahana Ramnath | Preksha Nema | Deep Sahni | Mitesh M. Khapra

BERT and its variants have achieved state-of-the-art performance in various NLP tasks. Since then, various works have been proposed to analyze the linguistic information being captured in BERT. However, the current works do not provide an insight into how BERT is able to achieve near human-level performance on the task of Reading Comprehension based Question Answering. In this work, we attempt to interpret BERT for RCQA. Since BERT layers do not have predefined roles, we define a layer’s role or functionality using Integrated Gradients. Based on the defined roles, we perform a preliminary analysis across all layers. We observed that the initial layers focus on query-passage interaction, whereas later layers focus more on contextual understanding and enhancing the answer prediction. Specifically for quantifier questions (how much/how many), we notice that BERT focuses on confusing words (i.e., on other numerical quantities in the passage) in the later layers, but still manages to predict the answer correctly. The fine-tuning and analysis scripts will be publicly available at

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How do Decisions Emerge across Layers in Neural Models? Interpretation with Differentiable Masking
Nicola De Cao | Michael Sejr Schlichtkrull | Wilker Aziz | Ivan Titov

Attribution methods assess the contribution of inputs to the model prediction. One way to do so is erasure: a subset of inputs is considered irrelevant if it can be removed without affecting the prediction. Though conceptually simple, erasure’s objective is intractable and approximate search remains expensive with modern deep NLP models. Erasure is also susceptible to the hindsight bias: the fact that an input can be dropped does not mean that the model ‘knows’ it can be dropped. The resulting pruning is over-aggressive and does not reflect how the model arrives at the prediction. To deal with these challenges, we introduce Differentiable Masking. DiffMask learns to mask-out subsets of the input while maintaining differentiability. The decision to include or disregard an input token is made with a simple model based on intermediate hidden layers of the analyzed model. First, this makes the approach efficient because we predict rather than search. Second, as with probing classifiers, this reveals what the network ‘knows’ at the corresponding layers. This lets us not only plot attribution heatmaps but also analyze how decisions are formed across network layers. We use DiffMask to study BERT models on sentiment classification and question answering.

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A Diagnostic Study of Explainability Techniques for Text Classification
Pepa Atanasova | Jakob Grue Simonsen | Christina Lioma | Isabelle Augenstein

Recent developments in machine learning have introduced models that approach human performance at the cost of increased architectural complexity. Efforts to make the rationales behind the models’ predictions transparent have inspired an abundance of new explainability techniques. Provided with an already trained model, they compute saliency scores for the words of an input instance. However, there exists no definitive guide on (i) how to choose such a technique given a particular application task and model architecture, and (ii) the benefits and drawbacks of using each such technique. In this paper, we develop a comprehensive list of diagnostic properties for evaluating existing explainability techniques. We then employ the proposed list to compare a set of diverse explainability techniques on downstream text classification tasks and neural network architectures. We also compare the saliency scores assigned by the explainability techniques with human annotations of salient input regions to find relations between a model’s performance and the agreement of its rationales with human ones. Overall, we find that the gradient-based explanations perform best across tasks and model architectures, and we present further insights into the properties of the reviewed explainability techniques.

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STL-CQA: Structure-based Transformers with Localization and Encoding for Chart Question Answering
Hrituraj Singh | Sumit Shekhar

Chart Question Answering (CQA) is the task of answering natural language questions about visualisations in the chart image. Recent solutions, inspired by VQA approaches, rely on image-based attention for question/answering while ignoring the inherent chart structure. We propose STL-CQA which improves the question/answering through sequential elements localization, question encoding and then, a structural transformer-based learning approach. We conduct extensive experiments while proposing pre-training tasks, methodology and also an improved dataset with more complex and balanced questions of different types. The proposed methodology shows a significant accuracy improvement compared to the state-of-the-art approaches on various chart Q/A datasets, while outperforming even human baseline on the DVQA Dataset. We also demonstrate interpretability while examining different components in the inference pipeline.

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Learning to Contrast the Counterfactual Samples for Robust Visual Question Answering
Zujie Liang | Weitao Jiang | Haifeng Hu | Jiaying Zhu

In the task of Visual Question Answering (VQA), most state-of-the-art models tend to learn spurious correlations in the training set and achieve poor performance in out-of-distribution test data. Some methods of generating counterfactual samples have been proposed to alleviate this problem. However, the counterfactual samples generated by most previous methods are simply added to the training data for augmentation and are not fully utilized. Therefore, we introduce a novel self-supervised contrastive learning mechanism to learn the relationship between original samples, factual samples and counterfactual samples. With the better cross-modal joint embeddings learned from the auxiliary training objective, the reasoning capability and robustness of the VQA model are boosted significantly. We evaluate the effectiveness of our method by surpassing current state-of-the-art models on the VQA-CP dataset, a diagnostic benchmark for assessing the VQA model’s robustness.

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Learning Physical Common Sense as Knowledge Graph Completion via BERT Data Augmentation and Constrained Tucker Factorization
Zhenjie Zhao | Evangelos Papalexakis | Xiaojuan Ma

Physical common sense plays an essential role in the cognition abilities of robots for human-robot interaction. Machine learning methods have shown promising results on physical commonsense learning in natural language processing but still suffer from model generalization. In this paper, we formulate physical commonsense learning as a knowledge graph completion problem to better use the latent relationships among training samples. Compared with completing general knowledge graphs, completing a physical commonsense knowledge graph has three unique characteristics: training data are scarce, not all facts can be mined from existing texts, and the number of relationships is small. To deal with these problems, we first use a pre-training language model BERT to augment training data, and then employ constrained tucker factorization to model complex relationships by constraining types and adding negative relationships. We compare our method with existing state-of-the-art knowledge graph embedding methods and show its superior performance.

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A Visually-grounded First-person Dialogue Dataset with Verbal and Non-verbal Responses
Hisashi Kamezawa | Noriki Nishida | Nobuyuki Shimizu | Takashi Miyazaki | Hideki Nakayama

In real-world dialogue, first-person visual information about where the other speakers are and what they are paying attention to is crucial to understand their intentions. Non-verbal responses also play an important role in social interactions. In this paper, we propose a visually-grounded first-person dialogue (VFD) dataset with verbal and non-verbal responses. The VFD dataset provides manually annotated (1) first-person images of agents, (2) utterances of human speakers, (3) eye-gaze locations of the speakers, and (4) the agents’ verbal and non-verbal responses. We present experimental results obtained using the proposed VFD dataset and recent neural network models (e.g., BERT, ResNet). The results demonstrate that first-person vision helps neural network models correctly understand human intentions, and the production of non-verbal responses is a challenging task like that of verbal responses. Our dataset is publicly available.

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Cross-Media Keyphrase Prediction: A Unified Framework with Multi-Modality Multi-Head Attention and Image Wordings
Yue Wang | Jing Li | Michael Lyu | Irwin King

Social media produces large amounts of contents every day. To help users quickly capture what they need, keyphrase prediction is receiving a growing attention. Nevertheless, most prior efforts focus on text modeling, largely ignoring the rich features embedded in the matching images. In this work, we explore the joint effects of texts and images in predicting the keyphrases for a multimedia post. To better align social media style texts and images, we propose: (1) a novel Multi-Modality MultiHead Attention (M3H-Att) to capture the intricate cross-media interactions; (2) image wordings, in forms of optical characters and image attributes, to bridge the two modalities. Moreover, we design a unified framework to leverage the outputs of keyphrase classification and generation and couple their advantages. Extensive experiments on a large-scale dataset newly collected from Twitter show that our model significantly outperforms the previous state of the art based on traditional attention mechanisms. Further analyses show that our multi-head attention is able to attend information from various aspects and boost classification or generation in diverse scenarios.

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VD-BERT: A Unified Vision and Dialog Transformer with BERT
Yue Wang | Shafiq Joty | Michael Lyu | Irwin King | Caiming Xiong | Steven C.H. Hoi

Visual dialog is a challenging vision-language task, where a dialog agent needs to answer a series of questions through reasoning on the image content and dialog history. Prior work has mostly focused on various attention mechanisms to model such intricate interactions. By contrast, in this work, we propose VD-BERT, a simple yet effective framework of unified vision-dialog Transformer that leverages the pretrained BERT language models for Visual Dialog tasks. The model is unified in that (1) it captures all the interactions between the image and the multi-turn dialog using a single-stream Transformer encoder, and (2) it supports both answer ranking and answer generation seamlessly through the same architecture. More crucially, we adapt BERT for the effective fusion of vision and dialog contents via visually grounded training. Without the need of pretraining on external vision-language data, our model yields new state of the art, achieving the top position in both single-model and ensemble settings (74.54 and 75.35 NDCG scores) on the visual dialog leaderboard. Our code and pretrained models are released at

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The Grammar of Emergent Languages
Oskar van der Wal | Silvan de Boer | Elia Bruni | Dieuwke Hupkes

In this paper, we consider the syntactic properties of languages emerged in referential games, using unsupervised grammar induction (UGI) techniques originally designed to analyse natural language. We show that the considered UGI techniques are appropriate to analyse emergent languages and we then study if the languages that emerge in a typical referential game setup exhibit syntactic structure, and to what extent this depends on the maximum message length and number of symbols that the agents are allowed to use. Our experiments demonstrate that a certain message length and vocabulary size are required for structure to emerge, but they also illustrate that more sophisticated game scenarios are required to obtain syntactic properties more akin to those observed in human language. We argue that UGI techniques should be part of the standard toolkit for analysing emergent languages and release a comprehensive library to facilitate such analysis for future researchers.

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Sub-Instruction Aware Vision-and-Language Navigation
Yicong Hong | Cristian Rodriguez | Qi Wu | Stephen Gould

Vision-and-language navigation requires an agent to navigate through a real 3D environment following natural language instructions. Despite significant advances, few previous works are able to fully utilize the strong correspondence between the visual and textual sequences. Meanwhile, due to the lack of intermediate supervision, the agent’s performance at following each part of the instruction cannot be assessed during navigation. In this work, we focus on the granularity of the visual and language sequences as well as the traceability of agents through the completion of an instruction. We provide agents with fine-grained annotations during training and find that they are able to follow the instruction better and have a higher chance of reaching the target at test time. We enrich the benchmark dataset Room-to-Room (R2R) with sub-instructions and their corresponding paths. To make use of this data, we propose effective sub-instruction attention and shifting modules that select and attend to a single sub-instruction at each time-step. We implement our sub-instruction modules in four state-of-the-art agents, compare with their baseline models, and show that our proposed method improves the performance of all four agents. We release the Fine-Grained R2R dataset (FGR2R) and the code at

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Knowledge-Grounded Dialogue Generation with Pre-trained Language Models
Xueliang Zhao | Wei Wu | Can Xu | Chongyang Tao | Dongyan Zhao | Rui Yan

We study knowledge-grounded dialogue generation with pre-trained language models. To leverage the redundant external knowledge under capacity constraint, we propose equipping response generation defined by a pre-trained language model with a knowledge selection module, and an unsupervised approach to jointly optimizing knowledge selection and response generation with unlabeled dialogues. Empirical results on two benchmarks indicate that our model can significantly outperform state-of-the-art methods in both automatic evaluation and human judgment.

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MinTL: Minimalist Transfer Learning for Task-Oriented Dialogue Systems
Zhaojiang Lin | Andrea Madotto | Genta Indra Winata | Pascale Fung

In this paper, we propose Minimalist Transfer Learning (MinTL) to simplify the system design process of task-oriented dialogue systems and alleviate the over-dependency on annotated data. MinTL is a simple yet effective transfer learning framework, which allows us to plug-and-play pre-trained seq2seq models, and jointly learn dialogue state tracking and dialogue response generation. Unlike previous approaches, which use a copy mechanism to “carryover” the old dialogue states to the new one, we introduce Levenshtein belief spans (Lev), that allows efficient dialogue state tracking with a minimal generation length. We instantiate our learning framework with two pre-trained backbones: T5 and BART, and evaluate them on MultiWOZ. Extensive experiments demonstrate that: 1) our systems establish new state-of-the-art results on end-to-end response generation, 2) MinTL-based systems are more robust than baseline methods in the low resource setting, and they achieve competitive results with only 20% training data, and 3) Lev greatly improves the inference efficiency.

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Variational Hierarchical Dialog Autoencoder for Dialog State Tracking Data Augmentation
Kang Min Yoo | Hanbit Lee | Franck Dernoncourt | Trung Bui | Walter Chang | Sang-goo Lee

Recent works have shown that generative data augmentation, where synthetic samples generated from deep generative models complement the training dataset, benefit NLP tasks. In this work, we extend this approach to the task of dialog state tracking for goaloriented dialogs. Due to the inherent hierarchical structure of goal-oriented dialogs over utterances and related annotations, the deep generative model must be capable of capturing the coherence among different hierarchies and types of dialog features. We propose the Variational Hierarchical Dialog Autoencoder (VHDA) for modeling the complete aspects of goal-oriented dialogs, including linguistic features and underlying structured annotations, namely speaker information, dialog acts, and goals. The proposed architecture is designed to model each aspect of goal-oriented dialogs using inter-connected latent variables and learns to generate coherent goal-oriented dialogs from the latent spaces. To overcome training issues that arise from training complex variational models, we propose appropriate training strategies. Experiments on various dialog datasets show that our model improves the downstream dialog trackers’ robustness via generative data augmentation. We also discover additional benefits of our unified approach to modeling goal-oriented dialogs – dialog response generation and user simulation, where our model outperforms previous strong baselines.

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Bridging the Gap between Prior and Posterior Knowledge Selection for Knowledge-Grounded Dialogue Generation
Xiuyi Chen | Fandong Meng | Peng Li | Feilong Chen | Shuang Xu | Bo Xu | Jie Zhou

Knowledge selection plays an important role in knowledge-grounded dialogue, which is a challenging task to generate more informative responses by leveraging external knowledge. Recently, latent variable models have been proposed to deal with the diversity of knowledge selection by using both prior and posterior distributions over knowledge and achieve promising performance. However, these models suffer from a huge gap between prior and posterior knowledge selection. Firstly, the prior selection module may not learn to select knowledge properly because of lacking the necessary posterior information. Secondly, latent variable models suffer from the exposure bias that dialogue generation is based on the knowledge selected from the posterior distribution at training but from the prior distribution at inference. Here, we deal with these issues on two aspects: (1) We enhance the prior selection module with the necessary posterior information obtained from the specially designed Posterior Information Prediction Module (PIPM); (2) We propose a Knowledge Distillation Based Training Strategy (KDBTS) to train the decoder with the knowledge selected from the prior distribution, removing the exposure bias of knowledge selection. Experimental results on two knowledge-grounded dialogue datasets show that both PIPM and KDBTS achieve performance improvement over the state-of-the-art latent variable model and their combination shows further improvement.

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Counterfactual Off-Policy Training for Neural Dialogue Generation
Qingfu Zhu | Wei-Nan Zhang | Ting Liu | William Yang Wang

Open-domain dialogue generation suffers from the data insufficiency problem due to the vast size of potential responses. In this paper, we propose to explore potential responses by counterfactual reasoning. Given an observed response, the counterfactual reasoning model automatically infers the outcome of an alternative policy that could have been taken. The resulting counterfactual response synthesized in hindsight is of higher quality than the response synthesized from scratch. Training on the counterfactual responses under the adversarial learning framework helps to explore the high-reward area of the potential response space. An empirical study on the DailyDialog dataset shows that our approach significantly outperforms the HRED model as well as the conventional adversarial learning approaches.

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Dialogue Distillation: Open-Domain Dialogue Augmentation Using Unpaired Data
Rongsheng Zhang | Yinhe Zheng | Jianzhi Shao | Xiaoxi Mao | Yadong Xi | Minlie Huang

Recent advances in open-domain dialogue systems rely on the success of neural models that are trained on large-scale data. However, collecting large-scale dialogue data is usually time-consuming and labor-intensive. To address this data dilemma, we propose a novel data augmentation method for training open-domain dialogue models by utilizing unpaired data. Specifically, a data-level distillation process is first proposed to construct augmented dialogues where both post and response are retrieved from the unpaired data. A ranking module is employed to filter out low-quality dialogues. Further, a model-level distillation process is employed to distill a teacher model trained on high-quality paired data to augmented dialogue pairs, thereby preventing dialogue models from being affected by the noise in the augmented data. Automatic and manual evaluation indicates that our method can produce high-quality dialogue pairs with diverse contents, and the proposed data-level and model-level dialogue distillation can improve the performance of competitive baselines.

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Task-Completion Dialogue Policy Learning via Monte Carlo Tree Search with Dueling Network
Sihan Wang | Kaijie Zhou | Kunfeng Lai | Jianping Shen

We introduce a framework of Monte Carlo Tree Search with Double-q Dueling network (MCTS-DDU) for task-completion dialogue policy learning. Different from the previous deep model-based reinforcement learning methods, which uses background planning and may suffer from low-quality simulated experiences, MCTS-DDU performs decision-time planning based on dialogue state search trees built by Monte Carlo simulations and is robust to the simulation errors. Such idea arises naturally in human behaviors, e.g. predicting others’ responses and then deciding our own actions. In the simulated movie-ticket booking task, our method outperforms the background planning approaches significantly. We demonstrate the effectiveness of MCTS and the dueling network in detailed ablation studies, and also compare the performance upper bounds of these two planning methods.

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Learning a Simple and Effective Model for Multi-turn Response Generation with Auxiliary Tasks
Yufan Zhao | Can Xu | Wei Wu

We study multi-turn response generation for open-domain dialogues. The existing state-of-the-art addresses the problem with deep neural architectures. While these models improved response quality, their complexity also hinders the application of the models in real systems. In this work, we pursue a model that has a simple structure yet can effectively leverage conversation contexts for response generation. To this end, we propose four auxiliary tasks including word order recovery, utterance order recovery, masked word recovery, and masked utterance recovery, and optimize the objectives of these tasks together with maximizing the likelihood of generation. By this means, the auxiliary tasks that relate to context understanding can guide the learning of the generation model to achieve a better local optimum. Empirical studies with three benchmarks indicate that our model can significantly outperform state-of-the-art generation models in terms of response quality on both automatic evaluation and human judgment, and at the same time enjoys a much faster decoding process.

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AttnIO: Knowledge Graph Exploration with In-and-Out Attention Flow for Knowledge-Grounded Dialogue
Jaehun Jung | Bokyung Son | Sungwon Lyu

Retrieving the proper knowledge relevant to conversational context is an important challenge in dialogue systems, to engage users with more informative response. Several recent works propose to formulate this knowledge selection problem as a path traversal over an external knowledge graph (KG), but show only a limited utilization of KG structure, leaving rooms of improvement in performance. To this effect, we present AttnIO, a new dialog-conditioned path traversal model that makes a full use of rich structural information in KG based on two directions of attention flows. Through the attention flows, AttnIO is not only capable of exploring a broad range of multi-hop knowledge paths, but also learns to flexibly adjust the varying range of plausible nodes and edges to attend depending on the dialog context. Empirical evaluations present a marked performance improvement of AttnIO compared to all baselines in OpenDialKG dataset. Also, we find that our model can be trained to generate an adequate knowledge path even when the paths are not available and only the destination nodes are given as label, making it more applicable to real-world dialogue systems.

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Amalgamating Knowledge from Two Teachers for Task-oriented Dialogue System with Adversarial Training
Wanwei He | Min Yang | Rui Yan | Chengming Li | Ying Shen | Ruifeng Xu

The challenge of both achieving task completion by querying the knowledge base and generating human-like responses for task-oriented dialogue systems is attracting increasing research attention. In this paper, we propose a “Two-Teacher One-Student” learning framework (TTOS) for task-oriented dialogue, with the goal of retrieving accurate KB entities and generating human-like responses simultaneously. TTOS amalgamates knowledge from two teacher networks that together provide comprehensive guidance to build a high-quality task-oriented dialogue system (student network). Each teacher network is trained via reinforcement learning with a goal-specific reward, which can be viewed as an expert towards the goal and transfers the professional characteristic to the student network. Instead of adopting the classic student-teacher learning of forcing the output of a student network to exactly mimic the soft targets produced by the teacher networks, we introduce two discriminators as in generative adversarial network (GAN) to transfer knowledge from two teachers to the student. The usage of discriminators relaxes the rigid coupling between the student and teachers. Extensive experiments on two benchmark datasets (i.e., CamRest and In-Car Assistant) demonstrate that TTOS significantly outperforms baseline methods.

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Task-oriented Domain-specific Meta-Embedding for Text Classification
Xin Wu | Yi Cai | Yang Kai | Tao Wang | Qing Li

Meta-embedding learning, which combines complementary information in different word embeddings, have shown superior performances across different Natural Language Processing tasks. However, domain-specific knowledge is still ignored by existing meta-embedding methods, which results in unstable performances across specific domains. Moreover, the importance of general and domain word embeddings is related to downstream tasks, how to regularize meta-embedding to adapt downstream tasks is an unsolved problem. In this paper, we propose a method to incorporate both domain-specific and task-oriented information into meta-embeddings. We conducted extensive experiments on four text classification datasets and the results show the effectiveness of our proposed method.

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Don’t Neglect the Obvious: On the Role of Unambiguous Words in Word Sense Disambiguation
Daniel Loureiro | Jose Camacho-Collados

State-of-the-art methods for Word Sense Disambiguation (WSD) combine two different features: the power of pre-trained language models and a propagation method to extend the coverage of such models. This propagation is needed as current sense-annotated corpora lack coverage of many instances in the underlying sense inventory (usually WordNet). At the same time, unambiguous words make for a large portion of all words in WordNet, while being poorly covered in existing sense-annotated corpora. In this paper, we propose a simple method to provide annotations for most unambiguous words in a large corpus. We introduce the UWA (Unambiguous Word Annotations) dataset and show how a state-of-the-art propagation-based model can use it to extend the coverage and quality of its word sense embeddings by a significant margin, improving on its original results on WSD.

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Within-Between Lexical Relation Classification
Oren Barkan | Avi Caciularu | Ido Dagan

We propose the novel Within-Between Relation model for recognizing lexical-semantic relations between words. Our model integrates relational and distributional signals, forming an effective sub-space representation for each relation. We show that the proposed model is competitive and outperforms other baselines, across various benchmarks.

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With More Contexts Comes Better Performance: Contextualized Sense Embeddings for All-Round Word Sense Disambiguation
Bianca Scarlini | Tommaso Pasini | Roberto Navigli

Contextualized word embeddings have been employed effectively across several tasks in Natural Language Processing, as they have proved to carry useful semantic information. However, it is still hard to link them to structured sources of knowledge. In this paper we present ARES (context-AwaRe Embeddings of Senses), a semi-supervised approach to producing sense embeddings for the lexical meanings within a lexical knowledge base that lie in a space that is comparable to that of contextualized word vectors. ARES representations enable a simple 1 Nearest-Neighbour algorithm to outperform state-of-the-art models, not only in the English Word Sense Disambiguation task, but also in the multilingual one, whilst training on sense-annotated data in English only. We further assess the quality of our embeddings in the Word-in-Context task, where, when used as an external source of knowledge, they consistently improve the performance of a neural model, leading it to compete with other more complex architectures. ARES embeddings for all WordNet concepts and the automatically-extracted contexts used for creating the sense representations are freely available at

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Convolution over Hierarchical Syntactic and Lexical Graphs for Aspect Level Sentiment Analysis
Mi Zhang | Tieyun Qian

The state-of-the-art methods in aspect-level sentiment classification have leveraged the graph based models to incorporate the syntactic structure of a sentence. While being effective, these methods ignore the corpus level word co-occurrence information, which reflect the collocations in linguistics like “nothing special”. Moreover, they do not distinguish the different types of syntactic dependency, e.g., a nominal subject relation “food-was” is treated equally as an adjectival complement relation “was-okay” in “food was okay”. To tackle the above two limitations, we propose a novel architecture which convolutes over hierarchical syntactic and lexical graphs. Specifically, we employ a global lexical graph to encode the corpus level word co-occurrence information. Moreover, we build a concept hierarchy on both the syntactic and lexical graphs for differentiating various types of dependency relations or lexical word pairs. Finally, we design a bi-level interactive graph convolution network to fully exploit these two graphs. Extensive experiments on five bench- mark datasets show that our method outperforms the state-of-the-art baselines.

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Multi-Instance Multi-Label Learning Networks for Aspect-Category Sentiment Analysis
Yuncong Li | Cunxiang Yin | Sheng-hua Zhong | Xu Pan

Aspect-category sentiment analysis (ACSA) aims to predict sentiment polarities of sentences with respect to given aspect categories. To detect the sentiment toward a particular aspect category in a sentence, most previous methods first generate an aspect category-specific sentence representation for the aspect category, then predict the sentiment polarity based on the representation. These methods ignore the fact that the sentiment of an aspect category mentioned in a sentence is an aggregation of the sentiments of the words indicating the aspect category in the sentence, which leads to suboptimal performance. In this paper, we propose a Multi-Instance Multi-Label Learning Network for Aspect-Category sentiment analysis (AC-MIMLLN), which treats sentences as bags, words as instances, and the words indicating an aspect category as the key instances of the aspect category. Given a sentence and the aspect categories mentioned in the sentence, AC-MIMLLN first predicts the sentiments of the instances, then finds the key instances for the aspect categories, finally obtains the sentiments of the sentence toward the aspect categories by aggregating the key instance sentiments. Experimental results on three public datasets demonstrate the effectiveness of AC-MIMLLN.

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Aspect Sentiment Classification with Aspect-Specific Opinion Spans
Lu Xu | Lidong Bing | Wei Lu | Fei Huang

Aspect based sentiment analysis, predicting sentiment polarity of given aspects, has drawn extensive attention. Previous attention-based models emphasize using aspect semantics to help extract opinion features for classification. However, these works are either not able to capture opinion spans as a whole, or not able to capture variable-length opinion spans. In this paper, we present a neat and effective structured attention model by aggregating multiple linear-chain CRFs. Such a design allows the model to extract aspect-specific opinion spans and then evaluate sentiment polarity by exploiting the extracted opinion features. The experimental results on four datasets demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed model, and our analysis demonstrates that our model can capture aspect-specific opinion spans.

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Emotion-Cause Pair Extraction as Sequence Labeling Based on A Novel Tagging Scheme
Chaofa Yuan | Chuang Fan | Jianzhu Bao | Ruifeng Xu

The task of emotion-cause pair extraction deals with finding all emotions and the corresponding causes in unannotated emotion texts. Most recent studies are based on the likelihood of Cartesian product among all clause candidates, resulting in a high computational cost. Targeting this issue, we regard the task as a sequence labeling problem and propose a novel tagging scheme with coding the distance between linked components into the tags, so that emotions and the corresponding causes can be extracted simultaneously. Accordingly, an end-to-end model is presented to process the input texts from left to right, always with linear time complexity, leading to a speed up. Experimental results show that our proposed model achieves the best performance, outperforming the state-of-the-art method by 2.26% (p<0.001) in F1 measure.

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End-to-End Emotion-Cause Pair Extraction based on Sliding Window Multi-Label Learning
Zixiang Ding | Rui Xia | Jianfei Yu

Emotion-cause pair extraction (ECPE) is a new task that aims to extract the potential pairs of emotions and their corresponding causes in a document. The existing methods first perform emotion extraction and cause extraction independently, and then perform emotion-cause pairing and filtering. However, the above methods ignore the fact that the cause and the emotion it triggers are inseparable, and the extraction of the cause without specifying the emotion is pathological, which greatly limits the performance of the above methods in the first step. To tackle these shortcomings, we propose two joint frameworks for ECPE: 1) multi-label learning for the extraction of the cause clauses corresponding to the specified emotion clause (CMLL) and 2) multi-label learning for the extraction of the emotion clauses corresponding to the specified cause clause (EMLL). The window of multi-label learning is centered on the specified emotion clause or cause clause and slides as their positions move. Finally, CMLL and EMLL are integrated to obtain the final result. We evaluate our model on a benchmark emotion cause corpus, the results show that our approach achieves the best performance among all compared systems on the ECPE task.

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Multi-modal Multi-label Emotion Detection with Modality and Label Dependence
Dong Zhang | Xincheng Ju | Junhui Li | Shoushan Li | Qiaoming Zhu | Guodong Zhou

As an important research issue in the natural language processing community, multi-label emotion detection has been drawing more and more attention in the last few years. However, almost all existing studies focus on one modality (e.g., textual modality). In this paper, we focus on multi-label emotion detection in a multi-modal scenario. In this scenario, we need to consider both the dependence among different labels (label dependence) and the dependence between each predicting label and different modalities (modality dependence). Particularly, we propose a multi-modal sequence-to-set approach to effectively model both kinds of dependence in multi-modal multi-label emotion detection. The detailed evaluation demonstrates the effectiveness of our approach.

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Tasty Burgers, Soggy Fries: Probing Aspect Robustness in Aspect-Based Sentiment Analysis
Xiaoyu Xing | Zhijing Jin | Di Jin | Bingning Wang | Qi Zhang | Xuanjing Huang

Aspect-based sentiment analysis (ABSA) aims to predict the sentiment towards a specific aspect in the text. However, existing ABSA test sets cannot be used to probe whether a model can distinguish the sentiment of the target aspect from the non-target aspects. To solve this problem, we develop a simple but effective approach to enrich ABSA test sets. Specifically, we generate new examples to disentangle the confounding sentiments of the non-target aspects from the target aspect’s sentiment. Based on the SemEval 2014 dataset, we construct the Aspect Robustness Test Set (ARTS) as a comprehensive probe of the aspect robustness of ABSA models. Over 92% data of ARTS show high fluency and desired sentiment on all aspects by human evaluation. Using ARTS, we analyze the robustness of nine ABSA models, and observe, surprisingly, that their accuracy drops by up to 69.73%. We explore several ways to improve aspect robustness, and find that adversarial training can improve models’ performance on ARTS by up to 32.85%. Our code and new test set are available at

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Modeling Content Importance for Summarization with Pre-trained Language Models
Liqiang Xiao | Lu Wang | Hao He | Yaohui Jin

Modeling content importance is an essential yet challenging task for summarization. Previous work is mostly based on statistical methods that estimate word-level salience, which does not consider semantics and larger context when quantifying importance. It is thus hard for these methods to generalize to semantic units of longer text spans. In this work, we apply information theory on top of pre-trained language models and define the concept of importance from the perspective of information amount. It considers both the semantics and context when evaluating the importance of each semantic unit. With the help of pre-trained language models, it can easily generalize to different kinds of semantic units n-grams or sentences. Experiments on CNN/Daily Mail and New York Times datasets demonstrate that our method can better model the importance of content than prior work based on F1 and ROUGE scores.

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Unsupervised Reference-Free Summary Quality Evaluation via Contrastive Learning
Hanlu Wu | Tengfei Ma | Lingfei Wu | Tariro Manyumwa | Shouling Ji

Evaluation of a document summarization system has been a critical factor to impact the success of the summarization task. Previous approaches, such as ROUGE, mainly consider the informativeness of the assessed summary and require human-generated references for each test summary. In this work, we propose to evaluate the summary qualities without reference summaries by unsupervised contrastive learning. Specifically, we design a new metric which covers both linguistic qualities and semantic informativeness based on BERT. To learn the metric, for each summary, we construct different types of negative samples with respect to different aspects of the summary qualities, and train our model with a ranking loss. Experiments on Newsroom and CNN/Daily Mail demonstrate that our new evaluation method outperforms other metrics even without reference summaries. Furthermore, we show that our method is general and transferable across datasets.

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Neural Extractive Summarization with Hierarchical Attentive Heterogeneous Graph Network
Ruipeng Jia | Yanan Cao | Hengzhu Tang | Fang Fang | Cong Cao | Shi Wang

Sentence-level extractive text summarization is substantially a node classification task of network mining, adhering to the informative components and concise representations. There are lots of redundant phrases between extracted sentences, but it is difficult to model them exactly by the general supervised methods. Previous sentence encoders, especially BERT, specialize in modeling the relationship between source sentences. While, they have no ability to consider the overlaps of the target selected summary, and there are inherent dependencies among target labels of sentences. In this paper, we propose HAHSum (as shorthand for Hierarchical Attentive Heterogeneous Graph for Text Summarization), which well models different levels of information, including words and sentences, and spotlights redundancy dependencies between sentences. Our approach iteratively refines the sentence representations with redundancy-aware graph and delivers the label dependencies by message passing. Experiments on large scale benchmark corpus (CNN/DM, NYT, and NEWSROOM) demonstrate that HAHSum yields ground-breaking performance and outperforms previous extractive summarizers.

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Coarse-to-Fine Query Focused Multi-Document Summarization
Yumo Xu | Mirella Lapata

We consider the problem of better modeling query-cluster interactions to facilitate query focused multi-document summarization. Due to the lack of training data, existing work relies heavily on retrieval-style methods for assembling query relevant summaries. We propose a coarse-to-fine modeling framework which employs progressively more accurate modules for estimating whether text segments are relevant, likely to contain an answer, and central. The modules can be independently developed and leverage training data if available. We present an instantiation of this framework with a trained evidence estimator which relies on distant supervision from question answering (where various resources exist) to identify segments which are likely to answer the query and should be included in the summary. Our framework is robust across domains and query types (i.e., long vs short) and outperforms strong comparison systems on benchmark datasets.

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Pre-training for Abstractive Document Summarization by Reinstating Source Text
Yanyan Zou | Xingxing Zhang | Wei Lu | Furu Wei | Ming Zhou

Abstractive document summarization is usually modeled as a sequence-to-sequence (SEQ2SEQ) learning problem. Unfortunately, training large SEQ2SEQ based summarization models on limited supervised summarization data is challenging. This paper presents three sequence-to-sequence pre-training (in shorthand, STEP) objectives which allow us to pre-train a SEQ2SEQ based abstractive summarization model on unlabeled text. The main idea is that, given an input text artificially constructed from a document, a model is pre-trained to reinstate the original document. These objectives include sentence reordering, next sentence generation and masked document generation, which have close relations with the abstractive document summarization task. Experiments on two benchmark summarization datasets (i.e., CNN/DailyMail and New York Times) show that all three objectives can improve performance upon baselines. Compared to models pre-trained on large-scale data (larger than 160GB), our method, with only 19GB text for pre-training, achieves comparable results, which demonstrates its effectiveness.

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Learning from Context or Names? An Empirical Study on Neural Relation Extraction
Hao Peng | Tianyu Gao | Xu Han | Yankai Lin | Peng Li | Zhiyuan Liu | Maosong Sun | Jie Zhou

Neural models have achieved remarkable success on relation extraction (RE) benchmarks. However, there is no clear understanding what information in text affects existing RE models to make decisions and how to further improve the performance of these models. To this end, we empirically study the effect of two main information sources in text: textual context and entity mentions (names). We find that (i) while context is the main source to support the predictions, RE models also heavily rely on the information from entity mentions, most of which is type information, and (ii) existing datasets may leak shallow heuristics via entity mentions and thus contribute to the high performance on RE benchmarks. Based on the analyses, we propose an entity-masked contrastive pre-training framework for RE to gain a deeper understanding on both textual context and type information while avoiding rote memorization of entities or use of superficial cues in mentions. We carry out extensive experiments to support our views, and show that our framework can improve the effectiveness and robustness of neural models in different RE scenarios. All the code and datasets are released at

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SelfORE: Self-supervised Relational Feature Learning for Open Relation Extraction
Xuming Hu | Lijie Wen | Yusong Xu | Chenwei Zhang | Philip Yu

Open relation extraction is the task of extracting open-domain relation facts from natural language sentences. Existing works either utilize heuristics or distant-supervised annotations to train a supervised classifier over pre-defined relations, or adopt unsupervised methods with additional assumptions that have less discriminative power. In this work, we propose a self-supervised framework named SelfORE, which exploits weak, self-supervised signals by leveraging large pretrained language model for adaptive clustering on contextualized relational features, and bootstraps the self-supervised signals by improving contextualized features in relation classification. Experimental results on three datasets show the effectiveness and robustness of SelfORE on open-domain Relation Extraction when comparing with competitive baselines.

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Denoising Relation Extraction from Document-level Distant Supervision
Chaojun Xiao | Yuan Yao | Ruobing Xie | Xu Han | Zhiyuan Liu | Maosong Sun | Fen Lin | Leyu Lin

Distant supervision (DS) has been widely adopted to generate auto-labeled data for sentence-level relation extraction (RE) and achieved great results. However, the existing success of DS cannot be directly transferred to more challenging document-level relation extraction (DocRE), as the inevitable noise caused by DS may be even multiplied in documents and significantly harm the performance of RE. To alleviate this issue, we propose a novel pre-trained model for DocRE, which de-emphasize noisy DS data via multiple pre-training tasks. The experimental results on the large-scale DocRE benchmark show that our model can capture useful information from noisy data and achieve promising results.

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Let’s Stop Incorrect Comparisons in End-to-end Relation Extraction!
Bruno Taillé | Vincent Guigue | Geoffrey Scoutheeten | Patrick Gallinari

Despite efforts to distinguish three different evaluation setups (Bekoulis et al., 2018), numerous end-to-end Relation Extraction (RE) articles present unreliable performance comparison to previous work. In this paper, we first identify several patterns of invalid comparisons in published papers and describe them to avoid their propagation. We then propose a small empirical study to quantify the most common mistake’s impact and evaluate it leads to overestimating the final RE performance by around 5% on ACE05. We also seize this opportunity to study the unexplored ablations of two recent developments: the use of language model pretraining (specifically BERT) and span-level NER. This meta-analysis emphasizes the need for rigor in the report of both the evaluation setting and the dataset statistics. We finally call for unifying the evaluation setting in end-to-end RE.

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Exposing Shallow Heuristics of Relation Extraction Models with Challenge Data
Shachar Rosenman | Alon Jacovi | Yoav Goldberg

The process of collecting and annotating training data may introduce distribution artifacts which may limit the ability of models to learn correct generalization behavior. We identify failure modes of SOTA relation extraction (RE) models trained on TACRED, which we attribute to limitations in the data annotation process. We collect and annotate a challenge-set we call Challenging RE (CRE), based on naturally occurring corpus examples, to benchmark this behavior. Our experiments with four state-of-the-art RE models show that they have indeed adopted shallow heuristics that do not generalize to the challenge-set data. Further, we find that alternative question answering modeling performs significantly better than the SOTA models on the challenge-set, despite worse overall TACRED performance. By adding some of the challenge data as training examples, the performance of the model improves. Finally, we provide concrete suggestion on how to improve RE data collection to alleviate this behavior.

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Global-to-Local Neural Networks for Document-Level Relation Extraction
Difeng Wang | Wei Hu | Ermei Cao | Weijian Sun

Relation extraction (RE) aims to identify the semantic relations between named entities in text. Recent years have witnessed it raised to the document level, which requires complex reasoning with entities and mentions throughout an entire document. In this paper, we propose a novel model to document-level RE, by encoding the document information in terms of entity global and local representations as well as context relation representations. Entity global representations model the semantic information of all entities in the document, entity local representations aggregate the contextual information of multiple mentions of specific entities, and context relation representations encode the topic information of other relations. Experimental results demonstrate that our model achieves superior performance on two public datasets for document-level RE. It is particularly effective in extracting relations between entities of long distance and having multiple mentions.

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Recurrent Interaction Network for Jointly Extracting Entities and Classifying Relations
Kai Sun | Richong Zhang | Samuel Mensah | Yongyi Mao | Xudong Liu

The idea of using multi-task learning approaches to address the joint extraction of entity and relation is motivated by the relatedness between the entity recognition task and the relation classification task. Existing methods using multi-task learning techniques to address the problem learn interactions among the two tasks through a shared network, where the shared information is passed into the task-specific networks for prediction. However, such an approach hinders the model from learning explicit interactions between the two tasks to improve the performance on the individual tasks. As a solution, we design a multi-task learning model which we refer to as recurrent interaction network which allows the learning of interactions dynamically, to effectively model task-specific features for classification. Empirical studies on two real-world datasets confirm the superiority of the proposed model.

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Temporal Knowledge Base Completion: New Algorithms and Evaluation Protocols
Prachi Jain | Sushant Rathi | Mausam | Soumen Chakrabarti

Research on temporal knowledge bases, which associate a relational fact (s,r,o) with a validity time period (or time instant), is in its early days. Our work considers predicting missing entities (link prediction) and missing time intervals (time prediction) as joint Temporal Knowledge Base Completion (TKBC) tasks, and presents TIMEPLEX, a novel TKBC method, in which entities, relations and, time are all embedded in a uniform, compatible space. TIMEPLEX exploits the recurrent nature of some facts/events and temporal interactions between pairs of relations, yielding state-of-the-art results on both prediction tasks. We also find that existing TKBC models heavily overestimate link prediction performance due to imperfect evaluation mechanisms. In response, we propose improved TKBC evaluation protocols for both link and time prediction tasks, dealing with subtle issues that arise from the partial overlap of time intervals in gold instances and system predictions.

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OpenIE6: Iterative Grid Labeling and Coordination Analysis for Open Information Extraction
Keshav Kolluru | Vaibhav Adlakha | Samarth Aggarwal | Mausam | Soumen Chakrabarti

A recent state-of-the-art neural open information extraction (OpenIE) system generates extractions iteratively, requiring repeated encoding of partial outputs. This comes at a significant computational cost. On the other hand,sequence labeling approaches for OpenIE are much faster, but worse in extraction quality. In this paper, we bridge this trade-off by presenting an iterative labeling-based system that establishes a new state of the art for OpenIE, while extracting 10x faster. This is achieved through a novel Iterative Grid Labeling (IGL) architecture, which treats OpenIE as a 2-D grid labeling task. We improve its performance further by applying coverage (soft) constraints on the grid at training time. Moreover, on observing that the best OpenIE systems falter at handling coordination structures, our OpenIE system also incorporates a new coordination analyzer built with the same IGL architecture. This IGL based coordination analyzer helps our OpenIE system handle complicated coordination structures, while also establishing a new state of the art on the task of coordination analysis, with a 12.3 pts improvement in F1 over previous analyzers. Our OpenIE system - OpenIE6 - beats the previous systems by as much as 4 pts in F1, while being much faster.

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Public Sentiment Drift Analysis Based on Hierarchical Variational Auto-encoder
Wenyue Zhang | Xiaoli Li | Yang Li | Suge Wang | Deyu Li | Jian Liao | Jianxing Zheng

Detecting public sentiment drift is a challenging task due to sentiment change over time. Existing methods first build a classification model using historical data and subsequently detect drift if the model performs much worse on new data. In this paper, we focus on distribution learning by proposing a novel Hierarchical Variational Auto-Encoder (HVAE) model to learn better distribution representation, and design a new drift measure to directly evaluate distribution changes between historical data and new data. Our experimental results demonstrate that our proposed model achieves better results than three existing state-of-the-art methods.

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Point to the Expression: Solving Algebraic Word Problems using the Expression-Pointer Transformer Model
Bugeun Kim | Kyung Seo Ki | Donggeon Lee | Gahgene Gweon

Solving algebraic word problems has recently emerged as an important natural language processing task. To solve algebraic word problems, recent studies suggested neural models that generate solution equations by using ‘Op (operator/operand)’ tokens as a unit of input/output. However, such a neural model suffered two issues: expression fragmentation and operand-context separation. To address each of these two issues, we propose a pure neural model, Expression-Pointer Transformer (EPT), which uses (1) ‘Expression’ token and (2) operand-context pointers when generating solution equations. The performance of the EPT model is tested on three datasets: ALG514, DRAW-1K, and MAWPS. Compared to the state-of-the-art (SoTA) models, the EPT model achieved a comparable performance accuracy in each of the three datasets; 81.3% on ALG514, 59.5% on DRAW-1K, and 84.5% on MAWPS. The contribution of this paper is two-fold; (1) We propose a pure neural model, EPT, which can address the expression fragmentation and the operand-context separation. (2) The fully automatic EPT model, which does not use hand-crafted features, yields comparable performance to existing models using hand-crafted features, and achieves better performance than existing pure neural models by at most 40%.

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Semantically-Aligned Universal Tree-Structured Solver for Math Word Problems
Jinghui Qin | Lihui Lin | Xiaodan Liang | Rumin Zhang | Liang Lin

A practical automatic textual math word problems (MWPs) solver should be able to solve various textual MWPs while most existing works only focused on one-unknown linear MWPs. Herein, we propose a simple but efficient method called Universal Expression Tree (UET) to make the first attempt to represent the equations of various MWPs uniformly. Then a semantically-aligned universal tree-structured solver (SAU-Solver) based on an encoder-decoder framework is proposed to resolve multiple types of MWPs in a unified model, benefiting from our UET representation. Our SAU-Solver generates a universal expression tree explicitly by deciding which symbol to generate according to the generated symbols’ semantic meanings like human solving MWPs. Besides, our SAU-Solver also includes a novel subtree-level semanticallyaligned regularization to further enforce the semantic constraints and rationality of the generated expression tree by aligning with the contextual information. Finally, to validate the universality of our solver and extend the research boundary of MWPs, we introduce a new challenging Hybrid Math Word Problems dataset (HMWP), consisting of three types of MWPs. Experimental results on several MWPs datasets show that our model can solve universal types of MWPs and outperforms several state-of-the-art models.

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Neural Topic Modeling by Incorporating Document Relationship Graph
Deyu Zhou | Xuemeng Hu | Rui Wang

Graph Neural Networks (GNNs) that capture the relationships between graph nodes via message passing have been a hot research direction in the natural language processing community. In this paper, we propose Graph Topic Model (GTM), a GNN based neural topic model that represents a corpus as a document relationship graph. Documents and words in the corpus become nodes in the graph and are connected based on document-word co-occurrences. By introducing the graph structure, the relationships between documents are established through their shared words and thus the topical representation of a document is enriched by aggregating information from its neighboring nodes using graph convolution. Extensive experiments on three datasets were conducted and the results demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed approach.

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Routing Enforced Generative Model for Recipe Generation
Zhiwei Yu | Hongyu Zang | Xiaojun Wan

One of the most challenging part of recipe generation is to deal with the complex restrictions among the input ingredients. Previous researches simplify the problem by treating the inputs independently and generating recipes containing as much information as possible. In this work, we propose a routing method to dive into the content selection under the internal restrictions. The routing enforced generative model (RGM) can generate appropriate recipes according to the given ingredients and user preferences. Our model yields new state-of-the-art results on the recipe generation task with significant improvements on BLEU, F1 and human evaluation.

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Assessing the Helpfulness of Learning Materials with Inference-Based Learner-Like Agent
Yun-Hsuan Jen | Chieh-Yang Huang | MeiHua Chen | Ting-Hao Huang | Lun-Wei Ku

Many English-as-a-second language learners have trouble using near-synonym words (e.g., small vs.little; briefly vs.shortly) correctly, and often look for example sentences to learn how two nearly synonymous terms differ. Prior work uses hand-crafted scores to recommend sentences but has difficulty in adopting such scores to all the near-synonyms as near-synonyms differ in various ways. We notice that the helpfulness of the learning material would reflect on the learners’ performance. Thus, we propose the inference-based learner-like agent to mimic learner behavior and identify good learning materials by examining the agent’s performance. To enable the agent to behave like a learner, we leverage entailment modeling’s capability of inferring answers from the provided materials. Experimental results show that the proposed agent is equipped with good learner-like behavior to achieve the best performance in both fill-in-the-blank (FITB) and good example sentence selection tasks. We further conduct a classroom user study with college ESL learners. The results of the user study show that the proposed agent can find out example sentences that help students learn more easily and efficiently. Compared to other models, the proposed agent improves the score of more than 17% of students after learning.

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Selection and Generation: Learning towards Multi-Product Advertisement Post Generation
Zhangming Chan | Yuchi Zhang | Xiuying Chen | Shen Gao | Zhiqiang Zhang | Dongyan Zhao | Rui Yan

As the E-commerce thrives, high-quality online advertising copywriting has attracted more and more attention. Different from the advertising copywriting for a single product, an advertisement (AD) post includes an attractive topic that meets the customer needs and description copywriting about several products under its topic. A good AD post can highlight the characteristics of each product, thus helps customers make a good choice among candidate products. Hence, multi-product AD post generation is meaningful and important. We propose a novel end-to-end model named S-MG Net to generate the AD post. Targeted at such a challenging real-world problem, we split the AD post generation task into two subprocesses: (1) select a set of products via the SelectNet (Selection Network). (2) generate a post including selected products via the MGenNet (Multi-Generator Network). Concretely, SelectNet first captures the post topic and the relationship among the products to output the representative products. Then, MGenNet generates the description copywriting of each product. Experiments conducted on a large-scale real-world AD post dataset demonstrate that our proposed model achieves impressive performance in terms of both automatic metrics as well as human evaluations.

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Form2Seq : A Framework for Higher-Order Form Structure Extraction
Milan Aggarwal | Hiresh Gupta | Mausoom Sarkar | Balaji Krishnamurthy

Document structure extraction has been a widely researched area for decades with recent works performing it as a semantic segmentation task over document images using fully-convolution networks. Such methods are limited by image resolution due to which they fail to disambiguate structures in dense regions which appear commonly in forms. To mitigate this, we propose Form2Seq, a novel sequence-to-sequence (Seq2Seq) inspired framework for structure extraction using text, with a specific focus on forms, which leverages relative spatial arrangement of structures. We discuss two tasks; 1) Classification of low-level constituent elements (TextBlock and empty fillable Widget) into ten types such as field captions, list items, and others; 2) Grouping lower-level elements into higher-order constructs, such as Text Fields, ChoiceFields and ChoiceGroups, used as information collection mechanism in forms. To achieve this, we arrange the constituent elements linearly in natural reading order, feed their spatial and textual representations to Seq2Seq framework, which sequentially outputs prediction of each element depending on the final task. We modify Seq2Seq for grouping task and discuss improvements obtained through cascaded end-to-end training of two tasks versus training in isolation. Experimental results show the effectiveness of our text-based approach achieving an accuracy of 90% on classification task and an F1 of 75.82, 86.01, 61.63 on groups discussed above respectively, outperforming segmentation baselines. Further we show our framework achieves state of the results for table structure recognition on ICDAR 2013 dataset.

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Domain Adaptation of Thai Word Segmentation Models using Stacked Ensemble
Peerat Limkonchotiwat | Wannaphong Phatthiyaphaibun | Raheem Sarwar | Ekapol Chuangsuwanich | Sarana Nutanong

Like many Natural Language Processing tasks, Thai word segmentation is domain-dependent. Researchers have been relying on transfer learning to adapt an existing model to a new domain. However, this approach is inapplicable to cases where we can interact with only input and output layers of the models, also known as “black boxes”. We propose a filter-and-refine solution based on the stacked-ensemble learning paradigm to address this black-box limitation. We conducted extensive experimental studies comparing our method against state-of-the-art models and transfer learning. Experimental results show that our proposed solution is an effective domain adaptation method and has a similar performance as the transfer learning method.

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DagoBERT: Generating Derivational Morphology with a Pretrained Language Model
Valentin Hofmann | Janet Pierrehumbert | Hinrich Schütze

Can pretrained language models (PLMs) generate derivationally complex words? We present the first study investigating this question, taking BERT as the example PLM. We examine BERT’s derivational capabilities in different settings, ranging from using the unmodified pretrained model to full finetuning. Our best model, DagoBERT (Derivationally and generatively optimized BERT), clearly outperforms the previous state of the art in derivation generation (DG). Furthermore, our experiments show that the input segmentation crucially impacts BERT’s derivational knowledge, suggesting that the performance of PLMs could be further improved if a morphologically informed vocabulary of units were used.

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Attention Is All You Need for Chinese Word Segmentation
Sufeng Duan | Hai Zhao

Taking greedy decoding algorithm as it should be, this work focuses on further strengthening the model itself for Chinese word segmentation (CWS), which results in an even more fast and more accurate CWS model. Our model consists of an attention only stacked encoder and a light enough decoder for the greedy segmentation plus two highway connections for smoother training, in which the encoder is composed of a newly proposed Transformer variant, Gaussian-masked Directional (GD) Transformer, and a biaffine attention scorer. With the effective encoder design, our model only needs to take unigram features for scoring. Our model is evaluated on SIGHAN Bakeoff benchmark datasets. The experimental results show that with the highest segmentation speed, the proposed model achieves new state-of-the-art or comparable performance against strong baselines in terms of strict closed test setting.

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A Joint Multiple Criteria Model in Transfer Learning for Cross-domain Chinese Word Segmentation
Kaiyu Huang | Degen Huang | Zhuang Liu | Fengran Mo

Word-level information is important in natural language processing (NLP), especially for the Chinese language due to its high linguistic complexity. Chinese word segmentation (CWS) is an essential task for Chinese downstream NLP tasks. Existing methods have already achieved a competitive performance for CWS on large-scale annotated corpora. However, the accuracy of the method will drop dramatically when it handles an unsegmented text with lots of out-of-vocabulary (OOV) words. In addition, there are many different segmentation criteria for addressing different requirements of downstream NLP tasks. Excessive amounts of models with saving different criteria will generate the explosive growth of the total parameters. To this end, we propose a joint multiple criteria model that shares all parameters to integrate different segmentation criteria into one model. Besides, we utilize a transfer learning method to improve the performance of OOV words. Our proposed method is evaluated by designing comprehensive experiments on multiple benchmark datasets (e.g., Bakeoff 2005, Bakeoff 2008 and SIGHAN 2010). Our method achieves the state-of-the-art performances on all datasets. Importantly, our method also shows a competitive practicability and generalization ability for the CWS task.

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Alignment-free Cross-lingual Semantic Role Labeling
Rui Cai | Mirella Lapata

Cross-lingual semantic role labeling (SRL) aims at leveraging resources in a source language to minimize the effort required to construct annotations or models for a new target language. Recent approaches rely on word alignments, machine translation engines, or preprocessing tools such as parsers or taggers. We propose a cross-lingual SRL model which only requires annotations in a source language and access to raw text in the form of a parallel corpus. The backbone of our model is an LSTM-based semantic role labeler jointly trained with a semantic role compressor and multilingual word embeddings. The compressor collects useful information from the output of the semantic role labeler, filtering noisy and conflicting evidence. It lives in a multilingual embedding space and provides direct supervision for predicting semantic roles in the target language. Results on the Universal Proposition Bank and manually annotated datasets show that our method is highly effective, even against systems utilizing supervised features.

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Leveraging Declarative Knowledge in Text and First-Order Logic for Fine-Grained Propaganda Detection
Ruize Wang | Duyu Tang | Nan Duan | Wanjun Zhong | Zhongyu Wei | Xuanjing Huang | Daxin Jiang | Ming Zhou

We study the detection of propagandistic text fragments in news articles. Instead of merely learning from input-output datapoints in training data, we introduce an approach to inject declarative knowledge of fine-grained propaganda techniques. Specifically, we leverage the declarative knowledge expressed in both first-order logic and natural language. The former refers to the logical consistency between coarse- and fine-grained predictions, which is used to regularize the training process with propositional Boolean expressions. The latter refers to the literal definition of each propaganda technique, which is utilized to get class representations for regularizing the model parameters. We conduct experiments on Propaganda Techniques Corpus, a large manually annotated dataset for fine-grained propaganda detection. Experiments show that our method achieves superior performance, demonstrating that leveraging declarative knowledge can help the model to make more accurate predictions.

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X-SRL: A Parallel Cross-Lingual Semantic Role Labeling Dataset
Angel Daza | Anette Frank

Even though SRL is researched for many languages, major improvements have mostly been obtained for English, for which more resources are available. In fact, existing multilingual SRL datasets contain disparate annotation styles or come from different domains, hampering generalization in multilingual learning. In this work we propose a method to automatically construct an SRL corpus that is parallel in four languages: English, French, German, Spanish, with unified predicate and role annotations that are fully comparable across languages. We apply high-quality machine translation to the English CoNLL-09 dataset and use multilingual BERT to project its high-quality annotations to the target languages. We include human-validated test sets that we use to measure the projection quality, and show that projection is denser and more precise than a strong baseline. Finally, we train different SOTA models on our novel corpus for mono- and multilingual SRL, showing that the multilingual annotations improve performance especially for the weaker languages.

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Graph Convolutions over Constituent Trees for Syntax-Aware Semantic Role Labeling
Diego Marcheggiani | Ivan Titov

Semantic role labeling (SRL) is the task of identifying predicates and labeling argument spans with semantic roles. Even though most semantic-role formalisms are built upon constituent syntax, and only syntactic constituents can be labeled as arguments (e.g., FrameNet and PropBank), all the recent work on syntax-aware SRL relies on dependency representations of syntax. In contrast, we show how graph convolutional networks (GCNs) can be used to encode constituent structures and inform an SRL system. Nodes in our SpanGCN correspond to constituents. The computation is done in 3 stages. First, initial node representations are produced by ‘composing’ word representations of the first and last words in the constituent. Second, graph convolutions relying on the constituent tree are performed, yielding syntactically-informed constituent representations. Finally, the constituent representations are ‘decomposed’ back into word representations, which are used as input to the SRL classifier. We evaluate SpanGCN against alternatives, including a model using GCNs over dependency trees, and show its effectiveness on standard English SRL benchmarks CoNLL-2005, CoNLL-2012, and FrameNet.

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Fast semantic parsing with well-typedness guarantees
Matthias Lindemann | Jonas Groschwitz | Alexander Koller

AM dependency parsing is a linguistically principled method for neural semantic parsing with high accuracy across multiple graphbanks. It relies on a type system that models semantic valency but makes existing parsers slow. We describe an A* parser and a transition-based parser for AM dependency parsing which guarantee well-typedness and improve parsing speed by up to 3 orders of magnitude, while maintaining or improving accuracy.

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Improving Out-of-Scope Detection in Intent Classification by Using Embeddings of the Word Graph Space of the Classes
Paulo Cavalin | Victor Henrique Alves Ribeiro | Ana Appel | Claudio Pinhanez

This paper explores how intent classification can be improved by representing the class labels not as a discrete set of symbols but as a space where the word graphs associated to each class are mapped using typical graph embedding techniques. The approach, inspired by a previous algorithm used for an inverse dictionary task, allows the classification algorithm to take in account inter-class similarities provided by the repeated occurrence of some words in the training examples of the different classes. The classification is carried out by mapping text embeddings to the word graph embeddings of the classes. Focusing solely on improving the representation of the class label set, we show in experiments conducted in both private and public intent classification datasets, that better detection of out-of-scope examples (OOS) is achieved and, as a consequence, that the overall accuracy of intent classification is also improved. In particular, using the recently-released Larson dataset, an error of about 9.9% has been achieved for OOS detection, beating the previous state-of-the-art result by more than 31 percentage points.

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Supervised Seeded Iterated Learning for Interactive Language Learning
Yuchen Lu | Soumye Singhal | Florian Strub | Olivier Pietquin | Aaron Courville

Language drift has been one of the major obstacles to train language models through interaction. When word-based conversational agents are trained towards completing a task, they tend to invent their language rather than leveraging natural language. In recent literature, two general methods partially counter this phenomenon: Supervised Selfplay (S2P) and Seeded Iterated Learning (SIL). While S2P jointly trains interactive and supervised losses to counter the drift, SIL changes the training dynamics to prevent language drift from occurring. In this paper, we first highlight their respective weaknesses, i.e., late-stage training collapses and higher negative likelihood when evaluated on human corpus. Given these observations, we introduce Supervised Seeded Iterated Learning (SSIL) to combine both methods to minimize their respective weaknesses. We then show the effectiveness of in the language-drift translation game.

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Spot The Bot: A Robust and Efficient Framework for the Evaluation of Conversational Dialogue Systems
Jan Deriu | Don Tuggener | Pius von Däniken | Jon Ander Campos | Alvaro Rodrigo | Thiziri Belkacem | Aitor Soroa | Eneko Agirre | Mark Cieliebak

The lack of time efficient and reliable evalu-ation methods is hampering the development of conversational dialogue systems (chat bots). Evaluations that require humans to converse with chat bots are time and cost intensive, put high cognitive demands on the human judges, and tend to yield low quality results. In this work, we introduce Spot The Bot, a cost-efficient and robust evaluation framework that replaces human-bot conversations with conversations between bots. Human judges then only annotate for each entity in a conversation whether they think it is human or not (assuming there are humans participants in these conversations). These annotations then allow us to rank chat bots regarding their ability to mimic conversational behaviour of humans. Since we expect that all bots are eventually recognized as such, we incorporate a metric that measures which chat bot is able to uphold human-like be-havior the longest, i.e.Survival Analysis. This metric has the ability to correlate a bot’s performance to certain of its characteristics (e.g.fluency or sensibleness), yielding interpretable results. The comparably low cost of our frame-work allows for frequent evaluations of chatbots during their evaluation cycle. We empirically validate our claims by applying Spot The Bot to three domains, evaluating several state-of-the-art chat bots, and drawing comparisonsto related work. The framework is released asa ready-to-use tool.

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Human-centric dialog training via offline reinforcement learning
Natasha Jaques | Judy Hanwen Shen | Asma Ghandeharioun | Craig Ferguson | Agata Lapedriza | Noah Jones | Shixiang Gu | Rosalind Picard

How can we train a dialog model to produce better conversations by learning from human feedback, without the risk of humans teaching it harmful chat behaviors? We start by hosting models online, and gather human feedback from real-time, open-ended conversations, which we then use to train and improve the models using offline reinforcement learning (RL). We identify implicit conversational cues including language similarity, elicitation of laughter, sentiment, and more, which indicate positive human feedback, and embed these in multiple reward functions. A well-known challenge is that learning an RL policy in an offline setting usually fails due to the lack of ability to explore and the tendency to make over-optimistic estimates of future reward. These problems become even harder when using RL for language models, which can easily have a 20,000 action vocabulary and many possible reward functions. We solve the challenge by developing a novel class of offline RL algorithms. These algorithms use KL-control to penalize divergence from a pre-trained prior language model, and use a new strategy to make the algorithm pessimistic, instead of optimistic, in the face of uncertainty. We test the resulting dialog model with ratings from 80 users in an open-domain setting and find it achieves significant improvements over existing deep offline RL approaches. The novel offline RL method is viable for improving any existing generative dialog model using a static dataset of human feedback.

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Speakers Fill Lexical Semantic Gaps with Context
Tiago Pimentel | Rowan Hall Maudslay | Damian Blasi | Ryan Cotterell

Lexical ambiguity is widespread in language, allowing for the reuse of economical word forms and therefore making language more efficient. If ambiguous words cannot be disambiguated from context, however, this gain in efficiency might make language less clear—resulting in frequent miscommunication. For a language to be clear and efficiently encoded, we posit that the lexical ambiguity of a word type should correlate with how much information context provides about it, on average. To investigate whether this is the case, we operationalise the lexical ambiguity of a word as the entropy of meanings it can take, and provide two ways to estimate this—one which requires human annotation (using WordNet), and one which does not (using BERT), making it readily applicable to a large number of languages. We validate these measures by showing that, on six high-resource languages, there are significant Pearson correlations between our BERT-based estimate of ambiguity and the number of synonyms a word has in WordNet (e.g. 𝜌 = 0.40 in English). We then test our main hypothesis—that a word’s lexical ambiguity should negatively correlate with its contextual uncertainty—and find significant correlations on all 18 typologically diverse languages we analyse. This suggests that, in the presence of ambiguity, speakers compensate by making contexts more informative.

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Investigating Cross-Linguistic Adjective Ordering Tendencies with a Latent-Variable Model
Jun Yen Leung | Guy Emerson | Ryan Cotterell

Across languages, multiple consecutive adjectives modifying a noun (e.g. “the big red dog”) follow certain unmarked ordering rules. While explanatory accounts have been put forward, much of the work done in this area has relied primarily on the intuitive judgment of native speakers, rather than on corpus data. We present the first purely corpus-driven model of multi-lingual adjective ordering in the form of a latent-variable model that can accurately order adjectives across 24 different languages, even when the training and testing languages are different. We utilize this novel statistical model to provide strong converging evidence for the existence of universal, cross-linguistic, hierarchical adjective ordering tendencies.

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Surprisal Predicts Code-Switching in Chinese-English Bilingual Text
Jesús Calvillo | Le Fang | Jeremy Cole | David Reitter

Why do bilinguals switch languages within a sentence? The present observational study asks whether word surprisal and word entropy predict code-switching in bilingual written conversation. We describe and model a new dataset of Chinese-English text with 1476 clean code-switched sentences, translated back into Chinese. The model includes known control variables together with word surprisal and word entropy. We found that word surprisal, but not entropy, is a significant predictor that explains code-switching above and beyond other well-known predictors. We also found sentence length to be a significant predictor, which has been related to sentence complexity. We propose high cognitive effort as a reason for code-switching, as it leaves fewer resources for inhibition of the alternative language. We also corroborate previous findings, but this time using a computational model of surprisal, a new language pair, and doing so for written language.

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Word Frequency Does Not Predict Grammatical Knowledge in Language Models
Charles Yu | Ryan Sie | Nicolas Tedeschi | Leon Bergen

Neural language models learn, to varying degrees of accuracy, the grammatical properties of natural languages. In this work, we investigate whether there are systematic sources of variation in the language models’ accuracy. Focusing on subject-verb agreement and reflexive anaphora, we find that certain nouns are systematically understood better than others, an effect which is robust across grammatical tasks and different language models. Surprisingly, we find that across four orders of magnitude, corpus frequency is unrelated to a noun’s performance on grammatical tasks. Finally, we find that a novel noun’s grammatical properties can be few-shot learned from various types of training data. The results present a paradox: there should be less variation in grammatical performance than is actually observed.

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Improving Word Sense Disambiguation with Translations
Yixing Luan | Bradley Hauer | Lili Mou | Grzegorz Kondrak

It has been conjectured that multilingual information can help monolingual word sense disambiguation (WSD). However, existing WSD systems rarely consider multilingual information, and no effective method has been proposed for improving WSD by generating translations. In this paper, we present a novel approach that improves the performance of a base WSD system using machine translation. Since our approach is language independent, we perform WSD experiments on several languages. The results demonstrate that our methods can consistently improve the performance of WSD systems, and obtain state-ofthe-art results in both English and multilingual WSD. To facilitate the use of lexical translation information, we also propose BABALIGN, an precise bitext alignment algorithm which is guided by multilingual lexical correspondences from BabelNet.

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Towards Better Context-aware Lexical Semantics:Adjusting Contextualized Representations through Static Anchors
Qianchu Liu | Diana McCarthy | Anna Korhonen

One of the most powerful features of contextualized models is their dynamic embeddings for words in context, leading to state-of-the-art representations for context-aware lexical semantics. In this paper, we present a post-processing technique that enhances these representations by learning a transformation through static anchors. Our method requires only another pre-trained model and no labeled data is needed. We show consistent improvement in a range of benchmark tasks that test contextual variations of meaning both across different usages of a word and across different words as they are used in context. We demonstrate that while the original contextual representations can be improved by another embedding space from both contextualized and static models, the static embeddings, which have lower computational requirements, provide the most gains.

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Compositional Demographic Word Embeddings
Charles Welch | Jonathan K. Kummerfeld | Verónica Pérez-Rosas | Rada Mihalcea

Word embeddings are usually derived from corpora containing text from many individuals, thus leading to general purpose representations rather than individually personalized representations. While personalized embeddings can be useful to improve language model performance and other language processing tasks, they can only be computed for people with a large amount of longitudinal data, which is not the case for new users. We propose a new form of personalized word embeddings that use demographic-specific word representations derived compositionally from full or partial demographic information for a user (i.e., gender, age, location, religion). We show that the resulting demographic-aware word representations outperform generic word representations on two tasks for English: language modeling and word associations. We further explore the trade-off between the number of available attributes and their relative effectiveness and discuss the ethical implications of using them.

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Are “Undocumented Workers” the Same as “Illegal Aliens”? Disentangling Denotation and Connotation in Vector Spaces
Albert Webson | Zhizhong Chen | Carsten Eickhoff | Ellie Pavlick

In politics, neologisms are frequently invented for partisan objectives. For example, “undocumented workers” and “illegal aliens” refer to the same group of people (i.e., they have the same denotation), but they carry clearly different connotations. Examples like these have traditionally posed a challenge to reference-based semantic theories and led to increasing acceptance of alternative theories (e.g., Two-Factor Semantics) among philosophers and cognitive scientists. In NLP, however, popular pretrained models encode both denotation and connotation as one entangled representation. In this study, we propose an adversarial nerual netowrk that decomposes a pretrained representation as independent denotation and connotation representations. For intrinsic interpretability, we show that words with the same denotation but different connotations (e.g., “immigrants” vs. “aliens”, “estate tax” vs. “death tax”) move closer to each other in denotation space while moving further apart in connotation space. For extrinsic application, we train an information retrieval system with our disentangled representations and show that the denotation vectors improve the viewpoint diversity of document rankings.

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Multi-View Sequence-to-Sequence Models with Conversational Structure for Abstractive Dialogue Summarization
Jiaao Chen | Diyi Yang

Text summarization is one of the most challenging and interesting problems in NLP. Although much attention has been paid to summarizing structured text like news reports or encyclopedia articles, summarizing conversations—an essential part of human-human/machine interaction where most important pieces of information are scattered across various utterances of different speakers—remains relatively under-investigated. This work proposes a multi-view sequence-to-sequence model by first extracting conversational structures of unstructured daily chats from different views to represent conversations and then utilizing a multi-view decoder to incorporate different views to generate dialogue summaries. Experiments on a large-scale dialogue summarization corpus demonstrated that our methods significantly outperformed previous state-of-the-art models via both automatic evaluations and human judgment. We also discussed specific challenges that current approaches faced with this task. We have publicly released our code at

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Few-Shot Learning for Opinion Summarization
Arthur Bražinskas | Mirella Lapata | Ivan Titov

Opinion summarization is the automatic creation of text reflecting subjective information expressed in multiple documents, such as user reviews of a product. The task is practically important and has attracted a lot of attention. However, due to the high cost of summary production, datasets large enough for training supervised models are lacking. Instead, the task has been traditionally approached with extractive methods that learn to select text fragments in an unsupervised or weakly-supervised way. Recently, it has been shown that abstractive summaries, potentially more fluent and better at reflecting conflicting information, can also be produced in an unsupervised fashion. However, these models, not being exposed to actual summaries, fail to capture their essential properties. In this work, we show that even a handful of summaries is sufficient to bootstrap generation of the summary text with all expected properties, such as writing style, informativeness, fluency, and sentiment preservation. We start by training a conditional Transformer language model to generate a new product review given other available reviews of the product. The model is also conditioned on review properties that are directly related to summaries; the properties are derived from reviews with no manual effort. In the second stage, we fine-tune a plug-in module that learns to predict property values on a handful of summaries. This lets us switch the generator to the summarization mode. We show on Amazon and Yelp datasets that our approach substantially outperforms previous extractive and abstractive methods in automatic and human evaluation.

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Learning to Fuse Sentences with Transformers for Summarization
Logan Lebanoff | Franck Dernoncourt | Doo Soon Kim | Lidan Wang | Walter Chang | Fei Liu

The ability to fuse sentences is highly attractive for summarization systems because it is an essential step to produce succinct abstracts. However, to date, summarizers can fail on fusing sentences. They tend to produce few summary sentences by fusion or generate incorrect fusions that lead the summary to fail to retain the original meaning. In this paper, we explore the ability of Transformers to fuse sentences and propose novel algorithms to enhance their ability to perform sentence fusion by leveraging the knowledge of points of correspondence between sentences. Through extensive experiments, we investigate the effects of different design choices on Transformer’s performance. Our findings highlight the importance of modeling points of correspondence between sentences for effective sentence fusion.

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Stepwise Extractive Summarization and Planning with Structured Transformers
Shashi Narayan | Joshua Maynez | Jakub Adamek | Daniele Pighin | Blaz Bratanic | Ryan McDonald

We propose encoder-centric stepwise models for extractive summarization using structured transformers – HiBERT and Extended Transformers. We enable stepwise summarization by injecting the previously generated summary into the structured transformer as an auxiliary sub-structure. Our models are not only efficient in modeling the structure of long inputs, but they also do not rely on task-specific redundancy-aware modeling, making them a general purpose extractive content planner for different tasks. When evaluated on CNN/DailyMail extractive summarization, stepwise models achieve state-of-the-art performance in terms of Rouge without any redundancy aware modeling or sentence filtering. This also holds true for Rotowire table-to-text generation, where our models surpass previously reported metrics for content selection, planning and ordering, highlighting the strength of stepwise modeling. Amongst the two structured transformers we test, stepwise Extended Transformers provides the best performance across both datasets and sets a new standard for these challenges.

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CLIRMatrix: A massively large collection of bilingual and multilingual datasets for Cross-Lingual Information Retrieval
Shuo Sun | Kevin Duh

We present CLIRMatrix, a massively large collection of bilingual and multilingual datasets for Cross-Lingual Information Retrieval extracted automatically from Wikipedia. CLIRMatrix comprises (1) BI-139, a bilingual dataset of queries in one language matched with relevant documents in another language for 139x138=19,182 language pairs, and (2) MULTI-8, a multilingual dataset of queries and documents jointly aligned in 8 different languages. In total, we mined 49 million unique queries and 34 billion (query, document, label) triplets, making it the largest and most comprehensive CLIR dataset to date. This collection is intended to support research in end-to-end neural information retrieval and is publicly available at [url]. We provide baseline neural model results on BI-139, and evaluate MULTI-8 in both single-language retrieval and mix-language retrieval settings.

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SLEDGE-Z: A Zero-Shot Baseline for COVID-19 Literature Search
Sean MacAvaney | Arman Cohan | Nazli Goharian

With worldwide concerns surrounding the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), there is a rapidly growing body of scientific literature on the virus. Clinicians, researchers, and policy-makers need to be able to search these articles effectively. In this work, we present a zero-shot ranking algorithm that adapts to COVID-related scientific literature. Our approach filters training data from another collection down to medical-related queries, uses a neural re-ranking model pre-trained on scientific text (SciBERT), and filters the target document collection. This approach ranks top among zero-shot methods on the TREC COVID Round 1 leaderboard, and exhibits a P@5 of 0.80 and an nDCG@10 of 0.68 when evaluated on both Round 1 and 2 judgments. Despite not relying on TREC-COVID data, our method outperforms models that do. As one of the first search methods to thoroughly evaluate COVID-19 search, we hope that this serves as a strong baseline and helps in the global crisis.

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Modularized Transfomer-based Ranking Framework
Luyu Gao | Zhuyun Dai | Jamie Callan

Recent innovations in Transformer-based ranking models have advanced the state-of-the-art in information retrieval. However, these Transformers are computationally expensive, and their opaque hidden states make it hard to understand the ranking process. In this work, we modularize the Transformer ranker into separate modules for text representation and interaction. We show how this design enables substantially faster ranking using offline pre-computed representations and light-weight online interactions. The modular design is also easier to interpret and sheds light on the ranking process in Transformer rankers.

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Ad-hoc Document Retrieval using Weak-Supervision with BERT and GPT2
Yosi Mass | Haggai Roitman

We describe a weakly-supervised method for training deep learning models for the task of ad-hoc document retrieval. Our method is based on generative and discriminative models that are trained using weak-supervision just from the documents in the corpus. We present an end-to-end retrieval system that starts with traditional information retrieval methods, followed by two deep learning re-rankers. We evaluate our method on three different datasets: a COVID-19 related scientific literature dataset and two news datasets. We show that our method outperforms state-of-the-art methods; this without the need for the expensive process of manually labeling data.

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Adversarial Semantic Collisions
Congzheng Song | Alexander Rush | Vitaly Shmatikov

We study semantic collisions: texts that are semantically unrelated but judged as similar by NLP models. We develop gradient-based approaches for generating semantic collisions and demonstrate that state-of-the-art models for many tasks which rely on analyzing the meaning and similarity of texts—including paraphrase identification, document retrieval, response suggestion, and extractive summarization—are vulnerable to semantic collisions. For example, given a target query, inserting a crafted collision into an irrelevant document can shift its retrieval rank from 1000 to top 3. We show how to generate semantic collisions that evade perplexity-based filtering and discuss other potential mitigations. Our code is available at

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Learning Explainable Linguistic Expressions with Neural Inductive Logic Programming for Sentence Classification
Prithviraj Sen | Marina Danilevsky | Yunyao Li | Siddhartha Brahma | Matthias Boehm | Laura Chiticariu | Rajasekar Krishnamurthy

Interpretability of predictive models is becoming increasingly important with growing adoption in the real-world. We present RuleNN, a neural network architecture for learning transparent models for sentence classification. The models are in the form of rules expressed in first-order logic, a dialect with well-defined, human-understandable semantics. More precisely, RuleNN learns linguistic expressions (LE) built on top of predicates extracted using shallow natural language understanding. Our experimental results show that RuleNN outperforms statistical relational learning and other neuro-symbolic methods, and performs comparably with black-box recurrent neural networks. Our user studies confirm that the learned LEs are explainable and capture domain semantics. Moreover, allowing domain experts to modify LEs and instill more domain knowledge leads to human-machine co-creation of models with better performance.

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AutoPrompt: Eliciting Knowledge from Language Models with Automatically Generated Prompts
Taylor Shin | Yasaman Razeghi | Robert L. Logan IV | Eric Wallace | Sameer Singh

The remarkable success of pretrained language models has motivated the study of what kinds of knowledge these models learn during pretraining. Reformulating tasks as fill-in-the-blanks problems (e.g., cloze tests) is a natural approach for gauging such knowledge, however, its usage is limited by the manual effort and guesswork required to write suitable prompts. To address this, we develop AutoPrompt, an automated method to create prompts for a diverse set of tasks, based on a gradient-guided search. Using AutoPrompt, we show that masked language models (MLMs) have an inherent capability to perform sentiment analysis and natural language inference without additional parameters or finetuning, sometimes achieving performance on par with recent state-of-the-art supervised models. We also show that our prompts elicit more accurate factual knowledge from MLMs than the manually created prompts on the LAMA benchmark, and that MLMs can be used as relation extractors more effectively than supervised relation extraction models. These results demonstrate that automatically generated prompts are a viable parameter-free alternative to existing probing methods, and as pretrained LMs become more sophisticated and capable, potentially a replacement for finetuning.

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Learning Variational Word Masks to Improve the Interpretability of Neural Text Classifiers
Hanjie Chen | Yangfeng Ji

To build an interpretable neural text classifier, most of the prior work has focused on designing inherently interpretable models or finding faithful explanations. A new line of work on improving model interpretability has just started, and many existing methods require either prior information or human annotations as additional inputs in training. To address this limitation, we propose the variational word mask (VMASK) method to automatically learn task-specific important words and reduce irrelevant information on classification, which ultimately improves the interpretability of model predictions. The proposed method is evaluated with three neural text classifiers (CNN, LSTM, and BERT) on seven benchmark text classification datasets. Experiments show the effectiveness of VMASK in improving both model prediction accuracy and interpretability.

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Sparse Text Generation
Pedro Henrique Martins | Zita Marinho | André F. T. Martins

Current state-of-the-art text generators build on powerful language models such as GPT-2, achieving impressive performance. However, to avoid degenerate text, they require sampling from a modified softmax, via temperature parameters or ad-hoc truncation techniques, as in top-k or nucleus sampling. This creates a mismatch between training and testing conditions. In this paper, we use the recently introduced entmax transformation to train and sample from a natively sparse language model, avoiding this mismatch. The result is a text generator with favorable performance in terms of fluency and consistency, fewer repetitions, and n-gram diversity closer to human text. In order to evaluate our model, we propose three new metrics for comparing sparse or truncated distributions: 𝜖-perplexity, sparsemax score, and Jensen-Shannon divergence. Human-evaluated experiments in story completion and dialogue generation show that entmax sampling leads to more engaging and coherent stories and conversations.

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PlotMachines: Outline-Conditioned Generation with Dynamic Plot State Tracking
Hannah Rashkin | Asli Celikyilmaz | Yejin Choi | Jianfeng Gao

We propose the task of outline-conditioned story generation: given an outline as a set of phrases that describe key characters and events to appear in a story, the task is to generate a coherent narrative that is consistent with the provided outline. This task is challenging as the input only provides a rough sketch of the plot, and thus, models need to generate a story by interweaving the key points provided in the outline. This requires the model to keep track of the dynamic states of the latent plot, conditioning on the input outline while generating the full story. We present PlotMachines, a neural narrative model that learns to transform an outline into a coherent story by tracking the dynamic plot states. In addition, we enrich PlotMachines with high-level discourse structure so that the model can learn different writing styles corresponding to different parts of the narrative. Comprehensive experiments over three fiction and non-fiction datasets demonstrate that large-scale language models, such as GPT-2 and Grover, despite their impressive generation performance, are not sufficient in generating coherent narratives for the given outline, and dynamic plot state tracking is important for composing narratives with tighter, more consistent plots.

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Do sequence-to-sequence VAEs learn global features of sentences?
Tom Bosc | Pascal Vincent

Autoregressive language models are powerful and relatively easy to train. However, these models are usually trained without explicit conditioning labels and do not offer easy ways to control global aspects such as sentiment or topic during generation. Bowman & al. 2016 adapted the Variational Autoencoder (VAE) for natural language with the sequence-to-sequence architecture and claimed that the latent vector was able to capture such global features in an unsupervised manner. We question this claim. We measure which words benefit most from the latent information by decomposing the reconstruction loss per position in the sentence. Using this method, we find that VAEs are prone to memorizing the first words and the sentence length, producing local features of limited usefulness. To alleviate this, we investigate alternative architectures based on bag-of-words assumptions and language model pretraining. These variants learn latent variables that are more global, i.e., more predictive of topic or sentiment labels. Moreover, using reconstructions, we observe that they decrease memorization: the first word and the sentence length are not recovered as accurately than with the baselines, consequently yielding more diverse reconstructions.

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Content Planning for Neural Story Generation with Aristotelian Rescoring
Seraphina Goldfarb-Tarrant | Tuhin Chakrabarty | Ralph Weischedel | Nanyun Peng

Long-form narrative text generated from large language models manages a fluent impersonation of human writing, but only at the local sentence level, and lacks structure or global cohesion. We posit that many of the problems of story generation can be addressed via high-quality content planning, and present a system that focuses on how to learn good plot structures to guide story generation. We utilize a plot-generation language model along with an ensemble of rescoring models that each implement an aspect of good story-writing as detailed in Aristotle’s Poetics. We find that stories written with our more principled plot-structure are both more relevant to a given prompt and higher quality than baselines that do not content plan, or that plan in an unprincipled way.

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Generating Dialogue Responses from a Semantic Latent Space
Wei-Jen Ko | Avik Ray | Yilin Shen | Hongxia Jin

Existing open-domain dialogue generation models are usually trained to mimic the gold response in the training set using cross-entropy loss on the vocabulary. However, a good response does not need to resemble the gold response, since there are multiple possible responses to a given prompt. In this work, we hypothesize that the current models are unable to integrate information from multiple semantically similar valid responses of a prompt, resulting in the generation of generic and uninformative responses. To address this issue, we propose an alternative to the end-to-end classification on vocabulary. We learn the pair relationship between the prompts and responses as a regression task on a latent space instead. In our novel dialog generation model, the representations of semantically related sentences are close to each other on the latent space. Human evaluation showed that learning the task on a continuous space can generate responses that are both relevant and informative.

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Refer, Reuse, Reduce: Generating Subsequent References in Visual and Conversational Contexts
Ece Takmaz | Mario Giulianelli | Sandro Pezzelle | Arabella Sinclair | Raquel Fernández

Dialogue participants often refer to entities or situations repeatedly within a conversation, which contributes to its cohesiveness. Subsequent references exploit the common ground accumulated by the interlocutors and hence have several interesting properties, namely, they tend to be shorter and reuse expressions that were effective in previous mentions. In this paper, we tackle the generation of first and subsequent references in visually grounded dialogue. We propose a generation model that produces referring utterances grounded in both the visual and the conversational context. To assess the referring effectiveness of its output, we also implement a reference resolution system. Our experiments and analyses show that the model produces better, more effective referring utterances than a model not grounded in the dialogue context, and generates subsequent references that exhibit linguistic patterns akin to humans.

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Visually Grounded Compound PCFGs
Yanpeng Zhao | Ivan Titov

Exploiting visual groundings for language understanding has recently been drawing much attention. In this work, we study visually grounded grammar induction and learn a constituency parser from both unlabeled text and its visual groundings. Existing work on this task (Shi et al., 2019) optimizes a parser via Reinforce and derives the learning signal only from the alignment of images and sentences. While their model is relatively accurate overall, its error distribution is very uneven, with low performance on certain constituents types (e.g., 26.2% recall on verb phrases, VPs) and high on others (e.g., 79.6% recall on noun phrases, NPs). This is not surprising as the learning signal is likely insufficient for deriving all aspects of phrase-structure syntax and gradient estimates are noisy. We show that using an extension of probabilistic context-free grammar model we can do fully-differentiable end-to-end visually grounded learning. Additionally, this enables us to complement the image-text alignment loss with a language modeling objective. On the MSCOCO test captions, our model establishes a new state of the art, outperforming its non-grounded version and, thus, confirming the effectiveness of visual groundings in constituency grammar induction. It also substantially outperforms the previous grounded model, with largest improvements on more ‘abstract’ categories (e.g., +55.1% recall on VPs).

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ALICE: Active Learning with Contrastive Natural Language Explanations
Weixin Liang | James Zou | Zhou Yu

Training a supervised neural network classifier typically requires many annotated training samples. Collecting and annotating a large number of data points are costly and sometimes even infeasible. Traditional annotation process uses a low-bandwidth human-machine communication interface: classification labels, each of which only provides a few bits of information. We propose Active Learning with Contrastive Explanations (ALICE), an expert-in-the-loop training framework that utilizes contrastive natural language explanations to improve data efficiency in learning. AL-ICE learns to first use active learning to select the most informative pairs of label classes to elicit contrastive natural language explanations from experts. Then it extracts knowledge from these explanations using a semantic parser. Finally, it incorporates the extracted knowledge through dynamically changing the learning model’s structure. We applied ALICEin two visual recognition tasks, bird species classification and social relationship classification. We found by incorporating contrastive explanations, our models outperform baseline models that are trained with 40-100% more training data. We found that adding1expla-nation leads to similar performance gain as adding 13-30 labeled training data points.

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Room-Across-Room: Multilingual Vision-and-Language Navigation with Dense Spatiotemporal Grounding
Alexander Ku | Peter Anderson | Roma Patel | Eugene Ie | Jason Baldridge

We introduce Room-Across-Room (RxR), a new Vision-and-Language Navigation (VLN) dataset. RxR is multilingual (English, Hindi, and Telugu) and larger (more paths and instructions) than other VLN datasets. It emphasizes the role of language in VLN by addressing known biases in paths and eliciting more references to visible entities. Furthermore, each word in an instruction is time-aligned to the virtual poses of instruction creators and validators. We establish baseline scores for monolingual and multilingual settings and multitask learning when including Room-to-Room annotations (Anderson et al., 2018). We also provide results for a model that learns from synchronized pose traces by focusing only on portions of the panorama attended to in human demonstrations. The size, scope and detail of RxR dramatically expands the frontier for research on embodied language agents in photorealistic simulated environments.

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SSCR: Iterative Language-Based Image Editing via Self-Supervised Counterfactual Reasoning
Tsu-Jui Fu | Xin Wang | Scott Grafton | Miguel Eckstein | William Yang Wang

Iterative Language-Based Image Editing (ILBIE) tasks follow iterative instructions to edit images step by step. Data scarcity is a significant issue for ILBIE as it is challenging to collect large-scale examples of images before and after instruction-based changes. Yet, humans still accomplish these editing tasks even when presented with an unfamiliar image-instruction pair. Such ability results from counterfactual thinking, the ability to think about possible alternatives to events that have happened already. In this paper, we introduce a Self-Supervised Counterfactual Reasoning (SSCR) framework that incorporates counterfactual thinking to overcome data scarcity. SSCR allows the model to consider out-of-distribution instructions paired with previous images. With the help of cross-task consistency (CTC), we train these counterfactual instructions in a self-supervised scenario. Extensive results show that SSCR improves the correctness of ILBIE in terms of both object identity and position, establishing a new state of the art (SOTA) on two IBLIE datasets (i-CLEVR and CoDraw). Even with only 50% of the training data, SSCR achieves a comparable result to using complete data.

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Identifying Elements Essential for BERT’s Multilinguality
Philipp Dufter | Hinrich Schütze

It has been shown that multilingual BERT (mBERT) yields high quality multilingual representations and enables effective zero-shot transfer. This is surprising given that mBERT does not use any crosslingual signal during training. While recent literature has studied this phenomenon, the reasons for the multilinguality are still somewhat obscure. We aim to identify architectural properties of BERT and linguistic properties of languages that are necessary for BERT to become multilingual. To allow for fast experimentation we propose an efficient setup with small BERT models trained on a mix of synthetic and natural data. Overall, we identify four architectural and two linguistic elements that influence multilinguality. Based on our insights, we experiment with a multilingual pretraining setup that modifies the masking strategy using VecMap, i.e., unsupervised embedding alignment. Experiments on XNLI with three languages indicate that our findings transfer from our small setup to larger scale settings.

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On Negative Interference in Multilingual Models: Findings and A Meta-Learning Treatment
Zirui Wang | Zachary C. Lipton | Yulia Tsvetkov

Modern multilingual models are trained on concatenated text from multiple languages in hopes of conferring benefits to each (positive transfer), with the most pronounced benefits accruing to low-resource languages. However, recent work has shown that this approach can degrade performance on high-resource languages, a phenomenon known as negative interference. In this paper, we present the first systematic study of negative interference. We show that, contrary to previous belief, negative interference also impacts low-resource languages. While parameters are maximally shared to learn language-universal structures, we demonstrate that language-specific parameters do exist in multilingual models and they are a potential cause of negative interference. Motivated by these observations, we also present a meta-learning algorithm that obtains better cross-lingual transferability and alleviates negative interference, by adding language-specific layers as meta-parameters and training them in a manner that explicitly improves shared layers’ generalization on all languages. Overall, our results show that negative interference is more common than previously known, suggesting new directions for improving multilingual representations.

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Pre-tokenization of Multi-word Expressions in Cross-lingual Word Embeddings
Naoki Otani | Satoru Ozaki | Xingyuan Zhao | Yucen Li | Micaelah St Johns | Lori Levin

Cross-lingual word embedding (CWE) algorithms represent words in multiple languages in a unified vector space. Multi-Word Expressions (MWE) are common in every language. When training word embeddings, each component word of an MWE gets its own separate embedding, and thus, MWEs are not translated by CWEs. We propose a simple method for word translation of MWEs to and from English in ten languages: we first compile lists of MWEs in each language and then tokenize the MWEs as single tokens before training word embeddings. CWEs are trained on a word-translation task using the dictionaries that only contain single words. In order to evaluate MWE translation, we created bilingual word lists from multilingual WordNet that include single-token words and MWEs, and most importantly, include MWEs that correspond to single words in another language. We release these dictionaries to the research community. We show that the pre-tokenization of MWEs as single tokens performs better than averaging the embeddings of the individual tokens of the MWE. We can translate MWEs at a top-10 precision of 30-60%. The tokenization of MWEs makes the occurrences of single words in a training corpus more sparse, but we show that it does not pose negative impacts on single-word translations.

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Monolingual Adapters for Zero-Shot Neural Machine Translation
Jerin Philip | Alexandre Berard | Matthias Gallé | Laurent Besacier

We propose a novel adapter layer formalism for adapting multilingual models. They are more parameter-efficient than existing adapter layers while obtaining as good or better performance. The layers are specific to one language (as opposed to bilingual adapters) allowing to compose them and generalize to unseen language-pairs. In this zero-shot setting, they obtain a median improvement of +2.77 BLEU points over a strong 20-language multilingual Transformer baseline trained on TED talks.

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Do Explicit Alignments Robustly Improve Multilingual Encoders?
Shijie Wu | Mark Dredze

Multilingual BERT (mBERT), XLM-RoBERTa (XLMR) and other unsupervised multilingual encoders can effectively learn cross-lingual representation. Explicit alignment objectives based on bitexts like Europarl or MultiUN have been shown to further improve these representations. However, word-level alignments are often suboptimal and such bitexts are unavailable for many languages. In this paper, we propose a new contrastive alignment objective that can better utilize such signal, and examine whether these previous alignment methods can be adapted to noisier sources of aligned data: a randomly sampled 1 million pair subset of the OPUS collection. Additionally, rather than report results on a single dataset with a single model run, we report the mean and standard derivation of multiple runs with different seeds, on four datasets and tasks. Our more extensive analysis finds that, while our new objective outperforms previous work, overall these methods do not improve performance with a more robust evaluation framework. Furthermore, the gains from using a better underlying model eclipse any benefits from alignment training. These negative results dictate more care in evaluating these methods and suggest limitations in applying explicit alignment objectives.

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From Zero to Hero: On the Limitations of Zero-Shot Language Transfer with Multilingual Transformers
Anne Lauscher | Vinit Ravishankar | Ivan Vulić | Goran Glavaš

Massively multilingual transformers (MMTs) pretrained via language modeling (e.g., mBERT, XLM-R) have become a default paradigm for zero-shot language transfer in NLP, offering unmatched transfer performance. Current evaluations, however, verify their efficacy in transfers (a) to languages with sufficiently large pretraining corpora, and (b) between close languages. In this work, we analyze the limitations of downstream language transfer with MMTs, showing that, much like cross-lingual word embeddings, they are substantially less effective in resource-lean scenarios and for distant languages. Our experiments, encompassing three lower-level tasks (POS tagging, dependency parsing, NER) and two high-level tasks (NLI, QA), empirically correlate transfer performance with linguistic proximity between source and target languages, but also with the size of target language corpora used in MMT pretraining. Most importantly, we demonstrate that the inexpensive few-shot transfer (i.e., additional fine-tuning on a few target-language instances) is surprisingly effective across the board, warranting more research efforts reaching beyond the limiting zero-shot conditions.

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Distilling Multiple Domains for Neural Machine Translation
Anna Currey | Prashant Mathur | Georgiana Dinu

Neural machine translation achieves impressive results in high-resource conditions, but performance often suffers when the input domain is low-resource. The standard practice of adapting a separate model for each domain of interest does not scale well in practice from both a quality perspective (brittleness under domain shift) as well as a cost perspective (added maintenance and inference complexity). In this paper, we propose a framework for training a single multi-domain neural machine translation model that is able to translate several domains without increasing inference time or memory usage. We show that this model can improve translation on both high- and low-resource domains over strong multi-domain baselines. In addition, our proposed model is effective when domain labels are unknown during training, as well as robust under noisy data conditions.

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Making Monolingual Sentence Embeddings Multilingual using Knowledge Distillation
Nils Reimers | Iryna Gurevych

We present an easy and efficient method to extend existing sentence embedding models to new languages. This allows to create multilingual versions from previously monolingual models. The training is based on the idea that a translated sentence should be mapped to the same location in the vector space as the original sentence. We use the original (monolingual) model to generate sentence embeddings for the source language and then train a new system on translated sentences to mimic the original model. Compared to other methods for training multilingual sentence embeddings, this approach has several advantages: It is easy to extend existing models with relatively few samples to new languages, it is easier to ensure desired properties for the vector space, and the hardware requirements for training are lower. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach for 50+ languages from various language families. Code to extend sentence embeddings models to more than 400 languages is publicly available.

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A Streaming Approach For Efficient Batched Beam Search
Kevin Yang | Violet Yao | John DeNero | Dan Klein

We propose an efficient batching strategy for variable-length decoding on GPU architectures. During decoding, when candidates terminate or are pruned according to heuristics, our streaming approach periodically “refills” the batch before proceeding with a selected subset of candidates. We apply our method to variable-width beam search on a state-of-the-art machine translation model. Our method decreases runtime by up to 71% compared to a fixed-width beam search baseline and 17% compared to a variable-width baseline, while matching baselines’ BLEU. Finally, experiments show that our method can speed up decoding in other domains, such as semantic and syntactic parsing.

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Improving Multilingual Models with Language-Clustered Vocabularies
Hyung Won Chung | Dan Garrette | Kiat Chuan Tan | Jason Riesa

State-of-the-art multilingual models depend on vocabularies that cover all of the languages the model will expect to see at inference time, but the standard methods for generating those vocabularies are not ideal for massively multilingual applications. In this work, we introduce a novel procedure for multilingual vocabulary generation that combines the separately trained vocabularies of several automatically derived language clusters, thus balancing the trade-off between cross-lingual subword sharing and language-specific vocabularies. Our experiments show improvements across languages on key multilingual benchmark tasks TyDi QA (+2.9 F1), XNLI (+2.1%), and WikiAnn NER (+2.8 F1) and factor of 8 reduction in out-of-vocabulary rate, all without increasing the size of the model or data.

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Zero-Shot Cross-Lingual Transfer with Meta Learning
Farhad Nooralahzadeh | Giannis Bekoulis | Johannes Bjerva | Isabelle Augenstein

Learning what to share between tasks has become a topic of great importance, as strategic sharing of knowledge has been shown to improve downstream task performance. This is particularly important for multilingual applications, as most languages in the world are under-resourced. Here, we consider the setting of training models on multiple different languages at the same time, when little or no data is available for languages other than English. We show that this challenging setup can be approached using meta-learning: in addition to training a source language model, another model learns to select which training instances are the most beneficial to the first. We experiment using standard supervised, zero-shot cross-lingual, as well as few-shot cross-lingual settings for different natural language understanding tasks (natural language inference, question answering). Our extensive experimental setup demonstrates the consistent effectiveness of meta-learning for a total of 15 languages. We improve upon the state-of-the-art for zero-shot and few-shot NLI (on MultiNLI and XNLI) and QA (on the MLQA dataset). A comprehensive error analysis indicates that the correlation of typological features between languages can partly explain when parameter sharing learned via meta-learning is beneficial.

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The Multilingual Amazon Reviews Corpus
Phillip Keung | Yichao Lu | György Szarvas | Noah A. Smith

We present the Multilingual Amazon Reviews Corpus (MARC), a large-scale collection of Amazon reviews for multilingual text classification. The corpus contains reviews in English, Japanese, German, French, Spanish, and Chinese, which were collected between 2015 and 2019. Each record in the dataset contains the review text, the review title, the star rating, an anonymized reviewer ID, an anonymized product ID, and the coarse-grained product category (e.g., ‘books’, ‘appliances’, etc.) The corpus is balanced across the 5 possible star ratings, so each rating constitutes 20% of the reviews in each language. For each language, there are 200,000, 5,000, and 5,000 reviews in the training, development, and test sets, respectively. We report baseline results for supervised text classification and zero-shot cross-lingual transfer learning by fine-tuning a multilingual BERT model on reviews data. We propose the use of mean absolute error (MAE) instead of classification accuracy for this task, since MAE accounts for the ordinal nature of the ratings.

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GLUCOSE: GeneraLized and COntextualized Story Explanations
Nasrin Mostafazadeh | Aditya Kalyanpur | Lori Moon | David Buchanan | Lauren Berkowitz | Or Biran | Jennifer Chu-Carroll

When humans read or listen, they make implicit commonsense inferences that frame their understanding of what happened and why. As a step toward AI systems that can build similar mental models, we introduce GLUCOSE, a large-scale dataset of implicit commonsense causal knowledge, encoded as causal mini-theories about the world, each grounded in a narrative context. To construct GLUCOSE, we drew on cognitive psychology to identify ten dimensions of causal explanation, focusing on events, states, motivations, and emotions. Each GLUCOSE entry includes a story-specific causal statement paired with an inference rule generalized from the statement. This paper details two concrete contributions. First, we present our platform for effectively crowdsourcing GLUCOSE data at scale, which uses semi-structured templates to elicit causal explanations. Using this platform, we collected a total of ~670K specific statements and general rules that capture implicit commonsense knowledge about everyday situations. Second, we show that existing knowledge resources and pretrained language models do not include or readily predict GLUCOSE’s rich inferential content. However, when state-of-the-art neural models are trained on this knowledge, they can start to make commonsense inferences on unseen stories that match humans’ mental models.

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Character-level Representations Improve DRS-based Semantic Parsing Even in the Age of BERT
Rik van Noord | Antonio Toral | Johan Bos

We combine character-level and contextual language model representations to improve performance on Discourse Representation Structure parsing. Character representations can easily be added in a sequence-to-sequence model in either one encoder or as a fully separate encoder, with improvements that are robust to different language models, languages and data sets. For English, these improvements are larger than adding individual sources of linguistic information or adding non-contextual embeddings. A new method of analysis based on semantic tags demonstrates that the character-level representations improve performance across a subset of selected semantic phenomena.

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Infusing Disease Knowledge into BERT for Health Question Answering, Medical Inference and Disease Name Recognition
Yun He | Ziwei Zhu | Yin Zhang | Qin Chen | James Caverlee

Knowledge of a disease includes information of various aspects of the disease, such as signs and symptoms, diagnosis and treatment. This disease knowledge is critical for many health-related and biomedical tasks, including consumer health question answering, medical language inference and disease name recognition. While pre-trained language models like BERT have shown success in capturing syntactic, semantic, and world knowledge from text, we find they can be further complemented by specific information like knowledge of symptoms, diagnoses, treatments, and other disease aspects. Hence, we integrate BERT with disease knowledge for improving these important tasks. Specifically, we propose a new disease knowledge infusion training procedure and evaluate it on a suite of BERT models including BERT, BioBERT, SciBERT, ClinicalBERT, BlueBERT, and ALBERT. Experiments over the three tasks show that these models can be enhanced in nearly all cases, demonstrating the viability of disease knowledge infusion. For example, accuracy of BioBERT on consumer health question answering is improved from 68.29% to 72.09%, while new SOTA results are observed in two datasets. We make our data and code freely available.

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Unsupervised Commonsense Question Answering with Self-Talk
Vered Shwartz | Peter West | Ronan Le Bras | Chandra Bhagavatula | Yejin Choi

Natural language understanding involves reading between the lines with implicit background knowledge. Current systems either rely on pre-trained language models as the sole implicit source of world knowledge, or resort to external knowledge bases (KBs) to incorporate additional relevant knowledge. We propose an unsupervised framework based on self-talk as a novel alternative to multiple-choice commonsense tasks. Inspired by inquiry-based discovery learning (Bruner, 1961), our approach inquires language models with a number of information seeking questions such as “what is the definition of...” to discover additional background knowledge. Empirical results demonstrate that the self-talk procedure substantially improves the performance of zero-shot language model baselines on four out of six commonsense benchmarks, and competes with models that obtain knowledge from external KBs. While our approach improves performance on several benchmarks, the self-talk induced knowledge even when leading to correct answers is not always seen as helpful by human judges, raising interesting questions about the inner-workings of pre-trained language models for commonsense reasoning.

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Reasoning about Goals, Steps, and Temporal Ordering with WikiHow
Li Zhang | Qing Lyu | Chris Callison-Burch

We propose a suite of reasoning tasks on two types of relations between procedural events: goal-step relations (“learn poses” is a step in the larger goal of “doing yoga”) and step-step temporal relations (“buy a yoga mat” typically precedes “learn poses”). We introduce a dataset targeting these two relations based on wikiHow, a website of instructional how-to articles. Our human-validated test set serves as a reliable benchmark for common-sense inference, with a gap of about 10% to 20% between the performance of state-of-the-art transformer models and human performance. Our automatically-generated training set allows models to effectively transfer to out-of-domain tasks requiring knowledge of procedural events, with greatly improved performances on SWAG, Snips, and Story Cloze Test in zero- and few-shot settings.

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Structural Supervision Improves Few-Shot Learning and Syntactic Generalization in Neural Language Models
Ethan Wilcox | Peng Qian | Richard Futrell | Ryosuke Kohita | Roger Levy | Miguel Ballesteros

Humans can learn structural properties about a word from minimal experience, and deploy their learned syntactic representations uniformly in different grammatical contexts. We assess the ability of modern neural language models to reproduce this behavior in English and evaluate the effect of structural supervision on learning outcomes. First, we assess few-shot learning capabilities by developing controlled experiments that probe models’ syntactic nominal number and verbal argument structure generalizations for tokens seen as few as two times during training. Second, we assess invariance properties of learned representation: the ability of a model to transfer syntactic generalizations from a base context (e.g., a simple declarative active-voice sentence) to a transformed context (e.g., an interrogative sentence). We test four models trained on the same dataset: an n-gram baseline, an LSTM, and two LSTM-variants trained with explicit structural supervision. We find that in most cases, the neural models are able to induce the proper syntactic generalizations after minimal exposure, often from just two examples during training, and that the two structurally supervised models generalize more accurately than the LSTM model. All neural models are able to leverage information learned in base contexts to drive expectations in transformed contexts, indicating that they have learned some invariance properties of syntax.

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Investigating representations of verb bias in neural language models
Robert Hawkins | Takateru Yamakoshi | Thomas Griffiths | Adele Goldberg

Languages typically provide more than one grammatical construction to express certain types of messages. A speaker’s choice of construction is known to depend on multiple factors, including the choice of main verb – a phenomenon known as verb bias. Here we introduce DAIS, a large benchmark dataset containing 50K human judgments for 5K distinct sentence pairs in the English dative alternation. This dataset includes 200 unique verbs and systematically varies the definiteness and length of arguments. We use this dataset, as well as an existing corpus of naturally occurring data, to evaluate how well recent neural language models capture human preferences. Results show that larger models perform better than smaller models, and transformer architectures (e.g. GPT-2) tend to out-perform recurrent architectures (e.g. LSTMs) even under comparable parameter and training settings. Additional analyses of internal feature representations suggest that transformers may better integrate specific lexical information with grammatical constructions.

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Generating Image Descriptions via Sequential Cross-Modal Alignment Guided by Human Gaze
Ece Takmaz | Sandro Pezzelle | Lisa Beinborn | Raquel Fernández

When speakers describe an image, they tend to look at objects before mentioning them. In this paper, we investigate such sequential cross-modal alignment by modelling the image description generation process computationally. We take as our starting point a state-of-the-art image captioning system and develop several model variants that e