International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (2021)



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Proceedings of the 59th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 11th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (Volume 1: Long Papers)

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Proceedings of the 59th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 11th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (Volume 1: Long Papers)
Chengqing Zong | Fei Xia | Wenjie Li | Roberto Navigli

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Investigating label suggestions for opinion mining in German Covid-19 social media
Tilman Beck | Ji-Ung Lee | Christina Viehmann | Marcus Maurer | Oliver Quiring | Iryna Gurevych

This work investigates the use of interactively updated label suggestions to improve upon the efficiency of gathering annotations on the task of opinion mining in German Covid-19 social media data. We develop guidelines to conduct a controlled annotation study with social science students and find that suggestions from a model trained on a small, expert-annotated dataset already lead to a substantial improvement – in terms of inter-annotator agreement (+.14 Fleiss’ κ) and annotation quality – compared to students that do not receive any label suggestions. We further find that label suggestions from interactively trained models do not lead to an improvement over suggestions from a static model. Nonetheless, our analysis of suggestion bias shows that annotators remain capable of reflecting upon the suggested label in general. Finally, we confirm the quality of the annotated data in transfer learning experiments between different annotator groups. To facilitate further research in opinion mining on social media data, we release our collected data consisting of 200 expert and 2,785 student annotations.

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How Did This Get Funded?! Automatically Identifying Quirky Scientific Achievements
Chen Shani | Nadav Borenstein | Dafna Shahaf

Humor is an important social phenomenon, serving complex social and psychological functions. However, despite being studied for millennia humor is computationally not well understood, often considered an AI-complete problem. In this work, we introduce a novel setting in humor mining: automatically detecting funny and unusual scientific papers. We are inspired by the Ig Nobel prize, a satirical prize awarded annually to celebrate funny scientific achievements (example past winner: “Are cows more likely to lie down the longer they stand?”). This challenging task has unique characteristics that make it particularly suitable for automatic learning. We construct a dataset containing thousands of funny papers and use it to learn classifiers, combining findings from psychology and linguistics with recent advances in NLP. We use our models to identify potentially funny papers in a large dataset of over 630,000 articles. The results demonstrate the potential of our methods, and more broadly the utility of integrating state-of-the-art NLP methods with insights from more traditional disciplines

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Engage the Public: Poll Question Generation for Social Media Posts
Zexin Lu | Keyang Ding | Yuji Zhang | Jing Li | Baolin Peng | Lemao Liu

This paper presents a novel task to generate poll questions for social media posts. It offers an easy way to hear the voice from the public and learn from their feelings to important social topics. While most related work tackles formal languages (e.g., exam papers), we generate poll questions for short and colloquial social media messages exhibiting severe data sparsity. To deal with that, we propose to encode user comments and discover latent topics therein as contexts. They are then incorporated into a sequence-to-sequence (S2S) architecture for question generation and its extension with dual decoders to additionally yield poll choices (answers). For experiments, we collect a large-scale Chinese dataset from Sina Weibo containing over 20K polls. The results show that our model outperforms the popular S2S models without exploiting topics from comments and the dual decoder design can further benefit the prediction of both questions and answers. Human evaluations further exhibit our superiority in yielding high-quality polls helpful to draw user engagements.

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HateCheck: Functional Tests for Hate Speech Detection Models
Paul Röttger | Bertie Vidgen | Dong Nguyen | Zeerak Waseem | Helen Margetts | Janet Pierrehumbert

Detecting online hate is a difficult task that even state-of-the-art models struggle with. Typically, hate speech detection models are evaluated by measuring their performance on held-out test data using metrics such as accuracy and F1 score. However, this approach makes it difficult to identify specific model weak points. It also risks overestimating generalisable model performance due to increasingly well-evidenced systematic gaps and biases in hate speech datasets. To enable more targeted diagnostic insights, we introduce HateCheck, a suite of functional tests for hate speech detection models. We specify 29 model functionalities motivated by a review of previous research and a series of interviews with civil society stakeholders. We craft test cases for each functionality and validate their quality through a structured annotation process. To illustrate HateCheck’s utility, we test near-state-of-the-art transformer models as well as two popular commercial models, revealing critical model weaknesses.

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Unified Dual-view Cognitive Model for Interpretable Claim Verification
Lianwei Wu | Yuan Rao | Yuqian Lan | Ling Sun | Zhaoyin Qi

Recent studies constructing direct interactions between the claim and each single user response (a comment or a relevant article) to capture evidence have shown remarkable success in interpretable claim verification. Owing to different single responses convey different cognition of individual users (i.e., audiences), the captured evidence belongs to the perspective of individual cognition. However, individuals’ cognition of social things is not always able to truly reflect the objective. There may be one-sided or biased semantics in their opinions on a claim. The captured evidence correspondingly contains some unobjective and biased evidence fragments, deteriorating task performance. In this paper, we propose a Dual-view model based on the views of Collective and Individual Cognition (CICD) for interpretable claim verification. From the view of the collective cognition, we not only capture the word-level semantics based on individual users, but also focus on sentence-level semantics (i.e., the overall responses) among all users and adjust the proportion between them to generate global evidence. From the view of individual cognition, we select the top-k articles with high degree of difference and interact with the claim to explore the local key evidence fragments. To weaken the bias of individual cognition-view evidence, we devise inconsistent loss to suppress the divergence between global and local evidence for strengthening the consistent shared evidence between the both. Experiments on three benchmark datasets confirm that CICD achieves state-of-the-art performance.

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DeepRapper: Neural Rap Generation with Rhyme and Rhythm Modeling
Lanqing Xue | Kaitao Song | Duocai Wu | Xu Tan | Nevin L. Zhang | Tao Qin | Wei-Qiang Zhang | Tie-Yan Liu

Rap generation, which aims to produce lyrics and corresponding singing beats, needs to model both rhymes and rhythms. Previous works for rap generation focused on rhyming lyrics, but ignored rhythmic beats, which are important for rap performance. In this paper, we develop DeepRapper, a Transformer-based rap generation system that can model both rhymes and rhythms. Since there is no available rap datasets with rhythmic beats, we develop a data mining pipeline to collect a large-scale rap dataset, which includes a large number of rap songs with aligned lyrics and rhythmic beats. Second, we design a Transformer-based autoregressive language model which carefully models rhymes and rhythms. Specifically, we generate lyrics in the reverse order with rhyme representation and constraint for rhyme enhancement, and insert a beat symbol into lyrics for rhythm/beat modeling. To our knowledge, DeepRapper is the first system to generate rap with both rhymes and rhythms. Both objective and subjective evaluations demonstrate that DeepRapper generates creative and high-quality raps with rhymes and rhythms.

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PENS: A Dataset and Generic Framework for Personalized News Headline Generation
Xiang Ao | Xiting Wang | Ling Luo | Ying Qiao | Qing He | Xing Xie

In this paper, we formulate the personalized news headline generation problem whose goal is to output a user-specific title based on both a user’s reading interests and a candidate news body to be exposed to her. To build up a benchmark for this problem, we publicize a large-scale dataset named PENS (PErsonalized News headlineS). The training set is collected from user impressions logs of Microsoft News, and the test set is manually created by hundreds of native speakers to enable a fair testbed for evaluating models in an offline mode. We propose a generic framework as a preparatory solution to our problem. At its heart, user preference is learned by leveraging the user behavioral data, and three kinds of user preference injections are proposed to personalize a text generator and establish personalized headlines. We investigate our dataset by implementing several state-of-the-art user modeling methods in our framework to demonstrate a benchmark score for the proposed dataset. The dataset is available at

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Enhancing Content Preservation in Text Style Transfer Using Reverse Attention and Conditional Layer Normalization
Dongkyu Lee | Zhiliang Tian | Lanqing Xue | Nevin L. Zhang

Text style transfer aims to alter the style (e.g., sentiment) of a sentence while preserving its content. A common approach is to map a given sentence to content representation that is free of style, and the content representation is fed to a decoder with a target style. Previous methods in filtering style completely remove tokens with style at the token level, which incurs the loss of content information. In this paper, we propose to enhance content preservation by implicitly removing the style information of each token with reverse attention, and thereby retain the content. Furthermore, we fuse content information when building the target style representation, making it dynamic with respect to the content. Our method creates not only style-independent content representation, but also content-dependent style representation in transferring style. Empirical results show that our method outperforms the state-of-the-art baselines by a large margin in terms of content preservation. In addition, it is also competitive in terms of style transfer accuracy and fluency.

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Mention Flags (MF): Constraining Transformer-based Text Generators
Yufei Wang | Ian Wood | Stephen Wan | Mark Dras | Mark Johnson

This paper focuses on Seq2Seq (S2S) constrained text generation where the text generator is constrained to mention specific words which are inputs to the encoder in the generated outputs. Pre-trained S2S models or a Copy Mechanism are trained to copy the surface tokens from encoders to decoders, but they cannot guarantee constraint satisfaction. Constrained decoding algorithms always produce hypotheses satisfying all constraints. However, they are computationally expensive and can lower the generated text quality. In this paper, we propose Mention Flags (MF), which traces whether lexical constraints are satisfied in the generated outputs in an S2S decoder. The MF models can be trained to generate tokens in a hypothesis until all constraints are satisfied, guaranteeing high constraint satisfaction. Our experiments on the Common Sense Generation task (CommonGen) (Lin et al., 2020), End2end Restaurant Dialog task (E2ENLG) (Duˇsek et al., 2020) and Novel Object Captioning task (nocaps) (Agrawal et al., 2019) show that the MF models maintain higher constraint satisfaction and text quality than the baseline models and other constrained decoding algorithms, achieving state-of-the-art performance on all three tasks. These results are achieved with a much lower run-time than constrained decoding algorithms. We also show that the MF models work well in the low-resource setting.

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Generalising Multilingual Concept-to-Text NLG with Language Agnostic Delexicalisation
Giulio Zhou | Gerasimos Lampouras

Concept-to-text Natural Language Generation is the task of expressing an input meaning representation in natural language. Previous approaches in this task have been able to generalise to rare or unseen instances by relying on a delexicalisation of the input. However, this often requires that the input appears verbatim in the output text. This poses challenges in multilingual settings, where the task expands to generate the output text in multiple languages given the same input. In this paper, we explore the application of multilingual models in concept-to-text and propose Language Agnostic Delexicalisation, a novel delexicalisation method that uses multilingual pretrained embeddings, and employs a character-level post-editing model to inflect words in their correct form during relexicalisation. Our experiments across five datasets and five languages show that multilingual models outperform monolingual models in concept-to-text and that our framework outperforms previous approaches, especially in low resource conditions.

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Conversations Are Not Flat: Modeling the Dynamic Information Flow across Dialogue Utterances
Zekang Li | Jinchao Zhang | Zhengcong Fei | Yang Feng | Jie Zhou

Nowadays, open-domain dialogue models can generate acceptable responses according to the historical context based on the large-scale pre-trained language models. However, they generally concatenate the dialogue history directly as the model input to predict the response, which we named as the flat pattern and ignores the dynamic information flow across dialogue utterances. In this work, we propose the DialoFlow model, in which we introduce a dynamic flow mechanism to model the context flow, and design three training objectives to capture the information dynamics across dialogue utterances by addressing the semantic influence brought about by each utterance in large-scale pre-training. Experiments on the multi-reference Reddit Dataset and DailyDialog Dataset demonstrate that our DialoFlow significantly outperforms the DialoGPT on the dialogue generation task. Besides, we propose the Flow score, an effective automatic metric for evaluating interactive human-bot conversation quality based on the pre-trained DialoFlow, which presents high chatbot-level correlation (r=0.9) with human ratings among 11 chatbots. Code and pre-trained models will be public.

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Dual Slot Selector via Local Reliability Verification for Dialogue State Tracking
Jinyu Guo | Kai Shuang | Jijie Li | Zihan Wang

The goal of dialogue state tracking (DST) is to predict the current dialogue state given all previous dialogue contexts. Existing approaches generally predict the dialogue state at every turn from scratch. However, the overwhelming majority of the slots in each turn should simply inherit the slot values from the previous turn. Therefore, the mechanism of treating slots equally in each turn not only is inefficient but also may lead to additional errors because of the redundant slot value generation. To address this problem, we devise the two-stage DSS-DST which consists of the Dual Slot Selector based on the current turn dialogue, and the Slot Value Generator based on the dialogue history. The Dual Slot Selector determines each slot whether to update slot value or to inherit the slot value from the previous turn from two aspects: (1) if there is a strong relationship between it and the current turn dialogue utterances; (2) if a slot value with high reliability can be obtained for it through the current turn dialogue. The slots selected to be updated are permitted to enter the Slot Value Generator to update values by a hybrid method, while the other slots directly inherit the values from the previous turn. Empirical results show that our method achieves 56.93%, 60.73%, and 58.04% joint accuracy on MultiWOZ 2.0, MultiWOZ 2.1, and MultiWOZ 2.2 datasets respectively and achieves a new state-of-the-art performance with significant improvements.

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Transferable Dialogue Systems and User Simulators
Bo-Hsiang Tseng | Yinpei Dai | Florian Kreyssig | Bill Byrne

One of the difficulties in training dialogue systems is the lack of training data. We explore the possibility of creating dialogue data through the interaction between a dialogue system and a user simulator. Our goal is to develop a modelling framework that can incorporate new dialogue scenarios through self-play between the two agents. In this framework, we first pre-train the two agents on a collection of source domain dialogues, which equips the agents to converse with each other via natural language. With further fine-tuning on a small amount of target domain data, the agents continue to interact with the aim of improving their behaviors using reinforcement learning with structured reward functions. In experiments on the MultiWOZ dataset, two practical transfer learning problems are investigated: 1) domain adaptation and 2) single-to-multiple domain transfer. We demonstrate that the proposed framework is highly effective in bootstrapping the performance of the two agents in transfer learning. We also show that our method leads to improvements in dialogue system performance on complete datasets.

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BoB: BERT Over BERT for Training Persona-based Dialogue Models from Limited Personalized Data
Haoyu Song | Yan Wang | Kaiyan Zhang | Wei-Nan Zhang | Ting Liu

Maintaining a consistent persona is essential for dialogue agents. Although tremendous advancements have been brought, the limited-scale of annotated personalized dialogue datasets is still a barrier towards training robust and consistent persona-based dialogue models. This work shows how this challenge can be addressed by disentangling persona-based dialogue generation into two sub-tasks with a novel BERT-over-BERT (BoB) model. Specifically, the model consists of a BERT-based encoder and two BERT-based decoders, where one decoder is for response generation, and another is for consistency understanding. In particular, to learn the ability of consistency understanding from large-scale non-dialogue inference data, we train the second decoder in an unlikelihood manner. Under different limited data settings, both automatic and human evaluations demonstrate that the proposed model outperforms strong baselines in response quality and persona consistency.

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GL-GIN: Fast and Accurate Non-Autoregressive Model for Joint Multiple Intent Detection and Slot Filling
Libo Qin | Fuxuan Wei | Tianbao Xie | Xiao Xu | Wanxiang Che | Ting Liu

Multi-intent SLU can handle multiple intents in an utterance, which has attracted increasing attention. However, the state-of-the-art joint models heavily rely on autoregressive approaches, resulting in two issues: slow inference speed and information leakage. In this paper, we explore a non-autoregressive model for joint multiple intent detection and slot filling, achieving more fast and accurate. Specifically, we propose a Global-Locally Graph Interaction Network (GL-GIN) where a local slot-aware graph interaction layer is proposed to model slot dependency for alleviating uncoordinated slots problem while a global intent-slot graph interaction layer is introduced to model the interaction between multiple intents and all slots in the utterance. Experimental results on two public datasets show that our framework achieves state-of-the-art performance while being 11.5 times faster.

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Accelerating BERT Inference for Sequence Labeling via Early-Exit
Xiaonan Li | Yunfan Shao | Tianxiang Sun | Hang Yan | Xipeng Qiu | Xuanjing Huang

Both performance and efficiency are crucial factors for sequence labeling tasks in many real-world scenarios. Although the pre-trained models (PTMs) have significantly improved the performance of various sequence labeling tasks, their computational cost is expensive. To alleviate this problem, we extend the recent successful early-exit mechanism to accelerate the inference of PTMs for sequence labeling tasks. However, existing early-exit mechanisms are specifically designed for sequence-level tasks, rather than sequence labeling. In this paper, we first propose a simple extension of sentence-level early-exit for sequence labeling tasks. To further reduce the computational cost, we also propose a token-level early-exit mechanism that allows partial tokens to exit early at different layers. Considering the local dependency inherent in sequence labeling, we employed a window-based criterion to decide for a token whether or not to exit. The token-level early-exit brings the gap between training and inference, so we introduce an extra self-sampling fine-tuning stage to alleviate it. The extensive experiments on three popular sequence labeling tasks show that our approach can save up to 66%∼75% inference cost with minimal performance degradation. Compared with competitive compressed models such as DistilBERT, our approach can achieve better performance under the same speed-up ratios of 2×, 3×, and 4×.

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Modularized Interaction Network for Named Entity Recognition
Fei Li | Zheng Wang | Siu Cheung Hui | Lejian Liao | Dandan Song | Jing Xu | Guoxiu He | Meihuizi Jia

Although the existing Named Entity Recognition (NER) models have achieved promising performance, they suffer from certain drawbacks. The sequence labeling-based NER models do not perform well in recognizing long entities as they focus only on word-level information, while the segment-based NER models which focus on processing segment instead of single word are unable to capture the word-level dependencies within the segment. Moreover, as boundary detection and type prediction may cooperate with each other for the NER task, it is also important for the two sub-tasks to mutually reinforce each other by sharing their information. In this paper, we propose a novel Modularized Interaction Network (MIN) model which utilizes both segment-level information and word-level dependencies, and incorporates an interaction mechanism to support information sharing between boundary detection and type prediction to enhance the performance for the NER task. We have conducted extensive experiments based on three NER benchmark datasets. The performance results have shown that the proposed MIN model has outperformed the current state-of-the-art models.

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Capturing Event Argument Interaction via A Bi-Directional Entity-Level Recurrent Decoder
Xi Xiangyu | Wei Ye | Shikun Zhang | Quanxiu Wang | Huixing Jiang | Wei Wu

Capturing interactions among event arguments is an essential step towards robust event argument extraction (EAE). However, existing efforts in this direction suffer from two limitations: 1) The argument role type information of contextual entities is mainly utilized as training signals, ignoring the potential merits of directly adopting it as semantically rich input features; 2) The argument-level sequential semantics, which implies the overall distribution pattern of argument roles over an event mention, is not well characterized. To tackle the above two bottlenecks, we formalize EAE as a Seq2Seq-like learning problem for the first time, where a sentence with a specific event trigger is mapped to a sequence of event argument roles. A neural architecture with a novel Bi-directional Entity-level Recurrent Decoder (BERD) is proposed to generate argument roles by incorporating contextual entities’ argument role predictions, like a word-by-word text generation process, thereby distinguishing implicit argument distribution patterns within an event more accurately.

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UniRE: A Unified Label Space for Entity Relation Extraction
Yijun Wang | Changzhi Sun | Yuanbin Wu | Hao Zhou | Lei Li | Junchi Yan

Many joint entity relation extraction models setup two separated label spaces for the two sub-tasks (i.e., entity detection and relation classification). We argue that this setting may hinder the information interaction between entities and relations. In this work, we propose to eliminate the different treatment on the two sub-tasks’ label spaces. The input of our model is a table containing all word pairs from a sentence. Entities and relations are represented by squares and rectangles in the table. We apply a unified classifier to predict each cell’s label, which unifies the learning of two sub-tasks. For testing, an effective (yet fast) approximate decoder is proposed for finding squares and rectangles from tables. Experiments on three benchmarks (ACE04, ACE05, SciERC) show that, using only half the number of parameters, our model achieves competitive accuracy with the best extractor, and is faster.

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Refining Sample Embeddings with Relation Prototypes to Enhance Continual Relation Extraction
Li Cui | Deqing Yang | Jiaxin Yu | Chengwei Hu | Jiayang Cheng | Jingjie Yi | Yanghua Xiao

Continual learning has gained increasing attention in recent years, thanks to its biological interpretation and efficiency in many real-world applications. As a typical task of continual learning, continual relation extraction (CRE) aims to extract relations between entities from texts, where the samples of different relations are delivered into the model continuously. Some previous works have proved that storing typical samples of old relations in memory can help the model keep a stable understanding of old relations and avoid forgetting them. However, most methods heavily depend on the memory size in that they simply replay these memorized samples in subsequent tasks. To fully utilize memorized samples, in this paper, we employ relation prototype to extract useful information of each relation. Specifically, the prototype embedding for a specific relation is computed based on memorized samples of this relation, which is collected by K-means algorithm. The prototypes of all observed relations at current learning stage are used to re-initialize a memory network to refine subsequent sample embeddings, which ensures the model’s stable understanding on all observed relations when learning a new task. Compared with previous CRE models, our model utilizes the memory information sufficiently and efficiently, resulting in enhanced CRE performance. Our experiments show that the proposed model outperforms the state-of-the-art CRE models and has great advantage in avoiding catastrophic forgetting. The code and datasets are released on

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Contrastive Learning for Many-to-many Multilingual Neural Machine Translation
Xiao Pan | Mingxuan Wang | Liwei Wu | Lei Li

Existing multilingual machine translation approaches mainly focus on English-centric directions, while the non-English directions still lag behind. In this work, we aim to build a many-to-many translation system with an emphasis on the quality of non-English language directions. Our intuition is based on the hypothesis that a universal cross-language representation leads to better multilingual translation performance. To this end, we propose mRASP2, a training method to obtain a single unified multilingual translation model. mRASP2 is empowered by two techniques: a) a contrastive learning scheme to close the gap among representations of different languages, and b) data augmentation on both multiple parallel and monolingual data to further align token representations. For English-centric directions, mRASP2 achieves competitive or even better performance than a strong pre-trained model mBART on tens of WMT benchmarks. For non-English directions, mRASP2 achieves an improvement of average 10+ BLEU compared with the multilingual baseline

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Understanding the Properties of Minimum Bayes Risk Decoding in Neural Machine Translation
Mathias Müller | Rico Sennrich

Neural Machine Translation (NMT) currently exhibits biases such as producing translations that are too short and overgenerating frequent words, and shows poor robustness to copy noise in training data or domain shift. Recent work has tied these shortcomings to beam search – the de facto standard inference algorithm in NMT – and Eikema & Aziz (2020) propose to use Minimum Bayes Risk (MBR) decoding on unbiased samples instead. In this paper, we empirically investigate the properties of MBR decoding on a number of previously reported biases and failure cases of beam search. We find that MBR still exhibits a length and token frequency bias, owing to the MT metrics used as utility functions, but that MBR also increases robustness against copy noise in the training data and domain shift.

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Multi-Head Highly Parallelized LSTM Decoder for Neural Machine Translation
Hongfei Xu | Qiuhui Liu | Josef van Genabith | Deyi Xiong | Meng Zhang

One of the reasons Transformer translation models are popular is that self-attention networks for context modelling can be easily parallelized at sequence level. However, the computational complexity of a self-attention network is O(n2), increasing quadratically with sequence length. By contrast, the complexity of LSTM-based approaches is only O(n). In practice, however, LSTMs are much slower to train than self-attention networks as they cannot be parallelized at sequence level: to model context, the current LSTM state relies on the full LSTM computation of the preceding state. This has to be computed n times for a sequence of length n. The linear transformations involved in the LSTM gate and state computations are the major cost factors in this. To enable sequence-level parallelization of LSTMs, we approximate full LSTM context modelling by computing hidden states and gates with the current input and a simple bag-of-words representation of the preceding tokens context. This allows us to compute each input step efficiently in parallel, avoiding the formerly costly sequential linear transformations. We then connect the outputs of each parallel step with computationally cheap element-wise computations. We call this the Highly Parallelized LSTM. To further constrain the number of LSTM parameters, we compute several small HPLSTMs in parallel like multi-head attention in the Transformer. The experiments show that our MHPLSTM decoder achieves significant BLEU improvements, while being even slightly faster than the self-attention network in training, and much faster than the standard LSTM.

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A Bidirectional Transformer Based Alignment Model for Unsupervised Word Alignment
Jingyi Zhang | Josef van Genabith

Word alignment and machine translation are two closely related tasks. Neural translation models, such as RNN-based and Transformer models, employ a target-to-source attention mechanism which can provide rough word alignments, but with a rather low accuracy. High-quality word alignment can help neural machine translation in many different ways, such as missing word detection, annotation transfer and lexicon injection. Existing methods for learning word alignment include statistical word aligners (e.g. GIZA++) and recently neural word alignment models. This paper presents a bidirectional Transformer based alignment (BTBA) model for unsupervised learning of the word alignment task. Our BTBA model predicts the current target word by attending the source context and both left-side and right-side target context to produce accurate target-to-source attention (alignment). We further fine-tune the target-to-source attention in the BTBA model to obtain better alignments using a full context based optimization method and self-supervised training. We test our method on three word alignment tasks and show that our method outperforms both previous neural word alignment approaches and the popular statistical word aligner GIZA++.

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Learning Language Specific Sub-network for Multilingual Machine Translation
Zehui Lin | Liwei Wu | Mingxuan Wang | Lei Li

Multilingual neural machine translation aims at learning a single translation model for multiple languages. These jointly trained models often suffer from performance degradationon rich-resource language pairs. We attribute this degeneration to parameter interference. In this paper, we propose LaSS to jointly train a single unified multilingual MT model. LaSS learns Language Specific Sub-network (LaSS) for each language pair to counter parameter interference. Comprehensive experiments on IWSLT and WMT datasets with various Transformer architectures show that LaSS obtains gains on 36 language pairs by up to 1.2 BLEU. Besides, LaSS shows its strong generalization performance at easy adaptation to new language pairs and zero-shot translation. LaSS boosts zero-shot translation with an average of 8.3 BLEU on 30 language pairs. Codes and trained models are available at

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Exploring the Efficacy of Automatically Generated Counterfactuals for Sentiment Analysis
Linyi Yang | Jiazheng Li | Padraig Cunningham | Yue Zhang | Barry Smyth | Ruihai Dong

While state-of-the-art NLP models have been achieving the excellent performance of a wide range of tasks in recent years, important questions are being raised about their robustness and their underlying sensitivity to systematic biases that may exist in their training and test data. Such issues come to be manifest in performance problems when faced with out-of-distribution data in the field. One recent solution has been to use counterfactually augmented datasets in order to reduce any reliance on spurious patterns that may exist in the original data. Producing high-quality augmented data can be costly and time-consuming as it usually needs to involve human feedback and crowdsourcing efforts. In this work, we propose an alternative by describing and evaluating an approach to automatically generating counterfactual data for the purpose of data augmentation and explanation. A comprehensive evaluation on several different datasets and using a variety of state-of-the-art benchmarks demonstrate how our approach can achieve significant improvements in model performance when compared to models training on the original data and even when compared to models trained with the benefit of human-generated augmented data.

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Bridge-Based Active Domain Adaptation for Aspect Term Extraction
Zhuang Chen | Tieyun Qian

As a fine-grained task, the annotation cost of aspect term extraction is extremely high. Recent attempts alleviate this issue using domain adaptation that transfers common knowledge across domains. Since most aspect terms are domain-specific, they cannot be transferred directly. Existing methods solve this problem by associating aspect terms with pivot words (we call this passive domain adaptation because the transfer of aspect terms relies on the links to pivots). However, all these methods need either manually labeled pivot words or expensive computing resources to build associations. In this paper, we propose a novel active domain adaptation method. Our goal is to transfer aspect terms by actively supplementing transferable knowledge. To this end, we construct syntactic bridges by recognizing syntactic roles as pivots instead of as links to pivots. We also build semantic bridges by retrieving transferable semantic prototypes. Extensive experiments show that our method significantly outperforms previous approaches.

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Multimodal Sentiment Detection Based on Multi-channel Graph Neural Networks
Xiaocui Yang | Shi Feng | Yifei Zhang | Daling Wang

With the popularity of smartphones, we have witnessed the rapid proliferation of multimodal posts on various social media platforms. We observe that the multimodal sentiment expression has specific global characteristics, such as the interdependencies of objects or scenes within the image. However, most previous studies only considered the representation of a single image-text post and failed to capture the global co-occurrence characteristics of the dataset. In this paper, we propose Multi-channel Graph Neural Networks with Sentiment-awareness (MGNNS) for image-text sentiment detection. Specifically, we first encode different modalities to capture hidden representations. Then, we introduce multi-channel graph neural networks to learn multimodal representations based on the global characteristics of the dataset. Finally, we implement multimodal in-depth fusion with the multi-head attention mechanism to predict the sentiment of image-text pairs. Extensive experiments conducted on three publicly available datasets demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach for multimodal sentiment detection.

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Aspect-Category-Opinion-Sentiment Quadruple Extraction with Implicit Aspects and Opinions
Hongjie Cai | Rui Xia | Jianfei Yu

Product reviews contain a large number of implicit aspects and implicit opinions. However, most of the existing studies in aspect-based sentiment analysis ignored this problem. In this work, we introduce a new task, named Aspect-Category-Opinion-Sentiment (ACOS) Quadruple Extraction, with the goal to extract all aspect-category-opinion-sentiment quadruples in a review sentence and provide full support for aspect-based sentiment analysis with implicit aspects and opinions. We furthermore construct two new datasets, Restaurant-ACOS and Laptop-ACOS, for this new task, both of which contain the annotations of not only aspect-category-opinion-sentiment quadruples but also implicit aspects and opinions. The former is an extension of the SemEval Restaurant dataset; the latter is a newly collected and annotated Laptop dataset, twice the size of the SemEval Laptop dataset. We finally benchmark the task with four baseline systems. Experiments demonstrate the feasibility of the new task and its effectiveness in extracting and describing implicit aspects and implicit opinions. The two datasets and source code of four systems are publicly released at

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PASS: Perturb-and-Select Summarizer for Product Reviews
Nadav Oved | Ran Levy

The product reviews summarization task aims to automatically produce a short summary for a set of reviews of a given product. Such summaries are expected to aggregate a range of different opinions in a concise, coherent and informative manner. This challenging task gives rise to two shortcomings in existing work. First, summarizers tend to favor generic content that appears in reviews for many different products, resulting in template-like, less informative summaries. Second, as reviewers often disagree on the pros and cons of a given product, summarizers sometimes yield inconsistent, self-contradicting summaries. We propose the PASS system (Perturb-and-Select Summarizer) that employs a large pre-trained Transformer-based model (T5 in our case), which follows a few-shot fine-tuning scheme. A key component of the PASS system relies on applying systematic perturbations to the model’s input during inference, which allows it to generate multiple different summaries per product. We develop a method for ranking these summaries according to desired criteria, coherence in our case, enabling our system to almost entirely avoid the problem of self-contradiction. We compare our system against strong baselines on publicly available datasets, and show that it produces summaries which are more informative, diverse and coherent.

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Deep Differential Amplifier for Extractive Summarization
Ruipeng Jia | Yanan Cao | Fang Fang | Yuchen Zhou | Zheng Fang | Yanbing Liu | Shi Wang

For sentence-level extractive summarization, there is a disproportionate ratio of selected and unselected sentences, leading to flatting the summary features when maximizing the accuracy. The imbalanced classification of summarization is inherent, which can’t be addressed by common algorithms easily. In this paper, we conceptualize the single-document extractive summarization as a rebalance problem and present a deep differential amplifier framework. Specifically, we first calculate and amplify the semantic difference between each sentence and all other sentences, and then apply the residual unit as the second item of the differential amplifier to deepen the architecture. Finally, to compensate for the imbalance, the corresponding objective loss of minority class is boosted by a weighted cross-entropy. In contrast to previous approaches, this model pays more attention to the pivotal information of one sentence, instead of all the informative context modeling by recurrent or Transformer architecture. We demonstrate experimentally on two benchmark datasets that our summarizer performs competitively against state-of-the-art methods. Our source code will be available on Github.

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Multi-TimeLine Summarization (MTLS): Improving Timeline Summarization by Generating Multiple Summaries
Yi Yu | Adam Jatowt | Antoine Doucet | Kazunari Sugiyama | Masatoshi Yoshikawa

In this paper, we address a novel task, Multiple TimeLine Summarization (MTLS), which extends the flexibility and versatility of Time-Line Summarization (TLS). Given any collection of time-stamped news articles, MTLS automatically discovers important yet different stories and generates a corresponding time-line for each story. To achieve this, we propose a novel unsupervised summarization framework based on two-stage affinity propagation. We also introduce a quantitative evaluation measure for MTLS based on previousTLS evaluation methods. Experimental results show that our MTLS framework demonstrates high effectiveness and MTLS task can give bet-ter results than TLS.

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Self-Supervised Multimodal Opinion Summarization
Jinbae Im | Moonki Kim | Hoyeop Lee | Hyunsouk Cho | Sehee Chung

Recently, opinion summarization, which is the generation of a summary from multiple reviews, has been conducted in a self-supervised manner by considering a sampled review as a pseudo summary. However, non-text data such as image and metadata related to reviews have been considered less often. To use the abundant information contained in non-text data, we propose a self-supervised multimodal opinion summarization framework called MultimodalSum. Our framework obtains a representation of each modality using a separate encoder for each modality, and the text decoder generates a summary. To resolve the inherent heterogeneity of multimodal data, we propose a multimodal training pipeline. We first pretrain the text encoder–decoder based solely on text modality data. Subsequently, we pretrain the non-text modality encoders by considering the pretrained text decoder as a pivot for the homogeneous representation of multimodal data. Finally, to fuse multimodal representations, we train the entire framework in an end-to-end manner. We demonstrate the superiority of MultimodalSum by conducting experiments on Yelp and Amazon datasets.

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A Training-free and Reference-free Summarization Evaluation Metric via Centrality-weighted Relevance and Self-referenced Redundancy
Wang Chen | Piji Li | Irwin King

In recent years, reference-based and supervised summarization evaluation metrics have been widely explored. However, collecting human-annotated references and ratings are costly and time-consuming. To avoid these limitations, we propose a training-free and reference-free summarization evaluation metric. Our metric consists of a centrality-weighted relevance score and a self-referenced redundancy score. The relevance score is computed between the pseudo reference built from the source document and the given summary, where the pseudo reference content is weighted by the sentence centrality to provide importance guidance. Besides an F1-based relevance score, we also design an F𝛽-based variant that pays more attention to the recall score. As for the redundancy score of the summary, we compute a self-masked similarity score with the summary itself to evaluate the redundant information in the summary. Finally, we combine the relevance and redundancy scores to produce the final evaluation score of the given summary. Extensive experiments show that our methods can significantly outperform existing methods on both multi-document and single-document summarization evaluation. The source code is released at

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DESCGEN: A Distantly Supervised Datasetfor Generating Entity Descriptions
Weijia Shi | Mandar Joshi | Luke Zettlemoyer

Short textual descriptions of entities provide summaries of their key attributes and have been shown to be useful sources of background knowledge for tasks such as entity linking and question answering. However, generating entity descriptions, especially for new and long-tail entities, can be challenging since relevant information is often scattered across multiple sources with varied content and style. We introduce DESCGEN: given mentions spread over multiple documents, the goal is to generate an entity summary description. DESCGEN consists of 37K entity descriptions from Wikipedia and Fandom, each paired with nine evidence documents on average. The documents were collected using a combination of entity linking and hyperlinks into the entity pages, which together provide high-quality distant supervision. Compared to other multi-document summarization tasks, our task is entity-centric, more abstractive, and covers a wide range of domains. We also propose a two-stage extract-then-generate baseline and show that there exists a large gap (19.9% in ROUGE-L) between state-of-art models and human performance, suggesting that the data will support significant future work.

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Introducing Orthogonal Constraint in Structural Probes
Tomasz Limisiewicz | David Mareček

With the recent success of pre-trained models in NLP, a significant focus was put on interpreting their representations. One of the most prominent approaches is structural probing (Hewitt and Manning, 2019), where a linear projection of word embeddings is performed in order to approximate the topology of dependency structures. In this work, we introduce a new type of structural probing, where the linear projection is decomposed into 1. iso-morphic space rotation; 2. linear scaling that identifies and scales the most relevant dimensions. In addition to syntactic dependency, we evaluate our method on two novel tasks (lexical hypernymy and position in a sentence). We jointly train the probes for multiple tasks and experimentally show that lexical and syntactic information is separated in the representations. Moreover, the orthogonal constraint makes the Structural Probes less vulnerable to memorization.

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Hidden Killer: Invisible Textual Backdoor Attacks with Syntactic Trigger
Fanchao Qi | Mukai Li | Yangyi Chen | Zhengyan Zhang | Zhiyuan Liu | Yasheng Wang | Maosong Sun

Backdoor attacks are a kind of insidious security threat against machine learning models. After being injected with a backdoor in training, the victim model will produce adversary-specified outputs on the inputs embedded with predesigned triggers but behave properly on normal inputs during inference. As a sort of emergent attack, backdoor attacks in natural language processing (NLP) are investigated insufficiently. As far as we know, almost all existing textual backdoor attack methods insert additional contents into normal samples as triggers, which causes the trigger-embedded samples to be detected and the backdoor attacks to be blocked without much effort. In this paper, we propose to use the syntactic structure as the trigger in textual backdoor attacks. We conduct extensive experiments to demonstrate that the syntactic trigger-based attack method can achieve comparable attack performance (almost 100% success rate) to the insertion-based methods but possesses much higher invisibility and stronger resistance to defenses. These results also reveal the significant insidiousness and harmfulness of textual backdoor attacks. All the code and data of this paper can be obtained at

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Examining the Inductive Bias of Neural Language Models with Artificial Languages
Jennifer C. White | Ryan Cotterell

Since language models are used to model a wide variety of languages, it is natural to ask whether the neural architectures used for the task have inductive biases towards modeling particular types of languages. Investigation of these biases has proved complicated due to the many variables that appear in the experimental setup. Languages vary in many typological dimensions, and it is difficult to single out one or two to investigate without the others acting as confounders. We propose a novel method for investigating the inductive biases of language models using artificial languages. These languages are constructed to allow us to create parallel corpora across languages that differ only in the typological feature being investigated, such as word order. We then use them to train and test language models. This constitutes a fully controlled causal framework, and demonstrates how grammar engineering can serve as a useful tool for analyzing neural models. Using this method, we find that commonly used neural architectures exhibit different inductive biases: LSTMs display little preference with respect to word ordering, while transformers display a clear preference for some orderings over others. Further, we find that neither the inductive bias of the LSTM nor that of the transformer appear to reflect any tendencies that we see in attested natural languages.

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Explaining Contextualization in Language Models using Visual Analytics
Rita Sevastjanova | Aikaterini-Lida Kalouli | Christin Beck | Hanna Schäfer | Mennatallah El-Assady

Despite the success of contextualized language models on various NLP tasks, it is still unclear what these models really learn. In this paper, we contribute to the current efforts of explaining such models by exploring the continuum between function and content words with respect to contextualization in BERT, based on linguistically-informed insights. In particular, we utilize scoring and visual analytics techniques: we use an existing similarity-based score to measure contextualization and integrate it into a novel visual analytics technique, presenting the model’s layers simultaneously and highlighting intra-layer properties and inter-layer differences. We show that contextualization is neither driven by polysemy nor by pure context variation. We also provide insights on why BERT fails to model words in the middle of the functionality continuum.

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Improving the Faithfulness of Attention-based Explanations with Task-specific Information for Text Classification
George Chrysostomou | Nikolaos Aletras

Neural network architectures in natural language processing often use attention mechanisms to produce probability distributions over input token representations. Attention has empirically been demonstrated to improve performance in various tasks, while its weights have been extensively used as explanations for model predictions. Recent studies (Jain and Wallace, 2019; Serrano and Smith, 2019; Wiegreffe and Pinter, 2019) have showed that it cannot generally be considered as a faithful explanation (Jacovi and Goldberg, 2020) across encoders and tasks. In this paper, we seek to improve the faithfulness of attention-based explanations for text classification. We achieve this by proposing a new family of Task-Scaling (TaSc) mechanisms that learn task-specific non-contextualised information to scale the original attention weights. Evaluation tests for explanation faithfulness, show that the three proposed variants of TaSc improve attention-based explanations across two attention mechanisms, five encoders and five text classification datasets without sacrificing predictive performance. Finally, we demonstrate that TaSc consistently provides more faithful attention-based explanations compared to three widely-used interpretability techniques.

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Generating Landmark Navigation Instructions from Maps as a Graph-to-Text Problem
Raphael Schumann | Stefan Riezler

Car-focused navigation services are based on turns and distances of named streets, whereas navigation instructions naturally used by humans are centered around physical objects called landmarks. We present a neural model that takes OpenStreetMap representations as input and learns to generate navigation instructions that contain visible and salient landmarks from human natural language instructions. Routes on the map are encoded in a location- and rotation-invariant graph representation that is decoded into natural language instructions. Our work is based on a novel dataset of 7,672 crowd-sourced instances that have been verified by human navigation in Street View. Our evaluation shows that the navigation instructions generated by our system have similar properties as human-generated instructions, and lead to successful human navigation in Street View.

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E2E-VLP: End-to-End Vision-Language Pre-training Enhanced by Visual Learning
Haiyang Xu | Ming Yan | Chenliang Li | Bin Bi | Songfang Huang | Wenming Xiao | Fei Huang

Vision-language pre-training (VLP) on large-scale image-text pairs has achieved huge success for the cross-modal downstream tasks. The most existing pre-training methods mainly adopt a two-step training procedure, which firstly employs a pre-trained object detector to extract region-based visual features, then concatenates the image representation and text embedding as the input of Transformer to train. However, these methods face problems of using task-specific visual representation of the specific object detector for generic cross-modal understanding, and the computation inefficiency of two-stage pipeline. In this paper, we propose the first end-to-end vision-language pre-trained model for both V+L understanding and generation, namely E2E-VLP, where we build a unified Transformer framework to jointly learn visual representation, and semantic alignments between image and text. We incorporate the tasks of object detection and image captioning into pre-training with a unified Transformer encoder-decoder architecture for enhancing visual learning. An extensive set of experiments have been conducted on well-established vision-language downstream tasks to demonstrate the effectiveness of this novel VLP paradigm.

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Learning Relation Alignment for Calibrated Cross-modal Retrieval
Shuhuai Ren | Junyang Lin | Guangxiang Zhao | Rui Men | An Yang | Jingren Zhou | Xu Sun | Hongxia Yang

Despite the achievements of large-scale multimodal pre-training approaches, cross-modal retrieval, e.g., image-text retrieval, remains a challenging task. To bridge the semantic gap between the two modalities, previous studies mainly focus on word-region alignment at the object level, lacking the matching between the linguistic relation among the words and the visual relation among the regions. The neglect of such relation consistency impairs the contextualized representation of image-text pairs and hinders the model performance and the interpretability. In this paper, we first propose a novel metric, Intra-modal Self-attention Distance (ISD), to quantify the relation consistency by measuring the semantic distance between linguistic and visual relations. In response, we present Inter-modal Alignment on Intra-modal Self-attentions (IAIS), a regularized training method to optimize the ISD and calibrate intra-modal self-attentions from the two modalities mutually via inter-modal alignment. The IAIS regularizer boosts the performance of prevailing models on Flickr30k and MS COCO datasets by a considerable margin, which demonstrates the superiority of our approach.

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KM-BART: Knowledge Enhanced Multimodal BART for Visual Commonsense Generation
Yiran Xing | Zai Shi | Zhao Meng | Gerhard Lakemeyer | Yunpu Ma | Roger Wattenhofer

We present Knowledge Enhanced Multimodal BART (KM-BART), which is a Transformer-based sequence-to-sequence model capable of reasoning about commonsense knowledge from multimodal inputs of images and texts. We adapt the generative BART architecture (Lewis et al., 2020) to a multimodal model with visual and textual inputs. We further develop novel pretraining tasks to improve the model performance on the Visual Commonsense Generation (VCG) task. In particular, our pretraining task of Knowledge-based Commonsense Generation (KCG) boosts model performance on the VCG task by leveraging commonsense knowledge from a large language model pretrained on external commonsense knowledge graphs. To the best of our knowledge, we are the first to propose a dedicated task for improving model performance on the VCG task. Experimental results show that our model reaches state-of-the-art performance on the VCG task (Park et al., 2020) by applying these novel pretraining tasks.

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Cascaded Head-colliding Attention
Lin Zheng | Zhiyong Wu | Lingpeng Kong

Transformers have advanced the field of natural language processing (NLP) on a variety of important tasks. At the cornerstone of the Transformer architecture is the multi-head attention (MHA) mechanism which models pairwise interactions between the elements of the sequence. Despite its massive success, the current framework ignores interactions among different heads, leading to the problem that many of the heads are redundant in practice, which greatly wastes the capacity of the model. To improve parameter efficiency, we re-formulate the MHA as a latent variable model from a probabilistic perspective. We present cascaded head-colliding attention (CODA) which explicitly models the interactions between attention heads through a hierarchical variational distribution. We conduct extensive experiments and demonstrate that CODA outperforms the transformer baseline, by 0.6 perplexity on Wikitext-103 in language modeling, and by 0.6 BLEU on WMT14 EN-DE in machine translation, due to its improvements on the parameter efficiency.

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Structural Knowledge Distillation: Tractably Distilling Information for Structured Predictor
Xinyu Wang | Yong Jiang | Zhaohui Yan | Zixia Jia | Nguyen Bach | Tao Wang | Zhongqiang Huang | Fei Huang | Kewei Tu

Knowledge distillation is a critical technique to transfer knowledge between models, typically from a large model (the teacher) to a more fine-grained one (the student). The objective function of knowledge distillation is typically the cross-entropy between the teacher and the student’s output distributions. However, for structured prediction problems, the output space is exponential in size; therefore, the cross-entropy objective becomes intractable to compute and optimize directly. In this paper, we derive a factorized form of the knowledge distillation objective for structured prediction, which is tractable for many typical choices of the teacher and student models. In particular, we show the tractability and empirical effectiveness of structural knowledge distillation between sequence labeling and dependency parsing models under four different scenarios: 1) the teacher and student share the same factorization form of the output structure scoring function; 2) the student factorization produces more fine-grained substructures than the teacher factorization; 3) the teacher factorization produces more fine-grained substructures than the student factorization; 4) the factorization forms from the teacher and the student are incompatible.

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Parameter-efficient Multi-task Fine-tuning for Transformers via Shared Hypernetworks
Rabeeh Karimi Mahabadi | Sebastian Ruder | Mostafa Dehghani | James Henderson

State-of-the-art parameter-efficient fine-tuning methods rely on introducing adapter modules between the layers of a pretrained language model. However, such modules are trained separately for each task and thus do not enable sharing information across tasks. In this paper, we show that we can learn adapter parameters for all layers and tasks by generating them using shared hypernetworks, which condition on task, adapter position, and layer id in a transformer model. This parameter-efficient multi-task learning framework allows us to achieve the best of both worlds by sharing knowledge across tasks via hypernetworks while enabling the model to adapt to each individual task through task-specific adapters. Experiments on the well-known GLUE benchmark show improved performance in multi-task learning while adding only 0.29% parameters per task. We additionally demonstrate substantial performance improvements in few-shot domain generalization across a variety of tasks. Our code is publicly available in

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COSY: COunterfactual SYntax for Cross-Lingual Understanding
Sicheng Yu | Hao Zhang | Yulei Niu | Qianru Sun | Jing Jiang

Pre-trained multilingual language models, e.g., multilingual-BERT, are widely used in cross-lingual tasks, yielding the state-of-the-art performance. However, such models suffer from a large performance gap between source and target languages, especially in the zero-shot setting, where the models are fine-tuned only on English but tested on other languages for the same task. We tackle this issue by incorporating language-agnostic information, specifically, universal syntax such as dependency relations and POS tags, into language models, based on the observation that universal syntax is transferable across different languages. Our approach, called COunterfactual SYntax (COSY), includes the design of SYntax-aware networks as well as a COunterfactual training method to implicitly force the networks to learn not only the semantics but also the syntax. To evaluate COSY, we conduct cross-lingual experiments on natural language inference and question answering using mBERT and XLM-R as network backbones. Our results show that COSY achieves the state-of-the-art performance for both tasks, without using auxiliary training data.

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OoMMix: Out-of-manifold Regularization in Contextual Embedding Space for Text Classification
Seonghyeon Lee | Dongha Lee | Hwanjo Yu

Recent studies on neural networks with pre-trained weights (i.e., BERT) have mainly focused on a low-dimensional subspace, where the embedding vectors computed from input words (or their contexts) are located. In this work, we propose a new approach, called OoMMix, to finding and regularizing the remainder of the space, referred to as out-of-manifold, which cannot be accessed through the words. Specifically, we synthesize the out-of-manifold embeddings based on two embeddings obtained from actually-observed words, to utilize them for fine-tuning the network. A discriminator is trained to detect whether an input embedding is located inside the manifold or not, and simultaneously, a generator is optimized to produce new embeddings that can be easily identified as out-of-manifold by the discriminator. These two modules successfully collaborate in a unified and end-to-end manner for regularizing the out-of-manifold. Our extensive evaluation on various text classification benchmarks demonstrates the effectiveness of our approach, as well as its good compatibility with existing data augmentation techniques which aim to enhance the manifold.

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Understanding and Countering Stereotypes: A Computational Approach to the Stereotype Content Model
Kathleen C. Fraser | Isar Nejadgholi | Svetlana Kiritchenko

Stereotypical language expresses widely-held beliefs about different social categories. Many stereotypes are overtly negative, while others may appear positive on the surface, but still lead to negative consequences. In this work, we present a computational approach to interpreting stereotypes in text through the Stereotype Content Model (SCM), a comprehensive causal theory from social psychology. The SCM proposes that stereotypes can be understood along two primary dimensions: warmth and competence. We present a method for defining warmth and competence axes in semantic embedding space, and show that the four quadrants defined by this subspace accurately represent the warmth and competence concepts, according to annotated lexicons. We then apply our computational SCM model to textual stereotype data and show that it compares favourably with survey-based studies in the psychological literature. Furthermore, we explore various strategies to counter stereotypical beliefs with anti-stereotypes. It is known that countering stereotypes with anti-stereotypical examples is one of the most effective ways to reduce biased thinking, yet the problem of generating anti-stereotypes has not been previously studied. Thus, a better understanding of how to generate realistic and effective anti-stereotypes can contribute to addressing pressing societal concerns of stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination.

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Structurizing Misinformation Stories via Rationalizing Fact-Checks
Shan Jiang | Christo Wilson

Misinformation has recently become a well-documented matter of public concern. Existing studies on this topic have hitherto adopted a coarse concept of misinformation, which incorporates a broad spectrum of story types ranging from political conspiracies to misinterpreted pranks. This paper aims to structurize these misinformation stories by leveraging fact-check articles. Our intuition is that key phrases in a fact-check article that identify the misinformation type(s) (e.g., doctored images, urban legends) also act as rationales that determine the verdict of the fact-check (e.g., false). We experiment on rationalized models with domain knowledge as weak supervision to extract these phrases as rationales, and then cluster semantically similar rationales to summarize prevalent misinformation types. Using archived fact-checks from, we identify ten types of misinformation stories. We discuss how these types have evolved over the last ten years and compare their prevalence between the 2016/2020 US presidential elections and the H1N1/COVID-19 pandemics.

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Modeling Language Usage and Listener Engagement in Podcasts
Sravana Reddy | Mariya Lazarova | Yongze Yu | Rosie Jones

While there is an abundance of advice to podcast creators on how to speak in ways that engage their listeners, there has been little data-driven analysis of podcasts that relates linguistic style with engagement. In this paper, we investigate how various factors – vocabulary diversity, distinctiveness, emotion, and syntax, among others – correlate with engagement, based on analysis of the creators’ written descriptions and transcripts of the audio. We build models with different textual representations, and show that the identified features are highly predictive of engagement. Our analysis tests popular wisdom about stylistic elements in high-engagement podcasts, corroborating some pieces of advice and adding new perspectives on others.

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Breaking Down the Invisible Wall of Informal Fallacies in Online Discussions
Saumya Sahai | Oana Balalau | Roxana Horincar

People debate on a variety of topics on online platforms such as Reddit, or Facebook. Debates can be lengthy, with users exchanging a wealth of information and opinions. However, conversations do not always go smoothly, and users sometimes engage in unsound argumentation techniques to prove a claim. These techniques are called fallacies. Fallacies are persuasive arguments that provide insufficient or incorrect evidence to support the claim. In this paper, we study the most frequent fallacies on Reddit, and we present them using the pragma-dialectical theory of argumentation. We construct a new annotated dataset of fallacies, using user comments containing fallacy mentions as noisy labels, and cleaning the data via crowdsourcing. Finally, we study the task of classifying fallacies using neural models. We find that generally the models perform better in the presence of conversational context. We have released the data and the code at

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SocAoG: Incremental Graph Parsing for Social Relation Inference in Dialogues
Liang Qiu | Yuan Liang | Yizhou Zhao | Pan Lu | Baolin Peng | Zhou Yu | Ying Nian Wu | Song-Chun Zhu

Inferring social relations from dialogues is vital for building emotionally intelligent robots to interpret human language better and act accordingly. We model the social network as an And-or Graph, named SocAoG, for the consistency of relations among a group and leveraging attributes as inference cues. Moreover, we formulate a sequential structure prediction task, and propose an 𝛼-𝛽-𝛾 strategy to incrementally parse SocAoG for the dynamic inference upon any incoming utterance: (i) an 𝛼 process predicting attributes and relations conditioned on the semantics of dialogues, (ii) a 𝛽 process updating the social relations based on related attributes, and (iii) a 𝛾 process updating individual’s attributes based on interpersonal social relations. Empirical results on DialogRE and MovieGraph show that our model infers social relations more accurately than the state-of-the-art methods. Moreover, the ablation study shows the three processes complement each other, and the case study demonstrates the dynamic relational inference.

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TicketTalk: Toward human-level performance with end-to-end, transaction-based dialog systems
Bill Byrne | Karthik Krishnamoorthi | Saravanan Ganesh | Mihir Kale

We present a data-driven, end-to-end approach to transaction-based dialog systems that performs at near-human levels in terms of verbal response quality and factual grounding accuracy. We show that two essential components of the system produce these results: a sufficiently large and diverse, in-domain labeled dataset, and a neural network-based, pre-trained model that generates both verbal responses and API call predictions. In terms of data, we introduce TicketTalk, a movie ticketing dialog dataset with 23,789 annotated conversations. The conversations range from completely open-ended and unrestricted to more structured, both in terms of their knowledge base, discourse features, and number of turns. In qualitative human evaluations, model-generated responses trained on just 10,000 TicketTalk dialogs were rated to “make sense” 86.5% of the time, almost the same as human responses in the same contexts. Our simple, API-focused annotation schema results in a much easier labeling task making it faster and more cost effective. It is also the key component for being able to predict API calls accurately. We handle factual grounding by incorporating API calls in the training data, allowing our model to learn which actions to take and when. Trained on the same 10,000-dialog set, the model’s API call predictions were rated to be correct 93.9% of the time in our evaluations, surpassing the ratings for the corresponding human labels. We show how API prediction and response generation scores improve as the dataset size incrementally increases from 5000 to 21,000 dialogs. Our analysis also clearly illustrates the benefits of pre-training. To facilitate future work on transaction-based dialog systems, we are publicly releasing the TicketTalk dataset at

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Improving Dialog Systems for Negotiation with Personality Modeling
Runzhe Yang | Jingxiao Chen | Karthik Narasimhan

In this paper, we explore the ability to model and infer personality types of opponents, predict their responses, and use this information to adapt a dialog agent’s high-level strategy in negotiation tasks. Inspired by the idea of incorporating a theory of mind (ToM) into machines, we introduce a probabilistic formulation to encapsulate the opponent’s personality type during both learning and inference. We test our approach on the CraigslistBargain dataset (He et al. 2018) and show that our method using ToM inference achieves a 20% higher dialog agreement rate compared to baselines on a mixed population of opponents. We also demonstrate that our model displays diverse negotiation behavior with different types of opponents.

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Learning from Perturbations: Diverse and Informative Dialogue Generation with Inverse Adversarial Training
Wangchunshu Zhou | Qifei Li | Chenle Li

In this paper, we propose Inverse Adversarial Training (IAT) algorithm for training neural dialogue systems to avoid generic responses and model dialogue history better. In contrast to standard adversarial training algorithms, IAT encourages the model to be sensitive to the perturbation in the dialogue history and therefore learning from perturbations. By giving higher rewards for responses whose output probability reduces more significantly when dialogue history is perturbed, the model is encouraged to generate more diverse and consistent responses. By penalizing the model when generating the same response given perturbed dialogue history, the model is forced to better capture dialogue history and generate more informative responses. Experimental results on two benchmark datasets show that our approach can better model dialogue history and generate more diverse and consistent responses. In addition, we point out a problem of the widely used maximum mutual information (MMI) based methods for improving the diversity of dialogue response generation models and demonstrate it empirically.

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Increasing Faithfulness in Knowledge-Grounded Dialogue with Controllable Features
Hannah Rashkin | David Reitter | Gaurav Singh Tomar | Dipanjan Das

Knowledge-grounded dialogue systems are intended to convey information that is based on evidence provided in a given source text. We discuss the challenges of training a generative neural dialogue model for such systems that is controlled to stay faithful to the evidence. Existing datasets contain a mix of conversational responses that are faithful to selected evidence as well as more subjective or chit-chat style responses. We propose different evaluation measures to disentangle these different styles of responses by quantifying the informativeness and objectivity. At training time, additional inputs based on these evaluation measures are given to the dialogue model. At generation time, these additional inputs act as stylistic controls that encourage the model to generate responses that are faithful to the provided evidence. We also investigate the usage of additional controls at decoding time using resampling techniques. In addition to automatic metrics, we perform a human evaluation study where raters judge the output of these controlled generation models to be generally more objective and faithful to the evidence compared to baseline dialogue systems.

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CitationIE: Leveraging the Citation Graph for Scientific Information Extraction
Vijay Viswanathan | Graham Neubig | Pengfei Liu

Automatically extracting key information from scientific documents has the potential to help scientists work more efficiently and accelerate the pace of scientific progress. Prior work has considered extracting document-level entity clusters and relations end-to-end from raw scientific text, which can improve literature search and help identify methods and materials for a given problem. Despite the importance of this task, most existing works on scientific information extraction (SciIE) consider extraction solely based on the content of an individual paper, without considering the paper’s place in the broader literature. In contrast to prior work, we augment our text representations by leveraging a complementary source of document context: the citation graph of referential links between citing and cited papers. On a test set of English-language scientific documents, we show that simple ways of utilizing the structure and content of the citation graph can each lead to significant gains in different scientific information extraction tasks. When these tasks are combined, we observe a sizable improvement in end-to-end information extraction over the state-of-the-art, suggesting the potential for future work along this direction. We release software tools to facilitate citation-aware SciIE development.

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From Discourse to Narrative: Knowledge Projection for Event Relation Extraction
Jialong Tang | Hongyu Lin | Meng Liao | Yaojie Lu | Xianpei Han | Le Sun | Weijian Xie | Jin Xu

Current event-centric knowledge graphs highly rely on explicit connectives to mine relations between events. Unfortunately, due to the sparsity of connectives, these methods severely undermine the coverage of EventKGs. The lack of high-quality labelled corpora further exacerbates that problem. In this paper, we propose a knowledge projection paradigm for event relation extraction: projecting discourse knowledge to narratives by exploiting the commonalities between them. Specifically, we propose Multi-tier Knowledge Projection Network (MKPNet), which can leverage multi-tier discourse knowledge effectively for event relation extraction. In this way, the labelled data requirement is significantly reduced, and implicit event relations can be effectively extracted. Intrinsic experimental results show that MKPNet achieves the new state-of-the-art performance and extrinsic experimental results verify the value of the extracted event relations.

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AdvPicker: Effectively Leveraging Unlabeled Data via Adversarial Discriminator for Cross-Lingual NER
Weile Chen | Huiqiang Jiang | Qianhui Wu | Börje Karlsson | Yi Guan

Neural methods have been shown to achieve high performance in Named Entity Recognition (NER), but rely on costly high-quality labeled data for training, which is not always available across languages. While previous works have shown that unlabeled data in a target language can be used to improve cross-lingual model performance, we propose a novel adversarial approach (AdvPicker) to better leverage such data and further improve results. We design an adversarial learning framework in which an encoder learns entity domain knowledge from labeled source-language data and better shared features are captured via adversarial training - where a discriminator selects less language-dependent target-language data via similarity to the source language. Experimental results on standard benchmark datasets well demonstrate that the proposed method benefits strongly from this data selection process and outperforms existing state-of-the-art methods; without requiring any additional external resources (e.g., gazetteers or via machine translation).

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Compare to The Knowledge: Graph Neural Fake News Detection with External Knowledge
Linmei Hu | Tianchi Yang | Luhao Zhang | Wanjun Zhong | Duyu Tang | Chuan Shi | Nan Duan | Ming Zhou

Nowadays, fake news detection, which aims to verify whether a news document is trusted or fake, has become urgent and important. Most existing methods rely heavily on linguistic and semantic features from the news content, and fail to effectively exploit external knowledge which could help determine whether the news document is trusted. In this paper, we propose a novel end-to-end graph neural model called CompareNet, which compares the news to the knowledge base (KB) through entities for fake news detection. Considering that fake news detection is correlated with topics, we also incorporate topics to enrich the news representation. Specifically, we first construct a directed heterogeneous document graph for each news incorporating topics and entities. Based on the graph, we develop a heterogeneous graph attention network for learning the topic-enriched news representation as well as the contextual entity representations that encode the semantics of the news content. The contextual entity representations are then compared to the corresponding KB-based entity representations through a carefully designed entity comparison network, to capture the consistency between the news content and KB. Finally, the topic-enriched news representation combining the entity comparison features is fed into a fake news classifier. Experimental results on two benchmark datasets demonstrate that CompareNet significantly outperforms state-of-the-art methods.

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Discontinuous Named Entity Recognition as Maximal Clique Discovery
Yucheng Wang | Bowen Yu | Hongsong Zhu | Tingwen Liu | Nan Yu | Limin Sun

Named entity recognition (NER) remains challenging when entity mentions can be discontinuous. Existing methods break the recognition process into several sequential steps. In training, they predict conditioned on the golden intermediate results, while at inference relying on the model output of the previous steps, which introduces exposure bias. To solve this problem, we first construct a segment graph for each sentence, in which each node denotes a segment (a continuous entity on its own, or a part of discontinuous entities), and an edge links two nodes that belong to the same entity. The nodes and edges can be generated respectively in one stage with a grid tagging scheme and learned jointly using a novel architecture named Mac. Then discontinuous NER can be reformulated as a non-parametric process of discovering maximal cliques in the graph and concatenating the spans in each clique. Experiments on three benchmarks show that our method outperforms the state-of-the-art (SOTA) results, with up to 3.5 percentage points improvement on F1, and achieves 5x speedup over the SOTA model.

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LNN-EL: A Neuro-Symbolic Approach to Short-text Entity Linking
Hang Jiang | Sairam Gurajada | Qiuhao Lu | Sumit Neelam | Lucian Popa | Prithviraj Sen | Yunyao Li | Alexander Gray

Entity linking (EL) is the task of disambiguating mentions appearing in text by linking them to entities in a knowledge graph, a crucial task for text understanding, question answering or conversational systems. In the special case of short-text EL, which poses additional challenges due to limited context, prior approaches have reached good performance by employing heuristics-based methods or purely neural approaches. Here, we take a different, neuro-symbolic approach that combines the advantages of using interpretable rules based on first-order logic with the performance of neural learning. Even though constrained to use rules, we show that we reach competitive or better performance with SoTA black-box neural approaches. Furthermore, our framework has the benefits of extensibility and transferability. We show that we can easily blend existing rule templates given by a human expert, with multiple types of features (priors, BERT encodings, box embeddings, etc), and even with scores resulting from previous EL methods, thus improving on such methods. As an example of improvement, on the LC-QuAD-1.0 dataset, we show more than 3% increase in F1 score relative to previous SoTA. Finally, we show that the inductive bias offered by using logic results in a set of learned rules that transfers from one dataset to another, sometimes without finetuning, while still having high accuracy.

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Do Context-Aware Translation Models Pay the Right Attention?
Kayo Yin | Patrick Fernandes | Danish Pruthi | Aditi Chaudhary | André F. T. Martins | Graham Neubig

Context-aware machine translation models are designed to leverage contextual information, but often fail to do so. As a result, they inaccurately disambiguate pronouns and polysemous words that require context for resolution. In this paper, we ask several questions: What contexts do human translators use to resolve ambiguous words? Are models paying large amounts of attention to the same context? What if we explicitly train them to do so? To answer these questions, we introduce SCAT (Supporting Context for Ambiguous Translations), a new English-French dataset comprising supporting context words for 14K translations that professional translators found useful for pronoun disambiguation. Using SCAT, we perform an in-depth analysis of the context used to disambiguate, examining positional and lexical characteristics of the supporting words. Furthermore, we measure the degree of alignment between the model’s attention scores and the supporting context from SCAT, and apply a guided attention strategy to encourage agreement between the two.

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Adapting High-resource NMT Models to Translate Low-resource Related Languages without Parallel Data
Wei-Jen Ko | Ahmed El-Kishky | Adithya Renduchintala | Vishrav Chaudhary | Naman Goyal | Francisco Guzmán | Pascale Fung | Philipp Koehn | Mona Diab

The scarcity of parallel data is a major obstacle for training high-quality machine translation systems for low-resource languages. Fortunately, some low-resource languages are linguistically related or similar to high-resource languages; these related languages may share many lexical or syntactic structures. In this work, we exploit this linguistic overlap to facilitate translating to and from a low-resource language with only monolingual data, in addition to any parallel data in the related high-resource language. Our method, NMT-Adapt, combines denoising autoencoding, back-translation and adversarial objectives to utilize monolingual data for low-resource adaptation. We experiment on 7 languages from three different language families and show that our technique significantly improves translation into low-resource language compared to other translation baselines.

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Bilingual Lexicon Induction via Unsupervised Bitext Construction and Word Alignment
Haoyue Shi | Luke Zettlemoyer | Sida I. Wang

Bilingual lexicons map words in one language to their translations in another, and are typically induced by learning linear projections to align monolingual word embedding spaces. In this paper, we show it is possible to produce much higher quality lexicons with methods that combine (1) unsupervised bitext mining and (2) unsupervised word alignment. Directly applying a pipeline that uses recent algorithms for both subproblems significantly improves induced lexicon quality and further gains are possible by learning to filter the resulting lexical entries, with both unsupervised and semi-supervised schemes. Our final model outperforms the state of the art on the BUCC 2020 shared task by 14 F1 points averaged over 12 language pairs, while also providing a more interpretable approach that allows for rich reasoning of word meaning in context. Further analysis of our output and the standard reference lexicons suggests they are of comparable quality, and new benchmarks may be needed to measure further progress on this task.

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Multilingual Speech Translation from Efficient Finetuning of Pretrained Models
Xian Li | Changhan Wang | Yun Tang | Chau Tran | Yuqing Tang | Juan Pino | Alexei Baevski | Alexis Conneau | Michael Auli

We present a simple yet effective approach to build multilingual speech-to-text (ST) translation through efficient transfer learning from a pretrained speech encoder and text decoder. Our key finding is that a minimalistic LNA (LayerNorm and Attention) finetuning can achieve zero-shot crosslingual and cross-modality transfer ability by only finetuning 10 50% of the pretrained parameters. This effectively leverages large pretrained models at low training cost such as wav2vec 2.0 for acoustic modeling, and mBART for multilingual text generation. This sets a new state-of-the-art for 36 translation directions (and surpassing cascaded ST for 26 of them) on the large-scale multilingual ST benchmark CoVoST 2 (+6.4 BLEU on average for En-X directions and +6.7 BLEU for X-En directions). Our approach demonstrates strong zero-shot performance in a many-to-many multilingual model (+5.6 BLEU on average across 28 non-English directions), making it an appealing approach for attaining high-quality speech translation with improved parameter and data efficiency.

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Learning Faithful Representations of Causal Graphs
Ananth Balashankar | Lakshminarayanan Subramanian

Learning contextual text embeddings that represent causal graphs has been useful in improving the performance of downstream tasks like causal treatment effect estimation. However, existing causal embeddings which are trained to predict direct causal links, fail to capture other indirect causal links of the graph, thus leading to spurious correlations in downstream tasks. In this paper, we define the faithfulness property of contextual embeddings to capture geometric distance-based properties of directed acyclic causal graphs. By incorporating these faithfulness properties, we learn text embeddings that are 31.3% more faithful to human validated causal graphs with about 800K and 200K causal links and achieve 21.1% better Precision-Recall AUC in a link prediction fine-tuning task. Further, in a crowdsourced causal question-answering task on Yahoo! Answers with questions of the form “What causes X?”, our faithful embeddings achieved a precision of the first ranked answer (P@1) of 41.07%, outperforming the existing baseline by 10.2%.

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What Context Features Can Transformer Language Models Use?
Joe O’Connor | Jacob Andreas

Transformer-based language models benefit from conditioning on contexts of hundreds to thousands of previous tokens. What aspects of these contexts contribute to accurate model prediction? We describe a series of experiments that measure usable information by selectively ablating lexical and structural information in transformer language models trained on English Wikipedia. In both mid- and long-range contexts, we find that several extremely destructive context manipulations—including shuffling word order within sentences and deleting all words other than nouns—remove less than 15% of the usable information. Our results suggest that long contexts, but not their detailed syntactic and propositional content, are important for the low perplexity of current transformer language models.

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Integrated Directional Gradients: Feature Interaction Attribution for Neural NLP Models
Sandipan Sikdar | Parantapa Bhattacharya | Kieran Heese

In this paper, we introduce Integrated Directional Gradients (IDG), a method for attributing importance scores to groups of features, indicating their relevance to the output of a neural network model for a given input. The success of Deep Neural Networks has been attributed to their ability to capture higher level feature interactions. Hence, in the last few years capturing the importance of these feature interactions has received increased prominence in ML interpretability literature. In this paper, we formally define the feature group attribution problem and outline a set of axioms that any intuitive feature group attribution method should satisfy. Earlier, cooperative game theory inspired axiomatic methods only borrowed axioms from solution concepts (such as Shapley value) for individual feature attributions and introduced their own extensions to model interactions. In contrast, our formulation is inspired by axioms satisfied by characteristic functions as well as solution concepts in cooperative game theory literature. We believe that characteristic functions are much better suited to model importance of groups compared to just solution concepts. We demonstrate that our proposed method, IDG, satisfies all the axioms. Using IDG we analyze two state-of-the-art text classifiers on three benchmark datasets for sentiment analysis. Our experiments show that IDG is able to effectively capture semantic interactions in linguistic models via negations and conjunctions.

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DeCLUTR: Deep Contrastive Learning for Unsupervised Textual Representations
John Giorgi | Osvald Nitski | Bo Wang | Gary Bader

Sentence embeddings are an important component of many natural language processing (NLP) systems. Like word embeddings, sentence embeddings are typically learned on large text corpora and then transferred to various downstream tasks, such as clustering and retrieval. Unlike word embeddings, the highest performing solutions for learning sentence embeddings require labelled data, limiting their usefulness to languages and domains where labelled data is abundant. In this paper, we present DeCLUTR: Deep Contrastive Learning for Unsupervised Textual Representations. Inspired by recent advances in deep metric learning (DML), we carefully design a self-supervised objective for learning universal sentence embeddings that does not require labelled training data. When used to extend the pretraining of transformer-based language models, our approach closes the performance gap between unsupervised and supervised pretraining for universal sentence encoders. Importantly, our experiments suggest that the quality of the learned embeddings scale with both the number of trainable parameters and the amount of unlabelled training data. Our code and pretrained models are publicly available and can be easily adapted to new domains or used to embed unseen text.

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XLPT-AMR: Cross-Lingual Pre-Training via Multi-Task Learning for Zero-Shot AMR Parsing and Text Generation
Dongqin Xu | Junhui Li | Muhua Zhu | Min Zhang | Guodong Zhou

Due to the scarcity of annotated data, Abstract Meaning Representation (AMR) research is relatively limited and challenging for languages other than English. Upon the availability of English AMR dataset and English-to- X parallel datasets, in this paper we propose a novel cross-lingual pre-training approach via multi-task learning (MTL) for both zeroshot AMR parsing and AMR-to-text generation. Specifically, we consider three types of relevant tasks, including AMR parsing, AMR-to-text generation, and machine translation. We hope that knowledge gained while learning for English AMR parsing and text generation can be transferred to the counterparts of other languages. With properly pretrained models, we explore four different finetuning methods, i.e., vanilla fine-tuning with a single task, one-for-all MTL fine-tuning, targeted MTL fine-tuning, and teacher-studentbased MTL fine-tuning. Experimental results on AMR parsing and text generation of multiple non-English languages demonstrate that our approach significantly outperforms a strong baseline of pre-training approach, and greatly advances the state of the art. In detail, on LDC2020T07 we have achieved 70.45%, 71.76%, and 70.80% in Smatch F1 for AMR parsing of German, Spanish, and Italian, respectively, while for AMR-to-text generation of the languages, we have obtained 25.69, 31.36, and 28.42 in BLEU respectively. We make our code available on github

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Span-based Semantic Parsing for Compositional Generalization
Jonathan Herzig | Jonathan Berant

Despite the success of sequence-to-sequence (seq2seq) models in semantic parsing, recent work has shown that they fail in compositional generalization, i.e., the ability to generalize to new structures built of components observed during training. In this work, we posit that a span-based parser should lead to better compositional generalization. we propose SpanBasedSP, a parser that predicts a span tree over an input utterance, explicitly encoding how partial programs compose over spans in the input. SpanBasedSP extends Pasupat et al. (2019) to be comparable to seq2seq models by (i) training from programs, without access to gold trees, treating trees as latent variables, (ii) parsing a class of non-projective trees through an extension to standard CKY. On GeoQuery, SCAN and CLOSURE datasets, SpanBasedSP performs similarly to strong seq2seq baselines on random splits, but dramatically improves performance compared to baselines on splits that require compositional generalization: from 61.0 → 88.9 average accuracy.

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Compositional Generalization and Natural Language Variation: Can a Semantic Parsing Approach Handle Both?
Peter Shaw | Ming-Wei Chang | Panupong Pasupat | Kristina Toutanova

Sequence-to-sequence models excel at handling natural language variation, but have been shown to struggle with out-of-distribution compositional generalization. This has motivated new specialized architectures with stronger compositional biases, but most of these approaches have only been evaluated on synthetically-generated datasets, which are not representative of natural language variation. In this work we ask: can we develop a semantic parsing approach that handles both natural language variation and compositional generalization? To better assess this capability, we propose new train and test splits of non-synthetic datasets. We demonstrate that strong existing approaches do not perform well across a broad set of evaluations. We also propose NQG-T5, a hybrid model that combines a high-precision grammar-based approach with a pre-trained sequence-to-sequence model. It outperforms existing approaches across several compositional generalization challenges on non-synthetic data, while also being competitive with the state-of-the-art on standard evaluations. While still far from solving this problem, our study highlights the importance of diverse evaluations and the open challenge of handling both compositional generalization and natural language variation in semantic parsing.

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A Targeted Assessment of Incremental Processing in Neural Language Models and Humans
Ethan Wilcox | Pranali Vani | Roger Levy

We present a targeted, scaled-up comparison of incremental processing in humans and neural language models by collecting by-word reaction time data for sixteen different syntactic test suites across a range of structural phenomena. Human reaction time data comes from a novel online experimental paradigm called the Interpolated Maze task. We compare human reaction times to by-word probabilities for four contemporary language models, with different architectures and trained on a range of data set sizes. We find that across many phenomena, both humans and language models show increased processing difficulty in ungrammatical sentence regions with human and model ‘accuracy’ scores a la Marvin and Linzen (2018) about equal. However, although language model outputs match humans in direction, we show that models systematically under-predict the difference in magnitude of incremental processing difficulty between grammatical and ungrammatical sentences. Specifically, when models encounter syntactic violations they fail to accurately predict the longer reading times observed in the human data. These results call into question whether contemporary language models are approaching human-like performance for sensitivity to syntactic violations.

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The Possible, the Plausible, and the Desirable: Event-Based Modality Detection for Language Processing
Valentina Pyatkin | Shoval Sadde | Aynat Rubinstein | Paul Portner | Reut Tsarfaty

Modality is the linguistic ability to describe vents with added information such as how desirable, plausible, or feasible they are. Modality is important for many NLP downstream tasks such as the detection of hedging, uncertainty, speculation, and more. Previous studies that address modality detection in NLP often restrict modal expressions to a closed syntactic class, and the modal sense labels are vastly different across different studies, lacking an accepted standard. Furthermore, these senses are often analyzed independently of the events that they modify. This work builds on the theoretical foundations of the Georgetown Gradable Modal Expressions (GME) work by Rubinstein et al. (2013) to propose an event-based modality detection task where modal expressions can be words of any syntactic class and sense labels are drawn from a comprehensive taxonomy which harmonizes the modal concepts contributed by the different studies. We present experiments on the GME corpus aiming to detect and classify fine-grained modal concepts and associate them with their modified events. We show that detecting and classifying modal expressions is not only feasible, it also improves the detection of modal events in their own right.

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To POS Tag or Not to POS Tag: The Impact of POS Tags on Morphological Learning in Low-Resource Settings
Sarah Moeller | Ling Liu | Mans Hulden

Part-of-Speech (POS) tags are routinely included as features in many NLP tasks. However, the importance and usefulness of POS tags needs to be examined as NLP expands to low-resource languages because linguists who provide many annotated resources do not place priority on early identification and tagging of POS. This paper describes an empirical study about the effect that POS tags have on two computational morphological tasks with the Transformer architecture. Each task is tested twice on identical data except for the presence/absence of POS tags, using published data in ten high- to low-resource languages or unpublished linguistic field data in five low-resource languages. We find that the presence or absence of POS tags does not have a significant bearing on performance. In joint segmentation and glossing, the largest average difference is an .09 improvement in F1-scores by removing POS tags. In reinflection, the greatest average difference is 1.2% in accuracy for published data and 5% for unpublished and noisy field data.

[RETRACTED] Prosodic segmentation for parsing spoken dialogue
Elizabeth Nielsen | Mark Steedman | Sharon Goldwater

Parsing spoken dialogue poses unique difficulties, including disfluencies and unmarked boundaries between sentence-like units. Previous work has shown that prosody can help with parsing disfluent speech (Tran et al. 2018), but has assumed that the input to the parser is already segmented into sentence-like units (SUs), which isn’t true in existing speech applications. We investigate how prosody affects a parser that receives an entire dialogue turn as input (a turn-based model), instead of gold standard pre-segmented SUs (an SU-based model). In experiments on the English Switchboard corpus, we find that when using transcripts alone, the turn-based model has trouble segmenting SUs, leading to worse parse performance than the SU-based model. However, prosody can effectively replace gold standard SU boundaries: with prosody, the turn-based model performs as well as the SU-based model (91.38 vs. 91.06 F1 score, respectively), despite performing two tasks (SU segmentation and parsing) rather than one (parsing alone). Analysis shows that pitch and intensity features are the most important for this corpus, since they allow the model to correctly distinguish an SU boundary from a speech disfluency – a distinction that the model otherwise struggles to make.

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VoxPopuli: A Large-Scale Multilingual Speech Corpus for Representation Learning, Semi-Supervised Learning and Interpretation
Changhan Wang | Morgane Riviere | Ann Lee | Anne Wu | Chaitanya Talnikar | Daniel Haziza | Mary Williamson | Juan Pino | Emmanuel Dupoux

We introduce VoxPopuli, a large-scale multilingual corpus providing 400K hours of unlabeled speech data in 23 languages. It is the largest open data to date for unsupervised representation learning as well as semi-supervised learning. VoxPopuli also contains 1.8K hours of transcribed speeches in 15 languages and their aligned oral interpretations into 15 target languages totaling 17.3K hours. We provide speech recognition (ASR) baselines and validate the versatility of VoxPopuli unlabeled data in semi-supervised ASR and speech-to-text translation under challenging out-of-domain settings. The corpus is available at

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Stereotyping Norwegian Salmon: An Inventory of Pitfalls in Fairness Benchmark Datasets
Su Lin Blodgett | Gilsinia Lopez | Alexandra Olteanu | Robert Sim | Hanna Wallach

Auditing NLP systems for computational harms like surfacing stereotypes is an elusive goal. Several recent efforts have focused on benchmark datasets consisting of pairs of contrastive sentences, which are often accompanied by metrics that aggregate an NLP system’s behavior on these pairs into measurements of harms. We examine four such benchmarks constructed for two NLP tasks: language modeling and coreference resolution. We apply a measurement modeling lens—originating from the social sciences—to inventory a range of pitfalls that threaten these benchmarks’ validity as measurement models for stereotyping. We find that these benchmarks frequently lack clear articulations of what is being measured, and we highlight a range of ambiguities and unstated assumptions that affect how these benchmarks conceptualize and operationalize stereotyping.

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Robust Knowledge Graph Completion with Stacked Convolutions and a Student Re-Ranking Network
Justin Lovelace | Denis Newman-Griffis | Shikhar Vashishth | Jill Fain Lehman | Carolyn Rosé

Knowledge Graph (KG) completion research usually focuses on densely connected benchmark datasets that are not representative of real KGs. We curate two KG datasets that include biomedical and encyclopedic knowledge and use an existing commonsense KG dataset to explore KG completion in the more realistic setting where dense connectivity is not guaranteed. We develop a deep convolutional network that utilizes textual entity representations and demonstrate that our model outperforms recent KG completion methods in this challenging setting. We find that our model’s performance improvements stem primarily from its robustness to sparsity. We then distill the knowledge from the convolutional network into a student network that re-ranks promising candidate entities. This re-ranking stage leads to further improvements in performance and demonstrates the effectiveness of entity re-ranking for KG completion.

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A DQN-based Approach to Finding Precise Evidences for Fact Verification
Hai Wan | Haicheng Chen | Jianfeng Du | Weilin Luo | Rongzhen Ye

Computing precise evidences, namely minimal sets of sentences that support or refute a given claim, rather than larger evidences is crucial in fact verification (FV), since larger evidences may contain conflicting pieces some of which support the claim while the other refute, thereby misleading FV. Despite being important, precise evidences are rarely studied by existing methods for FV. It is challenging to find precise evidences due to a large search space with lots of local optimums. Inspired by the strong exploration ability of the deep Q-learning network (DQN), we propose a DQN-based approach to retrieval of precise evidences. In addition, to tackle the label bias on Q-values computed by DQN, we design a post-processing strategy which seeks best thresholds for determining the true labels of computed evidences. Experimental results confirm the effectiveness of DQN in computing precise evidences and demonstrate improvements in achieving accurate claim verification.

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The Art of Abstention: Selective Prediction and Error Regularization for Natural Language Processing
Ji Xin | Raphael Tang | Yaoliang Yu | Jimmy Lin

In selective prediction, a classifier is allowed to abstain from making predictions on low-confidence examples. Though this setting is interesting and important, selective prediction has rarely been examined in natural language processing (NLP) tasks. To fill this void in the literature, we study in this paper selective prediction for NLP, comparing different models and confidence estimators. We further propose a simple error regularization trick that improves confidence estimation without substantially increasing the computation budget. We show that recent pre-trained transformer models simultaneously improve both model accuracy and confidence estimation effectiveness. We also find that our proposed regularization improves confidence estimation and can be applied to other relevant scenarios, such as using classifier cascades for accuracy–efficiency trade-offs. Source code for this paper can be found at

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Unsupervised Out-of-Domain Detection via Pre-trained Transformers
Keyang Xu | Tongzheng Ren | Shikun Zhang | Yihao Feng | Caiming Xiong

Deployed real-world machine learning applications are often subject to uncontrolled and even potentially malicious inputs. Those out-of-domain inputs can lead to unpredictable outputs and sometimes catastrophic safety issues. Prior studies on out-of-domain detection require in-domain task labels and are limited to supervised classification scenarios. Our work tackles the problem of detecting out-of-domain samples with only unsupervised in-domain data. We utilize the latent representations of pre-trained transformers and propose a simple yet effective method to transform features across all layers to construct out-of-domain detectors efficiently. Two domain-specific fine-tuning approaches are further proposed to boost detection accuracy. Our empirical evaluations of related methods on two datasets validate that our method greatly improves out-of-domain detection ability in a more general scenario.

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MATE-KD: Masked Adversarial TExt, a Companion to Knowledge Distillation
Ahmad Rashid | Vasileios Lioutas | Mehdi Rezagholizadeh

The advent of large pre-trained language models has given rise to rapid progress in the field of Natural Language Processing (NLP). While the performance of these models on standard benchmarks has scaled with size, compression techniques such as knowledge distillation have been key in making them practical. We present MATE-KD, a novel text-based adversarial training algorithm which improves the performance of knowledge distillation. MATE-KD first trains a masked language model-based generator to perturb text by maximizing the divergence between teacher and student logits. Then using knowledge distillation a student is trained on both the original and the perturbed training samples. We evaluate our algorithm, using BERT-based models, on the GLUE benchmark and demonstrate that MATE-KD outperforms competitive adversarial learning and data augmentation baselines. On the GLUE test set our 6 layer RoBERTa based model outperforms BERT-large.

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Selecting Informative Contexts Improves Language Model Fine-tuning
Richard Antonello | Nicole Beckage | Javier Turek | Alexander Huth

Language model fine-tuning is essential for modern natural language processing, but is computationally expensive and time-consuming. Further, the effectiveness of fine-tuning is limited by the inclusion of training examples that negatively affect performance. Here we present a general fine-tuning method that we call information gain filtration for improving the overall training efficiency and final performance of language model fine-tuning. We define the information gain of an example as the improvement on a validation metric after training on that example. A secondary learner is then trained to approximate this quantity. During fine-tuning, this learner selects informative examples and skips uninformative ones. We show that our method has consistent improvement across datasets, fine-tuning tasks, and language model architectures. For example, we achieve a median perplexity of 54.0 on a books dataset compared to 57.3 for standard fine-tuning. We present statistical evidence that offers insight into the improvements of our method over standard fine-tuning. The generality of our method leads us to propose a new paradigm for language model fine-tuning — we encourage researchers to release pretrained secondary learners on common corpora to promote efficient and effective fine-tuning, thereby improving the performance and reducing the overall energy footprint of language model fine-tuning.

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Explainable Prediction of Text Complexity: The Missing Preliminaries for Text Simplification
Cristina Garbacea | Mengtian Guo | Samuel Carton | Qiaozhu Mei

Text simplification reduces the language complexity of professional content for accessibility purposes. End-to-end neural network models have been widely adopted to directly generate the simplified version of input text, usually functioning as a blackbox. We show that text simplification can be decomposed into a compact pipeline of tasks to ensure the transparency and explainability of the process. The first two steps in this pipeline are often neglected: 1) to predict whether a given piece of text needs to be simplified, and 2) if yes, to identify complex parts of the text. The two tasks can be solved separately using either lexical or deep learning methods, or solved jointly. Simply applying explainable complexity prediction as a preliminary step, the out-of-sample text simplification performance of the state-of-the-art, black-box simplification models can be improved by a large margin.

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Multi-Task Retrieval for Knowledge-Intensive Tasks
Jean Maillard | Vladimir Karpukhin | Fabio Petroni | Wen-tau Yih | Barlas Oguz | Veselin Stoyanov | Gargi Ghosh

Retrieving relevant contexts from a large corpus is a crucial step for tasks such as open-domain question answering and fact checking. Although neural retrieval outperforms traditional methods like tf-idf and BM25, its performance degrades considerably when applied to out-of-domain data. Driven by the question of whether a neural retrieval model can be _universal_ and perform robustly on a wide variety of problems, we propose a multi-task trained model. Our approach not only outperforms previous methods in the few-shot setting, but also rivals specialised neural retrievers, even when in-domain training data is abundant. With the help of our retriever, we improve existing models for downstream tasks and closely match or improve the state of the art on multiple benchmarks.

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When Do You Need Billions of Words of Pretraining Data?
Yian Zhang | Alex Warstadt | Xiaocheng Li | Samuel R. Bowman

NLP is currently dominated by language models like RoBERTa which are pretrained on billions of words. But what exact knowledge or skills do Transformer LMs learn from large-scale pretraining that they cannot learn from less data? To explore this question, we adopt five styles of evaluation: classifier probing, information-theoretic probing, unsupervised relative acceptability judgments, unsupervised language model knowledge probing, and fine-tuning on NLU tasks. We then draw learning curves that track the growth of these different measures of model ability with respect to pretraining data volume using the MiniBERTas, a group of RoBERTa models pretrained on 1M, 10M, 100M and 1B words. We find that these LMs require only about 10M to 100M words to learn to reliably encode most syntactic and semantic features we test. They need a much larger quantity of data in order to acquire enough commonsense knowledge and other skills required to master typical downstream NLU tasks. The results suggest that, while the ability to encode linguistic features is almost certainly necessary for language understanding, it is likely that other, unidentified, forms of knowledge are the major drivers of recent improvements in language understanding among large pretrained models.

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Analyzing the Source and Target Contributions to Predictions in Neural Machine Translation
Elena Voita | Rico Sennrich | Ivan Titov

In Neural Machine Translation (and, more generally, conditional language modeling), the generation of a target token is influenced by two types of context: the source and the prefix of the target sequence. While many attempts to understand the internal workings of NMT models have been made, none of them explicitly evaluates relative source and target contributions to a generation decision. We argue that this relative contribution can be evaluated by adopting a variant of Layerwise Relevance Propagation (LRP). Its underlying ‘conservation principle’ makes relevance propagation unique: differently from other methods, it evaluates not an abstract quantity reflecting token importance, but the proportion of each token’s influence. We extend LRP to the Transformer and conduct an analysis of NMT models which explicitly evaluates the source and target relative contributions to the generation process. We analyze changes in these contributions when conditioning on different types of prefixes, when varying the training objective or the amount of training data, and during the training process. We find that models trained with more data tend to rely on source information more and to have more sharp token contributions; the training process is non-monotonic with several stages of different nature.

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Comparing Test Sets with Item Response Theory
Clara Vania | Phu Mon Htut | William Huang | Dhara Mungra | Richard Yuanzhe Pang | Jason Phang | Haokun Liu | Kyunghyun Cho | Samuel R. Bowman

Recent years have seen numerous NLP datasets introduced to evaluate the performance of fine-tuned models on natural language understanding tasks. Recent results from large pretrained models, though, show that many of these datasets are largely saturated and unlikely to be able to detect further progress. What kind of datasets are still effective at discriminating among strong models, and what kind of datasets should we expect to be able to detect future improvements? To measure this uniformly across datasets, we draw on Item Response Theory and evaluate 29 datasets using predictions from 18 pretrained Transformer models on individual test examples. We find that Quoref, HellaSwag, and MC-TACO are best suited for distinguishing among state-of-the-art models, while SNLI, MNLI, and CommitmentBank seem to be saturated for current strong models. We also observe span selection task format, which is used for QA datasets like QAMR or SQuAD2.0, is effective in differentiating between strong and weak models.

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Uncovering Constraint-Based Behavior in Neural Models via Targeted Fine-Tuning
Forrest Davis | Marten van Schijndel

A growing body of literature has focused on detailing the linguistic knowledge embedded in large, pretrained language models. Existing work has shown that non-linguistic biases in models can drive model behavior away from linguistic generalizations. We hypothesized that competing linguistic processes within a language, rather than just non-linguistic model biases, could obscure underlying linguistic knowledge. We tested this claim by exploring a single phenomenon in four languages: English, Chinese, Spanish, and Italian. While human behavior has been found to be similar across languages, we find cross-linguistic variation in model behavior. We show that competing processes in a language act as constraints on model behavior and demonstrate that targeted fine-tuning can re-weight the learned constraints, uncovering otherwise dormant linguistic knowledge in models. Our results suggest that models need to learn both the linguistic constraints in a language and their relative ranking, with mismatches in either producing non-human-like behavior.

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More Identifiable yet Equally Performant Transformers for Text Classification
Rishabh Bhardwaj | Navonil Majumder | Soujanya Poria | Eduard Hovy

Interpretability is an important aspect of the trustworthiness of a model’s predictions. Transformer’s predictions are widely explained by the attention weights, i.e., a probability distribution generated at its self-attention unit (head). Current empirical studies provide shreds of evidence that attention weights are not explanations by proving that they are not unique. A recent study showed theoretical justifications to this observation by proving the non-identifiability of attention weights. For a given input to a head and its output, if the attention weights generated in it are unique, we call the weights identifiable. In this work, we provide deeper theoretical analysis and empirical observations on the identifiability of attention weights. Ignored in the previous works, we find the attention weights are more identifiable than we currently perceive by uncovering the hidden role of the key vector. However, the weights are still prone to be non-unique attentions that make them unfit for interpretation. To tackle this issue, we provide a variant of the encoder layer that decouples the relationship between key and value vector and provides identifiable weights up to the desired length of the input. We prove the applicability of such variations by providing empirical justifications on varied text classification tasks. The implementations are available at

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AugNLG: Few-shot Natural Language Generation using Self-trained Data Augmentation
Xinnuo Xu | Guoyin Wang | Young-Bum Kim | Sungjin Lee

Natural Language Generation (NLG) is a key component in a task-oriented dialogue system, which converts the structured meaning representation (MR) to the natural language. For large-scale conversational systems, where it is common to have over hundreds of intents and thousands of slots, neither template-based approaches nor model-based approaches are scalable. Recently, neural NLGs started leveraging transfer learning and showed promising results in few-shot settings. This paper proposes AugNLG, a novel data augmentation approach that combines a self-trained neural retrieval model with a few-shot learned NLU model, to automatically create MR-to-Text data from open-domain texts. The proposed system mostly outperforms the state-of-the-art methods on the FewshotWOZ data in both BLEU and Slot Error Rate. We further confirm improved results on the FewshotSGD data and provide comprehensive analysis results on key components of our system. Our code and data are available at

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Can vectors read minds better than experts? Comparing data augmentation strategies for the automated scoring of children’s mindreading ability
Venelin Kovatchev | Phillip Smith | Mark Lee | Rory Devine

In this paper we implement and compare 7 different data augmentation strategies for the task of automatic scoring of children’s ability to understand others’ thoughts, feelings, and desires (or “mindreading”). We recruit in-domain experts to re-annotate augmented samples and determine to what extent each strategy preserves the original rating. We also carry out multiple experiments to measure how much each augmentation strategy improves the performance of automatic scoring systems. To determine the capabilities of automatic systems to generalize to unseen data, we create UK-MIND-20 - a new corpus of children’s performance on tests of mindreading, consisting of 10,320 question-answer pairs. We obtain a new state-of-the-art performance on the MIND-CA corpus, improving macro-F1-score by 6 points. Results indicate that both the number of training examples and the quality of the augmentation strategies affect the performance of the systems. The task-specific augmentations generally outperform task-agnostic augmentations. Automatic augmentations based on vectors (GloVe, FastText) perform the worst. We find that systems trained on MIND-CA generalize well to UK-MIND-20. We demonstrate that data augmentation strategies also improve the performance on unseen data.

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A Dataset and Baselines for Multilingual Reply Suggestion
Mozhi Zhang | Wei Wang | Budhaditya Deb | Guoqing Zheng | Milad Shokouhi | Ahmed Hassan Awadallah

Reply suggestion models help users process emails and chats faster. Previous work only studies English reply suggestion. Instead, we present MRS, a multilingual reply suggestion dataset with ten languages. MRS can be used to compare two families of models: 1) retrieval models that select the reply from a fixed set and 2) generation models that produce the reply from scratch. Therefore, MRS complements existing cross-lingual generalization benchmarks that focus on classification and sequence labeling tasks. We build a generation model and a retrieval model as baselines for MRS. The two models have different strengths in the monolingual setting, and they require different strategies to generalize across languages. MRS is publicly available at

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What Ingredients Make for an Effective Crowdsourcing Protocol for Difficult NLU Data Collection Tasks?
Nikita Nangia | Saku Sugawara | Harsh Trivedi | Alex Warstadt | Clara Vania | Samuel R. Bowman

Crowdsourcing is widely used to create data for common natural language understanding tasks. Despite the importance of these datasets for measuring and refining model understanding of language, there has been little focus on the crowdsourcing methods used for collecting the datasets. In this paper, we compare the efficacy of interventions that have been proposed in prior work as ways of improving data quality. We use multiple-choice question answering as a testbed and run a randomized trial by assigning crowdworkers to write questions under one of four different data collection protocols. We find that asking workers to write explanations for their examples is an ineffective stand-alone strategy for boosting NLU example difficulty. However, we find that training crowdworkers, and then using an iterative process of collecting data, sending feedback, and qualifying workers based on expert judgments is an effective means of collecting challenging data. But using crowdsourced, instead of expert judgments, to qualify workers and send feedback does not prove to be effective. We observe that the data from the iterative protocol with expert assessments is more challenging by several measures. Notably, the human–model gap on the unanimous agreement portion of this data is, on average, twice as large as the gap for the baseline protocol data.

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Align Voting Behavior with Public Statements for Legislator Representation Learning
Xinyi Mou | Zhongyu Wei | Lei Chen | Shangyi Ning | Yancheng He | Changjian Jiang | Xuanjing Huang

Ideology of legislators is typically estimated by ideal point models from historical records of votes. It represents legislators and legislation as points in a latent space and shows promising results for modeling voting behavior. However, it fails to capture more specific attitudes of legislators toward emerging issues and is unable to model newly-elected legislators without voting histories. In order to mitigate these two problems, we explore to incorporate both voting behavior and public statements on Twitter to jointly model legislators. In addition, we propose a novel task, namely hashtag usage prediction to model the ideology of legislators on Twitter. In practice, we construct a heterogeneous graph for the legislative context and use relational graph neural networks to learn the representation of legislators with the guidance of historical records of their voting and hashtag usage. Experiment results indicate that our model yields significant improvements for the task of roll call vote prediction. Further analysis further demonstrates that legislator representation we learned captures nuances in statements.

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Measure and Evaluation of Semantic Divergence across Two Languages
Syrielle Montariol | Alexandre Allauzen

Languages are dynamic systems: word usage may change over time, reflecting various societal factors. However, all languages do not evolve identically: the impact of an event, the influence of a trend or thinking, can differ between communities. In this paper, we propose to track these divergences by comparing the evolution of a word and its translation across two languages. We investigate several methods of building time-varying and bilingual word embeddings, using contextualised and non-contextualised embeddings. We propose a set of scenarios to characterize semantic divergence across two languages, along with a setup to differentiate them in a bilingual corpus. We evaluate the different methods by generating a corpus of synthetic semantic change across two languages, English and French, before applying them to newspaper corpora to detect bilingual semantic divergence and provide qualitative insight for the task. We conclude that BERT embeddings coupled with a clustering step lead to the best performance on synthetic corpora; however, the performance of CBOW embeddings is very competitive and more adapted to an exploratory analysis on a large corpus.

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Improving Zero-Shot Translation by Disentangling Positional Information
Danni Liu | Jan Niehues | James Cross | Francisco Guzmán | Xian Li

Multilingual neural machine translation has shown the capability of directly translating between language pairs unseen in training, i.e. zero-shot translation. Despite being conceptually attractive, it often suffers from low output quality. The difficulty of generalizing to new translation directions suggests the model representations are highly specific to those language pairs seen in training. We demonstrate that a main factor causing the language-specific representations is the positional correspondence to input tokens. We show that this can be easily alleviated by removing residual connections in an encoder layer. With this modification, we gain up to 18.5 BLEU points on zero-shot translation while retaining quality on supervised directions. The improvements are particularly prominent between related languages, where our proposed model outperforms pivot-based translation. Moreover, our approach allows easy integration of new languages, which substantially expands translation coverage. By thorough inspections of the hidden layer outputs, we show that our approach indeed leads to more language-independent representations.

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Common Sense Beyond English: Evaluating and Improving Multilingual Language Models for Commonsense Reasoning
Bill Yuchen Lin | Seyeon Lee | Xiaoyang Qiao | Xiang Ren

Commonsense reasoning research has so far been limited to English. We aim to evaluate and improve popular multilingual language models (ML-LMs) to help advance commonsense reasoning (CSR) beyond English. We collect the Mickey corpus, consisting of 561k sentences in 11 different languages, which can be used for analyzing and improving ML-LMs. We propose Mickey Probe, a language-general probing task for fairly evaluating the common sense of popular ML-LMs across different languages. In addition, we also create two new datasets, X-CSQA and X-CODAH, by translating their English versions to 14 other languages, so that we can evaluate popular ML-LMs for cross-lingual commonsense reasoning. To improve the performance beyond English, we propose a simple yet effective method — multilingual contrastive pretraining (MCP). It significantly enhances sentence representations, yielding a large performance gain on both benchmarks (e.g., +2.7% accuracy for X-CSQA over XLM-R_L).

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Attention Calibration for Transformer in Neural Machine Translation
Yu Lu | Jiali Zeng | Jiajun Zhang | Shuangzhi Wu | Mu Li

Attention mechanisms have achieved substantial improvements in neural machine translation by dynamically selecting relevant inputs for different predictions. However, recent studies have questioned the attention mechanisms’ capability for discovering decisive inputs. In this paper, we propose to calibrate the attention weights by introducing a mask perturbation model that automatically evaluates each input’s contribution to the model outputs. We increase the attention weights assigned to the indispensable tokens, whose removal leads to a dramatic performance decrease. The extensive experiments on the Transformer-based translation have demonstrated the effectiveness of our model. We further find that the calibrated attention weights are more uniform at lower layers to collect multiple information while more concentrated on the specific inputs at higher layers. Detailed analyses also show a great need for calibration in the attention weights with high entropy where the model is unconfident about its decision.

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Diverse Pretrained Context Encodings Improve Document Translation
Domenic Donato | Lei Yu | Chris Dyer

We propose a new architecture for adapting a sentence-level sequence-to-sequence transformer by incorporating multiple pre-trained document context signals and assess the impact on translation performance of (1) different pretraining approaches for generating these signals, (2) the quantity of parallel data for which document context is available, and (3) conditioning on source, target, or source and target contexts. Experiments on the NIST Chinese-English, and IWSLT and WMT English-German tasks support four general conclusions: that using pre-trained context representations markedly improves sample efficiency, that adequate parallel data resources are crucial for learning to use document context, that jointly conditioning on multiple context representations outperforms any single representation, and that source context is more valuable for translation performance than target side context. Our best multi-context model consistently outperforms the best existing context-aware transformers.

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Exploiting Language Relatedness for Low Web-Resource Language Model Adaptation: An Indic Languages Study
Yash Khemchandani | Sarvesh Mehtani | Vaidehi Patil | Abhijeet Awasthi | Partha Talukdar | Sunita Sarawagi

Recent research in multilingual language models (LM) has demonstrated their ability to effectively handle multiple languages in a single model. This holds promise for low web-resource languages (LRL) as multilingual models can enable transfer of supervision from high resource languages to LRLs. However, incorporating a new language in an LM still remains a challenge, particularly for languages with limited corpora and in unseen scripts. In this paper we argue that relatedness among languages in a language family may be exploited to overcome some of the corpora limitations of LRLs, and propose RelateLM. We focus on Indian languages, and exploit relatedness along two dimensions: (1) script (since many Indic scripts originated from the Brahmic script), and (2) sentence structure. RelateLM uses transliteration to convert the unseen script of limited LRL text into the script of a Related Prominent Language (RPL) (Hindi in our case). While exploiting similar sentence structures, RelateLM utilizes readily available bilingual dictionaries to pseudo translate RPL text into LRL corpora. Experiments on multiple real-world benchmark datasets provide validation to our hypothesis that using a related language as pivot, along with transliteration and pseudo translation based data augmentation, can be an effective way to adapt LMs for LRLs, rather than direct training or pivoting through English.

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On Finding the K-best Non-projective Dependency Trees
Ran Zmigrod | Tim Vieira | Ryan Cotterell

The connection between the maximum spanning tree in a directed graph and the best dependency tree of a sentence has been exploited by the NLP community. However, for many dependency parsing schemes, an important detail of this approach is that the spanning tree must have exactly one edge emanating from the root. While work has been done to efficiently solve this problem for finding the one-best dependency tree, no research has attempted to extend this solution to finding the K-best dependency trees. This is arguably a more important extension as a larger proportion of decoded trees will not be subject to the root constraint of dependency trees. Indeed, we show that the rate of root constraint violations increases by an average of 13 times when decoding with K=50 as opposed to K=1. In this paper, we provide a simplification of the K-best spanning tree algorithm of Camerini et al. (1980). Our simplification allows us to obtain a constant time speed-up over the original algorithm. Furthermore, we present a novel extension of the algorithm for decoding the K-best dependency trees of a graph which are subject to a root constraint.

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Towards Argument Mining for Social Good: A Survey
Eva Maria Vecchi | Neele Falk | Iman Jundi | Gabriella Lapesa

This survey builds an interdisciplinary picture of Argument Mining (AM), with a strong focus on its potential to address issues related to Social and Political Science. More specifically, we focus on AM challenges related to its applications to social media and in the multilingual domain, and then proceed to the widely debated notion of argument quality. We propose a novel definition of argument quality which is integrated with that of deliberative quality from the Social Science literature. Under our definition, the quality of a contribution needs to be assessed at multiple levels: the contribution itself, its preceding context, and the consequential effect on the development of the upcoming discourse. The latter has not received the deserved attention within the community. We finally define an application of AM for Social Good: (semi-)automatic moderation, a highly integrative application which (a) represents a challenging testbed for the integrated notion of quality we advocate, (b) allows the empirical quantification of argument/deliberative quality to benefit from the developments in other NLP fields (i.e. hate speech detection, fact checking, debiasing), and (c) has a clearly beneficial potential at the level of its societal thanks to its real-world application (even if extremely ambitious).

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Automated Generation of Storytelling Vocabulary from Photographs for use in AAC
Mauricio Fontana de Vargas | Karyn Moffatt

Research on the application of NLP in symbol-based Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) tools for improving social interaction support is scarce. We contribute a novel method for generating context-related vocabulary from photographs of personally relevant events aimed at supporting people with language impairments in retelling their past experiences. Performance was calculated with information retrieval concepts on the relevance of vocabulary generated for communicating a corpus of 9730 narrative phrases about events depicted in 1946 photographs. In comparison to a baseline generation composed of frequent English words, our method generated vocabulary with a 4.6 gain in mean average precision, regardless of the level of contextual information in the input photographs, and 6.9 for photographs in which contextual information was extracted correctly. We conclude by discussing how our findings provide insights for system optimization and usage.

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CLIP: A Dataset for Extracting Action Items for Physicians from Hospital Discharge Notes
James Mullenbach | Yada Pruksachatkun | Sean Adler | Jennifer Seale | Jordan Swartz | Greg McKelvey | Hui Dai | Yi Yang | David Sontag

Continuity of care is crucial to ensuring positive health outcomes for patients discharged from an inpatient hospital setting, and improved information sharing can help. To share information, caregivers write discharge notes containing action items to share with patients and their future caregivers, but these action items are easily lost due to the lengthiness of the documents. In this work, we describe our creation of a dataset of clinical action items annotated over MIMIC-III, the largest publicly available dataset of real clinical notes. This dataset, which we call CLIP, is annotated by physicians and covers 718 documents representing 100K sentences. We describe the task of extracting the action items from these documents as multi-aspect extractive summarization, with each aspect representing a type of action to be taken. We evaluate several machine learning models on this task, and show that the best models exploit in-domain language model pre-training on 59K unannotated documents, and incorporate context from neighboring sentences. We also propose an approach to pre-training data selection that allows us to explore the trade-off between size and domain-specificity of pre-training datasets for this task.

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Assessing Emoji Use in Modern Text Processing Tools
Abu Awal Md Shoeb | Gerard de Melo

Emojis have become ubiquitous in digital communication, due to their visual appeal as well as their ability to vividly convey human emotion, among other factors. This also leads to an increased need for systems and tools to operate on text containing emojis. In this study, we assess this support by considering test sets of tweets with emojis, based on which we perform a series of experiments investigating the ability of prominent NLP and text processing tools to adequately process them. In particular, we consider tokenization, part-of-speech tagging, dependency parsing, as well as sentiment analysis. Our findings show that many systems still have notable shortcomings when operating on text containing emojis.

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Select, Extract and Generate: Neural Keyphrase Generation with Layer-wise Coverage Attention
Wasi Ahmad | Xiao Bai | Soomin Lee | Kai-Wei Chang

Natural language processing techniques have demonstrated promising results in keyphrase generation. However, one of the major challenges in neural keyphrase generation is processing long documents using deep neural networks. Generally, documents are truncated before given as inputs to neural networks. Consequently, the models may miss essential points conveyed in the target document. To overcome this limitation, we propose SEG-Net, a neural keyphrase generation model that is composed of two major components, (1) a selector that selects the salient sentences in a document and (2) an extractor-generator that jointly extracts and generates keyphrases from the selected sentences. SEG-Net uses Transformer, a self-attentive architecture, as the basic building block with a novel layer-wise coverage attention to summarize most of the points discussed in the document. The experimental results on seven keyphrase generation benchmarks from scientific and web documents demonstrate that SEG-Net outperforms the state-of-the-art neural generative methods by a large margin.

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Factorising Meaning and Form for Intent-Preserving Paraphrasing
Tom Hosking | Mirella Lapata

We propose a method for generating paraphrases of English questions that retain the original intent but use a different surface form. Our model combines a careful choice of training objective with a principled information bottleneck, to induce a latent encoding space that disentangles meaning and form. We train an encoder-decoder model to reconstruct a question from a paraphrase with the same meaning and an exemplar with the same surface form, leading to separated encoding spaces. We use a Vector-Quantized Variational Autoencoder to represent the surface form as a set of discrete latent variables, allowing us to use a classifier to select a different surface form at test time. Crucially, our method does not require access to an external source of target exemplars. Extensive experiments and a human evaluation show that we are able to generate paraphrases with a better tradeoff between semantic preservation and syntactic novelty compared to previous methods.

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AggGen: Ordering and Aggregating while Generating
Xinnuo Xu | Ondřej Dušek | Verena Rieser | Ioannis Konstas

We present AggGen (pronounced ‘again’) a data-to-text model which re-introduces two explicit sentence planning stages into neural data-to-text systems: input ordering and input aggregation. In contrast to previous work using sentence planning, our model is still end-to-end: AggGen performs sentence planning at the same time as generating text by learning latent alignments (via semantic facts) between input representation and target text. Experiments on the WebNLG and E2E challenge data show that by using fact-based alignments our approach is more interpretable, expressive, robust to noise, and easier to control, while retaining the advantages of end-to-end systems in terms of fluency. Our code is available at

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Reflective Decoding: Beyond Unidirectional Generation with Off-the-Shelf Language Models
Peter West | Ximing Lu | Ari Holtzman | Chandra Bhagavatula | Jena D. Hwang | Yejin Choi

Publicly available, large pretrained Language Models (LMs) generate text with remarkable quality, but only sequentially from left to right. As a result, they are not immediately applicable to generation tasks that break the unidirectional assumption, such as paraphrasing or text-infilling, necessitating task-specific supervision. In this paper, we present Reflective Decoding, a novel unsupervised algorithm that allows for direct application of unidirectional LMs to non-sequential tasks. Our 2-step approach requires no supervision or even parallel corpora, only two off-the-shelf pretrained LMs in opposite directions: forward and backward. First, in the contextualization step, we use LMs to generate ensembles of past and future contexts which collectively capture the input (e.g. the source sentence for paraphrasing). Second, in the reflection step, we condition on these “context ensembles”, generating outputs that are compatible with them. Comprehensive empirical results demonstrate that Reflective Decoding outperforms strong unsupervised baselines on both paraphrasing and abductive text infilling, significantly narrowing the gap between unsupervised and supervised methods. Reflective Decoding surpasses multiple supervised baselines on various metrics including human evaluation.

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Towards Table-to-Text Generation with Numerical Reasoning
Lya Hulliyyatus Suadaa | Hidetaka Kamigaito | Kotaro Funakoshi | Manabu Okumura | Hiroya Takamura

Recent neural text generation models have shown significant improvement in generating descriptive text from structured data such as table formats. One of the remaining important challenges is generating more analytical descriptions that can be inferred from facts in a data source. The use of a template-based generator and a pointer-generator is among the potential alternatives for table-to-text generators. In this paper, we propose a framework consisting of a pre-trained model and a copy mechanism. The pre-trained models are fine-tuned to produce fluent text that is enriched with numerical reasoning. However, it still lacks fidelity to the table contents. The copy mechanism is incorporated in the fine-tuning step by using general placeholders to avoid producing hallucinated phrases that are not supported by a table while preserving high fluency. In summary, our contributions are (1) a new dataset for numerical table-to-text generation using pairs of a table and a paragraph of a table description with richer inference from scientific papers, and (2) a table-to-text generation framework enriched with numerical reasoning.

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BACO: A Background Knowledge- and Content-Based Framework for Citing Sentence Generation
Yubin Ge | Ly Dinh | Xiaofeng Liu | Jinsong Su | Ziyao Lu | Ante Wang | Jana Diesner

In this paper, we focus on the problem of citing sentence generation, which entails generating a short text to capture the salient information in a cited paper and the connection between the citing and cited paper. We present BACO, a BAckground knowledge- and COntent-based framework for citing sentence generation, which considers two types of information: (1) background knowledge by leveraging structural information from a citation network; and (2) content, which represents in-depth information about what to cite and why to cite. First, a citation network is encoded to provide background knowledge. Second, we apply salience estimation to identify what to cite by estimating the importance of sentences in the cited paper. During the decoding stage, both types of information are combined to facilitate the text generation, and then we conduct a joint training for the generator and citation function classification to make the model aware of why to cite. Our experimental results show that our framework outperforms comparative baselines.

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Language Model as an Annotator: Exploring DialoGPT for Dialogue Summarization
Xiachong Feng | Xiaocheng Feng | Libo Qin | Bing Qin | Ting Liu

Current dialogue summarization systems usually encode the text with a number of general semantic features (e.g., keywords and topics) to gain more powerful dialogue modeling capabilities. However, these features are obtained via open-domain toolkits that are dialog-agnostic or heavily relied on human annotations. In this paper, we show how DialoGPT, a pre-trained model for conversational response generation, can be developed as an unsupervised dialogue annotator, which takes advantage of dialogue background knowledge encoded in DialoGPT. We apply DialoGPT to label three types of features on two dialogue summarization datasets, SAMSum and AMI, and employ pre-trained and non pre-trained models as our summarizers. Experimental results show that our proposed method can obtain remarkable improvements on both datasets and achieves new state-of-the-art performance on the SAMSum dataset.

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Challenges in Information-Seeking QA: Unanswerable Questions and Paragraph Retrieval
Akari Asai | Eunsol Choi

Recent pretrained language models “solved” many reading comprehension benchmarks, where questions are written with access to the evidence document. However, datasets containing information-seeking queries where evidence documents are provided after the queries are written independently remain challenging. We analyze why answering information-seeking queries is more challenging and where their prevalent unanswerabilities arise, on Natural Questions and TyDi QA. Our controlled experiments suggest two headrooms – paragraph selection and answerability prediction, i.e. whether the paired evidence document contains the answer to the query or not. When provided with a gold paragraph and knowing when to abstain from answering, existing models easily outperform a human annotator. However, predicting answerability itself remains challenging. We manually annotate 800 unanswerable examples across six languages on what makes them challenging to answer. With this new data, we conduct per-category answerability prediction, revealing issues in the current dataset collection as well as task formulation. Together, our study points to avenues for future research in information-seeking question answering, both for dataset creation and model development. Our code and annotated data is publicly available at

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A Gradually Soft Multi-Task and Data-Augmented Approach to Medical Question Understanding
Khalil Mrini | Franck Dernoncourt | Seunghyun Yoon | Trung Bui | Walter Chang | Emilia Farcas | Ndapa Nakashole

Users of medical question answering systems often submit long and detailed questions, making it hard to achieve high recall in answer retrieval. To alleviate this problem, we propose a novel Multi-Task Learning (MTL) method with data augmentation for medical question understanding. We first establish an equivalence between the tasks of question summarization and Recognizing Question Entailment (RQE) using their definitions in the medical domain. Based on this equivalence, we propose a data augmentation algorithm to use just one dataset to optimize for both tasks, with a weighted MTL loss. We introduce gradually soft parameter-sharing: a constraint for decoder parameters to be close, that is gradually loosened as we move to the highest layer. We show through ablation studies that our proposed novelties improve performance. Our method outperforms existing MTL methods across 4 datasets of medical question pairs, in ROUGE scores, RQE accuracy and human evaluation. Finally, we show that our method fares better than single-task learning under 4 low-resource settings.

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Leveraging Type Descriptions for Zero-shot Named Entity Recognition and Classification
Rami Aly | Andreas Vlachos | Ryan McDonald

A common issue in real-world applications of named entity recognition and classification (NERC) is the absence of annotated data for the target entity classes during training. Zero-shot learning approaches address this issue by learning models from classes with training data that can predict classes without it. This paper presents the first approach for zero-shot NERC, introducing novel architectures that leverage the fact that textual descriptions for many entity classes occur naturally. We address the zero-shot NERC specific challenge that the not-an-entity class is not well defined as different entity classes are considered in training and testing. For evaluation, we adapt two datasets, OntoNotes and MedMentions, emulating the difficulty of real-world zero-shot learning by testing models on the rarest entity classes. Our proposed approach outperforms baselines adapted from machine reading comprehension and zero-shot text classification. Furthermore, we assess the effect of different class descriptions for this task.

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MECT: Multi-Metadata Embedding based Cross-Transformer for Chinese Named Entity Recognition
Shuang Wu | Xiaoning Song | Zhenhua Feng

Recently, word enhancement has become very popular for Chinese Named Entity Recognition (NER), reducing segmentation errors and increasing the semantic and boundary information of Chinese words. However, these methods tend to ignore the information of the Chinese character structure after integrating the lexical information. Chinese characters have evolved from pictographs since ancient times, and their structure often reflects more information about the characters. This paper presents a novel Multi-metadata Embedding based Cross-Transformer (MECT) to improve the performance of Chinese NER by fusing the structural information of Chinese characters. Specifically, we use multi-metadata embedding in a two-stream Transformer to integrate Chinese character features with the radical-level embedding. With the structural characteristics of Chinese characters, MECT can better capture the semantic information of Chinese characters for NER. The experimental results obtained on several well-known benchmarking datasets demonstrate the merits and superiority of the proposed MECT method.

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Factuality Assessment as Modal Dependency Parsing
Jiarui Yao | Haoling Qiu | Jin Zhao | Bonan Min | Nianwen Xue

As the sources of information that we consume everyday rapidly diversify, it is becoming increasingly important to develop NLP tools that help to evaluate the credibility of the information we receive. A critical step towards this goal is to determine the factuality of events in text. In this paper, we frame factuality assessment as a modal dependency parsing task that identifies the events and their sources, formally known as conceivers, and then determine the level of certainty that the sources are asserting with respect to the events. We crowdsource the first large-scale data set annotated with modal dependency structures that consists of 353 Covid-19 related news articles, 24,016 events, and 2,938 conceivers. We also develop the first modal dependency parser that jointly extracts events, conceivers and constructs the modal dependency structure of a text. We evaluate the joint model against a pipeline model and demonstrate the advantage of the joint model in conceiver extraction and modal dependency structure construction when events and conceivers are automatically extracted. We believe the dataset and the models will be a valuable resource for a whole host of NLP applications such as fact checking and rumor detection.

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Directed Acyclic Graph Network for Conversational Emotion Recognition
Weizhou Shen | Siyue Wu | Yunyi Yang | Xiaojun Quan

The modeling of conversational context plays a vital role in emotion recognition from conversation (ERC). In this paper, we put forward a novel idea of encoding the utterances with a directed acyclic graph (DAG) to better model the intrinsic structure within a conversation, and design a directed acyclic neural network, namely DAG-ERC, to implement this idea. In an attempt to combine the strengths of conventional graph-based neural models and recurrence-based neural models, DAG-ERC provides a more intuitive way to model the information flow between long-distance conversation background and nearby context. Extensive experiments are conducted on four ERC benchmarks with state-of-the-art models employed as baselines for comparison. The empirical results demonstrate the superiority of this new model and confirm the motivation of the directed acyclic graph architecture for ERC.

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Improving Formality Style Transfer with Context-Aware Rule Injection
Zonghai Yao | Hong Yu

Models pre-trained on large-scale regular text corpora often do not work well for user-generated data where the language styles differ significantly from the mainstream text. Here we present Context-Aware Rule Injection (CARI), an innovative method for formality style transfer (FST) by injecting multiple rules into an end-to-end BERT-based encoder and decoder model. CARI is able to learn to select optimal rules based on context. The intrinsic evaluation showed that CARI achieved the new highest performance on the FST benchmark dataset. Our extrinsic evaluation showed that CARI can greatly improve the regular pre-trained models’ performance on several tweet sentiment analysis tasks. Our contributions are as follows: 1.We propose a new method, CARI, to integrate rules for pre-trained language models. CARI is context-aware and can trained end-to-end with the downstream NLP applications. 2.We have achieved new state-of-the-art results for FST on the benchmark GYAFC dataset. 3.We are the first to evaluate FST methods with extrinsic evaluation and specifically on sentiment classification tasks. We show that CARI outperformed existing rule-based FST approaches for sentiment classification.

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Topic-Driven and Knowledge-Aware Transformer for Dialogue Emotion Detection
Lixing Zhu | Gabriele Pergola | Lin Gui | Deyu Zhou | Yulan He

Emotion detection in dialogues is challenging as it often requires the identification of thematic topics underlying a conversation, the relevant commonsense knowledge, and the intricate transition patterns between the affective states. In this paper, we propose a Topic-Driven Knowledge-Aware Transformer to handle the challenges above. We firstly design a topic-augmented language model (LM) with an additional layer specialized for topic detection. The topic-augmented LM is then combined with commonsense statements derived from a knowledge base based on the dialogue contextual information. Finally, a transformer-based encoder-decoder architecture fuses the topical and commonsense information, and performs the emotion label sequence prediction. The model has been experimented on four datasets in dialogue emotion detection, demonstrating its superiority empirically over the existing state-of-the-art approaches. Quantitative and qualitative results show that the model can discover topics which help in distinguishing emotion categories.

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Syntopical Graphs for Computational Argumentation Tasks
Joe Barrow | Rajiv Jain | Nedim Lipka | Franck Dernoncourt | Vlad Morariu | Varun Manjunatha | Douglas Oard | Philip Resnik | Henning Wachsmuth

Approaches to computational argumentation tasks such as stance detection and aspect detection have largely focused on the text of independent claims, losing out on potentially valuable context provided by the rest of the collection. We introduce a general approach to these tasks motivated by syntopical reading, a reading process that emphasizes comparing and contrasting viewpoints in order to improve topic understanding. To capture collection-level context, we introduce the syntopical graph, a data structure for linking claims within a collection. A syntopical graph is a typed multi-graph where nodes represent claims and edges represent different possible pairwise relationships, such as entailment, paraphrase, or support. Experiments applying syntopical graphs to the problems of detecting stance and aspects demonstrate state-of-the-art performance in each domain, significantly outperforming approaches that do not utilize collection-level information.

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Stance Detection in COVID-19 Tweets
Kyle Glandt | Sarthak Khanal | Yingjie Li | Doina Caragea | Cornelia Caragea

The prevalence of the COVID-19 pandemic in day-to-day life has yielded large amounts of stance detection data on social media sites, as users turn to social media to share their views regarding various issues related to the pandemic, e.g. stay at home mandates and wearing face masks when out in public. We set out to make use of this data by collecting the stance expressed by Twitter users, with respect to topics revolving around the pandemic. We annotate a new stance detection dataset, called COVID-19-Stance. Using this newly annotated dataset, we train several established stance detection models to ascertain a baseline performance for this specific task. To further improve the performance, we employ self-training and domain adaptation approaches to take advantage of large amounts of unlabeled data and existing stance detection datasets. The dataset, code, and other resources are available on GitHub.

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Topic-Aware Evidence Reasoning and Stance-Aware Aggregation for Fact Verification
Jiasheng Si | Deyu Zhou | Tongzhe Li | Xingyu Shi | Yulan He

Fact verification is a challenging task that requires simultaneously reasoning and aggregating over multiple retrieved pieces of evidence to evaluate the truthfulness of a claim. Existing approaches typically (i) explore the semantic interaction between the claim and evidence at different granularity levels but fail to capture their topical consistency during the reasoning process, which we believe is crucial for verification; (ii) aggregate multiple pieces of evidence equally without considering their implicit stances to the claim, thereby introducing spurious information. To alleviate the above issues, we propose a novel topic-aware evidence reasoning and stance-aware aggregation model for more accurate fact verification, with the following four key properties: 1) checking topical consistency between the claim and evidence; 2) maintaining topical coherence among multiple pieces of evidence; 3) ensuring semantic similarity between the global topic information and the semantic representation of evidence; 4) aggregating evidence based on their implicit stances to the claim. Extensive experiments conducted on the two benchmark datasets demonstrate the superiority of the proposed model over several state-of-the-art approaches for fact verification. The source code can be obtained from

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Changes in European Solidarity Before and During COVID-19: Evidence from a Large Crowd- and Expert-Annotated Twitter Dataset
Alexandra Ils | Dan Liu | Daniela Grunow | Steffen Eger

We introduce the well-established social scientific concept of social solidarity and its contestation, anti-solidarity, as a new problem setting to supervised machine learning in NLP to assess how European solidarity discourses changed before and after the COVID-19 outbreak was declared a global pandemic. To this end, we annotate 2.3k English and German tweets for (anti-)solidarity expressions, utilizing multiple human annotators and two annotation approaches (experts vs. crowds). We use these annotations to train a BERT model with multiple data augmentation strategies. Our augmented BERT model that combines both expert and crowd annotations outperforms the baseline BERT classifier trained with expert annotations only by over 25 points, from 58% macro-F1 to almost 85%. We use this high-quality model to automatically label over 270k tweets between September 2019 and December 2020. We then assess the automatically labeled data for how statements related to European (anti-)solidarity discourses developed over time and in relation to one another, before and during the COVID-19 crisis. Our results show that solidarity became increasingly salient and contested during the crisis. While the number of solidarity tweets remained on a higher level and dominated the discourse in the scrutinized time frame, anti-solidarity tweets initially spiked, then decreased to (almost) pre-COVID-19 values before rising to a stable higher level until the end of 2020.

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Measuring Conversational Uptake: A Case Study on Student-Teacher Interactions
Dorottya Demszky | Jing Liu | Zid Mancenido | Julie Cohen | Heather Hill | Dan Jurafsky | Tatsunori Hashimoto

In conversation, uptake happens when a speaker builds on the contribution of their interlocutor by, for example, acknowledging, repeating or reformulating what they have said. In education, teachers’ uptake of student contributions has been linked to higher student achievement. Yet measuring and improving teachers’ uptake at scale is challenging, as existing methods require expensive annotation by experts. We propose a framework for computationally measuring uptake, by (1) releasing a dataset of student-teacher exchanges extracted from US math classroom transcripts annotated for uptake by experts; (2) formalizing uptake as pointwise Jensen-Shannon Divergence (pJSD), estimated via next utterance classification; (3) conducting a linguistically-motivated comparison of different unsupervised measures and (4) correlating these measures with educational outcomes. We find that although repetition captures a significant part of uptake, pJSD outperforms repetition-based baselines, as it is capable of identifying a wider range of uptake phenomena like question answering and reformulation. We apply our uptake measure to three different educational datasets with outcome indicators. Unlike baseline measures, pJSD correlates significantly with instruction quality in all three, providing evidence for its generalizability and for its potential to serve as an automated professional development tool for teachers.

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A Survey of Code-switching: Linguistic and Social Perspectives for Language Technologies
A. Seza Doğruöz | Sunayana Sitaram | Barbara E. Bullock | Almeida Jacqueline Toribio

The analysis of data in which multiple languages are represented has gained popularity among computational linguists in recent years. So far, much of this research focuses mainly on the improvement of computational methods and largely ignores linguistic and social aspects of C-S discussed across a wide range of languages within the long-established literature in linguistics. To fill this gap, we offer a survey of code-switching (C-S) covering the literature in linguistics with a reflection on the key issues in language technologies. From the linguistic perspective, we provide an overview of structural and functional patterns of C-S focusing on the literature from European and Indian contexts as highly multilingual areas. From the language technologies perspective, we discuss how massive language models fail to represent diverse C-S types due to lack of appropriate training data, lack of robust evaluation benchmarks for C-S (across multilingual situations and types of C-S) and lack of end-to- end systems that cover sociolinguistic aspects of C-S as well. Our survey will be a step to- wards an outcome of mutual benefit for computational scientists and linguists with a shared interest in multilingualism and C-S.

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Learning from the Worst: Dynamically Generated Datasets to Improve Online Hate Detection
Bertie Vidgen | Tristan Thrush | Zeerak Waseem | Douwe Kiela

We present a human-and-model-in-the-loop process for dynamically generating datasets and training better performing and more robust hate detection models. We provide a new dataset of 40,000 entries, generated and labelled by trained annotators over four rounds of dynamic data creation. It includes 15,000 challenging perturbations and each hateful entry has fine-grained labels for the type and target of hate. Hateful entries make up 54% of the dataset, which is substantially higher than comparable datasets. We show that model performance is substantially improved using this approach. Models trained on later rounds of data collection perform better on test sets and are harder for annotators to trick. They also have better performance on HateCheck, a suite of functional tests for online hate detection. We provide the code, dataset and annotation guidelines for other researchers to use.

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InfoSurgeon: Cross-Media Fine-grained Information Consistency Checking for Fake News Detection
Yi Fung | Christopher Thomas | Revanth Gangi Reddy | Sandeep Polisetty | Heng Ji | Shih-Fu Chang | Kathleen McKeown | Mohit Bansal | Avi Sil

To defend against machine-generated fake news, an effective mechanism is urgently needed. We contribute a novel benchmark for fake news detection at the knowledge element level, as well as a solution for this task which incorporates cross-media consistency checking to detect the fine-grained knowledge elements making news articles misinformative. Due to training data scarcity, we also formulate a novel data synthesis method by manipulating knowledge elements within the knowledge graph to generate noisy training data with specific, hard to detect, known inconsistencies. Our detection approach outperforms the state-of-the-art (up to 16.8% accuracy gain), and more critically, yields fine-grained explanations.

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I like fish, especially dolphins: Addressing Contradictions in Dialogue Modeling
Yixin Nie | Mary Williamson | Mohit Bansal | Douwe Kiela | Jason Weston

To quantify how well natural language understanding models can capture consistency in a general conversation, we introduce the DialoguE COntradiction DEtection task (DECODE) and a new conversational dataset containing both human-human and human-bot contradictory dialogues. We show that: (i) our newly collected dataset is notably more effective at providing supervision for the dialogue contradiction detection task than existing NLI data including those aimed to cover the dialogue domain; (ii) Transformer models that explicitly hinge on utterance structures for dialogue contradiction detection are more robust and generalize well on both analysis and out-of-distribution dialogues than standard (unstructured) Transformers. We also show that our best contradiction detection model correlates well with human judgments and further provide evidence for its usage in both automatically evaluating and improving the consistency of state-of-the-art generative chatbots.

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A Sequence-to-Sequence Approach to Dialogue State Tracking
Yue Feng | Yang Wang | Hang Li

This paper is concerned with dialogue state tracking (DST) in a task-oriented dialogue system. Building a DST module that is highly effective is still a challenging issue, although significant progresses have been made recently. This paper proposes a new approach to dialogue state tracking, referred to as Seq2Seq-DU, which formalizes DST as a sequence-to-sequence problem. Seq2Seq-DU employs two BERT-based encoders to respectively encode the utterances in the dialogue and the descriptions of schemas, an attender to calculate attentions between the utterance embeddings and the schema embeddings, and a decoder to generate pointers to represent the current state of dialogue. Seq2Seq-DU has the following advantages. It can jointly model intents, slots, and slot values; it can leverage the rich representations of utterances and schemas based on BERT; it can effectively deal with categorical and non-categorical slots, and unseen schemas. In addition, Seq2Seq-DU can also be used in the NLU (natural language understanding) module of a dialogue system. Experimental results on benchmark datasets in different settings (SGD, MultiWOZ2.2, MultiWOZ2.1, WOZ2.0, DSTC2, M2M, SNIPS, and ATIS) show that Seq2Seq-DU outperforms the existing methods.

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Discovering Dialog Structure Graph for Coherent Dialog Generation
Jun Xu | Zeyang Lei | Haifeng Wang | Zheng-Yu Niu | Hua Wu | Wanxiang Che

Learning discrete dialog structure graph from human-human dialogs yields basic insights into the structure of conversation, and also provides background knowledge to facilitate dialog generation. However, this problem is less studied in open-domain dialogue. In this paper, we conduct unsupervised discovery of discrete dialog structure from chitchat corpora, and then leverage it to facilitate coherent dialog generation in downstream systems. To this end, we present an unsupervised model, Discrete Variational Auto-Encoder with Graph Neural Network (DVAE-GNN), to discover discrete hierarchical latent dialog states (at the level of both session and utterance) and their transitions from corpus as a dialog structure graph. Then we leverage it as background knowledge to facilitate dialog management in a RL based dialog system. Experimental results on two benchmark corpora confirm that DVAE-GNN can discover meaningful dialog structure graph, and the use of dialog structure as background knowledge can significantly improve multi-turn coherence.

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Dialogue Response Selection with Hierarchical Curriculum Learning
Yixuan Su | Deng Cai | Qingyu Zhou | Zibo Lin | Simon Baker | Yunbo Cao | Shuming Shi | Nigel Collier | Yan Wang

We study the learning of a matching model for dialogue response selection. Motivated by the recent finding that models trained with random negative samples are not ideal in real-world scenarios, we propose a hierarchical curriculum learning framework that trains the matching model in an “easy-to-difficult” scheme. Our learning framework consists of two complementary curricula: (1) corpus-level curriculum (CC); and (2) instance-level curriculum (IC). In CC, the model gradually increases its ability in finding the matching clues between the dialogue context and a response candidate. As for IC, it progressively strengthens the model’s ability in identifying the mismatching information between the dialogue context and a response candidate. Empirical studies on three benchmark datasets with three state-of-the-art matching models demonstrate that the proposed learning framework significantly improves the model performance across various evaluation metrics.

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A Joint Model for Dropped Pronoun Recovery and Conversational Discourse Parsing in Chinese Conversational Speech
Jingxuan Yang | Kerui Xu | Jun Xu | Si Li | Sheng Gao | Jun Guo | Nianwen Xue | Ji-Rong Wen

In this paper, we present a neural model for joint dropped pronoun recovery (DPR) and conversational discourse parsing (CDP) in Chinese conversational speech. We show that DPR and CDP are closely related, and a joint model benefits both tasks. We refer to our model as DiscProReco, and it first encodes the tokens in each utterance in a conversation with a directed Graph Convolutional Network (GCN). The token states for an utterance are then aggregated to produce a single state for each utterance. The utterance states are then fed into a biaffine classifier to construct a conversational discourse graph. A second (multi-relational) GCN is then applied to the utterance states to produce a discourse relation-augmented representation for the utterances, which are then fused together with token states in each utterance as input to a dropped pronoun recovery layer. The joint model is trained and evaluated on a new Structure Parsing-enhanced Dropped Pronoun Recovery (SPDPR) data set that we annotated with both two types of information. Experimental results on the SPDPR dataset and other benchmarks show that DiscProReco significantly outperforms the state-of-the-art baselines of both tasks.

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A Systematic Investigation of KB-Text Embedding Alignment at Scale
Vardaan Pahuja | Yu Gu | Wenhu Chen | Mehdi Bahrami | Lei Liu | Wei-Peng Chen | Yu Su

Knowledge bases (KBs) and text often contain complementary knowledge: KBs store structured knowledge that can support long range reasoning, while text stores more comprehensive and timely knowledge in an unstructured way. Separately embedding the individual knowledge sources into vector spaces has demonstrated tremendous successes in encoding the respective knowledge, but how to jointly embed and reason with both knowledge sources to fully leverage the complementary information is still largely an open problem. We conduct a large-scale, systematic investigation of aligning KB and text embeddings for joint reasoning. We set up a novel evaluation framework with two evaluation tasks, few-shot link prediction and analogical reasoning, and evaluate an array of KB-text embedding alignment methods. We also demonstrate how such alignment can infuse textual information into KB embeddings for more accurate link prediction on emerging entities and events, using COVID-19 as a case study.

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Named Entity Recognition with Small Strongly Labeled and Large Weakly Labeled Data
Haoming Jiang | Danqing Zhang | Tianyu Cao | Bing Yin | Tuo Zhao

Weak supervision has shown promising results in many natural language processing tasks, such as Named Entity Recognition (NER). Existing work mainly focuses on learning deep NER models only with weak supervision, i.e., without any human annotation, and shows that by merely using weakly labeled data, one can achieve good performance, though still underperforms fully supervised NER with manually/strongly labeled data. In this paper, we consider a more practical scenario, where we have both a small amount of strongly labeled data and a large amount of weakly labeled data. Unfortunately, we observe that weakly labeled data does not necessarily improve, or even deteriorate the model performance (due to the extensive noise in the weak labels) when we train deep NER models over a simple or weighted combination of the strongly labeled and weakly labeled data. To address this issue, we propose a new multi-stage computational framework – NEEDLE with three essential ingredients: (1) weak label completion, (2) noise-aware loss function, and (3) final fine-tuning over the strongly labeled data. Through experiments on E-commerce query NER and Biomedical NER, we demonstrate that NEEDLE can effectively suppress the noise of the weak labels and outperforms existing methods. In particular, we achieve new SOTA F1-scores on 3 Biomedical NER datasets: BC5CDR-chem 93.74, BC5CDR-disease 90.69, NCBI-disease 92.28.

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Ultra-Fine Entity Typing with Weak Supervision from a Masked Language Model
Hongliang Dai | Yangqiu Song | Haixun Wang

Recently, there is an effort to extend fine-grained entity typing by using a richer and ultra-fine set of types, and labeling noun phrases including pronouns and nominal nouns instead of just named entity mentions. A key challenge for this ultra-fine entity typing task is that human annotated data are extremely scarce, and the annotation ability of existing distant or weak supervision approaches is very limited. To remedy this problem, in this paper, we propose to obtain training data for ultra-fine entity typing by using a BERT Masked Language Model (MLM). Given a mention in a sentence, our approach constructs an input for the BERT MLM so that it predicts context dependent hypernyms of the mention, which can be used as type labels. Experimental results demonstrate that, with the help of these automatically generated labels, the performance of an ultra-fine entity typing model can be improved substantially. We also show that our approach can be applied to improve traditional fine-grained entity typing after performing simple type mapping.

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Improving Named Entity Recognition by External Context Retrieving and Cooperative Learning
Xinyu Wang | Yong Jiang | Nguyen Bach | Tao Wang | Zhongqiang Huang | Fei Huang | Kewei Tu

Recent advances in Named Entity Recognition (NER) show that document-level contexts can significantly improve model performance. In many application scenarios, however, such contexts are not available. In this paper, we propose to find external contexts of a sentence by retrieving and selecting a set of semantically relevant texts through a search engine, with the original sentence as the query. We find empirically that the contextual representations computed on the retrieval-based input view, constructed through the concatenation of a sentence and its external contexts, can achieve significantly improved performance compared to the original input view based only on the sentence. Furthermore, we can improve the model performance of both input views by Cooperative Learning, a training method that encourages the two input views to produce similar contextual representations or output label distributions. Experiments show that our approach can achieve new state-of-the-art performance on 8 NER data sets across 5 domains.

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Implicit Representations of Meaning in Neural Language Models
Belinda Z. Li | Maxwell Nye | Jacob Andreas

Does the effectiveness of neural language models derive entirely from accurate modeling of surface word co-occurrence statistics, or do these models represent and reason about the world they describe? In BART and T5 transformer language models, we identify contextual word representations that function as *models of entities and situations* as they evolve throughout a discourse. These neural representations have functional similarities to linguistic models of dynamic semantics: they support a linear readout of each entity’s current properties and relations, and can be manipulated with predictable effects on language generation. Our results indicate that prediction in pretrained neural language models is supported, at least in part, by dynamic representations of meaning and implicit simulation of entity state, and that this behavior can be learned with only text as training data.

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Causal Analysis of Syntactic Agreement Mechanisms in Neural Language Models
Matthew Finlayson | Aaron Mueller | Sebastian Gehrmann | Stuart Shieber | Tal Linzen | Yonatan Belinkov

Targeted syntactic evaluations have demonstrated the ability of language models to perform subject-verb agreement given difficult contexts. To elucidate the mechanisms by which the models accomplish this behavior, this study applies causal mediation analysis to pre-trained neural language models. We investigate the magnitude of models’ preferences for grammatical inflections, as well as whether neurons process subject-verb agreement similarly across sentences with different syntactic structures. We uncover similarities and differences across architectures and model sizes—notably, that larger models do not necessarily learn stronger preferences. We also observe two distinct mechanisms for producing subject-verb agreement depending on the syntactic structure of the input sentence. Finally, we find that language models rely on similar sets of neurons when given sentences with similar syntactic structure.

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Bird’s Eye: Probing for Linguistic Graph Structures with a Simple Information-Theoretic Approach
Yifan Hou | Mrinmaya Sachan

NLP has a rich history of representing our prior understanding of language in the form of graphs. Recent work on analyzing contextualized text representations has focused on hand-designed probe models to understand how and to what extent do these representations encode a particular linguistic phenomenon. However, due to the inter-dependence of various phenomena and randomness of training probe models, detecting how these representations encode the rich information in these linguistic graphs remains a challenging problem. In this paper, we propose a new information-theoretic probe, Bird’s Eye, which is a fairly simple probe method for detecting if and how these representations encode the information in these linguistic graphs. Instead of using model performance, our probe takes an information-theoretic view of probing and estimates the mutual information between the linguistic graph embedded in a continuous space and the contextualized word representations. Furthermore, we also propose an approach to use our probe to investigate localized linguistic information in the linguistic graphs using perturbation analysis. We call this probing setup Worm’s Eye. Using these probes, we analyze the BERT models on its ability to encode a syntactic and a semantic graph structure, and find that these models encode to some degree both syntactic as well as semantic information; albeit syntactic information to a greater extent.

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Knowledgeable or Educated Guess? Revisiting Language Models as Knowledge Bases
Boxi Cao | Hongyu Lin | Xianpei Han | Le Sun | Lingyong Yan | Meng Liao | Tong Xue | Jin Xu

Previous literatures show that pre-trained masked language models (MLMs) such as BERT can achieve competitive factual knowledge extraction performance on some datasets, indicating that MLMs can potentially be a reliable knowledge source. In this paper, we conduct a rigorous study to explore the underlying predicting mechanisms of MLMs over different extraction paradigms. By investigating the behaviors of MLMs, we find that previous decent performance mainly owes to the biased prompts which overfit dataset artifacts. Furthermore, incorporating illustrative cases and external contexts improve knowledge prediction mainly due to entity type guidance and golden answer leakage. Our findings shed light on the underlying predicting mechanisms of MLMs, and strongly question the previous conclusion that current MLMs can potentially serve as reliable factual knowledge bases.

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Poisoning Knowledge Graph Embeddings via Relation Inference Patterns
Peru Bhardwaj | John Kelleher | Luca Costabello | Declan O’Sullivan

We study the problem of generating data poisoning attacks against Knowledge Graph Embedding (KGE) models for the task of link prediction in knowledge graphs. To poison KGE models, we propose to exploit their inductive abilities which are captured through the relationship patterns like symmetry, inversion and composition in the knowledge graph. Specifically, to degrade the model’s prediction confidence on target facts, we propose to improve the model’s prediction confidence on a set of decoy facts. Thus, we craft adversarial additions that can improve the model’s prediction confidence on decoy facts through different inference patterns. Our experiments demonstrate that the proposed poisoning attacks outperform state-of-art baselines on four KGE models for two publicly available datasets. We also find that the symmetry pattern based attacks generalize across all model-dataset combinations which indicates the sensitivity of KGE models to this pattern.

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Bad Seeds: Evaluating Lexical Methods for Bias Measurement
Maria Antoniak | David Mimno

A common factor in bias measurement methods is the use of hand-curated seed lexicons, but there remains little guidance for their selection. We gather seeds used in prior work, documenting their common sources and rationales, and in case studies of three English-language corpora, we enumerate the different types of social biases and linguistic features that, once encoded in the seeds, can affect subsequent bias measurements. Seeds developed in one context are often re-used in other contexts, but documentation and evaluation remain necessary precursors to relying on seeds for sensitive measurements.

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A Survey of Race, Racism, and Anti-Racism in NLP
Anjalie Field | Su Lin Blodgett | Zeerak Waseem | Yulia Tsvetkov

Despite inextricable ties between race and language, little work has considered race in NLP research and development. In this work, we survey 79 papers from the ACL anthology that mention race. These papers reveal various types of race-related bias in all stages of NLP model development, highlighting the need for proactive consideration of how NLP systems can uphold racial hierarchies. However, persistent gaps in research on race and NLP remain: race has been siloed as a niche topic and remains ignored in many NLP tasks; most work operationalizes race as a fixed single-dimensional variable with a ground-truth label, which risks reinforcing differences produced by historical racism; and the voices of historically marginalized people are nearly absent in NLP literature. By identifying where and how NLP literature has and has not considered race, especially in comparison to related fields, our work calls for inclusion and racial justice in NLP research practices.

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Intrinsic Bias Metrics Do Not Correlate with Application Bias
Seraphina Goldfarb-Tarrant | Rebecca Marchant | Ricardo Muñoz Sánchez | Mugdha Pandya | Adam Lopez

Natural Language Processing (NLP) systems learn harmful societal biases that cause them to amplify inequality as they are deployed in more and more situations. To guide efforts at debiasing these systems, the NLP community relies on a variety of metrics that quantify bias in models. Some of these metrics are intrinsic, measuring bias in word embedding spaces, and some are extrinsic, measuring bias in downstream tasks that the word embeddings enable. Do these intrinsic and extrinsic metrics correlate with each other? We compare intrinsic and extrinsic metrics across hundreds of trained models covering different tasks and experimental conditions. Our results show no reliable correlation between these metrics that holds in all scenarios across tasks and languages. We urge researchers working on debiasing to focus on extrinsic measures of bias, and to make using these measures more feasible via creation of new challenge sets and annotated test data. To aid this effort, we release code, a new intrinsic metric, and an annotated test set focused on gender bias in hate speech.

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RedditBias: A Real-World Resource for Bias Evaluation and Debiasing of Conversational Language Models
Soumya Barikeri | Anne Lauscher | Ivan Vulić | Goran Glavaš

Text representation models are prone to exhibit a range of societal biases, reflecting the non-controlled and biased nature of the underlying pretraining data, which consequently leads to severe ethical issues and even bias amplification. Recent work has predominantly focused on measuring and mitigating bias in pretrained language models. Surprisingly, the landscape of bias measurements and mitigation resources and methods for conversational language models is still very scarce: it is limited to only a few types of bias, artificially constructed resources, and completely ignores the impact that debiasing methods may have on the final perfor mance in dialog tasks, e.g., conversational response generation. In this work, we present REDDITBIAS, the first conversational data set grounded in the actual human conversations from Reddit, allowing for bias measurement and mitigation across four important bias dimensions: gender,race,religion, and queerness. Further, we develop an evaluation framework which simultaneously 1)measures bias on the developed REDDITBIAS resource, and 2)evaluates model capability in dialog tasks after model debiasing. We use the evaluation framework to benchmark the widely used conversational DialoGPT model along with the adaptations of four debiasing methods. Our results indicate that DialoGPT is biased with respect to religious groups and that some debiasing techniques can remove this bias while preserving downstream task performance.

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Contributions of Transformer Attention Heads in Multi- and Cross-lingual Tasks
Weicheng Ma | Kai Zhang | Renze Lou | Lili Wang | Soroush Vosoughi

This paper studies the relative importance of attention heads in Transformer-based models to aid their interpretability in cross-lingual and multi-lingual tasks. Prior research has found that only a few attention heads are important in each mono-lingual Natural Language Processing (NLP) task and pruning the remaining heads leads to comparable or improved performance of the model. However, the impact of pruning attention heads is not yet clear in cross-lingual and multi-lingual tasks. Through extensive experiments, we show that (1) pruning a number of attention heads in a multi-lingual Transformer-based model has, in general, positive effects on its performance in cross-lingual and multi-lingual tasks and (2) the attention heads to be pruned can be ranked using gradients and identified with a few trial experiments. Our experiments focus on sequence labeling tasks, with potential applicability on other cross-lingual and multi-lingual tasks. For comprehensiveness, we examine two pre-trained multi-lingual models, namely multi-lingual BERT (mBERT) and XLM-R, on three tasks across 9 languages each. We also discuss the validity of our findings and their extensibility to truly resource-scarce languages and other task settings.

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Crafting Adversarial Examples for Neural Machine Translation
Xinze Zhang | Junzhe Zhang | Zhenhua Chen | Kun He

Effective adversary generation for neural machine translation (NMT) is a crucial prerequisite for building robust machine translation systems. In this work, we investigate veritable evaluations of NMT adversarial attacks, and propose a novel method to craft NMT adversarial examples. We first show the current NMT adversarial attacks may be improperly estimated by the commonly used mono-directional translation, and we propose to leverage the round-trip translation technique to build valid metrics for evaluating NMT adversarial attacks. Our intuition is that an effective NMT adversarial example, which imposes minor shifting on the source and degrades the translation dramatically, would naturally lead to a semantic-destroyed round-trip translation result. We then propose a promising black-box attack method called Word Saliency speedup Local Search (WSLS) that could effectively attack the mainstream NMT architectures. Comprehensive experiments demonstrate that the proposed metrics could accurately evaluate the attack effectiveness, and the proposed WSLS could significantly break the state-of-art NMT models with small perturbation. Besides, WSLS exhibits strong transferability on attacking Baidu and Bing online translators.

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UXLA: A Robust Unsupervised Data Augmentation Framework for Zero-Resource Cross-Lingual NLP
M Saiful Bari | Tasnim Mohiuddin | Shafiq Joty

Transfer learning has yielded state-of-the-art (SoTA) results in many supervised NLP tasks. However, annotated data for every target task in every target language is rare, especially for low-resource languages. We propose UXLA, a novel unsupervised data augmentation framework for zero-resource transfer learning scenarios. In particular, UXLA aims to solve cross-lingual adaptation problems from a source language task distribution to an unknown target language task distribution, assuming no training label in the target language. At its core, UXLA performs simultaneous self-training with data augmentation and unsupervised sample selection. To show its effectiveness, we conduct extensive experiments on three diverse zero-resource cross-lingual transfer tasks. UXLA achieves SoTA results in all the tasks, outperforming the baselines by a good margin. With an in-depth framework dissection, we demonstrate the cumulative contributions of different components to its success.

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Glancing Transformer for Non-Autoregressive Neural Machine Translation
Lihua Qian | Hao Zhou | Yu Bao | Mingxuan Wang | Lin Qiu | Weinan Zhang | Yong Yu | Lei Li

Recent work on non-autoregressive neural machine translation (NAT) aims at improving the efficiency by parallel decoding without sacrificing the quality. However, existing NAT methods are either inferior to Transformer or require multiple decoding passes, leading to reduced speedup. We propose the Glancing Language Model (GLM) for single-pass parallel generation models. With GLM, we develop Glancing Transformer (GLAT) for machine translation. With only single-pass parallel decoding, GLAT is able to generate high-quality translation with 8×-15× speedup. Note that GLAT does not modify the network architecture, which is a training method to learn word interdependency. Experiments on multiple WMT language directions show that GLAT outperforms all previous single pass non-autoregressive methods, and is nearly comparable to Transformer, reducing the gap to 0.25-0.9 BLEU points.

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Hierarchical Context-aware Network for Dense Video Event Captioning
Lei Ji | Xianglin Guo | Haoyang Huang | Xilin Chen

Dense video event captioning aims to generate a sequence of descriptive captions for each event in a long untrimmed video. Video-level context provides important information and facilities the model to generate consistent and less redundant captions between events. In this paper, we introduce a novel Hierarchical Context-aware Network for dense video event captioning (HCN) to capture context from various aspects. In detail, the model leverages local and global context with different mechanisms to jointly learn to generate coherent captions. The local context module performs full interaction between neighbor frames and the global context module selectively attends to previous or future events. According to our extensive experiment on both Youcook2 and Activitynet Captioning datasets, the video-level HCN model outperforms the event-level context-agnostic model by a large margin. The code is available at

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Control Image Captioning Spatially and Temporally
Kun Yan | Lei Ji | Huaishao Luo | Ming Zhou | Nan Duan | Shuai Ma

Generating image captions with user intention is an emerging need. The recently published Localized Narratives dataset takes mouse traces as another input to the image captioning task, which is an intuitive and efficient way for a user to control what to describe in the image. However, how to effectively employ traces to improve generation quality and controllability is still under exploration. This paper aims to solve this problem by proposing a novel model called LoopCAG, which connects Contrastive constraints and Attention Guidance in a Loop manner, engaged explicit spatial and temporal constraints to the generating process. Precisely, each generated sentence is temporally aligned to the corresponding trace sequence through a contrastive learning strategy. Besides, each generated text token is supervised to attend to the correct visual objects under heuristic spatial attention guidance. Comprehensive experimental results demonstrate that our LoopCAG model learns better correspondence among the three modalities (vision, language, and traces) and achieves SOTA performance on trace-controlled image captioning task. Moreover, the controllability and explainability of LoopCAG are validated by analyzing spatial and temporal sensitivity during the generation process.

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Edited Media Understanding Frames: Reasoning About the Intent and Implications of Visual Misinformation
Jeff Da | Maxwell Forbes | Rowan Zellers | Anthony Zheng | Jena D. Hwang | Antoine Bosselut | Yejin Choi

Understanding manipulated media, from automatically generated ‘deepfakes’ to manually edited ones, raises novel research challenges. Because the vast majority of edited or manipulated images are benign, such as photoshopped images for visual enhancements, the key challenge is to understand the complex layers of underlying intents of media edits and their implications with respect to disinformation. In this paper, we study Edited Media Frames, a new formalism to understand visual media manipulation as structured annotations with respect to the intents, emotional reactions, attacks on individuals, and the overall implications of disinformation. We introduce a dataset for our task, EMU, with 56k question-answer pairs written in rich natural language. We evaluate a wide variety of vision-and-language models for our task, and introduce a new model PELICAN, which builds upon recent progress in pretrained multimodal representations. Our model obtains promising results on our dataset, with humans rating its answers as accurate 48.2% of the time. At the same time, there is still much work to be done – and we provide analysis that highlights areas for further progress.

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PIGLeT: Language Grounding Through Neuro-Symbolic Interaction in a 3D World
Rowan Zellers | Ari Holtzman | Matthew Peters | Roozbeh Mottaghi | Aniruddha Kembhavi | Ali Farhadi | Yejin Choi

We propose PIGLeT: a model that learns physical commonsense knowledge through interaction, and then uses this knowledge to ground language. We factorize PIGLeT into a physical dynamics model, and a separate language model. Our dynamics model learns not just what objects are but also what they do: glass cups break when thrown, plastic ones don’t. We then use it as the interface to our language model, giving us a unified model of linguistic form and grounded meaning. PIGLeT can read a sentence, simulate neurally what might happen next, and then communicate that result through a literal symbolic representation, or natural language. Experimental results show that our model effectively learns world dynamics, along with how to communicate them. It is able to correctly forecast what happens next given an English sentence over 80% of the time, outperforming a 100x larger, text-to-text approach by over 10%. Likewise, its natural language summaries of physical interactions are also judged by humans as more accurate than LM alternatives. We present comprehensive analysis showing room for future work.

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Modeling Fine-Grained Entity Types with Box Embeddings
Yasumasa Onoe | Michael Boratko | Andrew McCallum | Greg Durrett

Neural entity typing models typically represent fine-grained entity types as vectors in a high-dimensional space, but such spaces are not well-suited to modeling these types’ complex interdependencies. We study the ability of box embeddings, which embed concepts as d-dimensional hyperrectangles, to capture hierarchies of types even when these relationships are not defined explicitly in the ontology. Our model represents both types and entity mentions as boxes. Each mention and its context are fed into a BERT-based model to embed that mention in our box space; essentially, this model leverages typological clues present in the surface text to hypothesize a type representation for the mention. Box containment can then be used to derive both the posterior probability of a mention exhibiting a given type and the conditional probability relations between types themselves. We compare our approach with a vector-based typing model and observe state-of-the-art performance on several entity typing benchmarks. In addition to competitive typing performance, our box-based model shows better performance in prediction consistency (predicting a supertype and a subtype together) and confidence (i.e., calibration), demonstrating that the box-based model captures the latent type hierarchies better than the vector-based model does.

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ChineseBERT: Chinese Pretraining Enhanced by Glyph and Pinyin Information
Zijun Sun | Xiaoya Li | Xiaofei Sun | Yuxian Meng | Xiang Ao | Qing He | Fei Wu | Jiwei Li

Recent pretraining models in Chinese neglect two important aspects specific to the Chinese language: glyph and pinyin, which carry significant syntax and semantic information for language understanding. In this work, we propose ChineseBERT, which incorporates both the glyph and pinyin information of Chinese characters into language model pretraining. The glyph embedding is obtained based on different fonts of a Chinese character, being able to capture character semantics from the visual features, and the pinyin embedding characterizes the pronunciation of Chinese characters, which handles the highly prevalent heteronym phenomenon in Chinese (the same character has different pronunciations with different meanings). Pretrained on large-scale unlabeled Chinese corpus, the proposed ChineseBERT model yields significant performance boost over baseline models with fewer training steps. The proposed model achieves new SOTA performances on a wide range of Chinese NLP tasks, including machine reading comprehension, natural language inference, text classification, sentence pair matching, and competitive performances in named entity recognition and word segmentation.

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Weight Distillation: Transferring the Knowledge in Neural Network Parameters
Ye Lin | Yanyang Li | Ziyang Wang | Bei Li | Quan Du | Tong Xiao | Jingbo Zhu

Knowledge distillation has been proven to be effective in model acceleration and compression. It transfers knowledge from a large neural network to a small one by using the large neural network predictions as targets of the small neural network. But this way ignores the knowledge inside the large neural networks, e.g., parameters. Our preliminary study as well as the recent success in pre-training suggests that transferring parameters are more effective in distilling knowledge. In this paper, we propose Weight Distillation to transfer the knowledge in parameters of a large neural network to a small neural network through a parameter generator. On the WMT16 En-Ro, NIST12 Zh-En, and WMT14 En-De machine translation tasks, our experiments show that weight distillation learns a small network that is 1.88 2.94x faster than the large network but with competitive BLEU performance. When fixing the size of small networks, weight distillation outperforms knowledge distillation by 0.51 1.82 BLEU points.

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Optimizing Deeper Transformers on Small Datasets
Peng Xu | Dhruv Kumar | Wei Yang | Wenjie Zi | Keyi Tang | Chenyang Huang | Jackie Chi Kit Cheung | Simon J.D. Prince | Yanshuai Cao

It is a common belief that training deep transformers from scratch requires large datasets. Consequently, for small datasets, people usually use shallow and simple additional layers on top of pre-trained models during fine-tuning. This work shows that this does not always need to be the case: with proper initialization and optimization, the benefits of very deep transformers can carry over to challenging tasks with small datasets, including Text-to-SQL semantic parsing and logical reading comprehension. In particular, we successfully train 48 layers of transformers, comprising 24 fine-tuned layers from pre-trained RoBERTa and 24 relation-aware layers trained from scratch. With fewer training steps and no task-specific pre-training, we obtain the state of the art performance on the challenging cross-domain Text-to-SQL parsing benchmark Spider. We achieve this by deriving a novel Data dependent Transformer Fixed-update initialization scheme (DT-Fixup), inspired by the prior T-Fixup work. Further error analysis shows that increasing depth can help improve generalization on small datasets for hard cases that require reasoning and structural understanding.

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BERTAC: Enhancing Transformer-based Language Models with Adversarially Pretrained Convolutional Neural Networks
Jong-Hoon Oh | Ryu Iida | Julien Kloetzer | Kentaro Torisawa

Transformer-based language models (TLMs), such as BERT, ALBERT and GPT-3, have shown strong performance in a wide range of NLP tasks and currently dominate the field of NLP. However, many researchers wonder whether these models can maintain their dominance forever. Of course, we do not have answers now, but, as an attempt to find better neural architectures and training schemes, we pretrain a simple CNN using a GAN-style learning scheme and Wikipedia data, and then integrate it with standard TLMs. We show that on the GLUE tasks, the combination of our pretrained CNN with ALBERT outperforms the original ALBERT and achieves a similar performance to that of SOTA. Furthermore, on open-domain QA (Quasar-T and SearchQA), the combination of the CNN with ALBERT or RoBERTa achieved stronger performance than SOTA and the original TLMs. We hope that this work provides a hint for developing a novel strong network architecture along with its training scheme. Our source code and models are available at

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COVID-Fact: Fact Extraction and Verification of Real-World Claims on COVID-19 Pandemic
Arkadiy Saakyan | Tuhin Chakrabarty | Smaranda Muresan

We introduce a FEVER-like dataset COVID-Fact of 4,086 claims concerning the COVID-19 pandemic. The dataset contains claims, evidence for the claims, and contradictory claims refuted by the evidence. Unlike previous approaches, we automatically detect true claims and their source articles and then generate counter-claims using automatic methods rather than employing human annotators. Along with our constructed resource, we formally present the task of identifying relevant evidence for the claims and verifying whether the evidence refutes or supports a given claim. In addition to scientific claims, our data contains simplified general claims from media sources, making it better suited for detecting general misinformation regarding COVID-19. Our experiments indicate that COVID-Fact will provide a challenging testbed for the development of new systems and our approach will reduce the costs of building domain-specific datasets for detecting misinformation.

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Explaining Relationships Between Scientific Documents
Kelvin Luu | Xinyi Wu | Rik Koncel-Kedziorski | Kyle Lo | Isabel Cachola | Noah A. Smith

We address the task of explaining relationships between two scientific documents using natural language text. This task requires modeling the complex content of long technical documents, deducing a relationship between these documents, and expressing the details of that relationship in text. In addition to the theoretical interest of this task, successful solutions can help improve researcher efficiency in search and review. In this paper we establish a dataset of 622K examples from 154K documents. We pretrain a large language model to serve as the foundation for autoregressive approaches to the task. We explore the impact of taking different views on the two documents, including the use of dense representations extracted with scientific IE systems. We provide extensive automatic and human evaluations which show the promise of such models, but make clear challenges for future work.

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IrEne: Interpretable Energy Prediction for Transformers
Qingqing Cao | Yash Kumar Lal | Harsh Trivedi | Aruna Balasubramanian | Niranjan Balasubramanian

Existing software-based energy measurements of NLP models are not accurate because they do not consider the complex interactions between energy consumption and model execution. We present IrEne, an interpretable and extensible energy prediction system that accurately predicts the inference energy consumption of a wide range of Transformer-based NLP models. IrEne constructs a model tree graph that breaks down the NLP model into modules that are further broken down into low-level machine learning (ML) primitives. IrEne predicts the inference energy consumption of the ML primitives as a function of generalizable features and fine-grained runtime resource usage. IrEne then aggregates these low-level predictions recursively to predict the energy of each module and finally of the entire model. Experiments across multiple Transformer models show IrEne predicts inference energy consumption of transformer models with an error of under 7% compared to the ground truth. In contrast, existing energy models see an error of over 50%. We also show how IrEne can be used to conduct energy bottleneck analysis and to easily evaluate the energy impact of different architectural choices. We release the code and data at

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Mitigating Bias in Session-based Cyberbullying Detection: A Non-Compromising Approach
Lu Cheng | Ahmadreza Mosallanezhad | Yasin Silva | Deborah Hall | Huan Liu

The element of repetition in cyberbullying behavior has directed recent computational studies toward detecting cyberbullying based on a social media session. In contrast to a single text, a session may consist of an initial post and an associated sequence of comments. Yet, emerging efforts to enhance the performance of session-based cyberbullying detection have largely overlooked unintended social biases in existing cyberbullying datasets. For example, a session containing certain demographic-identity terms (e.g., “gay” or “black”) is more likely to be classified as an instance of cyberbullying. In this paper, we first show evidence of such bias in models trained on sessions collected from different social media platforms (e.g., Instagram). We then propose a context-aware and model-agnostic debiasing strategy that leverages a reinforcement learning technique, without requiring any extra resources or annotations apart from a pre-defined set of sensitive triggers commonly used for identifying cyberbullying instances. Empirical evaluations show that the proposed strategy can simultaneously alleviate the impacts of the unintended biases and improve the detection performance.

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PlotCoder: Hierarchical Decoding for Synthesizing Visualization Code in Programmatic Context
Xinyun Chen | Linyuan Gong | Alvin Cheung | Dawn Song

Creating effective visualization is an important part of data analytics. While there are many libraries for creating visualization, writing such code remains difficult given the myriad of parameters that users need to provide. In this paper, we propose the new task of synthesizing visualization programs from a combination of natural language utterances and code context. To tackle the learning problem, we introduce PlotCoder, a new hierarchical encoder-decoder architecture that models both the code context and the input utterance. We use PlotCoder to first determine the template of the visualization code, followed by predicting the data to be plotted. We use Jupyter notebooks containing visualization programs crawled from GitHub to train PlotCoder. On a comprehensive set of test samples from those notebooks, we show that PlotCoder correctly predicts the plot type of about 70% samples, and synthesizes the correct programs for 35% samples, performing 3-4.5% better than the baselines.

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Changing the World by Changing the Data
Anna Rogers

NLP community is currently investing a lot more research and resources into development of deep learning models than training data. While we have made a lot of progress, it is now clear that our models learn all kinds of spurious patterns, social biases, and annotation artifacts. Algorithmic solutions have so far had limited success. An alternative that is being actively discussed is more careful design of datasets so as to deliver specific signals. This position paper maps out the arguments for and against data curation, and argues that fundamentally the point is moot: curation already is and will be happening, and it is changing the world. The question is only how much thought we want to invest into that process.

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EarlyBERT: Efficient BERT Training via Early-bird Lottery Tickets
Xiaohan Chen | Yu Cheng | Shuohang Wang | Zhe Gan | Zhangyang Wang | Jingjing Liu

Heavily overparameterized language models such as BERT, XLNet and T5 have achieved impressive success in many NLP tasks. However, their high model complexity requires enormous computation resources and extremely long training time for both pre-training and fine-tuning. Many works have studied model compression on large NLP models, but only focusing on reducing inference time while still requiring an expensive training process. Other works use extremely large batch sizes to shorten the pre-training time, at the expense of higher computational resource demands. In this paper, inspired by the Early-Bird Lottery Tickets recently studied for computer vision tasks, we propose EarlyBERT, a general computationally-efficient training algorithm applicable to both pre-training and fine-tuning of large-scale language models. By slimming the self-attention and fully-connected sub-layers inside a transformer, we are the first to identify structured winning tickets in the early stage of BERT training. We apply those tickets towards efficient BERT training, and conduct comprehensive pre-training and fine-tuning experiments on GLUE and SQuAD downstream tasks. Our results show that EarlyBERT achieves comparable performance to standard BERT, with 35 45% less training time. Code is available at

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On the Effectiveness of Adapter-based Tuning for Pretrained Language Model Adaptation
Ruidan He | Linlin Liu | Hai Ye | Qingyu Tan | Bosheng Ding | Liying Cheng | Jiawei Low | Lidong Bing | Luo Si

Adapter-based tuning has recently arisen as an alternative to fine-tuning. It works by adding light-weight adapter modules to a pretrained language model (PrLM) and only updating the parameters of adapter modules when learning on a downstream task. As such, it adds only a few trainable parameters per new task, allowing a high degree of parameter sharing. Prior studies have shown that adapter-based tuning often achieves comparable results to fine-tuning. However, existing work only focuses on the parameter-efficient aspect of adapter-based tuning while lacking further investigation on its effectiveness. In this paper, we study the latter. We first show that adapter-based tuning better mitigates forgetting issues than fine-tuning since it yields representations with less deviation from those generated by the initial PrLM. We then empirically compare the two tuning methods on several downstream NLP tasks and settings. We demonstrate that 1) adapter-based tuning outperforms fine-tuning on low-resource and cross-lingual tasks; 2) it is more robust to overfitting and less sensitive to changes in learning rates.

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Data Augmentation for Text Generation Without Any Augmented Data
Wei Bi | Huayang Li | Jiacheng Huang

Data augmentation is an effective way to improve the performance of many neural text generation models. However, current data augmentation methods need to define or choose proper data mapping functions that map the original samples into the augmented samples. In this work, we derive an objective to formulate the problem of data augmentation on text generation tasks without any use of augmented data constructed by specific mapping functions. Our proposed objective can be efficiently optimized and applied to popular loss functions on text generation tasks with a convergence rate guarantee. Experiments on five datasets of two text generation tasks show that our approach can approximate or even surpass popular data augmentation methods.

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Integrating Semantics and Neighborhood Information with Graph-Driven Generative Models for Document Retrieval
Zijing Ou | Qinliang Su | Jianxing Yu | Bang Liu | Jingwen Wang | Ruihui Zhao | Changyou Chen | Yefeng Zheng

With the need of fast retrieval speed and small memory footprint, document hashing has been playing a crucial role in large-scale information retrieval. To generate high-quality hashing code, both semantics and neighborhood information are crucial. However, most existing methods leverage only one of them or simply combine them via some intuitive criteria, lacking a theoretical principle to guide the integration process. In this paper, we encode the neighborhood information with a graph-induced Gaussian distribution, and propose to integrate the two types of information with a graph-driven generative model. To deal with the complicated correlations among documents, we further propose a tree-structured approximation method for learning. Under the approximation, we prove that the training objective can be decomposed into terms involving only singleton or pairwise documents, enabling the model to be trained as efficiently as uncorrelated ones. Extensive experimental results on three benchmark datasets show that our method achieves superior performance over state-of-the-art methods, demonstrating the effectiveness of the proposed model for simultaneously preserving semantic and neighborhood information.

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SMURF: SeMantic and linguistic UndeRstanding Fusion for Caption Evaluation via Typicality Analysis
Joshua Feinglass | Yezhou Yang

The open-ended nature of visual captioning makes it a challenging area for evaluation. The majority of proposed models rely on specialized training to improve human-correlation, resulting in limited adoption, generalizability, and explainabilty. We introduce “typicality”, a new formulation of evaluation rooted in information theory, which is uniquely suited for problems lacking a definite ground truth. Typicality serves as our framework to develop a novel semantic comparison, SPARCS, as well as referenceless fluency evaluation metrics. Over the course of our analysis, two separate dimensions of fluency naturally emerge: style, captured by metric SPURTS, and grammar, captured in the form of grammatical outlier penalties. Through extensive experiments and ablation studies on benchmark datasets, we show how these decomposed dimensions of semantics and fluency provide greater system-level insight into captioner differences. Our proposed metrics along with their combination, SMURF, achieve state-of-the-art correlation with human judgment when compared with other rule-based evaluation metrics.

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KaggleDBQA: Realistic Evaluation of Text-to-SQL Parsers
Chia-Hsuan Lee | Oleksandr Polozov | Matthew Richardson

The goal of database question answering is to enable natural language querying of real-life relational databases in diverse application domains. Recently, large-scale datasets such as Spider and WikiSQL facilitated novel modeling techniques for text-to-SQL parsing, improving zero-shot generalization to unseen databases. In this work, we examine the challenges that still prevent these techniques from practical deployment. First, we present KaggleDBQA, a new cross-domain evaluation dataset of real Web databases, with domain-specific data types, original formatting, and unrestricted questions. Second, we re-examine the choice of evaluation tasks for text-to-SQL parsers as applied in real-life settings. Finally, we augment our in-domain evaluation task with database documentation, a naturally occurring source of implicit domain knowledge. We show that KaggleDBQA presents a challenge to state-of-the-art zero-shot parsers but a more realistic evaluation setting and creative use of associated database documentation boosts their accuracy by over 13.2%, doubling their performance.

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QASR: QCRI Aljazeera Speech Resource A Large Scale Annotated Arabic Speech Corpus
Hamdy Mubarak | Amir Hussein | Shammur Absar Chowdhury | Ahmed Ali

We introduce the largest transcribed Arabic speech corpus, QASR, collected from the broadcast domain. This multi-dialect speech dataset contains 2,000 hours of speech sampled at 16kHz crawled from Aljazeera news channel. The dataset is released with lightly supervised transcriptions, aligned with the audio segments. Unlike previous datasets, QASR contains linguistically motivated segmentation, punctuation, speaker information among others. QASR is suitable for training and evaluating speech recognition systems, acoustics- and/or linguistics- based Arabic dialect identification, punctuation restoration, speaker identification, speaker linking, and potentially other NLP modules for spoken data. In addition to QASR transcription, we release a dataset of 130M words to aid in designing and training a better language model. We show that end-to-end automatic speech recognition trained on QASR reports a competitive word error rate compared to the previous MGB-2 corpus. We report baseline results for downstream natural language processing tasks such as named entity recognition using speech transcript. We also report the first baseline for Arabic punctuation restoration. We make the corpus available for the research community.

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An Empirical Study on Hyperparameter Optimization for Fine-Tuning Pre-trained Language Models
Xueqing Liu | Chi Wang

The performance of fine-tuning pre-trained language models largely depends on the hyperparameter configuration. In this paper, we investigate the performance of modern hyperparameter optimization methods (HPO) on fine-tuning pre-trained language models. First, we study and report three HPO algorithms’ performances on fine-tuning two state-of-the-art language models on the GLUE dataset. We find that using the same time budget, HPO often fails to outperform grid search due to two reasons: insufficient time budget and overfitting. We propose two general strategies and an experimental procedure to systematically troubleshoot HPO’s failure cases. By applying the procedure, we observe that HPO can succeed with more appropriate settings in the search space and time budget; however, in certain cases overfitting remains. Finally, we make suggestions for future work. Our implementation can be found in

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Better than Average: Paired Evaluation of NLP systems
Maxime Peyrard | Wei Zhao | Steffen Eger | Robert West

Evaluation in NLP is usually done by comparing the scores of competing systems independently averaged over a common set of test instances. In this work, we question the use of averages for aggregating evaluation scores into a final number used to decide which system is best, since the average, as well as alternatives such as the median, ignores the pairing arising from the fact that systems are evaluated on the same test instances. We illustrate the importance of taking the instancelevel pairing of evaluation scores into account and demonstrate, both theoretically and empirically, the advantages of aggregation methods based on pairwise comparisons, such as the Bradley–Terry (BT) model, a mechanism based on the estimated probability that a given system scores better than another on the test set. By re-evaluating 296 real NLP evaluation setups across four tasks and 18 evaluation metrics, we show that the choice of aggregation mechanism matters and yields different conclusions as to which systems are state of the art in about 30% of the setups. To facilitate the adoption of pairwise evaluation, we release a practical tool for performing the full analysis of evaluation scores with the mean, median, BT, and two variants of BT (Elo and TrueSkill), alongside functionality for appropriate statistical testing.

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Chase: A Large-Scale and Pragmatic Chinese Dataset for Cross-Database Context-Dependent Text-to-SQL
Jiaqi Guo | Ziliang Si | Yu Wang | Qian Liu | Ming Fan | Jian-Guang Lou | Zijiang Yang | Ting Liu

The cross-database context-dependent Text-to-SQL (XDTS) problem has attracted considerable attention in recent years due to its wide range of potential applications. However, we identify two biases in existing datasets for XDTS: (1) a high proportion of context-independent questions and (2) a high proportion of easy SQL queries. These biases conceal the major challenges in XDTS to some extent. In this work, we present Chase, a large-scale and pragmatic Chinese dataset for XDTS. It consists of 5,459 coherent question sequences (17,940 questions with their SQL queries annotated) over 280 databases, in which only 35% of questions are context-independent, and 28% of SQL queries are easy. We experiment on Chase with three state-of-the-art XDTS approaches. The best approach only achieves an exact match accuracy of 40% over all questions and 16% over all question sequences, indicating that Chase highlights the challenging problems of XDTS. We believe that XDTS can provide fertile soil for addressing the problems.

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CLINE: Contrastive Learning with Semantic Negative Examples for Natural Language Understanding
Dong Wang | Ning Ding | Piji Li | Haitao Zheng

Despite pre-trained language models have proven useful for learning high-quality semantic representations, these models are still vulnerable to simple perturbations. Recent works aimed to improve the robustness of pre-trained models mainly focus on adversarial training from perturbed examples with similar semantics, neglecting the utilization of different or even opposite semantics. Different from the image processing field, the text is discrete and few word substitutions can cause significant semantic changes. To study the impact of semantics caused by small perturbations, we conduct a series of pilot experiments and surprisingly find that adversarial training is useless or even harmful for the model to detect these semantic changes. To address this problem, we propose Contrastive Learning with semantIc Negative Examples (CLINE), which constructs semantic negative examples unsupervised to improve the robustness under semantically adversarial attacking. By comparing with similar and opposite semantic examples, the model can effectively perceive the semantic changes caused by small perturbations. Empirical results show that our approach yields substantial improvements on a range of sentiment analysis, reasoning, and reading comprehension tasks. And CLINE also ensures the compactness within the same semantics and separability across different semantics in sentence-level.

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Tree-Structured Topic Modeling with Nonparametric Neural Variational Inference
Ziye Chen | Cheng Ding | Zusheng Zhang | Yanghui Rao | Haoran Xie

Topic modeling has been widely used for discovering the latent semantic structure of documents, but most existing methods learn topics with a flat structure. Although probabilistic models can generate topic hierarchies by introducing nonparametric priors like Chinese restaurant process, such methods have data scalability issues. In this study, we develop a tree-structured topic model by leveraging nonparametric neural variational inference. Particularly, the latent components of the stick-breaking process are first learned for each document, then the affiliations of latent components are modeled by the dependency matrices between network layers. Utilizing this network structure, we can efficiently extract a tree-structured topic hierarchy with reasonable structure, low redundancy, and adaptable widths. Experiments on real-world datasets validate the effectiveness of our method.

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ExCAR: Event Graph Knowledge Enhanced Explainable Causal Reasoning
Li Du | Xiao Ding | Kai Xiong | Ting Liu | Bing Qin

Prior work infers the causation between events mainly based on the knowledge induced from the annotated causal event pairs. However, additional evidence information intermediate to the cause and effect remains unexploited. By incorporating such information, the logical law behind the causality can be unveiled, and the interpretability and stability of the causal reasoning system can be improved. To facilitate this, we present an Event graph knowledge enhanced explainable CAusal Reasoning framework (ExCAR). ExCAR first acquires additional evidence information from a large-scale causal event graph as logical rules for causal reasoning. To learn the conditional probabilistic of logical rules, we propose the Conditional Markov Neural Logic Network (CMNLN) that combines the representation learning and structure learning of logical rules in an end-to-end differentiable manner. Experimental results demonstrate that ExCAR outperforms previous state-of-the-art methods. Adversarial evaluation shows the improved stability of ExCAR over baseline systems. Human evaluation shows that ExCAR can achieve a promising explainable performance.

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Distributed Representations of Emotion Categories in Emotion Space
Xiangyu Wang | Chengqing Zong

Emotion category is usually divided into different ones by human beings, but it is indeed difficult to clearly distinguish and define the boundaries between different emotion categories. The existing studies working on emotion detection usually focus on how to improve the performance of model prediction, in which emotions are represented with one-hot vectors. However, emotion relations are ignored in one-hot representations. In this article, we first propose a general framework to learn the distributed representations for emotion categories in emotion space from a given emotion classification dataset. Furthermore, based on the soft labels predicted by the pre-trained neural network model, we derive a simple and effective algorithm. Experiments have validated that the proposed representations in emotion space can express emotion relations much better than word vectors in semantic space.

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Style is NOT a single variable: Case Studies for Cross-Stylistic Language Understanding
Dongyeop Kang | Eduard Hovy

Every natural text is written in some style. Style is formed by a complex combination of different stylistic factors, including formality markers, emotions, metaphors, etc. One cannot form a complete understanding of a text without considering these factors. The factors combine and co-vary in complex ways to form styles. Studying the nature of the covarying combinations sheds light on stylistic language in general, sometimes called cross-style language understanding. This paper provides the benchmark corpus (XSLUE) that combines existing datasets and collects a new one for sentence-level cross-style language understanding and evaluation. The benchmark contains text in 15 different styles under the proposed four theoretical groupings: figurative, personal, affective, and interpersonal groups. For valid evaluation, we collect an additional diagnostic set by annotating all 15 styles on the same text. Using XSLUE, we propose three interesting cross-style applications in classification, correlation, and generation. First, our proposed cross-style classifier trained with multiple styles together helps improve overall classification performance against individually-trained style classifiers. Second, our study shows that some styles are highly dependent on each other in human-written text. Finally, we find that combinations of some contradictive styles likely generate stylistically less appropriate text. We believe our benchmark and case studies help explore interesting future directions for cross-style research. The preprocessed datasets and code are publicly available.

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DynaSent: A Dynamic Benchmark for Sentiment Analysis
Christopher Potts | Zhengxuan Wu | Atticus Geiger | Douwe Kiela

We introduce DynaSent (‘Dynamic Sentiment’), a new English-language benchmark task for ternary (positive/negative/neutral) sentiment analysis. DynaSent combines naturally occurring sentences with sentences created using the open-source Dynabench Platform, which facilities human-and-model-in-the-loop dataset creation. DynaSent has a total of 121,634 sentences, each validated by five crowdworkers, and its development and test splits are designed to produce chance performance for even the best models we have been able to develop; when future models solve this task, we will use them to create DynaSent version 2, continuing the dynamic evolution of this benchmark. Here, we report on the dataset creation effort, focusing on the steps we took to increase quality and reduce artifacts. We also present evidence that DynaSent’s Neutral category is more coherent than the comparable category in other benchmarks, and we motivate training models from scratch for each round over successive fine-tuning.

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A Hierarchical VAE for Calibrating Attributes while Generating Text using Normalizing Flow
Bidisha Samanta | Mohit Agrawal | NIloy Ganguly

In this digital age, online users expect personalized content. To cater to diverse group of audiences across online platforms it is necessary to generate multiple variants of same content with differing degree of characteristics (sentiment, style, formality, etc.). Though text-style transfer is a well explored related area, it focuses on flipping the style attribute polarity instead of regulating a fine-grained attribute transfer. In this paper we propose a hierarchical architecture for finer control over the at- tribute, preserving content using attribute dis- entanglement. We demonstrate the effective- ness of the generative process for two different attributes with varied complexity, namely sentiment and formality. With extensive experiments and human evaluation on five real-world datasets, we show that the framework can generate natural looking sentences with finer degree of control of intensity of a given attribute.

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A Unified Generative Framework for Aspect-based Sentiment Analysis
Hang Yan | Junqi Dai | Tuo Ji | Xipeng Qiu | Zheng Zhang

Aspect-based Sentiment Analysis (ABSA) aims to identify the aspect terms, their corresponding sentiment polarities, and the opinion terms. There exist seven subtasks in ABSA. Most studies only focus on the subsets of these subtasks, which leads to various complicated ABSA models while hard to solve these subtasks in a unified framework. In this paper, we redefine every subtask target as a sequence mixed by pointer indexes and sentiment class indexes, which converts all ABSA subtasks into a unified generative formulation. Based on the unified formulation, we exploit the pre-training sequence-to-sequence model BART to solve all ABSA subtasks in an end-to-end framework. Extensive experiments on four ABSA datasets for seven subtasks demonstrate that our framework achieves substantial performance gain and provides a real unified end-to-end solution for the whole ABSA subtasks, which could benefit multiple tasks.

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Discovering Dialogue Slots with Weak Supervision
Vojtěch Hudeček | Ondřej Dušek | Zhou Yu

Task-oriented dialogue systems typically require manual annotation of dialogue slots in training data, which is costly to obtain. We propose a method that eliminates this requirement: We use weak supervision from existing linguistic annotation models to identify potential slot candidates, then automatically identify domain-relevant slots by using clustering algorithms. Furthermore, we use the resulting slot annotation to train a neural-network-based tagger that is able to perform slot tagging with no human intervention. This tagger is trained solely on the outputs of our method and thus does not rely on any labeled data. Our model demonstrates state-of-the-art performance in slot tagging without labeled training data on four different dialogue domains. Moreover, we find that slot annotations discovered by our model significantly improve the performance of an end-to-end dialogue response generation model, compared to using no slot annotation at all.

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Enhancing the generalization for Intent Classification and Out-of-Domain Detection in SLU
Yilin Shen | Yen-Chang Hsu | Avik Ray | Hongxia Jin

Intent classification is a major task in spoken language understanding (SLU). Since most models are built with pre-collected in-domain (IND) training utterances, their ability to detect unsupported out-of-domain (OOD) utterances has a critical effect in practical use. Recent works have shown that using extra data and labels can improve the OOD detection performance, yet it could be costly to collect such data. This paper proposes to train a model with only IND data while supporting both IND intent classification and OOD detection. Our method designs a novel domain-regularized module (DRM) to reduce the overconfident phenomenon of a vanilla classifier, achieving a better generalization in both cases. Besides, DRM can be used as a drop-in replacement for the last layer in any neural network-based intent classifier, providing a low-cost strategy for a significant improvement. The evaluation on four datasets shows that our method built on BERT and RoBERTa models achieves state-of-the-art performance against existing approaches and the strong baselines we created for the comparisons.

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PROTAUGMENT: Unsupervised diverse short-texts paraphrasing for intent detection meta-learning
Thomas Dopierre | Christophe Gravier | Wilfried Logerais

Recent research considers few-shot intent detection as a meta-learning problem: the model is learning to learn from a consecutive set of small tasks named episodes. In this work, we propose ProtAugment, a meta-learning algorithm for short texts classification (the intent detection task). ProtAugment is a novel extension of Prototypical Networks, that limits overfitting on the bias introduced by the few-shots classification objective at each episode. It relies on diverse paraphrasing: a conditional language model is first fine-tuned for paraphrasing, and diversity is later introduced at the decoding stage at each meta-learning episode. The diverse paraphrasing is unsupervised as it is applied to unlabelled data, and then fueled to the Prototypical Network training objective as a consistency loss. ProtAugment is the state-of-the-art method for intent detection meta-learning, at no extra labeling efforts and without the need to fine-tune a conditional language model on a given application domain.

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Robustness Testing of Language Understanding in Task-Oriented Dialog
Jiexi Liu | Ryuichi Takanobu | Jiaxin Wen | Dazhen Wan | Hongguang Li | Weiran Nie | Cheng Li | Wei Peng | Minlie Huang

Most language understanding models in task-oriented dialog systems are trained on a small amount of annotated training data, and evaluated in a small set from the same distribution. However, these models can lead to system failure or undesirable output when being exposed to natural language perturbation or variation in practice. In this paper, we conduct comprehensive evaluation and analysis with respect to the robustness of natural language understanding models, and introduce three important aspects related to language understanding in real-world dialog systems, namely, language variety, speech characteristics, and noise perturbation. We propose a model-agnostic toolkit LAUG to approximate natural language perturbations for testing the robustness issues in task-oriented dialog. Four data augmentation approaches covering the three aspects are assembled in LAUG, which reveals critical robustness issues in state-of-the-art models. The augmented dataset through LAUG can be used to facilitate future research on the robustness testing of language understanding in task-oriented dialog.

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Comprehensive Study: How the Context Information of Different Granularity Affects Dialogue State Tracking?
Puhai Yang | Heyan Huang | Xian-Ling Mao

Dialogue state tracking (DST) plays a key role in task-oriented dialogue systems to monitor the user’s goal. In general, there are two strategies to track a dialogue state: predicting it from scratch and updating it from previous state. The scratch-based strategy obtains each slot value by inquiring all the dialogue history, and the previous-based strategy relies on the current turn dialogue to update the previous dialogue state. However, it is hard for the scratch-based strategy to correctly track short-dependency dialogue state because of noise; meanwhile, the previous-based strategy is not very useful for long-dependency dialogue state tracking. Obviously, it plays different roles for the context information of different granularity to track different kinds of dialogue states. Thus, in this paper, we will study and discuss how the context information of different granularity affects dialogue state tracking. First, we explore how greatly different granularities affect dialogue state tracking. Then, we further discuss how to combine multiple granularities for dialogue state tracking. Finally, we apply the findings about context granularity to few-shot learning scenario. Besides, we have publicly released all codes.

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OTTers: One-turn Topic Transitions for Open-Domain Dialogue
Karin Sevegnani | David M. Howcroft | Ioannis Konstas | Verena Rieser

Mixed initiative in open-domain dialogue requires a system to pro-actively introduce new topics. The one-turn topic transition task explores how a system connects two topics in a cooperative and coherent manner. The goal of the task is to generate a “bridging” utterance connecting the new topic to the topic of the previous conversation turn. We are especially interested in commonsense explanations of how a new topic relates to what has been mentioned before. We first collect a new dataset of human one-turn topic transitions, which we callOTTers. We then explore different strategies used by humans when asked to complete such a task, and notice that the use of a bridging utterance to connect the two topics is the approach used the most. We finally show how existing state-of-the-art text generation models can be adapted to this task and examine the performance of these baselines on different splits of the OTTers data.

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Towards Robustness of Text-to-SQL Models against Synonym Substitution
Yujian Gan | Xinyun Chen | Qiuping Huang | Matthew Purver | John R. Woodward | Jinxia Xie | Pengsheng Huang

Recently, there has been significant progress in studying neural networks to translate text descriptions into SQL queries. Despite achieving good performance on some public benchmarks, existing text-to-SQL models typically rely on the lexical matching between words in natural language (NL) questions and tokens in table schemas, which may render the models vulnerable to attacks that break the schema linking mechanism. In this work, we investigate the robustness of text-to-SQL models to synonym substitution. In particular, we introduce Spider-Syn, a human-curated dataset based on the Spider benchmark for text-to-SQL translation. NL questions in Spider-Syn are modified from Spider, by replacing their schema-related words with manually selected synonyms that reflect real-world question paraphrases. We observe that the accuracy dramatically drops by eliminating such explicit correspondence between NL questions and table schemas, even if the synonyms are not adversarially selected to conduct worst-case attacks. Finally, we present two categories of approaches to improve the model robustness. The first category of approaches utilizes additional synonym annotations for table schemas by modifying the model input, while the second category is based on adversarial training. We demonstrate that both categories of approaches significantly outperform their counterparts without the defense, and the first category of approaches are more effective.

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KACE: Generating Knowledge Aware Contrastive Explanations for Natural Language Inference
Qianglong Chen | Feng Ji | Xiangji Zeng | Feng-Lin Li | Ji Zhang | Haiqing Chen | Yin Zhang

In order to better understand the reason behind model behaviors (i.e., making predictions), most recent works have exploited generative models to provide complementary explanations. However, existing approaches in NLP mainly focus on “WHY A” rather than contrastive “WHY A NOT B”, which is shown to be able to better distinguish confusing candidates and improve data efficiency in other research fields. In this paper, we focus on generating contrastive explanations with counterfactual examples in NLI and propose a novel Knowledge-Aware Contrastive Explanation generation framework (KACE).Specifically, we first identify rationales (i.e., key phrases) from input sentences, and use them as key perturbations for generating counterfactual examples. After obtaining qualified counterfactual examples, we take them along with original examples and external knowledge as input, and employ a knowledge-aware generative pre-trained language model to generate contrastive explanations. Experimental results show that contrastive explanations are beneficial to fit the scenarios by clarifying the difference between the predicted answer and other possible wrong ones. Moreover, we train an NLI model enhanced with contrastive explanations and achieves an accuracy of 91.9% on SNLI, gaining improvements of 5.7% against ETPA (“Explain-Then-Predict-Attention”) and 0.6% against NILE (“WHY A”).

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Self-Guided Contrastive Learning for BERT Sentence Representations
Taeuk Kim | Kang Min Yoo | Sang-goo Lee

Although BERT and its variants have reshaped the NLP landscape, it still remains unclear how best to derive sentence embeddings from such pre-trained Transformers. In this work, we propose a contrastive learning method that utilizes self-guidance for improving the quality of BERT sentence representations. Our method fine-tunes BERT in a self-supervised fashion, does not rely on data augmentation, and enables the usual [CLS] token embeddings to function as sentence vectors. Moreover, we redesign the contrastive learning objective (NT-Xent) and apply it to sentence representation learning. We demonstrate with extensive experiments that our approach is more effective than competitive baselines on diverse sentence-related tasks. We also show it is efficient at inference and robust to domain shifts.

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LGESQL: Line Graph Enhanced Text-to-SQL Model with Mixed Local and Non-Local Relations
Ruisheng Cao | Lu Chen | Zhi Chen | Yanbin Zhao | Su Zhu | Kai Yu

This work aims to tackle the challenging heterogeneous graph encoding problem in the text-to-SQL task. Previous methods are typically node-centric and merely utilize different weight matrices to parameterize edge types, which 1) ignore the rich semantics embedded in the topological structure of edges, and 2) fail to distinguish local and non-local relations for each node. To this end, we propose a Line Graph Enhanced Text-to-SQL (LGESQL) model to mine the underlying relational features without constructing meta-paths. By virtue of the line graph, messages propagate more efficiently through not only connections between nodes, but also the topology of directed edges. Furthermore, both local and non-local relations are integrated distinctively during the graph iteration. We also design an auxiliary task called graph pruning to improve the discriminative capability of the encoder. Our framework achieves state-of-the-art results (62.8% with Glove, 72.0% with Electra) on the cross-domain text-to-SQL benchmark Spider at the time of writing.

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Multi-stage Pre-training over Simplified Multimodal Pre-training Models
Tongtong Liu | Fangxiang Feng | Xiaojie Wang

Multimodal pre-training models, such as LXMERT, have achieved excellent results in downstream tasks. However, current pre-trained models require large amounts of training data and have huge model sizes, which make them impossible to apply in low-resource situations. How to obtain similar or even better performance than a larger model under the premise of less pre-training data and smaller model size has become an important problem. In this paper, we propose a new Multi-stage Pre-training (MSP) method, which uses information at different granularities from word, phrase to sentence in both texts and images to pre-train a model in stages. We also design several different pre-training tasks suitable for the information granularity in different stage in order to efficiently capture the diverse knowledge from a limited corpus. We take a Simplified LXMERT (LXMERT-S) which is with 45.9% parameters of the original LXMERT model and only 11.44% of the original pre-training data as the testbed of our MSP method. Experimental results show that our method achieves comparable performance to the original LXMERT model in all downstream tasks, and even outperforms the original model in Image-Text Retrieval task.

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Beyond Sentence-Level End-to-End Speech Translation: Context Helps
Biao Zhang | Ivan Titov | Barry Haddow | Rico Sennrich

Document-level contextual information has shown benefits to text-based machine translation, but whether and how context helps end-to-end (E2E) speech translation (ST) is still under-studied. We fill this gap through extensive experiments using a simple concatenation-based context-aware ST model, paired with adaptive feature selection on speech encodings for computational efficiency. We investigate several decoding approaches, and introduce in-model ensemble decoding which jointly performs document- and sentence-level translation using the same model. Our results on the MuST-C benchmark with Transformer demonstrate the effectiveness of context to E2E ST. Compared to sentence-level ST, context-aware ST obtains better translation quality (+0.18-2.61 BLEU), improves pronoun and homophone translation, shows better robustness to (artificial) audio segmentation errors, and reduces latency and flicker to deliver higher quality for simultaneous translation.

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LayoutLMv2: Multi-modal Pre-training for Visually-rich Document Understanding
Yang Xu | Yiheng Xu | Tengchao Lv | Lei Cui | Furu Wei | Guoxin Wang | Yijuan Lu | Dinei Florencio | Cha Zhang | Wanxiang Che | Min Zhang | Lidong Zhou

Pre-training of text and layout has proved effective in a variety of visually-rich document understanding tasks due to its effective model architecture and the advantage of large-scale unlabeled scanned/digital-born documents. We propose LayoutLMv2 architecture with new pre-training tasks to model the interaction among text, layout, and image in a single multi-modal framework. Specifically, with a two-stream multi-modal Transformer encoder, LayoutLMv2 uses not only the existing masked visual-language modeling task but also the new text-image alignment and text-image matching tasks, which make it better capture the cross-modality interaction in the pre-training stage. Meanwhile, it also integrates a spatial-aware self-attention mechanism into the Transformer architecture so that the model can fully understand the relative positional relationship among different text blocks. Experiment results show that LayoutLMv2 outperforms LayoutLM by a large margin and achieves new state-of-the-art results on a wide variety of downstream visually-rich document understanding tasks, including FUNSD (0.7895 to 0.8420), CORD (0.9493 to 0.9601), SROIE (0.9524 to 0.9781), Kleister-NDA (0.8340 to 0.8520), RVL-CDIP (0.9443 to 0.9564), and DocVQA (0.7295 to 0.8672).

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UNIMO: Towards Unified-Modal Understanding and Generation via Cross-Modal Contrastive Learning
Wei Li | Can Gao | Guocheng Niu | Xinyan Xiao | Hao Liu | Jiachen Liu | Hua Wu | Haifeng Wang

Existed pre-training methods either focus on single-modal tasks or multi-modal tasks, and cannot effectively adapt to each other. They can only utilize single-modal data (i.e., text or image) or limited multi-modal data (i.e., image-text pairs). In this work, we propose a UNIfied-MOdal pre-training architecture, namely UNIMO, which can effectively adapt to both single-modal and multi-modal understanding and generation tasks. Large scale of free text corpus and image collections are utilized to improve the capability of visual and textual understanding, and cross-modal contrastive learning (CMCL) is leveraged to align the textual and visual information into a unified semantic space, over a corpus of image-text pairs augmented with related images and texts. With the help of rich non-paired single-modal data, our model is able to learn more generalizable representations, by allowing textual knowledge and visual knowledge to enhance each other in the unified semantic space. The experimental results show that UNIMO greatly improves the performance of several single-modal and multi-modal downstream tasks. Our code and pre-trained models are public at

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Missing Modality Imagination Network for Emotion Recognition with Uncertain Missing Modalities
Jinming Zhao | Ruichen Li | Qin Jin

Multimodal fusion has been proved to improve emotion recognition performance in previous works. However, in real-world applications, we often encounter the problem of missing modality, and which modalities will be missing is uncertain. It makes the fixed multimodal fusion fail in such cases. In this work, we propose a unified model, Missing Modality Imagination Network (MMIN), to deal with the uncertain missing modality problem. MMIN learns robust joint multimodal representations, which can predict the representation of any missing modality given available modalities under different missing modality conditions. Comprehensive experiments on two benchmark datasets demonstrate that the unified MMIN model significantly improves emotion recognition performance under both uncertain missing-modality testing conditions and full-modality ideal testing condition. The code will be available at

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Stacked Acoustic-and-Textual Encoding: Integrating the Pre-trained Models into Speech Translation Encoders
Chen Xu | Bojie Hu | Yanyang Li | Yuhao Zhang | Shen Huang | Qi Ju | Tong Xiao | Jingbo Zhu

Encoder pre-training is promising in end-to-end Speech Translation (ST), given the fact that speech-to-translation data is scarce. But ST encoders are not simple instances of Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) or Machine Translation (MT) encoders. For example, we find that ASR encoders lack the global context representation, which is necessary for translation, whereas MT encoders are not designed to deal with long but locally attentive acoustic sequences. In this work, we propose a Stacked Acoustic-and-Textual Encoding (SATE) method for speech translation. Our encoder begins with processing the acoustic sequence as usual, but later behaves more like an MT encoder for a global representation of the input sequence. In this way, it is straightforward to incorporate the pre-trained models into the system. Also, we develop an adaptor module to alleviate the representation inconsistency between the pre-trained ASR encoder and MT encoder, and develop a multi-teacher knowledge distillation method to preserve the pre-training knowledge. Experimental results on the LibriSpeech En-Fr and MuST-C En-De ST tasks show that our method achieves state-of-the-art BLEU scores of 18.3 and 25.2. To our knowledge, we are the first to develop an end-to-end ST system that achieves comparable or even better BLEU performance than the cascaded ST counterpart when large-scale ASR and MT data is available.

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N-ary Constituent Tree Parsing with Recursive Semi-Markov Model
Xin Xin | Jinlong Li | Zeqi Tan

In this paper, we study the task of graph-based constituent parsing in the setting that binarization is not conducted as a pre-processing step, where a constituent tree may consist of nodes with more than two children. Previous graph-based methods on this setting typically generate hidden nodes with the dummy label inside the n-ary nodes, in order to transform the tree into a binary tree for prediction. The limitation is that the hidden nodes break the sibling relations of the n-ary node’s children. Consequently, the dependencies of such sibling constituents might not be accurately modeled and is being ignored. To solve this limitation, we propose a novel graph-based framework, which is called “recursive semi-Markov model”. The main idea is to utilize 1-order semi-Markov model to predict the immediate children sequence of a constituent candidate, which then recursively serves as a child candidate of its parent. In this manner, the dependencies of sibling constituents can be described by 1-order transition features, which solves the above limitation. Through experiments, the proposed framework obtains the F1 of 95.92% and 92.50% on the datasets of PTB and CTB 5.1 respectively. Specially, the recursive semi-Markov model shows advantages in modeling nodes with more than two children, whose average F1 can be improved by 0.3-1.1 points in PTB and 2.3-6.8 points in CTB 5.1.

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Automated Concatenation of Embeddings for Structured Prediction
Xinyu Wang | Yong Jiang | Nguyen Bach | Tao Wang | Zhongqiang Huang | Fei Huang | Kewei Tu

Pretrained contextualized embeddings are powerful word representations for structured prediction tasks. Recent work found that better word representations can be obtained by concatenating different types of embeddings. However, the selection of embeddings to form the best concatenated representation usually varies depending on the task and the collection of candidate embeddings, and the ever-increasing number of embedding types makes it a more difficult problem. In this paper, we propose Automated Concatenation of Embeddings (ACE) to automate the process of finding better concatenations of embeddings for structured prediction tasks, based on a formulation inspired by recent progress on neural architecture search. Specifically, a controller alternately samples a concatenation of embeddings, according to its current belief of the effectiveness of individual embedding types in consideration for a task, and updates the belief based on a reward. We follow strategies in reinforcement learning to optimize the parameters of the controller and compute the reward based on the accuracy of a task model, which is fed with the sampled concatenation as input and trained on a task dataset. Empirical results on 6 tasks and 21 datasets show that our approach outperforms strong baselines and achieves state-of-the-art performance with fine-tuned embeddings in all the evaluations.

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Multi-View Cross-Lingual Structured Prediction with Minimum Supervision
Zechuan Hu | Yong Jiang | Nguyen Bach | Tao Wang | Zhongqiang Huang | Fei Huang | Kewei Tu

In structured prediction problems, cross-lingual transfer learning is an efficient way to train quality models for low-resource languages, and further improvement can be obtained by learning from multiple source languages. However, not all source models are created equal and some may hurt performance on the target language. Previous work has explored the similarity between source and target sentences as an approximate measure of strength for different source models. In this paper, we propose a multi-view framework, by leveraging a small number of labeled target sentences, to effectively combine multiple source models into an aggregated source view at different granularity levels (language, sentence, or sub-structure), and transfer it to a target view based on a task-specific model. By encouraging the two views to interact with each other, our framework can dynamically adjust the confidence level of each source model and improve the performance of both views during training. Experiments for three structured prediction tasks on sixteen data sets show that our framework achieves significant improvement over all existing approaches, including these with access to additional source language data.

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The Limitations of Limited Context for Constituency Parsing
Yuchen Li | Andrej Risteski

Incorporating syntax into neural approaches in NLP has a multitude of practical and scientific benefits. For instance, a language model that is syntax-aware is likely to be able to produce better samples; even a discriminative model like BERT with a syntax module could be used for core NLP tasks like unsupervised syntactic parsing. Rapid progress in recent years was arguably spurred on by the empirical success of the Parsing-Reading-Predict architecture of (Shen et al., 2018a), later simplified by the Order Neuron LSTM of (Shen et al., 2019). Most notably, this is the first time neural approaches were able to successfully perform unsupervised syntactic parsing (evaluated by various metrics like F-1 score). However, even heuristic (much less fully mathematical) understanding of why and when these architectures work is lagging severely behind. In this work, we answer representational questions raised by the architectures in (Shen et al., 2018a, 2019), as well as some transition-based syntax-aware language models (Dyer et al., 2016): what kind of syntactic structure can current neural approaches to syntax represent? Concretely, we ground this question in the sandbox of probabilistic context-free-grammars (PCFGs), and identify a key aspect of the representational power of these approaches: the amount and directionality of context that the predictor has access to when forced to make parsing decision. We show that with limited context (either bounded, or unidirectional), there are PCFGs, for which these approaches cannot represent the max-likelihood parse; conversely, if the context is unlimited, they can represent the max-likelihood parse of any PCFG.

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Neural Bi-Lexicalized PCFG Induction
Songlin Yang | Yanpeng Zhao | Kewei Tu

Neural lexicalized PCFGs (L-PCFGs) have been shown effective in grammar induction. However, to reduce computational complexity, they make a strong independence assumption on the generation of the child word and thus bilexical dependencies are ignored. In this paper, we propose an approach to parameterize L-PCFGs without making implausible independence assumptions. Our approach directly models bilexical dependencies and meanwhile reduces both learning and representation complexities of L-PCFGs. Experimental results on the English WSJ dataset confirm the effectiveness of our approach in improving both running speed and unsupervised parsing performance.

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Ruddit: Norms of Offensiveness for English Reddit Comments
Rishav Hada | Sohi Sudhir | Pushkar Mishra | Helen Yannakoudakis | Saif M. Mohammad | Ekaterina Shutova

On social media platforms, hateful and offensive language negatively impact the mental well-being of users and the participation of people from diverse backgrounds. Automatic methods to detect offensive language have largely relied on datasets with categorical labels. However, comments can vary in their degree of offensiveness. We create the first dataset of English language Reddit comments that has fine-grained, real-valued scores between -1 (maximally supportive) and 1 (maximally offensive). The dataset was annotated using Best–Worst Scaling, a form of comparative annotation that has been shown to alleviate known biases of using rating scales. We show that the method produces highly reliable offensiveness scores. Finally, we evaluate the ability of widely-used neural models to predict offensiveness scores on this new dataset.

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Towards Quantifiable Dialogue Coherence Evaluation
Zheng Ye | Liucun Lu | Lishan Huang | Liang Lin | Xiaodan Liang

Automatic dialogue coherence evaluation has attracted increasing attention and is crucial for developing promising dialogue systems. However, existing metrics have two major limitations: (a) they are mostly trained in a simplified two-level setting (coherent vs. incoherent), while humans give Likert-type multi-level coherence scores, dubbed as “quantifiable”; (b) their predicted coherence scores cannot align with the actual human rating standards due to the absence of human guidance during training. To address these limitations, we propose Quantifiable Dialogue Coherence Evaluation (QuantiDCE), a novel framework aiming to train a quantifiable dialogue coherence metric that can reflect the actual human rating standards. Specifically, QuantiDCE includes two training stages, Multi-Level Ranking (MLR) pre-training and Knowledge Distillation (KD) fine-tuning. During MLR pre-training, a new MLR loss is proposed for enabling the model to learn the coarse judgement of coherence degrees. Then, during KD fine-tuning, the pretrained model is further finetuned to learn the actual human rating standards with only very few human-annotated data. To advocate the generalizability even with limited fine-tuning data, a novel KD regularization is introduced to retain the knowledge learned at the pre-training stage. Experimental results show that the model trained by QuantiDCE presents stronger correlations with human judgements than the other state-of-the-art metrics.

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Assessing the Representations of Idiomaticity in Vector Models with a Noun Compound Dataset Labeled at Type and Token Levels
Marcos Garcia | Tiago Kramer Vieira | Carolina Scarton | Marco Idiart | Aline Villavicencio

Accurate assessment of the ability of embedding models to capture idiomaticity may require evaluation at token rather than type level, to account for degrees of idiomaticity and possible ambiguity between literal and idiomatic usages. However, most existing resources with annotation of idiomaticity include ratings only at type level. This paper presents the Noun Compound Type and Token Idiomaticity (NCTTI) dataset, with human annotations for 280 noun compounds in English and 180 in Portuguese at both type and token level. We compiled 8,725 and 5,091 token level annotations for English and Portuguese, respectively, which are strongly correlated with the corresponding scores obtained at type level. The NCTTI dataset is used to explore how vector space models reflect the variability of idiomaticity across sentences. Several experiments using state-of-the-art contextualised models suggest that their representations are not capturing the noun compounds idiomaticity as human annotators. This new multilingual resource also contains suggestions for paraphrases of the noun compounds both at type and token levels, with uses for lexical substitution or disambiguation in context.

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Factoring Statutory Reasoning as Language Understanding Challenges
Nils Holzenberger | Benjamin Van Durme

Statutory reasoning is the task of determining whether a legal statute, stated in natural language, applies to the text description of a case. Prior work introduced a resource that approached statutory reasoning as a monolithic textual entailment problem, with neural baselines performing nearly at-chance. To address this challenge, we decompose statutory reasoning into four types of language-understanding challenge problems, through the introduction of concepts and structure found in Prolog programs. Augmenting an existing benchmark, we provide annotations for the four tasks, and baselines for three of them. Models for statutory reasoning are shown to benefit from the additional structure, improving on prior baselines. Further, the decomposition into subtasks facilitates finer-grained model diagnostics and clearer incremental progress.

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Evaluating Evaluation Measures for Ordinal Classification and Ordinal Quantification
Tetsuya Sakai

Ordinal Classification (OC) is an important classification task where the classes are ordinal. For example, an OC task for sentiment analysis could have the following classes: highly positive, positive, neutral, negative, highly negative. Clearly, evaluation measures for an OC task should penalise misclassifications by considering the ordinal nature of the classes. Ordinal Quantification (OQ) is a related task where the gold data is a distribution over ordinal classes, and the system is required to estimate this distribution. Evaluation measures for an OQ task should also take the ordinal nature of the classes into account. However, for both OC and OQ, there are only a small number of known evaluation measures that meet this basic requirement. In the present study, we utilise data from the SemEval and NTCIR communities to clarify the properties of nine evaluation measures in the context of OC tasks, and six measures in the context of OQ tasks.

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Interpretable and Low-Resource Entity Matching via Decoupling Feature Learning from Decision Making
Zijun Yao | Chengjiang Li | Tiansi Dong | Xin Lv | Jifan Yu | Lei Hou | Juanzi Li | Yichi Zhang | Zelin Dai

Entity Matching (EM) aims at recognizing entity records that denote the same real-world object. Neural EM models learn vector representation of entity descriptions and match entities end-to-end. Though robust, these methods require many annotated resources for training, and lack of interpretability. In this paper, we propose a novel EM framework that consists of Heterogeneous Information Fusion (HIF) and Key Attribute Tree (KAT) Induction to decouple feature representation from matching decision. Using self-supervised learning and mask mechanism in pre-trained language modeling, HIF learns the embeddings of noisy attribute values by inter-attribute attention with unlabeled data. Using a set of comparison features and a limited amount of annotated data, KAT Induction learns an efficient decision tree that can be interpreted by generating entity matching rules whose structure is advocated by domain experts. Experiments on 6 public datasets and 3 industrial datasets show that our method is highly efficient and outperforms SOTA EM models in most cases. We will release the codes upon acceptance.

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Locate and Label: A Two-stage Identifier for Nested Named Entity Recognition
Yongliang Shen | Xinyin Ma | Zeqi Tan | Shuai Zhang | Wen Wang | Weiming Lu

Named entity recognition (NER) is a well-studied task in natural language processing. Traditional NER research only deals with flat entities and ignores nested entities. The span-based methods treat entity recognition as a span classification task. Although these methods have the innate ability to handle nested NER, they suffer from high computational cost, ignorance of boundary information, under-utilization of the spans that partially match with entities, and difficulties in long entity recognition. To tackle these issues, we propose a two-stage entity identifier. First we generate span proposals by filtering and boundary regression on the seed spans to locate the entities, and then label the boundary-adjusted span proposals with the corresponding categories. Our method effectively utilizes the boundary information of entities and partially matched spans during training. Through boundary regression, entities of any length can be covered theoretically, which improves the ability to recognize long entities. In addition, many low-quality seed spans are filtered out in the first stage, which reduces the time complexity of inference. Experiments on nested NER datasets demonstrate that our proposed method outperforms previous state-of-the-art models.

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Text2Event: Controllable Sequence-to-Structure Generation for End-to-end Event Extraction
Yaojie Lu | Hongyu Lin | Jin Xu | Xianpei Han | Jialong Tang | Annan Li | Le Sun | Meng Liao | Shaoyi Chen

Event extraction is challenging due to the complex structure of event records and the semantic gap between text and event. Traditional methods usually extract event records by decomposing the complex structure prediction task into multiple subtasks. In this paper, we propose Text2Event, a sequence-to-structure generation paradigm that can directly extract events from the text in an end-to-end manner. Specifically, we design a sequence-to-structure network for unified event extraction, a constrained decoding algorithm for event knowledge injection during inference, and a curriculum learning algorithm for efficient model learning. Experimental results show that, by uniformly modeling all tasks in a single model and universally predicting different labels, our method can achieve competitive performance using only record-level annotations in both supervised learning and transfer learning settings.

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A Large-Scale Chinese Multimodal NER Dataset with Speech Clues
Dianbo Sui | Zhengkun Tian | Yubo Chen | Kang Liu | Jun Zhao

In this paper, we aim to explore an uncharted territory, which is Chinese multimodal named entity recognition (NER) with both textual and acoustic contents. To achieve this, we construct a large-scale human-annotated Chinese multimodal NER dataset, named CNERTA. Our corpus totally contains 42,987 annotated sentences accompanying by 71 hours of speech data. Based on this dataset, we propose a family of strong and representative baseline models, which can leverage textual features or multimodal features. Upon these baselines, to capture the natural monotonic alignment between the textual modality and the acoustic modality, we further propose a simple multimodal multitask model by introducing a speech-to-text alignment auxiliary task. Through extensive experiments, we observe that: (1) Progressive performance boosts as we move from unimodal to multimodal, verifying the necessity of integrating speech clues into Chinese NER. (2) Our proposed model yields state-of-the-art (SoTA) results on CNERTA, demonstrating its effectiveness. For further research, the annotated dataset is publicly available at

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A Neural Transition-based Joint Model for Disease Named Entity Recognition and Normalization
Zongcheng Ji | Tian Xia | Mei Han | Jing Xiao

Disease is one of the fundamental entities in biomedical research. Recognizing such entities from biomedical text and then normalizing them to a standardized disease vocabulary offer a tremendous opportunity for many downstream applications. Previous studies have demonstrated that joint modeling of the two sub-tasks has superior performance than the pipelined counterpart. Although the neural joint model based on multi-task learning framework has achieved state-of-the-art performance, it suffers from the boundary inconsistency problem due to the separate decoding procedures. Moreover, it ignores the rich information (e.g., the text surface form) of each candidate concept in the vocabulary, which is quite essential for entity normalization. In this work, we propose a neural transition-based joint model to alleviate these two issues. We transform the end-to-end disease recognition and normalization task as an action sequence prediction task, which not only jointly learns the model with shared representations of the input, but also jointly searches the output by state transitions in one search space. Moreover, we introduce attention mechanisms to take advantage of the text surface form of each candidate concept for better normalization performance. Experimental results conducted on two publicly available datasets show the effectiveness of the proposed method.

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OntoED: Low-resource Event Detection with Ontology Embedding
Shumin Deng | Ningyu Zhang | Luoqiu Li | Chen Hui | Tou Huaixiao | Mosha Chen | Fei Huang | Huajun Chen

Event Detection (ED) aims to identify event trigger words from a given text and classify it into an event type. Most current methods to ED rely heavily on training instances, and almost ignore the correlation of event types. Hence, they tend to suffer from data scarcity and fail to handle new unseen event types. To address these problems, we formulate ED as a process of event ontology population: linking event instances to pre-defined event types in event ontology, and propose a novel ED framework entitled OntoED with ontology embedding. We enrich event ontology with linkages among event types, and further induce more event-event correlations. Based on the event ontology, OntoED can leverage and propagate correlation knowledge, particularly from data-rich to data-poor event types. Furthermore, OntoED can be applied to new unseen event types, by establishing linkages to existing ones. Experiments indicate that OntoED is more predominant and robust than previous approaches to ED, especially in data-scarce scenarios.

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Self-Training Sampling with Monolingual Data Uncertainty for Neural Machine Translation
Wenxiang Jiao | Xing Wang | Zhaopeng Tu | Shuming Shi | Michael Lyu | Irwin King

Self-training has proven effective for improving NMT performance by augmenting model training with synthetic parallel data. The common practice is to construct synthetic data based on a randomly sampled subset of large-scale monolingual data, which we empirically show is sub-optimal. In this work, we propose to improve the sampling procedure by selecting the most informative monolingual sentences to complement the parallel data. To this end, we compute the uncertainty of monolingual sentences using the bilingual dictionary extracted from the parallel data. Intuitively, monolingual sentences with lower uncertainty generally correspond to easy-to-translate patterns which may not provide additional gains. Accordingly, we design an uncertainty-based sampling strategy to efficiently exploit the monolingual data for self-training, in which monolingual sentences with higher uncertainty would be sampled with higher probability. Experimental results on large-scale WMT English⇒German and English⇒Chinese datasets demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed approach. Extensive analyses suggest that emphasizing the learning on uncertain monolingual sentences by our approach does improve the translation quality of high-uncertainty sentences and also benefits the prediction of low-frequency words at the target side.

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Breaking the Corpus Bottleneck for Context-Aware Neural Machine Translation with Cross-Task Pre-training
Linqing Chen | Junhui Li | Zhengxian Gong | Boxing Chen | Weihua Luo | Min Zhang | Guodong Zhou

Context-aware neural machine translation (NMT) remains challenging due to the lack of large-scale document-level parallel corpora. To break the corpus bottleneck, in this paper we aim to improve context-aware NMT by taking the advantage of the availability of both large-scale sentence-level parallel dataset and source-side monolingual documents. To this end, we propose two pre-training tasks. One learns to translate a sentence from source language to target language on the sentence-level parallel dataset while the other learns to translate a document from deliberately noised to original on the monolingual documents. Importantly, the two pre-training tasks are jointly and simultaneously learned via the same model, thereafter fine-tuned on scale-limited parallel documents from both sentence-level and document-level perspectives. Experimental results on four translation tasks show that our approach significantly improves translation performance. One nice property of our approach is that the fine-tuned model can be used to translate both sentences and documents.

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Guiding Teacher Forcing with Seer Forcing for Neural Machine Translation
Yang Feng | Shuhao Gu | Dengji Guo | Zhengxin Yang | Chenze Shao

Although teacher forcing has become the main training paradigm for neural machine translation, it usually makes predictions only conditioned on past information, and hence lacks global planning for the future. To address this problem, we introduce another decoder, called seer decoder, into the encoder-decoder framework during training, which involves future information in target predictions. Meanwhile, we force the conventional decoder to simulate the behaviors of the seer decoder via knowledge distillation. In this way, at test the conventional decoder can perform like the seer decoder without the attendance of it. Experiment results on the Chinese-English, English-German and English-Romanian translation tasks show our method can outperform competitive baselines significantly and achieves greater improvements on the bigger data sets. Besides, the experiments also prove knowledge distillation the best way to transfer knowledge from the seer decoder to the conventional decoder compared to adversarial learning and L2 regularization.

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Cascade versus Direct Speech Translation: Do the Differences Still Make a Difference?
Luisa Bentivogli | Mauro Cettolo | Marco Gaido | Alina Karakanta | Alberto Martinelli | Matteo Negri | Marco Turchi

Five years after the first published proofs of concept, direct approaches to speech translation (ST) are now competing with traditional cascade solutions. In light of this steady progress, can we claim that the performance gap between the two is closed? Starting from this question, we present a systematic comparison between state-of-the-art systems representative of the two paradigms. Focusing on three language directions (English-German/Italian/Spanish), we conduct automatic and manual evaluations, exploiting high-quality professional post-edits and annotations. Our multi-faceted analysis on one of the few publicly available ST benchmarks attests for the first time that: i) the gap between the two paradigms is now closed, and ii) the subtle differences observed in their behavior are not sufficient for humans neither to distinguish them nor to prefer one over the other.

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Unsupervised Neural Machine Translation for Low-Resource Domains via Meta-Learning
Cheonbok Park | Yunwon Tae | TaeHee Kim | Soyoung Yang | Mohammad Azam Khan | Lucy Park | Jaegul Choo

Unsupervised machine translation, which utilizes unpaired monolingual corpora as training data, has achieved comparable performance against supervised machine translation. However, it still suffers from data-scarce domains. To address this issue, this paper presents a novel meta-learning algorithm for unsupervised neural machine translation (UNMT) that trains the model to adapt to another domain by utilizing only a small amount of training data. We assume that domain-general knowledge is a significant factor in handling data-scarce domains. Hence, we extend the meta-learning algorithm, which utilizes knowledge learned from high-resource domains, to boost the performance of low-resource UNMT. Our model surpasses a transfer learning-based approach by up to 2-3 BLEU scores. Extensive experimental results show that our proposed algorithm is pertinent for fast adaptation and consistently outperforms other baselines.

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Lightweight Cross-Lingual Sentence Representation Learning
Zhuoyuan Mao | Prakhar Gupta | Chenhui Chu | Martin Jaggi | Sadao Kurohashi

Large-scale models for learning fixed-dimensional cross-lingual sentence representations like LASER (Artetxe and Schwenk, 2019b) lead to significant improvement in performance on downstream tasks. However, further increases and modifications based on such large-scale models are usually impractical due to memory limitations. In this work, we introduce a lightweight dual-transformer architecture with just 2 layers for generating memory-efficient cross-lingual sentence representations. We explore different training tasks and observe that current cross-lingual training tasks leave a lot to be desired for this shallow architecture. To ameliorate this, we propose a novel cross-lingual language model, which combines the existing single-word masked language model with the newly proposed cross-lingual token-level reconstruction task. We further augment the training task by the introduction of two computationally-lite sentence-level contrastive learning tasks to enhance the alignment of cross-lingual sentence representation space, which compensates for the learning bottleneck of the lightweight transformer for generative tasks. Our comparisons with competing models on cross-lingual sentence retrieval and multilingual document classification confirm the effectiveness of the newly proposed training tasks for a shallow model.

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ERNIE-Doc: A Retrospective Long-Document Modeling Transformer
SiYu Ding | Junyuan Shang | Shuohuan Wang | Yu Sun | Hao Tian | Hua Wu | Haifeng Wang

Transformers are not suited for processing long documents, due to their quadratically increasing memory and time consumption. Simply truncating a long document or applying the sparse attention mechanism will incur the context fragmentation problem or lead to an inferior modeling capability against comparable model sizes. In this paper, we propose ERNIE-Doc, a document-level language pretraining model based on Recurrence Transformers. Two well-designed techniques, namely the retrospective feed mechanism and the enhanced recurrence mechanism, enable ERNIE-Doc, which has a much longer effective context length, to capture the contextual information of a complete document. We pretrain ERNIE-Doc to explicitly learn the relationships among segments with an additional document-aware segment-reordering objective. Various experiments were conducted on both English and Chinese document-level tasks. ERNIE-Doc improved the state-of-the-art language modeling result of perplexity to 16.8 on WikiText-103. Moreover, it outperformed competitive pretraining models by a large margin on most language understanding tasks, such as text classification and question answering.

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Marginal Utility Diminishes: Exploring the Minimum Knowledge for BERT Knowledge Distillation
Yuanxin Liu | Fandong Meng | Zheng Lin | Weiping Wang | Jie Zhou

Recently, knowledge distillation (KD) has shown great success in BERT compression. Instead of only learning from the teacher’s soft label as in conventional KD, researchers find that the rich information contained in the hidden layers of BERT is conducive to the student’s performance. To better exploit the hidden knowledge, a common practice is to force the student to deeply mimic the teacher’s hidden states of all the tokens in a layer-wise manner. In this paper, however, we observe that although distilling the teacher’s hidden state knowledge (HSK) is helpful, the performance gain (marginal utility) diminishes quickly as more HSK is distilled. To understand this effect, we conduct a series of analysis. Specifically, we divide the HSK of BERT into three dimensions, namely depth, length and width. We first investigate a variety of strategies to extract crucial knowledge for each single dimension and then jointly compress the three dimensions. In this way, we show that 1) the student’s performance can be improved by extracting and distilling the crucial HSK, and 2) using a tiny fraction of HSK can achieve the same performance as extensive HSK distillation. Based on the second finding, we further propose an efficient KD paradigm to compress BERT, which does not require loading the teacher during the training of student. For two kinds of student models and computing devices, the proposed KD paradigm gives rise to training speedup of 2.7x 3.4x.

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Rational LAMOL: A Rationale-based Lifelong Learning Framework
Kasidis Kanwatchara | Thanapapas Horsuwan | Piyawat Lertvittayakumjorn | Boonserm Kijsirikul | Peerapon Vateekul

Lifelong learning (LL) aims to train a neural network on a stream of tasks while retaining knowledge from previous tasks. However, many prior attempts in NLP still suffer from the catastrophic forgetting issue, where the model completely forgets what it just learned in the previous tasks. In this paper, we introduce Rational LAMOL, a novel end-to-end LL framework for language models. In order to alleviate catastrophic forgetting, Rational LAMOL enhances LAMOL, a recent LL model, by applying critical freezing guided by human rationales. When the human rationales are not available, we propose exploiting unsupervised generated rationales as substitutions. In the experiment, we tested Rational LAMOL on permutations of three datasets from the ERASER benchmark. The results show that our proposed framework outperformed vanilla LAMOL on most permutations. Furthermore, unsupervised rationale generation was able to consistently improve the overall LL performance from the baseline without relying on human-annotated rationales.

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EnsLM: Ensemble Language Model for Data Diversity by Semantic Clustering
Zhibin Duan | Hao Zhang | Chaojie Wang | Zhengjue Wang | Bo Chen | Mingyuan Zhou

Natural language processing (NLP) often faces the problem of data diversity such as different domains, themes, styles, and so on. Therefore, a single language model (LM) is insufficient to learn all knowledge from diverse samples. To solve this problem, we firstly propose an autoencoding topic model with a mixture prior (mATM) to perform clustering for the data, where the clusters defined in semantic space describes the data diversity. Having obtained the clustering assignment for each sample, we develop the ensemble LM (EnsLM) with the technique of weight modulation. Specifically, EnsLM contains a backbone that is adjusted by a few modulated weights to fit for different sample clusters. As a result, the backbone learns the shared knowledge among all clusters while modulated weights extract the cluster-specific features. EnsLM can be trained jointly with mATM with a flexible LM backbone. We evaluate the effectiveness of both mATM and EnsLM on various tasks.

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LeeBERT: Learned Early Exit for BERT with cross-level optimization
Wei Zhu

Pre-trained language models like BERT are performant in a wide range of natural language tasks. However, they are resource exhaustive and computationally expensive for industrial scenarios. Thus, early exits are adopted at each layer of BERT to perform adaptive computation by predicting easier samples with the first few layers to speed up the inference. In this work, to improve efficiency without performance drop, we propose a novel training scheme called Learned Early Exit for BERT (LeeBERT). First, we ask each exit to learn from each other, rather than learning only from the last layer. Second, the weights of different loss terms are learned, thus balancing off different objectives. We formulate the optimization of LeeBERT as a bi-level optimization problem, and we propose a novel cross-level optimization (CLO) algorithm to improve the optimization results. Experiments on the GLUE benchmark show that our proposed methods improve the performance of the state-of-the-art (SOTA) early exit methods for pre-trained models.

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Unsupervised Extractive Summarization-Based Representations for Accurate and Explainable Collaborative Filtering
Reinald Adrian Pugoy | Hung-Yu Kao

We pioneer the first extractive summarization-based collaborative filtering model called ESCOFILT. Our proposed model specifically produces extractive summaries for each item and user. Unlike other types of explanations, summary-level explanations closely resemble real-life explanations. The strength of ESCOFILT lies in the fact that it unifies representation and explanation. In other words, extractive summaries both represent and explain the items and users. Our model uniquely integrates BERT, K-Means embedding clustering, and multilayer perceptron to learn sentence embeddings, representation-explanations, and user-item interactions, respectively. We argue that our approach enhances both rating prediction accuracy and user/item explainability. Our experiments illustrate that ESCOFILT’s prediction accuracy is better than the other state-of-the-art recommender models. Furthermore, we propose a comprehensive set of criteria that assesses the real-life explainability of explanations. Our explainability study demonstrates the superiority of and preference for summary-level explanations over other explanation types.

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PLOME: Pre-training with Misspelled Knowledge for Chinese Spelling Correction
Shulin Liu | Tao Yang | Tianchi Yue | Feng Zhang | Di Wang

Chinese spelling correction (CSC) is a task to detect and correct spelling errors in texts. CSC is essentially a linguistic problem, thus the ability of language understanding is crucial to this task. In this paper, we propose a Pre-trained masked Language model with Misspelled knowledgE (PLOME) for CSC, which jointly learns how to understand language and correct spelling errors. To this end, PLOME masks the chosen tokens with similar characters according to a confusion set rather than the fixed token “[MASK]” as in BERT. Besides character prediction, PLOME also introduces pronunciation prediction to learn the misspelled knowledge on phonic level. Moreover, phonological and visual similarity knowledge is important to this task. PLOME utilizes GRU networks to model such knowledge based on characters’ phonics and strokes. Experiments are conducted on widely used benchmarks. Our method achieves superior performance against state-of-the-art approaches by a remarkable margin. We release the source code and pre-trained model for further use by the community (

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Competence-based Multimodal Curriculum Learning for Medical Report Generation
Fenglin Liu | Shen Ge | Xian Wu

Medical report generation task, which targets to produce long and coherent descriptions of medical images, has attracted growing research interests recently. Different from the general image captioning tasks, medical report generation is more challenging for data-driven neural models. This is mainly due to 1) the serious data bias and 2) the limited medical data. To alleviate the data bias and make best use of available data, we propose a Competence-based Multimodal Curriculum Learning framework (CMCL). Specifically, CMCL simulates the learning process of radiologists and optimizes the model in a step by step manner. Firstly, CMCL estimates the difficulty of each training instance and evaluates the competence of current model; Secondly, CMCL selects the most suitable batch of training instances considering current model competence. By iterating above two steps, CMCL can gradually improve the model’s performance. The experiments on the public IU-Xray and MIMIC-CXR datasets show that CMCL can be incorporated into existing models to improve their performance.

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Learning Syntactic Dense Embedding with Correlation Graph for Automatic Readability Assessment
Xinying Qiu | Yuan Chen | Hanwu Chen | Jian-Yun Nie | Yuming Shen | Dawei Lu

Deep learning models for automatic readability assessment generally discard linguistic features traditionally used in machine learning models for the task. We propose to incorporate linguistic features into neural network models by learning syntactic dense embeddings based on linguistic features. To cope with the relationships between the features, we form a correlation graph among features and use it to learn their embeddings so that similar features will be represented by similar embeddings. Experiments with six data sets of two proficiency levels demonstrate that our proposed methodology can complement BERT-only model to achieve significantly better performances for automatic readability assessment.

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Meta-KD: A Meta Knowledge Distillation Framework for Language Model Compression across Domains
Haojie Pan | Chengyu Wang | Minghui Qiu | Yichang Zhang | Yaliang Li | Jun Huang

Pre-trained language models have been applied to various NLP tasks with considerable performance gains. However, the large model sizes, together with the long inference time, limit the deployment of such models in real-time applications. One line of model compression approaches considers knowledge distillation to distill large teacher models into small student models. Most of these studies focus on single-domain only, which ignores the transferable knowledge from other domains. We notice that training a teacher with transferable knowledge digested across domains can achieve better generalization capability to help knowledge distillation. Hence we propose a Meta-Knowledge Distillation (Meta-KD) framework to build a meta-teacher model that captures transferable knowledge across domains and passes such knowledge to students. Specifically, we explicitly force the meta-teacher to capture transferable knowledge at both instance-level and feature-level from multiple domains, and then propose a meta-distillation algorithm to learn single-domain student models with guidance from the meta-teacher. Experiments on public multi-domain NLP tasks show the effectiveness and superiority of the proposed Meta-KD framework. Further, we also demonstrate the capability of Meta-KD in the settings where the training data is scarce.

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A Semantic-based Method for Unsupervised Commonsense Question Answering
Yilin Niu | Fei Huang | Jiaming Liang | Wenkai Chen | Xiaoyan Zhu | Minlie Huang

Unsupervised commonsense question answering is appealing since it does not rely on any labeled task data. Among existing work, a popular solution is to use pre-trained language models to score candidate choices directly conditioned on the question or context. However, such scores from language models can be easily affected by irrelevant factors, such as word frequencies, sentence structures, etc. These distracting factors may not only mislead the model to choose a wrong answer but also make it oversensitive to lexical perturbations in candidate answers. In this paper, we present a novel SEmantic-based Question Answering method (SEQA) for unsupervised commonsense question answering. Instead of directly scoring each answer choice, our method first generates a set of plausible answers with generative models (e.g., GPT-2), and then uses these plausible answers to select the correct choice by considering the semantic similarity between each plausible answer and each choice. We devise a simple, yet sound formalism for this idea and verify its effectiveness and robustness with extensive experiments. We evaluate the proposed method on four benchmark datasets, and our method achieves the best results in unsupervised settings. Moreover, when attacked by TextFooler with synonym replacement, SEQA demonstrates much less performance drops than baselines, thereby indicating stronger robustness.

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Explanations for CommonsenseQA: New Dataset and Models
Shourya Aggarwal | Divyanshu Mandowara | Vishwajeet Agrawal | Dinesh Khandelwal | Parag Singla | Dinesh Garg

CommonsenseQA (CQA) (Talmor et al., 2019) dataset was recently released to advance the research on common-sense question answering (QA) task. Whereas the prior work has mostly focused on proposing QA models for this dataset, our aim is to retrieve as well as generate explanation for a given (question, correct answer choice, incorrect answer choices) tuple from this dataset. Our explanation definition is based on certain desiderata, and translates an explanation into a set of positive and negative common-sense properties (aka facts) which not only explain the correct answer choice but also refute the incorrect ones. We human-annotate a first-of-its-kind dataset (called ECQA) of positive and negative properties, as well as free-flow explanations, for 11K QA pairs taken from the CQA dataset. We propose a latent representation based property retrieval model as well as a GPT-2 based property generation model with a novel two step fine-tuning procedure. We also propose a free-flow explanation generation model. Extensive experiments show that our retrieval model beats BM25 baseline by a relative gain of 100% in F1 score, property generation model achieves a respectable F1 score of 36.4, and free-flow generation model achieves a similarity score of 61.9, where last two scores are based on a human correlated semantic similarity metric.

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Few-Shot Question Answering by Pretraining Span Selection
Ori Ram | Yuval Kirstain | Jonathan Berant | Amir Globerson | Omer Levy

In several question answering benchmarks, pretrained models have reached human parity through fine-tuning on an order of 100,000 annotated questions and answers. We explore the more realistic few-shot setting, where only a few hundred training examples are available, and observe that standard models perform poorly, highlighting the discrepancy between current pretraining objectives and question answering. We propose a new pretraining scheme tailored for question answering: recurring span selection. Given a passage with multiple sets of recurring spans, we mask in each set all recurring spans but one, and ask the model to select the correct span in the passage for each masked span. Masked spans are replaced with a special token, viewed as a question representation, that is later used during fine-tuning to select the answer span. The resulting model obtains surprisingly good results on multiple benchmarks (e.g., 72.7 F1 on SQuAD with only 128 training examples), while maintaining competitive performance in the high-resource setting.

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UnitedQA: A Hybrid Approach for Open Domain Question Answering
Hao Cheng | Yelong Shen | Xiaodong Liu | Pengcheng He | Weizhu Chen | Jianfeng Gao

To date, most of recent work under the retrieval-reader framework for open-domain QA focuses on either extractive or generative reader exclusively. In this paper, we study a hybrid approach for leveraging the strengths of both models. We apply novel techniques to enhance both extractive and generative readers built upon recent pretrained neural language models, and find that proper training methods can provide large improvement over previous state-of-the-art models. We demonstrate that a simple hybrid approach by combining answers from both readers can efficiently take advantages of extractive and generative answer inference strategies and outperforms single models as well as homogeneous ensembles. Our approach outperforms previous state-of-the-art models by 3.3 and 2.7 points in exact match on NaturalQuestions and TriviaQA respectively.

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Database reasoning over text
James Thorne | Majid Yazdani | Marzieh Saeidi | Fabrizio Silvestri | Sebastian Riedel | Alon Halevy

Neural models have shown impressive performance gains in answering queries from natural language text. However, existing works are unable to support database queries, such as “List/Count all female athletes who were born in 20th century”, which require reasoning over sets of relevant facts with operations such as join, filtering and aggregation. We show that while state-of-the-art transformer models perform very well for small databases, they exhibit limitations in processing noisy data, numerical operations, and queries that aggregate facts. We propose a modular architecture to answer these database-style queries over multiple spans from text and aggregating these at scale. We evaluate the architecture using WikiNLDB, a novel dataset for exploring such queries. Our architecture scales to databases containing thousands of facts whereas contemporary models are limited by how many facts can be encoded. In direct comparison on small databases, our approach increases overall answer accuracy from 85% to 90%. On larger databases, our approach retains its accuracy whereas transformer baselines could not encode the context.

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Online Learning Meets Machine Translation Evaluation: Finding the Best Systems with the Least Human Effort
Vânia Mendonça | Ricardo Rei | Luisa Coheur | Alberto Sardinha | Ana Lúcia Santos

In Machine Translation, assessing the quality of a large amount of automatic translations can be challenging. Automatic metrics are not reliable when it comes to high performing systems. In addition, resorting to human evaluators can be expensive, especially when evaluating multiple systems. To overcome the latter challenge, we propose a novel application of online learning that, given an ensemble of Machine Translation systems, dynamically converges to the best systems, by taking advantage of the human feedback available. Our experiments on WMT’19 datasets show that our online approach quickly converges to the top-3 ranked systems for the language pairs considered, despite the lack of human feedback for many translations.

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How Good is Your Tokenizer? On the Monolingual Performance of Multilingual Language Models
Phillip Rust | Jonas Pfeiffer | Ivan Vulić | Sebastian Ruder | Iryna Gurevych

In this work, we provide a systematic and comprehensive empirical comparison of pretrained multilingual language models versus their monolingual counterparts with regard to their monolingual task performance. We study a set of nine typologically diverse languages with readily available pretrained monolingual models on a set of five diverse monolingual downstream tasks. We first aim to establish, via fair and controlled comparisons, if a gap between the multilingual and the corresponding monolingual representation of that language exists, and subsequently investigate the reason for any performance difference. To disentangle conflating factors, we train new monolingual models on the same data, with monolingually and multilingually trained tokenizers. We find that while the pretraining data size is an important factor, a designated monolingual tokenizer plays an equally important role in the downstream performance. Our results show that languages that are adequately represented in the multilingual model’s vocabulary exhibit negligible performance decreases over their monolingual counterparts. We further find that replacing the original multilingual tokenizer with the specialized monolingual tokenizer improves the downstream performance of the multilingual model for almost every task and language.

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Evaluating morphological typology in zero-shot cross-lingual transfer
Antonio Martínez-García | Toni Badia | Jeremy Barnes

Cross-lingual transfer has improved greatly through multi-lingual language model pretraining, reducing the need for parallel data and increasing absolute performance. However, this progress has also brought to light the differences in performance across languages. Specifically, certain language families and typologies seem to consistently perform worse in these models. In this paper, we address what effects morphological typology has on zero-shot cross-lingual transfer for two tasks: Part-of-speech tagging and sentiment analysis. We perform experiments on 19 languages from four language typologies (fusional, isolating, agglutinative, and introflexive) and find that transfer to another morphological type generally implies a higher loss than transfer to another language with the same morphological typology. Furthermore, POS tagging is more sensitive to morphological typology than sentiment analysis and, on this task, models perform much better on fusional languages than on the other typologies.

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From Machine Translation to Code-Switching: Generating High-Quality Code-Switched Text
Ishan Tarunesh | Syamantak Kumar | Preethi Jyothi

Generating code-switched text is a problem of growing interest, especially given the scarcity of corpora containing large volumes of real code-switched text. In this work, we adapt a state-of-the-art neural machine translation model to generate Hindi-English code-switched sentences starting from monolingual Hindi sentences. We outline a carefully designed curriculum of pretraining steps, including the use of synthetic code-switched text, that enable the model to generate high-quality code-switched text. Using text generated from our model as data augmentation, we show significant reductions in perplexity on a language modeling task, compared to using text from other generative models of CS text. We also show improvements using our text for a downstream code-switched natural language inference task. Our generated text is further subjected to a rigorous evaluation using a human evaluation study and a range of objective metrics, where we show performance comparable (and sometimes even superior) to code-switched text obtained via crowd workers who are native Hindi speakers.

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Fast and Accurate Neural Machine Translation with Translation Memory
Qiuxiang He | Guoping Huang | Qu Cui | Li Li | Lemao Liu

It is generally believed that a translation memory (TM) should be beneficial for machine translation tasks. Unfortunately, existing wisdom demonstrates the superiority of TM-based neural machine translation (NMT) only on the TM-specialized translation tasks rather than general tasks, with a non-negligible computational overhead. In this paper, we propose a fast and accurate approach to TM-based NMT within the Transformer framework: the model architecture is simple and employs a single bilingual sentence as its TM, leading to efficient training and inference; and its parameters are effectively optimized through a novel training criterion. Extensive experiments on six TM-specialized tasks show that the proposed approach substantially surpasses several strong baselines that use multiple TMs, in terms of BLEU and running time. In particular, the proposed approach also advances the strong baselines on two general tasks (WMT news Zh->En and En->De).

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Annotating Online Misogyny
Philine Zeinert | Nanna Inie | Leon Derczynski

Online misogyny, a category of online abusive language, has serious and harmful social consequences. Automatic detection of misogynistic language online, while imperative, poses complicated challenges to both data gathering, data annotation, and bias mitigation, as this type of data is linguistically complex and diverse. This paper makes three contributions in this area: Firstly, we describe the detailed design of our iterative annotation process and codebook. Secondly, we present a comprehensive taxonomy of labels for annotating misogyny in natural written language, and finally, we introduce a high-quality dataset of annotated posts sampled from social media posts.

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Few-NERD: A Few-shot Named Entity Recognition Dataset
Ning Ding | Guangwei Xu | Yulin Chen | Xiaobin Wang | Xu Han | Pengjun Xie | Haitao Zheng | Zhiyuan Liu

Recently, considerable literature has grown up around the theme of few-shot named entity recognition (NER), but little published benchmark data specifically focused on the practical and challenging task. Current approaches collect existing supervised NER datasets and re-organize them to the few-shot setting for empirical study. These strategies conventionally aim to recognize coarse-grained entity types with few examples, while in practice, most unseen entity types are fine-grained. In this paper, we present Few-NERD, a large-scale human-annotated few-shot NER dataset with a hierarchy of 8 coarse-grained and 66 fine-grained entity types. Few-NERD consists of 188,238 sentences from Wikipedia, 4,601,160 words are included and each is annotated as context or a part of the two-level entity type. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first few-shot NER dataset and the largest human-crafted NER dataset. We construct benchmark tasks with different emphases to comprehensively assess the generalization capability of models. Extensive empirical results and analysis show that Few-NERD is challenging and the problem requires further research. The Few-NERD dataset and the baselines will be publicly available to facilitate the research on this problem.

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MultiMET: A Multimodal Dataset for Metaphor Understanding
Dongyu Zhang | Minghao Zhang | Heting Zhang | Liang Yang | Hongfei Lin

Metaphor involves not only a linguistic phenomenon, but also a cognitive phenomenon structuring human thought, which makes understanding it challenging. As a means of cognition, metaphor is rendered by more than texts alone, and multimodal information in which vision/audio content is integrated with the text can play an important role in expressing and understanding metaphor. However, previous metaphor processing and understanding has focused on texts, partly due to the unavailability of large-scale datasets with ground truth labels of multimodal metaphor. In this paper, we introduce MultiMET, a novel multimodal metaphor dataset to facilitate understanding metaphorical information from multimodal text and image. It contains 10,437 text-image pairs from a range of sources with multimodal annotations of the occurrence of metaphors, domain relations, sentiments metaphors convey, and author intents. MultiMET opens the door to automatic metaphor understanding by investigating multimodal cues and their interplay. Moreover, we propose a range of strong baselines and show the importance of combining multimodal cues for metaphor understanding. MultiMET will be released publicly for research.

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Human-in-the-Loop for Data Collection: a Multi-Target Counter Narrative Dataset to Fight Online Hate Speech
Margherita Fanton | Helena Bonaldi | Serra Sinem Tekiroğlu | Marco Guerini

Undermining the impact of hateful content with informed and non-aggressive responses, called counter narratives, has emerged as a possible solution for having healthier online communities. Thus, some NLP studies have started addressing the task of counter narrative generation. Although such studies have made an effort to build hate speech / counter narrative (HS/CN) datasets for neural generation, they fall short in reaching either high-quality and/or high-quantity. In this paper, we propose a novel human-in-the-loop data collection methodology in which a generative language model is refined iteratively by using its own data from the previous loops to generate new training samples that experts review and/or post-edit. Our experiments comprised several loops including diverse dynamic variations. Results show that the methodology is scalable and facilitates diverse, novel, and cost-effective data collection. To our knowledge, the resulting dataset is the only expert-based multi-target HS/CN dataset available to the community.

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Can Generative Pre-trained Language Models Serve As Knowledge Bases for Closed-book QA?
Cunxiang Wang | Pai Liu | Yue Zhang

Recent work has investigated the interesting question using pre-trained language models (PLMs) as knowledge bases for answering open questions. However, existing work is limited in using small benchmarks with high test-train overlaps. We construct a new dataset of closed-book QA using SQuAD, and investigate the performance of BART. Experiments show that it is challenging for BART to remember training facts in high precision, and also challenging to answer closed-book questions even if relevant knowledge is retained. Some promising directions are found, including decoupling the knowledge memorizing process and the QA finetune process, forcing the model to recall relevant knowledge when question answering.

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Joint Models for Answer Verification in Question Answering Systems
Zeyu Zhang | Thuy Vu | Alessandro Moschitti

This paper studies joint models for selecting correct answer sentences among the top k provided by answer sentence selection (AS2) modules, which are core components of retrieval-based Question Answering (QA) systems. Our work shows that a critical step to effectively exploiting an answer set regards modeling the interrelated information between pair of answers. For this purpose, we build a three-way multi-classifier, which decides if an answer supports, refutes, or is neutral with respect to another one. More specifically, our neural architecture integrates a state-of-the-art AS2 module with the multi-classifier, and a joint layer connecting all components. We tested our models on WikiQA, TREC-QA, and a real-world dataset. The results show that our models obtain the new state of the art in AS2.

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Answering Ambiguous Questions through Generative Evidence Fusion and Round-Trip Prediction
Yifan Gao | Henghui Zhu | Patrick Ng | Cicero Nogueira dos Santos | Zhiguo Wang | Feng Nan | Dejiao Zhang | Ramesh Nallapati | Andrew O. Arnold | Bing Xiang

In open-domain question answering, questions are highly likely to be ambiguous because users may not know the scope of relevant topics when formulating them. Therefore, a system needs to find possible interpretations of the question, and predict one or multiple plausible answers. When multiple plausible answers are found, the system should rewrite the question for each answer to resolve the ambiguity. In this paper, we present a model that aggregates and combines evidence from multiple passages to adaptively predict a single answer or a set of question-answer pairs for ambiguous questions. In addition, we propose a novel round-trip prediction approach to iteratively generate additional interpretations that our model fails to find in the first pass, and then verify and filter out the incorrect question-answer pairs to arrive at the final disambiguated output. Our model, named Refuel, achieves a new state-of-the-art performance on the AmbigQA dataset, and shows competitive performance on NQ-Open and TriviaQA. The proposed round-trip prediction is a model-agnostic general approach for answering ambiguous open-domain questions, which improves our Refuel as well as several baseline models. We release source code for our models and experiments at

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TAT-QA: A Question Answering Benchmark on a Hybrid of Tabular and Textual Content in Finance
Fengbin Zhu | Wenqiang Lei | Youcheng Huang | Chao Wang | Shuo Zhang | Jiancheng Lv | Fuli Feng | Tat-Seng Chua

Hybrid data combining both tabular and textual content (e.g., financial reports) are quite pervasive in the real world. However, Question Answering (QA) over such hybrid data is largely neglected in existing research. In this work, we extract samples from real financial reports to build a new large-scale QA dataset containing both Tabular And Textual data, named TAT-QA, where numerical reasoning is usually required to infer the answer, such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, counting, comparison/sorting, and the compositions. We further propose a novel QA model termed TAGOP, which is capable of reasoning over both tables and text. It adopts sequence tagging to extract relevant cells from the table along with relevant spans from the text to infer their semantics, and then applies symbolic reasoning over them with a set of aggregation operators to arrive at the final answer. TAGOP achieves 58.0% inF1, which is an 11.1% absolute increase over the previous best baseline model, according to our experiments on TAT-QA. But this result still lags far behind performance of expert human, i.e.90.8% in F1. It is demonstrated that our TAT-QA is very challenging and can serve as a benchmark for training and testing powerful QA models that address hybrid form data.

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Modeling Transitions of Focal Entities for Conversational Knowledge Base Question Answering
Yunshi Lan | Jing Jiang

Conversational KBQA is about answering a sequence of questions related to a KB. Follow-up questions in conversational KBQA often have missing information referring to entities from the conversation history. In this paper, we propose to model these implied entities, which we refer to as the focal entities of the conversation. We propose a novel graph-based model to capture the transitions of focal entities and apply a graph neural network to derive a probability distribution of focal entities for each question, which is then combined with a standard KBQA module to perform answer ranking. Our experiments on two datasets demonstrate the effectiveness of our proposed method.

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Evidence-based Factual Error Correction
James Thorne | Andreas Vlachos

This paper introduces the task of factual error correction: performing edits to a claim so that the generated rewrite is better supported by evidence. This extends the well-studied task of fact verification by providing a mechanism to correct written texts that are refuted or only partially supported by evidence. We demonstrate that it is feasible to train factual error correction systems from existing fact checking datasets which only contain labeled claims accompanied by evidence, but not the correction. We achieve this by employing a two-stage distant supervision approach that incorporates evidence into masked claims when generating corrections. Our approach, based on the T5 transformer and using retrieved evidence, achieved better results than existing work which used a pointer copy network and gold evidence, producing accurate factual error corrections for 5x more instances in human evaluation and a .125 increase in SARI score. The evaluation is conducted on a dataset of 65,000 instances based on a recent fact verification shared task and we release it to enable further work on the task.

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Probabilistic, Structure-Aware Algorithms for Improved Variety, Accuracy, and Coverage of AMR Alignments
Austin Blodgett | Nathan Schneider

We present algorithms for aligning components of Abstract Meaning Representation (AMR) graphs to spans in English sentences. We leverage unsupervised learning in combination with heuristics, taking the best of both worlds from previous AMR aligners. Our unsupervised models, however, are more sensitive to graph substructures, without requiring a separate syntactic parse. Our approach covers a wider variety of AMR substructures than previously considered, achieves higher coverage of nodes and edges, and does so with higher accuracy. We will release our LEAMR datasets and aligner for use in research on AMR parsing, generation, and evaluation.

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Meta-Learning to Compositionally Generalize
Henry Conklin | Bailin Wang | Kenny Smith | Ivan Titov

Natural language is compositional; the meaning of a sentence is a function of the meaning of its parts. This property allows humans to create and interpret novel sentences, generalizing robustly outside their prior experience. Neural networks have been shown to struggle with this kind of generalization, in particular performing poorly on tasks designed to assess compositional generalization (i.e. where training and testing distributions differ in ways that would be trivial for a compositional strategy to resolve). Their poor performance on these tasks may in part be due to the nature of supervised learning which assumes training and testing data to be drawn from the same distribution. We implement a meta-learning augmented version of supervised learning whose objective directly optimizes for out-of-distribution generalization. We construct pairs of tasks for meta-learning by sub-sampling existing training data. Each pair of tasks is constructed to contain relevant examples, as determined by a similarity metric, in an effort to inhibit models from memorizing their input. Experimental results on the COGS and SCAN datasets show that our similarity-driven meta-learning can improve generalization performance.

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Taming Pre-trained Language Models with N-gram Representations for Low-Resource Domain Adaptation
Shizhe Diao | Ruijia Xu | Hongjin Su | Yilei Jiang | Yan Song | Tong Zhang

Large pre-trained models such as BERT are known to improve different downstream NLP tasks, even when such a model is trained on a generic domain. Moreover, recent studies have shown that when large domain-specific corpora are available, continued pre-training on domain-specific data can further improve the performance of in-domain tasks. However, this practice requires significant domain-specific data and computational resources which may not always be available. In this paper, we aim to adapt a generic pretrained model with a relatively small amount of domain-specific data. We demonstrate that by explicitly incorporating multi-granularity information of unseen and domain-specific words via the adaptation of (word based) n-grams, the performance of a generic pretrained model can be greatly improved. Specifically, we introduce a Transformer-based Domain-aware N-gram Adaptor, T-DNA, to effectively learn and incorporate the semantic representation of different combinations of words in the new domain. Experimental results illustrate the effectiveness of T-DNA on eight low-resource downstream tasks from four domains. We show that T-DNA is able to achieve significant improvements compared to existing methods on most tasks using limited data with lower computational costs. Moreover, further analyses demonstrate the importance and effectiveness of both unseen words and the information of different granularities. Our code is available at

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ERICA: Improving Entity and Relation Understanding for Pre-trained Language Models via Contrastive Learning
Yujia Qin | Yankai Lin | Ryuichi Takanobu | Zhiyuan Liu | Peng Li | Heng Ji | Minlie Huang | Maosong Sun | Jie Zhou

Pre-trained Language Models (PLMs) have shown superior performance on various downstream Natural Language Processing (NLP) tasks. However, conventional pre-training objectives do not explicitly model relational facts in text, which are crucial for textual understanding. To address this issue, we propose a novel contrastive learning framework ERICA to obtain a deep understanding of the entities and their relations in text. Specifically, we define two novel pre-training tasks to better understand entities and relations: (1) the entity discrimination task to distinguish which tail entity can be inferred by the given head entity and relation; (2) the relation discrimination task to distinguish whether two relations are close or not semantically, which involves complex relational reasoning. Experimental results demonstrate that ERICA can improve typical PLMs (BERT and RoBERTa) on several language understanding tasks, including relation extraction, entity typing and question answering, especially under low-resource settings.

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Position Bias Mitigation: A Knowledge-Aware Graph Model for Emotion Cause Extraction
Hanqi Yan | Lin Gui | Gabriele Pergola | Yulan He

The Emotion Cause Extraction (ECE) task aims to identify clauses which contain emotion-evoking information for a particular emotion expressed in text. We observe that a widely-used ECE dataset exhibits a bias that the majority of annotated cause clauses are either directly before their associated emotion clauses or are the emotion clauses themselves. Existing models for ECE tend to explore such relative position information and suffer from the dataset bias. To investigate the degree of reliance of existing ECE models on clause relative positions, we propose a novel strategy to generate adversarial examples in which the relative position information is no longer the indicative feature of cause clauses. We test the performance of existing models on such adversarial examples and observe a significant performance drop. To address the dataset bias, we propose a novel graph-based method to explicitly model the emotion triggering paths by leveraging the commonsense knowledge to enhance the semantic dependencies between a candidate clause and an emotion clause. Experimental results show that our proposed approach performs on par with the existing state-of-the-art methods on the original ECE dataset, and is more robust against adversarial attacks compared to existing models.

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Every Bite Is an Experience: Key Point Analysis of Business Reviews
Roy Bar-Haim | Lilach Eden | Yoav Kantor | Roni Friedman | Noam Slonim

Previous work on review summarization focused on measuring the sentiment toward the main aspects of the reviewed product or business, or on creating a textual summary. These approaches provide only a partial view of the data: aspect-based sentiment summaries lack sufficient explanation or justification for the aspect rating, while textual summaries do not quantify the significance of each element, and are not well-suited for representing conflicting views. Recently, Key Point Analysis (KPA) has been proposed as a summarization framework that provides both textual and quantitative summary of the main points in the data. We adapt KPA to review data by introducing Collective Key Point Mining for better key point extraction; integrating sentiment analysis into KPA; identifying good key point candidates for review summaries; and leveraging the massive amount of available reviews and their metadata. We show empirically that these novel extensions of KPA substantially improve its performance. We demonstrate that promising results can be achieved without any domain-specific annotation, while human supervision can lead to further improvement.

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Structured Sentiment Analysis as Dependency Graph Parsing
Jeremy Barnes | Robin Kurtz | Stephan Oepen | Lilja Øvrelid | Erik Velldal

Structured sentiment analysis attempts to extract full opinion tuples from a text, but over time this task has been subdivided into smaller and smaller sub-tasks, e.g., target extraction or targeted polarity classification. We argue that this division has become counterproductive and propose a new unified framework to remedy the situation. We cast the structured sentiment problem as dependency graph parsing, where the nodes are spans of sentiment holders, targets and expressions, and the arcs are the relations between them. We perform experiments on five datasets in four languages (English, Norwegian, Basque, and Catalan) and show that this approach leads to strong improvements over state-of-the-art baselines. Our analysis shows that refining the sentiment graphs with syntactic dependency information further improves results.

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Consistency Regularization for Cross-Lingual Fine-Tuning
Bo Zheng | Li Dong | Shaohan Huang | Wenhui Wang | Zewen Chi | Saksham Singhal | Wanxiang Che | Ting Liu | Xia Song | Furu Wei

Fine-tuning pre-trained cross-lingual language models can transfer task-specific supervision from one language to the others. In this work, we propose to improve cross-lingual fine-tuning with consistency regularization. Specifically, we use example consistency regularization to penalize the prediction sensitivity to four types of data augmentations, i.e., subword sampling, Gaussian noise, code-switch substitution, and machine translation. In addition, we employ model consistency to regularize the models trained with two augmented versions of the same training set. Experimental results on the XTREME benchmark show that our method significantly improves cross-lingual fine-tuning across various tasks, including text classification, question answering, and sequence labeling.

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Improving Pretrained Cross-Lingual Language Models via Self-Labeled Word Alignment
Zewen Chi | Li Dong | Bo Zheng | Shaohan Huang | Xian-Ling Mao | Heyan Huang | Furu Wei

The cross-lingual language models are typically pretrained with masked language modeling on multilingual text or parallel sentences. In this paper, we introduce denoising word alignment as a new cross-lingual pre-training task. Specifically, the model first self-label word alignments for parallel sentences. Then we randomly mask tokens in a bitext pair. Given a masked token, the model uses a pointer network to predict the aligned token in the other language. We alternately perform the above two steps in an expectation-maximization manner. Experimental results show that our method improves cross-lingual transferability on various datasets, especially on the token-level tasks, such as question answering, and structured prediction. Moreover, the model can serve as a pretrained word aligner, which achieves reasonably low error rate on the alignment benchmarks. The code and pretrained parameters are available at

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Rejuvenating Low-Frequency Words: Making the Most of Parallel Data in Non-Autoregressive Translation
Liang Ding | Longyue Wang | Xuebo Liu | Derek F. Wong | Dacheng Tao | Zhaopeng Tu

Knowledge distillation (KD) is commonly used to construct synthetic data for training non-autoregressive translation (NAT) models. However, there exists a discrepancy on low-frequency words between the distilled and the original data, leading to more errors on predicting low-frequency words. To alleviate the problem, we directly expose the raw data into NAT by leveraging pretraining. By analyzing directed alignments, we found that KD makes low-frequency source words aligned with targets more deterministically but fails to align sufficient low-frequency words from target to source. Accordingly, we propose reverse KD to rejuvenate more alignments for low-frequency target words. To make the most of authentic and synthetic data, we combine these complementary approaches as a new training strategy for further boosting NAT performance. We conduct experiments on five translation benchmarks over two advanced architectures. Results demonstrate that the proposed approach can significantly and universally improve translation quality by reducing translation errors on low-frequency words. Encouragingly, our approach achieves 28.2 and 33.9 BLEU points on the WMT14 English-German and WMT16 Romanian-English datasets, respectively. Our code, data, and trained models are available at

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G-Transformer for Document-Level Machine Translation
Guangsheng Bao | Yue Zhang | Zhiyang Teng | Boxing Chen | Weihua Luo

Document-level MT models are still far from satisfactory. Existing work extend translation unit from single sentence to multiple sentences. However, study shows that when we further enlarge the translation unit to a whole document, supervised training of Transformer can fail. In this paper, we find such failure is not caused by overfitting, but by sticking around local minima during training. Our analysis shows that the increased complexity of target-to-source attention is a reason for the failure. As a solution, we propose G-Transformer, introducing locality assumption as an inductive bias into Transformer, reducing the hypothesis space of the attention from target to source. Experiments show that G-Transformer converges faster and more stably than Transformer, achieving new state-of-the-art BLEU scores for both nonpretraining and pre-training settings on three benchmark datasets.

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Prevent the Language Model from being Overconfident in Neural Machine Translation
Mengqi Miao | Fandong Meng | Yijin Liu | Xiao-Hua Zhou | Jie Zhou

The Neural Machine Translation (NMT) model is essentially a joint language model conditioned on both the source sentence and partial translation. Therefore, the NMT model naturally involves the mechanism of the Language Model (LM) that predicts the next token only based on partial translation. Despite its success, NMT still suffers from the hallucination problem, generating fluent but inadequate translations. The main reason is that NMT pays excessive attention to the partial translation while neglecting the source sentence to some extent, namely overconfidence of the LM. Accordingly, we define the Margin between the NMT and the LM, calculated by subtracting the predicted probability of the LM from that of the NMT model for each token. The Margin is negatively correlated to the overconfidence degree of the LM. Based on the property, we propose a Margin-based Token-level Objective (MTO) and a Margin-based Sentence-level Objective (MSO) to maximize the Margin for preventing the LM from being overconfident. Experiments on WMT14 English-to-German, WMT19 Chinese-to-English, and WMT14 English-to-French translation tasks demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach, with 1.36, 1.50, and 0.63 BLEU improvements, respectively, compared to the Transformer baseline. The human evaluation further verifies that our approaches improve translation adequacy as well as fluency.

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Towards Emotional Support Dialog Systems
Siyang Liu | Chujie Zheng | Orianna Demasi | Sahand Sabour | Yu Li | Zhou Yu | Yong Jiang | Minlie Huang

Emotional support is a crucial ability for many conversation scenarios, including social interactions, mental health support, and customer service chats. Following reasonable procedures and using various support skills can help to effectively provide support. However, due to the lack of a well-designed task and corpora of effective emotional support conversations, research on building emotional support into dialog systems remains lacking. In this paper, we define the Emotional Support Conversation (ESC) task and propose an ESC Framework, which is grounded on the Helping Skills Theory. We construct an Emotion Support Conversation dataset (ESConv) with rich annotation (especially support strategy) in a help-seeker and supporter mode. To ensure a corpus of high-quality conversations that provide examples of effective emotional support, we take extensive effort to design training tutorials for supporters and several mechanisms for quality control during data collection. Finally, we evaluate state-of-the-art dialog models with respect to the ability to provide emotional support. Our results show the importance of support strategies in providing effective emotional support and the utility of ESConv in training more emotional support systems.

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Novel Slot Detection: A Benchmark for Discovering Unknown Slot Types in the Task-Oriented Dialogue System
Yanan Wu | Zhiyuan Zeng | Keqing He | Hong Xu | Yuanmeng Yan | Huixing Jiang | Weiran Xu

Existing slot filling models can only recognize pre-defined in-domain slot types from a limited slot set. In the practical application, a reliable dialogue system should know what it does not know. In this paper, we introduce a new task, Novel Slot Detection (NSD), in the task-oriented dialogue system. NSD aims to discover unknown or out-of-domain slot types to strengthen the capability of a dialogue system based on in-domain training data. Besides, we construct two public NSD datasets, propose several strong NSD baselines, and establish a benchmark for future work. Finally, we conduct exhaustive experiments and qualitative analysis to comprehend key challenges and provide new guidance for future directions.

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GTM: A Generative Triple-wise Model for Conversational Question Generation
Lei Shen | Fandong Meng | Jinchao Zhang | Yang Feng | Jie Zhou

Generating some appealing questions in open-domain conversations is an effective way to improve human-machine interactions and lead the topic to a broader or deeper direction. To avoid dull or deviated questions, some researchers tried to utilize answer, the “future” information, to guide question generation. However, they separate a post-question-answer (PQA) triple into two parts: post-question (PQ) and question-answer (QA) pairs, which may hurt the overall coherence. Besides, the QA relationship is modeled as a one-to-one mapping that is not reasonable in open-domain conversations. To tackle these problems, we propose a generative triple-wise model with hierarchical variations for open-domain conversational question generation (CQG). Latent variables in three hierarchies are used to represent the shared background of a triple and one-to-many semantic mappings in both PQ and QA pairs. Experimental results on a large-scale CQG dataset show that our method significantly improves the quality of questions in terms of fluency, coherence and diversity over competitive baselines.

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Diversifying Dialog Generation via Adaptive Label Smoothing
Yida Wang | Yinhe Zheng | Yong Jiang | Minlie Huang

Neural dialogue generation models trained with the one-hot target distribution suffer from the over-confidence issue, which leads to poor generation diversity as widely reported in the literature. Although existing approaches such as label smoothing can alleviate this issue, they fail to adapt to diverse dialog contexts. In this paper, we propose an Adaptive Label Smoothing (AdaLabel) approach that can adaptively estimate a target label distribution at each time step for different contexts. The maximum probability in the predicted distribution is used to modify the soft target distribution produced by a novel light-weight bi-directional decoder module. The resulting target distribution is aware of both previous and future contexts and is adjusted to avoid over-training the dialogue model. Our model can be trained in an endto-end manner. Extensive experiments on two benchmark datasets show that our approach outperforms various competitive baselines in producing diverse responses.

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Out-of-Scope Intent Detection with Self-Supervision and Discriminative Training
Li-Ming Zhan | Haowen Liang | Bo Liu | Lu Fan | Xiao-Ming Wu | Albert Y.S. Lam

Out-of-scope intent detection is of practical importance in task-oriented dialogue systems. Since the distribution of outlier utterances is arbitrary and unknown in the training stage, existing methods commonly rely on strong assumptions on data distribution such as mixture of Gaussians to make inference, resulting in either complex multi-step training procedures or hand-crafted rules such as confidence threshold selection for outlier detection. In this paper, we propose a simple yet effective method to train an out-of-scope intent classifier in a fully end-to-end manner by simulating the test scenario in training, which requires no assumption on data distribution and no additional post-processing or threshold setting. Specifically, we construct a set of pseudo outliers in the training stage, by generating synthetic outliers using inliner features via self-supervision and sampling out-of-scope sentences from easily available open-domain datasets. The pseudo outliers are used to train a discriminative classifier that can be directly applied to and generalize well on the test task. We evaluate our method extensively on four benchmark dialogue datasets and observe significant improvements over state-of-the-art approaches. Our code has been released at

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Document-level Event Extraction via Heterogeneous Graph-based Interaction Model with a Tracker
Runxin Xu | Tianyu Liu | Lei Li | Baobao Chang

Document-level event extraction aims to recognize event information from a whole piece of article. Existing methods are not effective due to two challenges of this task: a) the target event arguments are scattered across sentences; b) the correlation among events in a document is non-trivial to model. In this paper, we propose Heterogeneous Graph-based Interaction Model with a Tracker (GIT) to solve the aforementioned two challenges. For the first challenge, GIT constructs a heterogeneous graph interaction network to capture global interactions among different sentences and entity mentions. For the second, GIT introduces a Tracker module to track the extracted events and hence capture the interdependency among the events. Experiments on a large-scale dataset (Zheng et al, 2019) show GIT outperforms the previous methods by 2.8 F1. Further analysis reveals is effective in extracting multiple correlated events and event arguments that scatter across the document.

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Nested Named Entity Recognition via Explicitly Excluding the Influence of the Best Path
Yiran Wang | Hiroyuki Shindo | Yuji Matsumoto | Taro Watanabe

This paper presents a novel method for nested named entity recognition. As a layered method, our method extends the prior second-best path recognition method by explicitly excluding the influence of the best path. Our method maintains a set of hidden states at each time step and selectively leverages them to build a different potential function for recognition at each level. In addition, we demonstrate that recognizing innermost entities first results in better performance than the conventional outermost entities first scheme. We provide extensive experimental results on ACE2004, ACE2005, and GENIA datasets to show the effectiveness and efficiency of our proposed method.

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LearnDA: Learnable Knowledge-Guided Data Augmentation for Event Causality Identification
Xinyu Zuo | Pengfei Cao | Yubo Chen | Kang Liu | Jun Zhao | Weihua Peng | Yuguang Chen

Modern models for event causality identification (ECI) are mainly based on supervised learning, which are prone to the data lacking problem. Unfortunately, the existing NLP-related augmentation methods cannot directly produce available data required for this task. To solve the data lacking problem, we introduce a new approach to augment training data for event causality identification, by iteratively generating new examples and classifying event causality in a dual learning framework. On the one hand, our approach is knowledge guided, which can leverage existing knowledge bases to generate well-formed new sentences. On the other hand, our approach employs a dual mechanism, which is a learnable augmentation framework, and can interactively adjust the generation process to generate task-related sentences. Experimental results on two benchmarks EventStoryLine and Causal-TimeBank show that 1) our method can augment suitable task-related training data for ECI; 2) our method outperforms previous methods on EventStoryLine and Causal-TimeBank (+2.5 and +2.1 points on F1 value respectively).

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Revisiting the Negative Data of Distantly Supervised Relation Extraction
Chenhao Xie | Jiaqing Liang | Jingping Liu | Chengsong Huang | Wenhao Huang | Yanghua Xiao

Distantly supervision automatically generates plenty of training samples for relation extraction. However, it also incurs two major problems: noisy labels and imbalanced training data. Previous works focus more on reducing wrongly labeled relations (false positives) while few explore the missing relations that are caused by incompleteness of knowledge base (false negatives). Furthermore, the quantity of negative labels overwhelmingly surpasses the positive ones in previous problem formulations. In this paper, we first provide a thorough analysis of the above challenges caused by negative data. Next, we formulate the problem of relation extraction into as a positive unlabeled learning task to alleviate false negative problem. Thirdly, we propose a pipeline approach, dubbed ReRe, that first performs sentence classification with relational labels and then extracts the subjects/objects. Experimental results show that the proposed method consistently outperforms existing approaches and remains excellent performance even learned with a large quantity of false positive samples. Source code is available online at

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Knowing the No-match: Entity Alignment with Dangling Cases
Zequn Sun | Muhao Chen | Wei Hu

This paper studies a new problem setting of entity alignment for knowledge graphs (KGs). Since KGs possess different sets of entities, there could be entities that cannot find alignment across them, leading to the problem of dangling entities. As the first attempt to this problem, we construct a new dataset and design a multi-task learning framework for both entity alignment and dangling entity detection. The framework can opt to abstain from predicting alignment for the detected dangling entities. We propose three techniques for dangling entity detection that are based on the distribution of nearest-neighbor distances, i.e., nearest neighbor classification, marginal ranking and background ranking. After detecting and removing dangling entities, an incorporated entity alignment model in our framework can provide more robust alignment for remaining entities. Comprehensive experiments and analyses demonstrate the effectiveness of our framework. We further discover that the dangling entity detection module can, in turn, improve alignment learning and the final performance. The contributed resource is publicly available to foster further research.

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Superbizarre Is Not Superb: Derivational Morphology Improves BERT’s Interpretation of Complex Words
Valentin Hofmann | Janet Pierrehumbert | Hinrich Schütze

How does the input segmentation of pretrained language models (PLMs) affect their interpretations of complex words? We present the first study investigating this question, taking BERT as the example PLM and focusing on its semantic representations of English derivatives. We show that PLMs can be interpreted as serial dual-route models, i.e., the meanings of complex words are either stored or else need to be computed from the subwords, which implies that maximally meaningful input tokens should allow for the best generalization on new words. This hypothesis is confirmed by a series of semantic probing tasks on which DelBERT (Derivation leveraging BERT), a model with derivational input segmentation, substantially outperforms BERT with WordPiece segmentation. Our results suggest that the generalization capabilities of PLMs could be further improved if a morphologically-informed vocabulary of input tokens were used.

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BERT is to NLP what AlexNet is to CV: Can Pre-Trained Language Models Identify Analogies?
Asahi Ushio | Luis Espinosa Anke | Steven Schockaert | Jose Camacho-Collados

Analogies play a central role in human commonsense reasoning. The ability to recognize analogies such as “eye is to seeing what ear is to hearing”, sometimes referred to as analogical proportions, shape how we structure knowledge and understand language. Surprisingly, however, the task of identifying such analogies has not yet received much attention in the language model era. In this paper, we analyze the capabilities of transformer-based language models on this unsupervised task, using benchmarks obtained from educational settings, as well as more commonly used datasets. We find that off-the-shelf language models can identify analogies to a certain extent, but struggle with abstract and complex relations, and results are highly sensitive to model architecture and hyperparameters. Overall the best results were obtained with GPT-2 and RoBERTa, while configurations using BERT were not able to outperform word embedding models. Our results raise important questions for future work about how, and to what extent, pre-trained language models capture knowledge about abstract semantic relations.

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Exploring the Representation of Word Meanings in Context: A Case Study on Homonymy and Synonymy
Marcos Garcia

This paper presents a multilingual study of word meaning representations in context. We assess the ability of both static and contextualized models to adequately represent different lexical-semantic relations, such as homonymy and synonymy. To do so, we created a new multilingual dataset that allows us to perform a controlled evaluation of several factors such as the impact of the surrounding context or the overlap between words, conveying the same or different senses. A systematic assessment on four scenarios shows that the best monolingual models based on Transformers can adequately disambiguate homonyms in context. However, as they rely heavily on context, these models fail at representing words with different senses when occurring in similar sentences. Experiments are performed in Galician, Portuguese, English, and Spanish, and both the dataset (with more than 3,000 evaluation items) and new models are freely released with this study.

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Measuring Fine-Grained Domain Relevance of Terms: A Hierarchical Core-Fringe Approach
Jie Huang | Kevin Chang | JinJun Xiong | Wen-mei Hwu

We propose to measure fine-grained domain relevance– the degree that a term is relevant to a broad (e.g., computer science) or narrow (e.g., deep learning) domain. Such measurement is crucial for many downstream tasks in natural language processing. To handle long-tail terms, we build a core-anchored semantic graph, which uses core terms with rich description information to bridge the vast remaining fringe terms semantically. To support a fine-grained domain without relying on a matching corpus for supervision, we develop hierarchical core-fringe learning, which learns core and fringe terms jointly in a semi-supervised manner contextualized in the hierarchy of the domain. To reduce expensive human efforts, we employ automatic annotation and hierarchical positive-unlabeled learning. Our approach applies to big or small domains, covers head or tail terms, and requires little human effort. Extensive experiments demonstrate that our methods outperform strong baselines and even surpass professional human performance.

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HERALD: An Annotation Efficient Method to Detect User Disengagement in Social Conversations
Weixin Liang | Kai-Hui Liang | Zhou Yu

Open-domain dialog systems have a user-centric goal: to provide humans with an engaging conversation experience. User engagement is one of the most important metrics for evaluating open-domain dialog systems, and could also be used as real-time feedback to benefit dialog policy learning. Existing work on detecting user disengagement typically requires hand-labeling many dialog samples. We propose HERALD, an efficient annotation framework that reframes the training data annotation process as a denoising problem. Specifically, instead of manually labeling training samples, we first use a set of labeling heuristics to label training samples automatically. We then denoise the weakly labeled data using the Shapley algorithm. Finally, we use the denoised data to train a user engagement detector. Our experiments show that HERALD improves annotation efficiency significantly and achieves 86% user disengagement detection accuracy in two dialog corpora.

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Value-Agnostic Conversational Semantic Parsing
Emmanouil Antonios Platanios | Adam Pauls | Subhro Roy | Yuchen Zhang | Alexander Kyte | Alan Guo | Sam Thomson | Jayant Krishnamurthy | Jason Wolfe | Jacob Andreas | Dan Klein

Conversational semantic parsers map user utterances to executable programs given dialogue histories composed of previous utterances, programs, and system responses. Existing parsers typically condition on rich representations of history that include the complete set of values and computations previously discussed. We propose a model that abstracts over values to focus prediction on type- and function-level context. This approach provides a compact encoding of dialogue histories and predicted programs, improving generalization and computational efficiency. Our model incorporates several other components, including an atomic span copy operation and structural enforcement of well-formedness constraints on predicted programs, that are particularly advantageous in the low-data regime. Trained on the SMCalFlow and TreeDST datasets, our model outperforms prior work by 7.3% and 10.6% respectively in terms of absolute accuracy. Trained on only a thousand examples from each dataset, it outperforms strong baselines by 12.4% and 6.4%. These results indicate that simple representations are key to effective generalization in conversational semantic parsing.

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MPC-BERT: A Pre-Trained Language Model for Multi-Party Conversation Understanding
Jia-Chen Gu | Chongyang Tao | Zhenhua Ling | Can Xu | Xiubo Geng | Daxin Jiang

Recently, various neural models for multi-party conversation (MPC) have achieved impressive improvements on a variety of tasks such as addressee recognition, speaker identification and response prediction. However, these existing methods on MPC usually represent interlocutors and utterances individually and ignore the inherent complicated structure in MPC which may provide crucial interlocutor and utterance semantics and would enhance the conversation understanding process. To this end, we present MPC-BERT, a pre-trained model for MPC understanding that considers learning who says what to whom in a unified model with several elaborated self-supervised tasks. Particularly, these tasks can be generally categorized into (1) interlocutor structure modeling including reply-to utterance recognition, identical speaker searching and pointer consistency distinction, and (2) utterance semantics modeling including masked shared utterance restoration and shared node detection. We evaluate MPC-BERT on three downstream tasks including addressee recognition, speaker identification and response selection. Experimental results show that MPC-BERT outperforms previous methods by large margins and achieves new state-of-the-art performance on all three downstream tasks at two benchmarks.

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Best of Both Worlds: Making High Accuracy Non-incremental Transformer-based Disfluency Detection Incremental
Morteza Rohanian | Julian Hough

While Transformer-based text classifiers pre-trained on large volumes of text have yielded significant improvements on a wide range of computational linguistics tasks, their implementations have been unsuitable for live incremental processing thus far, operating only on the level of complete sentence inputs. We address the challenge of introducing methods for word-by-word left-to-right incremental processing to Transformers such as BERT, models without an intrinsic sense of linear order. We modify the training method and live decoding of non-incremental models to detect speech disfluencies with minimum latency and without pre-segmentation of dialogue acts. We experiment with several decoding methods to predict the rightward context of the word currently being processed using a GPT-2 language model and apply a BERT-based disfluency detector to sequences, including predicted words. We show our method of incrementalising Transformers maintains most of their high non-incremental performance while operating strictly incrementally. We also evaluate our models’ incremental performance to establish the trade-off between incremental performance and final performance, using different prediction strategies. We apply our system to incremental speech recognition results as they arrive into a live system and achieve state-of-the-art results in this setting.

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NeuralWOZ: Learning to Collect Task-Oriented Dialogue via Model-Based Simulation
Sungdong Kim | Minsuk Chang | Sang-Woo Lee

We propose NeuralWOZ, a novel dialogue collection framework that uses model-based dialogue simulation. NeuralWOZ has two pipelined models, Collector and Labeler. Collector generates dialogues from (1) user’s goal instructions, which are the user context and task constraints in natural language, and (2) system’s API call results, which is a list of possible query responses for user requests from the given knowledge base. Labeler annotates the generated dialogue by formulating the annotation as a multiple-choice problem, in which the candidate labels are extracted from goal instructions and API call results. We demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed method in the zero-shot domain transfer learning for dialogue state tracking. In the evaluation, the synthetic dialogue corpus generated from NeuralWOZ achieves a new state-of-the-art with improvements of 4.4% point joint goal accuracy on average across domains, and improvements of 5.7% point of zero-shot coverage against the MultiWOZ 2.1 dataset.

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CDRNN: Discovering Complex Dynamics in Human Language Processing
Cory Shain

The human mind is a dynamical system, yet many analysis techniques used to study it are limited in their ability to capture the complex dynamics that may characterize mental processes. This study proposes the continuous-time deconvolutional regressive neural network (CDRNN), a deep neural extension of continuous-time deconvolutional regression (Shain & Schuler, 2021) that jointly captures time-varying, non-linear, and delayed influences of predictors (e.g. word surprisal) on the response (e.g. reading time). Despite this flexibility, CDRNN is interpretable and able to illuminate patterns in human cognition that are otherwise difficult to study. Behavioral and fMRI experiments reveal detailed and plausible estimates of human language processing dynamics that generalize better than CDR and other baselines, supporting a potential role for CDRNN in studying human language processing.

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Structural Guidance for Transformer Language Models
Peng Qian | Tahira Naseem | Roger Levy | Ramón Fernandez Astudillo

Transformer-based language models pre-trained on large amounts of text data have proven remarkably successful in learning generic transferable linguistic representations. Here we study whether structural guidance leads to more human-like systematic linguistic generalization in Transformer language models without resorting to pre-training on very large amounts of data. We explore two general ideas. The “Generative Parsing” idea jointly models the incremental parse and word sequence as part of the same sequence modeling task. The “Structural Scaffold” idea guides the language model’s representation via additional structure loss that separately predicts the incremental constituency parse. We train the proposed models along with a vanilla Transformer language model baseline on a 14 million-token and a 46 million-token subset of the BLLIP dataset, and evaluate models’ syntactic generalization performances on SG Test Suites and sized BLiMP. Experiment results across two benchmarks suggest converging evidence that generative structural supervisions can induce more robust and humanlike linguistic generalization in Transformer language models without the need for data intensive pre-training.

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Surprisal Estimators for Human Reading Times Need Character Models
Byung-Doh Oh | Christian Clark | William Schuler

While the use of character models has been popular in NLP applications, it has not been explored much in the context of psycholinguistic modeling. This paper presents a character model that can be applied to a structural parser-based processing model to calculate word generation probabilities. Experimental results show that surprisal estimates from a structural processing model using this character model deliver substantially better fits to self-paced reading, eye-tracking, and fMRI data than those from large-scale language models trained on much more data. This may suggest that the proposed processing model provides a more humanlike account of sentence processing, which assumes a larger role of morphology, phonotactics, and orthographic complexity than was previously thought.

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CogAlign: Learning to Align Textual Neural Representations to Cognitive Language Processing Signals
Yuqi Ren | Deyi Xiong

Most previous studies integrate cognitive language processing signals (e.g., eye-tracking or EEG data) into neural models of natural language processing (NLP) just by directly concatenating word embeddings with cognitive features, ignoring the gap between the two modalities (i.e., textual vs. cognitive) and noise in cognitive features. In this paper, we propose a CogAlign approach to these issues, which learns to align textual neural representations to cognitive features. In CogAlign, we use a shared encoder equipped with a modality discriminator to alternatively encode textual and cognitive inputs to capture their differences and commonalities. Additionally, a text-aware attention mechanism is proposed to detect task-related information and to avoid using noise in cognitive features. Experimental results on three NLP tasks, namely named entity recognition, sentiment analysis and relation extraction, show that CogAlign achieves significant improvements with multiple cognitive features over state-of-the-art models on public datasets. Moreover, our model is able to transfer cognitive information to other datasets that do not have any cognitive processing signals.

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Self-Attention Networks Can Process Bounded Hierarchical Languages
Shunyu Yao | Binghui Peng | Christos Papadimitriou | Karthik Narasimhan

Despite their impressive performance in NLP, self-attention networks were recently proved to be limited for processing formal languages with hierarchical structure, such as Dyck-k, the language consisting of well-nested parentheses of k types. This suggested that natural language can be approximated well with models that are too weak for formal languages, or that the role of hierarchy and recursion in natural language might be limited. We qualify this implication by proving that self-attention networks can process Dyck-(k, D), the subset of Dyck-k with depth bounded by D, which arguably better captures the bounded hierarchical structure of natural language. Specifically, we construct a hard-attention network with D+1 layers and O(log k) memory size (per token per layer) that recognizes Dyck-(k, D), and a soft-attention network with two layers and O(log k) memory size that generates Dyck-(k, D). Experiments show that self-attention networks trained on Dyck-(k, D) generalize to longer inputs with near-perfect accuracy, and also verify the theoretical memory advantage of self-attention networks over recurrent networks.

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TextSETTR: Few-Shot Text Style Extraction and Tunable Targeted Restyling
Parker Riley | Noah Constant | Mandy Guo | Girish Kumar | David Uthus | Zarana Parekh

We present a novel approach to the problem of text style transfer. Unlike previous approaches requiring style-labeled training data, our method makes use of readily-available unlabeled text by relying on the implicit connection in style between adjacent sentences, and uses labeled data only at inference time. We adapt T5 (Raffel et al., 2020), a strong pretrained text-to-text model, to extract a style vector from text and use it to condition the decoder to perform style transfer. As our label-free training results in a style vector space encoding many facets of style, we recast transfers as “targeted restyling” vector operations that adjust specific attributes of the input while preserving others. We demonstrate that training on unlabeled Amazon reviews data results in a model that is competitive on sentiment transfer, even compared to models trained fully on labeled data. Furthermore, applying our novel method to a diverse corpus of unlabeled web text results in a single model capable of transferring along multiple dimensions of style (dialect, emotiveness, formality, politeness, sentiment) despite no additional training and using only a handful of exemplars at inference time.

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H-Transformer-1D: Fast One-Dimensional Hierarchical Attention for Sequences
Zhenhai Zhu | Radu Soricut

We describe an efficient hierarchical method to compute attention in the Transformer architecture. The proposed attention mechanism exploits a matrix structure similar to the Hierarchical Matrix (H-Matrix) developed by the numerical analysis community, and has linear run time and memory complexity. We perform extensive experiments to show that the inductive bias embodied by our hierarchical attention is effective in capturing the hierarchical structure in the sequences typical for natural language and vision tasks. Our method is superior to alternative sub-quadratic proposals by over +6 points on average on the Long Range Arena benchmark. It also sets a new SOTA test perplexity on One-Billion Word dataset with 5x fewer model parameters than that of the previous-best Transformer-based models.

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Making Pre-trained Language Models Better Few-shot Learners
Tianyu Gao | Adam Fisch | Danqi Chen

The recent GPT-3 model (Brown et al., 2020) achieves remarkable few-shot performance solely by leveraging a natural-language prompt and a few task demonstrations as input context. Inspired by their findings, we study few-shot learning in a more practical scenario, where we use smaller language models for which fine-tuning is computationally efficient. We present LM-BFF—better few-shot fine-tuning of language models—a suite of simple and complementary techniques for fine-tuning language models on a small number of annotated examples. Our approach includes (1) prompt-based fine-tuning together with a novel pipeline for automating prompt generation; and (2) a refined strategy for dynamically and selectively incorporating demonstrations into each context. Finally, we present a systematic evaluation for analyzing few-shot performance on a range of NLP tasks, including classification and regression. Our experiments demonstrate that our methods combine to dramatically outperform standard fine-tuning procedures in this low resource setting, achieving up to 30% absolute improvement, and 11% on average across all tasks. Our approach makes minimal assumptions on task resources and domain expertise, and hence constitutes a strong task-agnostic method for few-shot learning.

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A Sweet Rabbit Hole by DARCY: Using Honeypots to Detect Universal Trigger’s Adversarial Attacks
Thai Le | Noseong Park | Dongwon Lee

The Universal Trigger (UniTrigger) is a recently-proposed powerful adversarial textual attack method. Utilizing a learning-based mechanism, UniTrigger generates a fixed phrase that, when added to any benign inputs, can drop the prediction accuracy of a textual neural network (NN) model to near zero on a target class. To defend against this attack that can cause significant harm, in this paper, we borrow the “honeypot” concept from the cybersecurity community and propose DARCY, a honeypot-based defense framework against UniTrigger. DARCY greedily searches and injects multiple trapdoors into an NN model to “bait and catch” potential attacks. Through comprehensive experiments across four public datasets, we show that DARCY detects UniTrigger’s adversarial attacks with up to 99% TPR and less than 2% FPR in most cases, while maintaining the prediction accuracy (in F1) for clean inputs within a 1% margin. We also demonstrate that DARCY with multiple trapdoors is also robust to a diverse set of attack scenarios with attackers’ varying levels of knowledge and skills. We release the source code of DARCY at:

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Towards Propagation Uncertainty: Edge-enhanced Bayesian Graph Convolutional Networks for Rumor Detection
Lingwei Wei | Dou Hu | Wei Zhou | Zhaojuan Yue | Songlin Hu

Detecting rumors on social media is a very critical task with significant implications to the economy, public health, etc. Previous works generally capture effective features from texts and the propagation structure. However, the uncertainty caused by unreliable relations in the propagation structure is common and inevitable due to wily rumor producers and the limited collection of spread data. Most approaches neglect it and may seriously limit the learning of features. Towards this issue, this paper makes the first attempt to explore propagation uncertainty for rumor detection. Specifically, we propose a novel Edge-enhanced Bayesian Graph Convolutional Network (EBGCN) to capture robust structural features. The model adaptively rethinks the reliability of latent relations by adopting a Bayesian approach. Besides, we design a new edge-wise consistency training framework to optimize the model by enforcing consistency on relations. Experiments on three public benchmark datasets demonstrate that the proposed model achieves better performance than baseline methods on both rumor detection and early rumor detection tasks.

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Label-Specific Dual Graph Neural Network for Multi-Label Text Classification
Qianwen Ma | Chunyuan Yuan | Wei Zhou | Songlin Hu

Multi-label text classification is one of the fundamental tasks in natural language processing. Previous studies have difficulties to distinguish similar labels well because they learn the same document representations for different labels, that is they do not explicitly extract label-specific semantic components from documents. Moreover, they do not fully explore the high-order interactions among these semantic components, which is very helpful to predict tail labels. In this paper, we propose a novel label-specific dual graph neural network (LDGN), which incorporates category information to learn label-specific components from documents, and employs dual Graph Convolution Network (GCN) to model complete and adaptive interactions among these components based on the statistical label co-occurrence and dynamic reconstruction graph in a joint way. Experimental results on three benchmark datasets demonstrate that LDGN significantly outperforms the state-of-the-art models, and also achieves better performance with respect to tail labels.

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TAN-NTM: Topic Attention Networks for Neural Topic Modeling
Madhur Panwar | Shashank Shailabh | Milan Aggarwal | Balaji Krishnamurthy

Topic models have been widely used to learn text representations and gain insight into document corpora. To perform topic discovery, most existing neural models either take document bag-of-words (BoW) or sequence of tokens as input followed by variational inference and BoW reconstruction to learn topic-word distribution. However, leveraging topic-word distribution for learning better features during document encoding has not been explored much. To this end, we develop a framework TAN-NTM, which processes document as a sequence of tokens through a LSTM whose contextual outputs are attended in a topic-aware manner. We propose a novel attention mechanism which factors in topic-word distribution to enable the model to attend on relevant words that convey topic related cues. The output of topic attention module is then used to carry out variational inference. We perform extensive ablations and experiments resulting in ~9-15 percentage improvement over score of existing SOTA topic models in NPMI coherence on several benchmark datasets - 20Newsgroups, Yelp Review Polarity and AGNews. Further, we show that our method learns better latent document-topic features compared to existing topic models through improvement on two downstream tasks: document classification and topic guided keyphrase generation.

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Cross-language Sentence Selection via Data Augmentation and Rationale Training
Yanda Chen | Chris Kedzie | Suraj Nair | Petra Galuscakova | Rui Zhang | Douglas Oard | Kathleen McKeown

This paper proposes an approach to cross-language sentence selection in a low-resource setting. It uses data augmentation and negative sampling techniques on noisy parallel sentence data to directly learn a cross-lingual embedding-based query relevance model. Results show that this approach performs as well as or better than multiple state-of-the-art machine translation + monolingual retrieval systems trained on the same parallel data. Moreover, when a rationale training secondary objective is applied to encourage the model to match word alignment hints from a phrase-based statistical machine translation model, consistent improvements are seen across three language pairs (English-Somali, English-Swahili and English-Tagalog) over a variety of state-of-the-art baselines.

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A Neural Model for Joint Document and Snippet Ranking in Question Answering for Large Document Collections
Dimitris Pappas | Ion Androutsopoulos

Question answering (QA) systems for large document collections typically use pipelines that (i) retrieve possibly relevant documents, (ii) re-rank them, (iii) rank paragraphs or other snippets of the top-ranked documents, and (iv) select spans of the top-ranked snippets as exact answers. Pipelines are conceptually simple, but errors propagate from one component to the next, without later components being able to revise earlier decisions. We present an architecture for joint document and snippet ranking, the two middle stages, which leverages the intuition that relevant documents have good snippets and good snippets come from relevant documents. The architecture is general and can be used with any neural text relevance ranker. We experiment with two main instantiations of the architecture, based on POSIT-DRMM (PDRMM) and a BERT-based ranker. Experiments on biomedical data from BIOASQ show that our joint models vastly outperform the pipelines in snippet retrieval, the main goal for QA, with fewer trainable parameters, also remaining competitive in document retrieval. Furthermore, our joint PDRMM-based model is competitive with BERT-based models, despite using orders of magnitude fewer parameters. These claims are also supported by human evaluation on two test batches of BIOASQ. To test our key findings on another dataset, we modified the Natural Questions dataset so that it can also be used for document and snippet retrieval. Our joint PDRMM-based model again outperforms the corresponding pipeline in snippet retrieval on the modified Natural Questions dataset, even though it performs worse than the pipeline in document retrieval. We make our code and the modified Natural Questions dataset publicly available.

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W-RST: Towards a Weighted RST-style Discourse Framework
Patrick Huber | Wen Xiao | Giuseppe Carenini

Aiming for a better integration of data-driven and linguistically-inspired approaches, we explore whether RST Nuclearity, assigning a binary assessment of importance between text segments, can be replaced by automatically generated, real-valued scores, in what we call a Weighted-RST framework. In particular, we find that weighted discourse trees from auxiliary tasks can benefit key NLP downstream applications, compared to nuclearity-centered approaches. We further show that real-valued importance distributions partially and interestingly align with the assessment and uncertainty of human annotators.

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ABCD: A Graph Framework to Convert Complex Sentences to a Covering Set of Simple Sentences
Yanjun Gao | Ting-Hao Huang | Rebecca J. Passonneau

Atomic clauses are fundamental text units for understanding complex sentences. Identifying the atomic sentences within complex sentences is important for applications such as summarization, argument mining, discourse analysis, discourse parsing, and question answering. Previous work mainly relies on rule-based methods dependent on parsing. We propose a new task to decompose each complex sentence into simple sentences derived from the tensed clauses in the source, and a novel problem formulation as a graph edit task. Our neural model learns to Accept, Break, Copy or Drop elements of a graph that combines word adjacency and grammatical dependencies. The full processing pipeline includes modules for graph construction, graph editing, and sentence generation from the output graph. We introduce DeSSE, a new dataset designed to train and evaluate complex sentence decomposition, and MinWiki, a subset of MinWikiSplit. ABCD achieves comparable performance as two parsing baselines on MinWiki. On DeSSE, which has a more even balance of complex sentence types, our model achieves higher accuracy on the number of atomic sentences than an encoder-decoder baseline. Results include a detailed error analysis.

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Which Linguist Invented the Lightbulb? Presupposition Verification for Question-Answering
Najoung Kim | Ellie Pavlick | Burcu Karagol Ayan | Deepak Ramachandran

Many Question-Answering (QA) datasets contain unanswerable questions, but their treatment in QA systems remains primitive. Our analysis of the Natural Questions (Kwiatkowski et al. 2019) dataset reveals that a substantial portion of unanswerable questions (~21%) can be explained based on the presence of unverifiable presuppositions. Through a user preference study, we demonstrate that the oracle behavior of our proposed system—which provides responses based on presupposition failure—is preferred over the oracle behavior of existing QA systems. Then, we present a novel framework for implementing such a system in three steps: presupposition generation, presupposition verification, and explanation generation, reporting progress on each. Finally, we show that a simple modification of adding presuppositions and their verifiability to the input of a competitive end-to-end QA system yields modest gains in QA performance and unanswerability detection, demonstrating the promise of our approach.

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Adversarial Learning for Discourse Rhetorical Structure Parsing
Longyin Zhang | Fang Kong | Guodong Zhou

Text-level discourse rhetorical structure (DRS) parsing is known to be challenging due to the notorious lack of training data. Although recent top-down DRS parsers can better leverage global document context and have achieved certain success, the performance is still far from perfect. To our knowledge, all previous DRS parsers make local decisions for either bottom-up node composition or top-down split point ranking at each time step, and largely ignore DRS parsing from the global view point. Obviously, it is not sufficient to build an entire DRS tree only through these local decisions. In this work, we present our insight on evaluating the pros and cons of the entire DRS tree for global optimization. Specifically, based on recent well-performing top-down frameworks, we introduce a novel method to transform both gold standard and predicted constituency trees into tree diagrams with two color channels. After that, we learn an adversarial bot between gold and fake tree diagrams to estimate the generated DRS trees from a global perspective. We perform experiments on both RST-DT and CDTB corpora and use the original Parseval for performance evaluation. The experimental results show that our parser can substantially improve the performance when compared with previous state-of-the-art parsers.

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Exploring Discourse Structures for Argument Impact Classification
Xin Liu | Jiefu Ou | Yangqiu Song | Xin Jiang

Discourse relations among arguments reveal logical structures of a debate conversation. However, no prior work has explicitly studied how the sequence of discourse relations influence a claim’s impact. This paper empirically shows that the discourse relations between two arguments along the context path are essential factors for identifying the persuasive power of an argument. We further propose DisCOC to inject and fuse the sentence-level structural discourse information with contextualized features derived from large-scale language models. Experimental results and extensive analysis show that the attention and gate mechanisms that explicitly model contexts and texts can indeed help the argument impact classification task defined by Durmus et al. (2019), and discourse structures among the context path of the claim to be classified can further boost the performance.

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Point, Disambiguate and Copy: Incorporating Bilingual Dictionaries for Neural Machine Translation
Tong Zhang | Long Zhang | Wei Ye | Bo Li | Jinan Sun | Xiaoyu Zhu | Wen Zhao | Shikun Zhang

This paper proposes a sophisticated neural architecture to incorporate bilingual dictionaries into Neural Machine Translation (NMT) models. By introducing three novel components: Pointer, Disambiguator, and Copier, our method PDC achieves the following merits inherently compared with previous efforts: (1) Pointer leverages the semantic information from bilingual dictionaries, for the first time, to better locate source words whose translation in dictionaries can potentially be used; (2) Disambiguator synthesizes contextual information from the source view and the target view, both of which contribute to distinguishing the proper translation of a specific source word from multiple candidates in dictionaries; (3) Copier systematically connects Pointer and Disambiguator based on a hierarchical copy mechanism seamlessly integrated with Transformer, thereby building an end-to-end architecture that could avoid error propagation problems in alternative pipe-line methods. The experimental results on Chinese-English and English-Japanese benchmarks demonstrate the PDC’s overall superiority and effectiveness of each component.

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VECO: Variable and Flexible Cross-lingual Pre-training for Language Understanding and Generation
Fuli Luo | Wei Wang | Jiahao Liu | Yijia Liu | Bin Bi | Songfang Huang | Fei Huang | Luo Si

Existing work in multilingual pretraining has demonstrated the potential of cross-lingual transferability by training a unified Transformer encoder for multiple languages. However, much of this work only relies on the shared vocabulary and bilingual contexts to encourage the correlation across languages, which is loose and implicit for aligning the contextual representations between languages. In this paper, we plug a cross-attention module into the Transformer encoder to explicitly build the interdependence between languages. It can effectively avoid the degeneration of predicting masked words only conditioned on the context in its own language. More importantly, when fine-tuning on downstream tasks, the cross-attention module can be plugged in or out on-demand, thus naturally benefiting a wider range of cross-lingual tasks, from language understanding to generation. As a result, the proposed cross-lingual model delivers new state-of-the-art results on various cross-lingual understanding tasks of the XTREME benchmark, covering text classification, sequence labeling, question answering, and sentence retrieval. For cross-lingual generation tasks, it also outperforms all existing cross-lingual models and state-of-the-art Transformer variants on WMT14 English-to-German and English-to-French translation datasets, with gains of up to 1 2 BLEU.

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A unified approach to sentence segmentation of punctuated text in many languages
Rachel Wicks | Matt Post

The sentence is a fundamental unit of text processing. Yet sentences in the wild are commonly encountered not in isolation, but unsegmented within larger paragraphs and documents. Therefore, the first step in many NLP pipelines is sentence segmentation. Despite its importance, this step is the subject of relatively little research. There are no standard test sets or even methods for evaluation, leaving researchers and engineers without a clear footing for evaluating and selecting models for the task. Existing tools have relatively small language coverage, and efforts to extend them to other languages are often ad hoc. We introduce a modern context-based modeling approach that provides a solution to the problem of segmenting punctuated text in many languages, and show how it can be trained on noisily-annotated data. We also establish a new 23-language multilingual evaluation set. Our approach exceeds high baselines set by existing methods on prior English corpora (WSJ and Brown corpora), and also performs well on average on our new evaluation set. We release our tool, ersatz, as open source.

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Towards User-Driven Neural Machine Translation
Huan Lin | Liang Yao | Baosong Yang | Dayiheng Liu | Haibo Zhang | Weihua Luo | Degen Huang | Jinsong Su

A good translation should not only translate the original content semantically, but also incarnate personal traits of the original text. For a real-world neural machine translation (NMT) system, these user traits (e.g., topic preference, stylistic characteristics and expression habits) can be preserved in user behavior (e.g., historical inputs). However, current NMT systems marginally consider the user behavior due to: 1) the difficulty of modeling user portraits in zero-shot scenarios, and 2) the lack of user-behavior annotated parallel dataset. To fill this gap, we introduce a novel framework called user-driven NMT. Specifically, a cache-based module and a user-driven contrastive learning method are proposed to offer NMT the ability to capture potential user traits from their historical inputs under a zero-shot learning fashion. Furthermore, we contribute the first Chinese-English parallel corpus annotated with user behavior called UDT-Corpus. Experimental results confirm that the proposed user-driven NMT can generate user-specific translations.

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End-to-End Lexically Constrained Machine Translation for Morphologically Rich Languages
Josef Jon | João Paulo Aires | Dusan Varis | Ondřej Bojar

Lexically constrained machine translation allows the user to manipulate the output sentence by enforcing the presence or absence of certain words and phrases. Although current approaches can enforce terms to appear in the translation, they often struggle to make the constraint word form agree with the rest of the generated output. Our manual analysis shows that 46% of the errors in the output of a baseline constrained model for English to Czech translation are related to agreement. We investigate mechanisms to allow neural machine translation to infer the correct word inflection given lemmatized constraints. In particular, we focus on methods based on training the model with constraints provided as part of the input sequence. Our experiments on English-Czech language pair show that this approach improves translation of constrained terms in both automatic and manual evaluation by reducing errors in agreement. Our approach thus eliminates inflection errors, without introducing new errors or decreasing overall quality of the translation.

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Handling Extreme Class Imbalance in Technical Logbook Datasets
Farhad Akhbardeh | Cecilia Ovesdotter Alm | Marcos Zampieri | Travis Desell

Technical logbooks are a challenging and under-explored text type in automated event identification. These texts are typically short and written in non-standard yet technical language, posing challenges to off-the-shelf NLP pipelines. The granularity of issue types described in these datasets additionally leads to class imbalance, making it challenging for models to accurately predict which issue each logbook entry describes. In this paper we focus on the problem of technical issue classification by considering logbook datasets from the automotive, aviation, and facilities maintenance domains. We adapt a feedback strategy from computer vision for handling extreme class imbalance, which resamples the training data based on its error in the prediction process. Our experiments show that with statistical significance this feedback strategy provides the best results for four different neural network models trained across a suite of seven different technical logbook datasets from distinct technical domains. The feedback strategy is also generic and could be applied to any learning problem with substantial class imbalances.

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ILDC for CJPE: Indian Legal Documents Corpus for Court Judgment Prediction and Explanation
Vijit Malik | Rishabh Sanjay | Shubham Kumar Nigam | Kripabandhu Ghosh | Shouvik Kumar Guha | Arnab Bhattacharya | Ashutosh Modi

An automated system that could assist a judge in predicting the outcome of a case would help expedite the judicial process. For such a system to be practically useful, predictions by the system should be explainable. To promote research in developing such a system, we introduce ILDC (Indian Legal Documents Corpus). ILDC is a large corpus of 35k Indian Supreme Court cases annotated with original court decisions. A portion of the corpus (a separate test set) is annotated with gold standard explanations by legal experts. Based on ILDC, we propose the task of Court Judgment Prediction and Explanation (CJPE). The task requires an automated system to predict an explainable outcome of a case. We experiment with a battery of baseline models for case predictions and propose a hierarchical occlusion based model for explainability. Our best prediction model has an accuracy of 78% versus 94% for human legal experts, pointing towards the complexity of the prediction task. The analysis of explanations by the proposed algorithm reveals a significant difference in the point of view of the algorithm and legal experts for explaining the judgments, pointing towards scope for future research.

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Supporting Cognitive and Emotional Empathic Writing of Students
Thiemo Wambsganss | Christina Niklaus | Matthias Söllner | Siegfried Handschuh | Jan Marco Leimeister

We present an annotation approach to capturing emotional and cognitive empathy in student-written peer reviews on business models in German. We propose an annotation scheme that allows us to model emotional and cognitive empathy scores based on three types of review components. Also, we conducted an annotation study with three annotators based on 92 student essays to evaluate our annotation scheme. The obtained inter-rater agreement of α=0.79 for the components and the multi-π=0.41 for the empathy scores indicate that the proposed annotation scheme successfully guides annotators to a substantial to moderate agreement. Moreover, we trained predictive models to detect the annotated empathy structures and embedded them in an adaptive writing support system for students to receive individual empathy feedback independent of an instructor, time, and location. We evaluated our tool in a peer learning exercise with 58 students and found promising results for perceived empathy skill learning, perceived feedback accuracy, and intention to use. Finally, we present our freely available corpus of 500 empathy-annotated, student-written peer reviews on business models and our annotation guidelines to encourage future research on the design and development of empathy support systems.

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Dual Reader-Parser on Hybrid Textual and Tabular Evidence for Open Domain Question Answering
Alexander Hanbo Li | Patrick Ng | Peng Xu | Henghui Zhu | Zhiguo Wang | Bing Xiang

The current state-of-the-art generative models for open-domain question answering (ODQA) have focused on generating direct answers from unstructured textual information. However, a large amount of world’s knowledge is stored in structured databases, and need to be accessed using query languages such as SQL. Furthermore, query languages can answer questions that require complex reasoning, as well as offering full explainability. In this paper, we propose a hybrid framework that takes both textual and tabular evidences as input and generates either direct answers or SQL queries depending on which form could better answer the question. The generated SQL queries can then be executed on the associated databases to obtain the final answers. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first paper that applies Text2SQL to ODQA tasks. Empirically, we demonstrate that on several ODQA datasets, the hybrid methods consistently outperforms the baseline models that only takes homogeneous input by a large margin. Specifically we achieve the state-of-the-art performance on OpenSQuAD dataset using a T5-base model. In a detailed analysis, we demonstrate that the being able to generate structural SQL queries can always bring gains, especially for those questions that requires complex reasoning.

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Generation-Augmented Retrieval for Open-Domain Question Answering
Yuning Mao | Pengcheng He | Xiaodong Liu | Yelong Shen | Jianfeng Gao | Jiawei Han | Weizhu Chen

We propose Generation-Augmented Retrieval (GAR) for answering open-domain questions, which augments a query through text generation of heuristically discovered relevant contexts without external resources as supervision. We demonstrate that the generated contexts substantially enrich the semantics of the queries and GAR with sparse representations (BM25) achieves comparable or better performance than state-of-the-art dense retrieval methods such as DPR. We show that generating diverse contexts for a query is beneficial as fusing their results consistently yields better retrieval accuracy. Moreover, as sparse and dense representations are often complementary, GAR can be easily combined with DPR to achieve even better performance. GAR achieves state-of-the-art performance on Natural Questions and TriviaQA datasets under the extractive QA setup when equipped with an extractive reader, and consistently outperforms other retrieval methods when the same generative reader is used.

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Check It Again:Progressive Visual Question Answering via Visual Entailment
Qingyi Si | Zheng Lin | Ming yu Zheng | Peng Fu | Weiping Wang

While sophisticated neural-based models have achieved remarkable success in Visual Question Answering (VQA), these models tend to answer questions only according to superficial correlations between question and answer. Several recent approaches have been developed to address this language priors problem. However, most of them predict the correct answer according to one best output without checking the authenticity of answers. Besides, they only explore the interaction between image and question, ignoring the semantics of candidate answers. In this paper, we propose a select-and-rerank (SAR) progressive framework based on Visual Entailment. Specifically, we first select the candidate answers relevant to the question or the image, then we rerank the candidate answers by a visual entailment task, which verifies whether the image semantically entails the synthetic statement of the question and each candidate answer. Experimental results show the effectiveness of our proposed framework, which establishes a new state-of-the-art accuracy on VQA-CP v2 with a 7.55% improvement.

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A Mutual Information Maximization Approach for the Spurious Solution Problem in Weakly Supervised Question Answering
Zhihong Shao | Lifeng Shang | Qun Liu | Minlie Huang

Weakly supervised question answering usually has only the final answers as supervision signals while the correct solutions to derive the answers are not provided. This setting gives rise to the spurious solution problem: there may exist many spurious solutions that coincidentally derive the correct answer, but training on such solutions can hurt model performance (e.g., producing wrong solutions or answers). For example, for discrete reasoning tasks as on DROP, there may exist many equations to derive a numeric answer, and typically only one of them is correct. Previous learning methods mostly filter out spurious solutions with heuristics or using model confidence, but do not explicitly exploit the semantic correlations between a question and its solution. In this paper, to alleviate the spurious solution problem, we propose to explicitly exploit such semantic correlations by maximizing the mutual information between question-answer pairs and predicted solutions. Extensive experiments on four question answering datasets show that our method significantly outperforms previous learning methods in terms of task performance and is more effective in training models to produce correct solutions.

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Breaking Down Walls of Text: How Can NLP Benefit Consumer Privacy?
Abhilasha Ravichander | Alan W Black | Thomas Norton | Shomir Wilson | Norman Sadeh

Privacy plays a crucial role in preserving democratic ideals and personal autonomy. The dominant legal approach to privacy in many jurisdictions is the “Notice and Choice” paradigm, where privacy policies are the primary instrument used to convey information to users. However, privacy policies are long and complex documents that are difficult for users to read and comprehend. We discuss how language technologies can play an important role in addressing this information gap, reporting on initial progress towards helping three specific categories of stakeholders take advantage of digital privacy policies: consumers, enterprises, and regulators. Our goal is to provide a roadmap for the development and use of language technologies to empower users to reclaim control over their privacy, limit privacy harms, and rally research efforts from the community towards addressing an issue with large social impact. We highlight many remaining opportunities to develop language technologies that are more precise or nuanced in the way in which they use the text of privacy policies.

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Supporting Land Reuse of Former Open Pit Mining Sites using Text Classification and Active Learning
Christopher Schröder | Kim Bürgl | Yves Annanias | Andreas Niekler | Lydia Müller | Daniel Wiegreffe | Christian Bender | Christoph Mengs | Gerik Scheuermann | Gerhard Heyer

Open pit mines left many regions worldwide inhospitable or uninhabitable. Many sites are left behind in a hazardous or contaminated state, show remnants of waste, or have other restrictions imposed upon them, e.g., for the protection of human or nature. Such information has to be permanently managed in order to reuse those areas in the future. In this work we present and evaluate an automated workflow for supporting the post-mining management of former lignite open pit mines in the eastern part of Germany, where prior to any planned land reuse, aforementioned information has to be acquired to ensure the safety and validity of such an endeavor. Usually, this information is found in expert reports, either in the form of paper documents, or in the best case as digitized unstructured text—all of them in German language. However, due to the size and complexity of these documents, any inquiry is tedious and time-consuming, thereby slowing down or even obstructing the reuse of related areas. Since no training data is available, we employ active learning in order to perform multi-label sentence classification for two categories of restrictions and seven categories of topics. The final system integrates optical character recognition (OCR), active-learning-based text classification, and geographic information system visualization in order to effectively extract, query, and visualize this information for any area of interest. Active learning and text classification results are twofold: Whereas the restriction categories were reasonably accurate (>0.85 F1), the seven topic-oriented categories seemed to be complex even for human annotators and achieved mediocre evaluation scores (<0.70 F1).

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Reliability Testing for Natural Language Processing Systems
Samson Tan | Shafiq Joty | Kathy Baxter | Araz Taeihagh | Gregory A. Bennett | Min-Yen Kan

Questions of fairness, robustness, and transparency are paramount to address before deploying NLP systems. Central to these concerns is the question of reliability: Can NLP systems reliably treat different demographics fairly and function correctly in diverse and noisy environments? To address this, we argue for the need for reliability testing and contextualize it among existing work on improving accountability. We show how adversarial attacks can be reframed for this goal, via a framework for developing reliability tests. We argue that reliability testing — with an emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration — will enable rigorous and targeted testing, and aid in the enactment and enforcement of industry standards.

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Learning Language and Multimodal Privacy-Preserving Markers of Mood from Mobile Data
Paul Pu Liang | Terrance Liu | Anna Cai | Michal Muszynski | Ryo Ishii | Nick Allen | Randy Auerbach | David Brent | Ruslan Salakhutdinov | Louis-Philippe Morency

Mental health conditions remain underdiagnosed even in countries with common access to advanced medical care. The ability to accurately and efficiently predict mood from easily collectible data has several important implications for the early detection, intervention, and treatment of mental health disorders. One promising data source to help monitor human behavior is daily smartphone usage. However, care must be taken to summarize behaviors without identifying the user through personal (e.g., personally identifiable information) or protected (e.g., race, gender) attributes. In this paper, we study behavioral markers of daily mood using a recent dataset of mobile behaviors from adolescent populations at high risk of suicidal behaviors. Using computational models, we find that language and multimodal representations of mobile typed text (spanning typed characters, words, keystroke timings, and app usage) are predictive of daily mood. However, we find that models trained to predict mood often also capture private user identities in their intermediate representations. To tackle this problem, we evaluate approaches that obfuscate user identity while remaining predictive. By combining multimodal representations with privacy-preserving learning, we are able to push forward the performance-privacy frontier.

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Anonymisation Models for Text Data: State of the art, Challenges and Future Directions
Pierre Lison | Ildikó Pilán | David Sanchez | Montserrat Batet | Lilja Øvrelid

This position paper investigates the problem of automated text anonymisation, which is a prerequisite for secure sharing of documents containing sensitive information about individuals. We summarise the key concepts behind text anonymisation and provide a review of current approaches. Anonymisation methods have so far been developed in two fields with little mutual interaction, namely natural language processing and privacy-preserving data publishing. Based on a case study, we outline the benefits and limitations of these approaches and discuss a number of open challenges, such as (1) how to account for multiple types of semantic inferences, (2) how to strike a balance between disclosure risk and data utility and (3) how to evaluate the quality of the resulting anonymisation. We lay out a case for moving beyond sequence labelling models and incorporate explicit measures of disclosure risk into the text anonymisation process.

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End-to-End AMR Coreference Resolution
Qiankun Fu | Linfeng Song | Wenyu Du | Yue Zhang

Although parsing to Abstract Meaning Representation (AMR) has become very popular and AMR has been shown effective on the many sentence-level downstream tasks, little work has studied how to generate AMRs that can represent multi-sentence information. We introduce the first end-to-end AMR coreference resolution model in order to build multi-sentence AMRs. Compared with the previous pipeline and rule-based approaches, our model alleviates error propagation and it is more robust for both in-domain and out-domain situations. Besides, the document-level AMRs obtained by our model can significantly improve over the AMRs generated by a rule-based method (Liu et al., 2015) on text summarization.

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How is BERT surprised? Layerwise detection of linguistic anomalies
Bai Li | Zining Zhu | Guillaume Thomas | Yang Xu | Frank Rudzicz

Transformer language models have shown remarkable ability in detecting when a word is anomalous in context, but likelihood scores offer no information about the cause of the anomaly. In this work, we use Gaussian models for density estimation at intermediate layers of three language models (BERT, RoBERTa, and XLNet), and evaluate our method on BLiMP, a grammaticality judgement benchmark. In lower layers, surprisal is highly correlated to low token frequency, but this correlation diminishes in upper layers. Next, we gather datasets of morphosyntactic, semantic, and commonsense anomalies from psycholinguistic studies; we find that the best performing model RoBERTa exhibits surprisal in earlier layers when the anomaly is morphosyntactic than when it is semantic, while commonsense anomalies do not exhibit surprisal at any intermediate layer. These results suggest that language models employ separate mechanisms to detect different types of linguistic anomalies.

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Psycholinguistic Tripartite Graph Network for Personality Detection
Tao Yang | Feifan Yang | Haolan Ouyang | Xiaojun Quan

Most of the recent work on personality detection from online posts adopts multifarious deep neural networks to represent the posts and builds predictive models in a data-driven manner, without the exploitation of psycholinguistic knowledge that may unveil the connections between one’s language use and his psychological traits. In this paper, we propose a psycholinguistic knowledge-based tripartite graph network, TrigNet, which consists of a tripartite graph network and a BERT-based graph initializer. The graph network injects structural psycholinguistic knowledge in LIWC, a computerized instrument for psycholinguistic analysis, by constructing a heterogeneous tripartite graph. The initializer is employed to provide initial embeddings for the graph nodes. To reduce the computational cost in graph learning, we further propose a novel flow graph attention network (GAT) that only transmits messages between neighboring parties in the tripartite graph. Benefiting from the tripartite graph, TrigNet can aggregate post information from a psychological perspective, which is a novel way of exploiting domain knowledge. Extensive experiments on two datasets show that TrigNet outperforms the existing state-of-art model by 3.47 and 2.10 points in average F1. Moreover, the flow GAT reduces the FLOPS and Memory measures by 38% and 32%, respectively, in comparison to the original GAT in our setting.

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Verb Metaphor Detection via Contextual Relation Learning
Wei Song | Shuhui Zhou | Ruiji Fu | Ting Liu | Lizhen Liu

Correct natural language understanding requires computers to distinguish the literal and metaphorical senses of a word. Recent neu- ral models achieve progress on verb metaphor detection by viewing it as sequence labeling. In this paper, we argue that it is appropriate to view this task as relation classification between a verb and its various contexts. We propose the Metaphor-relation BERT (Mr-BERT) model, which explicitly models the relation between a verb and its grammatical, sentential and semantic contexts. We evaluate our method on the VUA, MOH-X and TroFi datasets. Our method gets competitive results compared with state-of-the-art approaches.

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Improving Speech Translation by Understanding and Learning from the Auxiliary Text Translation Task
Yun Tang | Juan Pino | Xian Li | Changhan Wang | Dmitriy Genzel

Pretraining and multitask learning are widely used to improve the speech translation performance. In this study, we are interested in training a speech translation model along with an auxiliary text translation task. We conduct a detailed analysis to understand the impact of the auxiliary task on the primary task within the multitask learning framework. Our analysis confirms that multitask learning tends to generate similar decoder representations from different modalities and preserve more information from the pretrained text translation modules. We observe minimal negative transfer effect between the two tasks and sharing more parameters is helpful to transfer knowledge from the text task to the speech task. The analysis also reveals that the modality representation difference at the top decoder layers is still not negligible, and those layers are critical for the translation quality. Inspired by these findings, we propose three methods to improve translation quality. First, a parameter sharing and initialization strategy is proposed to enhance information sharing between the tasks. Second, a novel attention-based regularization is proposed for the encoders and pulls the representations from different modalities closer. Third, an online knowledge distillation is proposed to enhance the knowledge transfer from the text to the speech task. Our experiments show that the proposed approach improves translation performance by more than 2 BLEU over a strong baseline and achieves state-of-the-art results on the MuST-C English-German, English-French and English-Spanish language pairs.

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Probing Toxic Content in Large Pre-Trained Language Models
Nedjma Ousidhoum | Xinran Zhao | Tianqing Fang | Yangqiu Song | Dit-Yan Yeung

Large pre-trained language models (PTLMs) have been shown to carry biases towards different social groups which leads to the reproduction of stereotypical and toxic content by major NLP systems. We propose a method based on logistic regression classifiers to probe English, French, and Arabic PTLMs and quantify the potentially harmful content that they convey with respect to a set of templates. The templates are prompted by a name of a social group followed by a cause-effect relation. We use PTLMs to predict masked tokens at the end of a sentence in order to examine how likely they enable toxicity towards specific communities. We shed the light on how such negative content can be triggered within unrelated and benign contexts based on evidence from a large-scale study, then we explain how to take advantage of our methodology to assess and mitigate the toxicity transmitted by PTLMs.

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Societal Biases in Language Generation: Progress and Challenges
Emily Sheng | Kai-Wei Chang | Prem Natarajan | Nanyun Peng

Technology for language generation has advanced rapidly, spurred by advancements in pre-training large models on massive amounts of data and the need for intelligent agents to communicate in a natural manner. While techniques can effectively generate fluent text, they can also produce undesirable societal biases that can have a disproportionately negative impact on marginalized populations. Language generation presents unique challenges for biases in terms of direct user interaction and the structure of decoding techniques. To better understand these challenges, we present a survey on societal biases in language generation, focusing on how data and techniques contribute to biases and progress towards reducing biases. Motivated by a lack of studies on biases from decoding techniques, we also conduct experiments to quantify the effects of these techniques. By further discussing general trends and open challenges, we call to attention promising directions for research and the importance of fairness and inclusivity considerations for language generation applications.

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Reservoir Transformers
Sheng Shen | Alexei Baevski | Ari Morcos | Kurt Keutzer | Michael Auli | Douwe Kiela

We demonstrate that transformers obtain impressive performance even when some of the layers are randomly initialized and never updated. Inspired by old and well-established ideas in machine learning, we explore a variety of non-linear “reservoir” layers interspersed with regular transformer layers, and show improvements in wall-clock compute time until convergence, as well as overall performance, on various machine translation and (masked) language modelling tasks.

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Subsequence Based Deep Active Learning for Named Entity Recognition
Puria Radmard | Yassir Fathullah | Aldo Lipani

Active Learning (AL) has been successfully applied to Deep Learning in order to drastically reduce the amount of data required to achieve high performance. Previous works have shown that lightweight architectures for Named Entity Recognition (NER) can achieve optimal performance with only 25% of the original training data. However, these methods do not exploit the sequential nature of language and the heterogeneity of uncertainty within each instance, requiring the labelling of whole sentences. Additionally, this standard method requires that the annotator has access to the full sentence when labelling. In this work, we overcome these limitations by allowing the AL algorithm to query subsequences within sentences, and propagate their labels to other sentences. We achieve highly efficient results on OntoNotes 5.0, only requiring 13% of the original training data, and CoNLL 2003, requiring only 27%. This is an improvement of 39% and 37% compared to querying full sentences.

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Convolutions and Self-Attention: Re-interpreting Relative Positions in Pre-trained Language Models
Tyler Chang | Yifan Xu | Weijian Xu | Zhuowen Tu

In this paper, we detail the relationship between convolutions and self-attention in natural language tasks. We show that relative position embeddings in self-attention layers are equivalent to recently-proposed dynamic lightweight convolutions, and we consider multiple new ways of integrating convolutions into Transformer self-attention. Specifically, we propose composite attention, which unites previous relative position encoding methods under a convolutional framework. We conduct experiments by training BERT with composite attention, finding that convolutions consistently improve performance on multiple downstream tasks, replacing absolute position embeddings. To inform future work, we present results comparing lightweight convolutions, dynamic convolutions, and depthwise-separable convolutions in language model pre-training, considering multiple injection points for convolutions in self-attention layers.

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BinaryBERT: Pushing the Limit of BERT Quantization
Haoli Bai | Wei Zhang | Lu Hou | Lifeng Shang | Jin Jin | Xin Jiang | Qun Liu | Michael Lyu | Irwin King

The rapid development of large pre-trained language models has greatly increased the demand for model compression techniques, among which quantization is a popular solution. In this paper, we propose BinaryBERT, which pushes BERT quantization to the limit by weight binarization. We find that a binary BERT is hard to be trained directly than a ternary counterpart due to its complex and irregular loss landscape. Therefore, we propose ternary weight splitting, which initializes BinaryBERT by equivalently splitting from a half-sized ternary network. The binary model thus inherits the good performance of the ternary one, and can be further enhanced by fine-tuning the new architecture after splitting. Empirical results show that our BinaryBERT has only a slight performance drop compared with the full-precision model while being 24x smaller, achieving the state-of-the-art compression results on the GLUE and SQuAD benchmarks. Code will be released.

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Are Pretrained Convolutions Better than Pretrained Transformers?
Yi Tay | Mostafa Dehghani | Jai Prakash Gupta | Vamsi Aribandi | Dara Bahri | Zhen Qin | Donald Metzler

In the era of pre-trained language models, Transformers are the de facto choice of model architectures. While recent research has shown promise in entirely convolutional, or CNN, architectures, they have not been explored using the pre-train-fine-tune paradigm. In the context of language models, are convolutional models competitive to Transformers when pre-trained? This paper investigates this research question and presents several interesting findings. Across an extensive set of experiments on 8 datasets/tasks, we find that CNN-based pre-trained models are competitive and outperform their Transformer counterpart in certain scenarios, albeit with caveats. Overall, the findings outlined in this paper suggest that conflating pre-training and architectural advances is misguided and that both advances should be considered independently. We believe our research paves the way for a healthy amount of optimism in alternative architectures.

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PairRE: Knowledge Graph Embeddings via Paired Relation Vectors
Linlin Chao | Jianshan He | Taifeng Wang | Wei Chu

Distance based knowledge graph embedding methods show promising results on link prediction task, on which two topics have been widely studied: one is the ability to handle complex relations, such as N-to-1, 1-to-N and N-to-N, the other is to encode various relation patterns, such as symmetry/antisymmetry. However, the existing methods fail to solve these two problems at the same time, which leads to unsatisfactory results. To mitigate this problem, we propose PairRE, a model with paired vectors for each relation representation. The paired vectors enable an adaptive adjustment of the margin in loss function to fit for different complex relations. Besides, PairRE is capable of encoding three important relation patterns, symmetry/antisymmetry, inverse and composition. Given simple constraints on relation representations, PairRE can encode subrelation further. Experiments on link prediction benchmarks demonstrate the proposed key capabilities of PairRE. Moreover, We set a new state-of-the-art on two knowledge graph datasets of the challenging Open Graph Benchmark.

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Hierarchy-aware Label Semantics Matching Network for Hierarchical Text Classification
Haibin Chen | Qianli Ma | Zhenxi Lin | Jiangyue Yan

Hierarchical text classification is an important yet challenging task due to the complex structure of the label hierarchy. Existing methods ignore the semantic relationship between text and labels, so they cannot make full use of the hierarchical information. To this end, we formulate the text-label semantics relationship as a semantic matching problem and thus propose a hierarchy-aware label semantics matching network (HiMatch). First, we project text semantics and label semantics into a joint embedding space. We then introduce a joint embedding loss and a matching learning loss to model the matching relationship between the text semantics and the label semantics. Our model captures the text-label semantics matching relationship among coarse-grained labels and fine-grained labels in a hierarchy-aware manner. The experimental results on various benchmark datasets verify that our model achieves state-of-the-art results.

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HiddenCut: Simple Data Augmentation for Natural Language Understanding with Better Generalizability
Jiaao Chen | Dinghan Shen | Weizhu Chen | Diyi Yang

Fine-tuning large pre-trained models with task-specific data has achieved great success in NLP. However, it has been demonstrated that the majority of information within the self-attention networks is redundant and not utilized effectively during the fine-tuning stage. This leads to inferior results when generalizing the obtained models to out-of-domain distributions. To this end, we propose a simple yet effective data augmentation technique, HiddenCut, to better regularize the model and encourage it to learn more generalizable features. Specifically, contiguous spans within the hidden space are dynamically and strategically dropped during training. Experiments show that our HiddenCut method outperforms the state-of-the-art augmentation methods on the GLUE benchmark, and consistently exhibits superior generalization performances on out-of-distribution and challenging counterexamples. We have publicly released our code at

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Neural Stylistic Response Generation with Disentangled Latent Variables
Qingfu Zhu | Wei-Nan Zhang | Ting Liu | William Yang Wang

Generating open-domain conversational responses in the desired style usually suffers from the lack of parallel data in the style. Meanwhile, using monolingual stylistic data to increase style intensity often leads to the expense of decreasing content relevance. In this paper, we propose to disentangle the content and style in latent space by diluting sentence-level information in style representations. Combining the desired style representation and a response content representation will then obtain a stylistic response. Our approach achieves a higher BERT-based style intensity score and comparable BLEU scores, compared with baselines. Human evaluation results show that our approach significantly improves style intensity and maintains content relevance.

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Intent Classification and Slot Filling for Privacy Policies
Wasi Ahmad | Jianfeng Chi | Tu Le | Thomas Norton | Yuan Tian | Kai-Wei Chang

Understanding privacy policies is crucial for users as it empowers them to learn about the information that matters to them. Sentences written in a privacy policy document explain privacy practices, and the constituent text spans convey further specific information about that practice. We refer to predicting the privacy practice explained in a sentence as intent classification and identifying the text spans sharing specific information as slot filling. In this work, we propose PolicyIE, an English corpus consisting of 5,250 intent and 11,788 slot annotations spanning 31 privacy policies of websites and mobile applications. PolicyIE corpus is a challenging real-world benchmark with limited labeled examples reflecting the cost of collecting large-scale annotations from domain experts. We present two alternative neural approaches as baselines, (1) intent classification and slot filling as a joint sequence tagging and (2) modeling them as a sequence-to-sequence (Seq2Seq) learning task. The experiment results show that both approaches perform comparably in intent classification, while the Seq2Seq method outperforms the sequence tagging approach in slot filling by a large margin. We perform a detailed error analysis to reveal the challenges of the proposed corpus.

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RADDLE: An Evaluation Benchmark and Analysis Platform for Robust Task-oriented Dialog Systems
Baolin Peng | Chunyuan Li | Zhu Zhang | Chenguang Zhu | Jinchao Li | Jianfeng Gao

For task-oriented dialog systems to be maximally useful, it must be able to process conversations in a way that is (1) generalizable with a small number of training examples for new task domains, and (2) robust to user input in various styles, modalities, or domains. In pursuit of these goals, we introduce the RADDLE benchmark, a collection of corpora and tools for evaluating the performance of models across a diverse set of domains. By including tasks with limited training data, RADDLE is designed to favor and encourage models with a strong generalization ability. RADDLE also includes a diagnostic checklist that facilitates detailed robustness analysis in aspects such as language variations, speech errors, unseen entities, and out-of-domain utterances. We evaluate recent state-of-the-art systems based on pre-training and fine-tuning, and find that grounded pre-training on heterogeneous dialog corpora performs better than training a separate model per domain. Adversarial training is also proposed to improve model robustness against noisy inputs. Overall, existing models are less than satisfactory in robustness evaluation, which suggests opportunities for future improvement.

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Semantic Representation for Dialogue Modeling
Xuefeng Bai | Yulong Chen | Linfeng Song | Yue Zhang

Although neural models have achieved competitive results in dialogue systems, they have shown limited ability in representing core semantics, such as ignoring important entities. To this end, we exploit Abstract Meaning Representation (AMR) to help dialogue modeling. Compared with the textual input, AMR explicitly provides core semantic knowledge and reduces data sparsity. We develop an algorithm to construct dialogue-level AMR graphs from sentence-level AMRs and explore two ways to incorporate AMRs into dialogue systems. Experimental results on both dialogue understanding and response generation tasks show the superiority of our model. To our knowledge, we are the first to leverage a formal semantic representation into neural dialogue modeling.

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A Pre-training Strategy for Zero-Resource Response Selection in Knowledge-Grounded Conversations
Chongyang Tao | Changyu Chen | Jiazhan Feng | Ji-Rong Wen | Rui Yan

Recently, many studies are emerging towards building a retrieval-based dialogue system that is able to effectively leverage background knowledge (e.g., documents) when conversing with humans. However, it is non-trivial to collect large-scale dialogues that are naturally grounded on the background documents, which hinders the effective and adequate training of knowledge selection and response matching. To overcome the challenge, we consider decomposing the training of the knowledge-grounded response selection into three tasks including: 1) query-passage matching task; 2) query-dialogue history matching task; 3) multi-turn response matching task, and joint learning all these tasks in a unified pre-trained language model. The former two tasks could help the model in knowledge selection and comprehension, while the last task is designed for matching the proper response with the given query and background knowledge (dialogue history). By this means, the model can be learned to select relevant knowledge and distinguish proper response, with the help of ad-hoc retrieval corpora and a large number of ungrounded multi-turn dialogues. Experimental results on two benchmarks of knowledge-grounded response selection indicate that our model can achieve comparable performance with several existing methods that rely on crowd-sourced data for training.

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Dependency-driven Relation Extraction with Attentive Graph Convolutional Networks
Yuanhe Tian | Guimin Chen | Yan Song | Xiang Wan

Syntactic information, especially dependency trees, has been widely used by existing studies to improve relation extraction with better semantic guidance for analyzing the context information associated with the given entities. However, most existing studies suffer from the noise in the dependency trees, especially when they are automatically generated, so that intensively leveraging dependency information may introduce confusions to relation classification and necessary pruning is of great importance in this task. In this paper, we propose a dependency-driven approach for relation extraction with attentive graph convolutional networks (A-GCN). In this approach, an attention mechanism upon graph convolutional networks is applied to different contextual words in the dependency tree obtained from an off-the-shelf dependency parser, to distinguish the importance of different word dependencies. Consider that dependency types among words also contain important contextual guidance, which is potentially helpful for relation extraction, we also include the type information in A-GCN modeling. Experimental results on two English benchmark datasets demonstrate the effectiveness of our A-GCN, which outperforms previous studies and achieves state-of-the-art performance on both datasets.

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Evaluating Entity Disambiguation and the Role of Popularity in Retrieval-Based NLP
Anthony Chen | Pallavi Gudipati | Shayne Longpre | Xiao Ling | Sameer Singh

Retrieval is a core component for open-domain NLP tasks. In open-domain tasks, multiple entities can share a name, making disambiguation an inherent yet under-explored problem. We propose an evaluation benchmark for assessing the entity disambiguation capabilities of these retrievers, which we call Ambiguous Entity Retrieval (AmbER) sets. We define an AmbER set as a collection of entities that share a name along with queries about those entities. By covering the set of entities for polysemous names, AmbER sets act as a challenging test of entity disambiguation. We create AmbER sets for three popular open-domain tasks: fact checking, slot filling, and question answering, and evaluate a diverse set of retrievers. We find that the retrievers exhibit popularity bias, significantly under-performing on rarer entities that share a name, e.g., they are twice as likely to retrieve erroneous documents on queries for the less popular entity under the same name. These experiments on AmbER sets show their utility as an evaluation tool and highlight the weaknesses of popular retrieval systems.

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Evaluation Examples are not Equally Informative: How should that change NLP Leaderboards?
Pedro Rodriguez | Joe Barrow | Alexander Miserlis Hoyle | John P. Lalor | Robin Jia | Jordan Boyd-Graber

Leaderboards are widely used in NLP and push the field forward. While leaderboards are a straightforward ranking of NLP models, this simplicity can mask nuances in evaluation items (examples) and subjects (NLP models). Rather than replace leaderboards, we advocate a re-imagining so that they better highlight if and where progress is made. Building on educational testing, we create a Bayesian leaderboard model where latent subject skill and latent item difficulty predict correct responses. Using this model, we analyze the ranking reliability of leaderboards. Afterwards, we show the model can guide what to annotate, identify annotation errors, detect overfitting, and identify informative examples. We conclude with recommendations for future benchmark tasks.

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Claim Matching Beyond English to Scale Global Fact-Checking
Ashkan Kazemi | Kiran Garimella | Devin Gaffney | Scott Hale

Manual fact-checking does not scale well to serve the needs of the internet. This issue is further compounded in non-English contexts. In this paper, we discuss claim matching as a possible solution to scale fact-checking. We define claim matching as the task of identifying pairs of textual messages containing claims that can be served with one fact-check. We construct a novel dataset of WhatsApp tipline and public group messages alongside fact-checked claims that are first annotated for containing “claim-like statements” and then matched with potentially similar items and annotated for claim matching. Our dataset contains content in high-resource (English, Hindi) and lower-resource (Bengali, Malayalam, Tamil) languages. We train our own embedding model using knowledge distillation and a high-quality “teacher” model in order to address the imbalance in embedding quality between the low- and high-resource languages in our dataset. We provide evaluations on the performance of our solution and compare with baselines and existing state-of-the-art multilingual embedding models, namely LASER and LaBSE. We demonstrate that our performance exceeds LASER and LaBSE in all settings. We release our annotated datasets, codebooks, and trained embedding model to allow for further research.

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SemFace: Pre-training Encoder and Decoder with a Semantic Interface for Neural Machine Translation
Shuo Ren | Long Zhou | Shujie Liu | Furu Wei | Ming Zhou | Shuai Ma

While pre-training techniques are working very well in natural language processing, how to pre-train a decoder and effectively use it for neural machine translation (NMT) still remains a tricky issue. The main reason is that the cross-attention module between the encoder and decoder cannot be pre-trained, and the combined encoder-decoder model cannot work well in the fine-tuning stage because the inputs of the decoder cross-attention come from unknown encoder outputs. In this paper, we propose a better pre-training method for NMT by defining a semantic interface (SemFace) between the pre-trained encoder and the pre-trained decoder. Specifically, we propose two types of semantic interfaces, including CL-SemFace which regards cross-lingual embeddings as an interface, and VQ-SemFace which employs vector quantized embeddings to constrain the encoder outputs and decoder inputs in the same language-independent space. We conduct massive experiments on six supervised translation pairs and three unsupervised pairs. Experimental results demonstrate that our proposed SemFace can effectively connect the pre-trained encoder and decoder, and achieves significant improvement by 3.7 and 1.5 BLEU points on the two tasks respectively compared with previous pre-training-based NMT models.

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Energy-Based Reranking: Improving Neural Machine Translation Using Energy-Based Models
Sumanta Bhattacharyya | Amirmohammad Rooshenas | Subhajit Naskar | Simeng Sun | Mohit Iyyer | Andrew McCallum

The discrepancy between maximum likelihood estimation (MLE) and task measures such as BLEU score has been studied before for autoregressive neural machine translation (NMT) and resulted in alternative training algorithms (Ranzato et al., 2016; Norouzi et al., 2016; Shen et al., 2016; Wu et al., 2018). However, MLE training remains the de facto approach for autoregressive NMT because of its computational efficiency and stability. Despite this mismatch between the training objective and task measure, we notice that the samples drawn from an MLE-based trained NMT support the desired distribution – there are samples with much higher BLEU score comparing to the beam decoding output. To benefit from this observation, we train an energy-based model to mimic the behavior of the task measure (i.e., the energy-based model assigns lower energy to samples with higher BLEU score), which is resulted in a re-ranking algorithm based on the samples drawn from NMT: energy-based re-ranking (EBR). We use both marginal energy models (over target sentence) and joint energy models (over both source and target sentences). Our EBR with the joint energy model consistently improves the performance of the Transformer-based NMT: +3.7 BLEU points on IWSLT’14 German-English, +3.37 BELU points on Sinhala-English, +1.4 BLEU points on WMT’16 English-German tasks.

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Syntax-augmented Multilingual BERT for Cross-lingual Transfer
Wasi Ahmad | Haoran Li | Kai-Wei Chang | Yashar Mehdad

In recent years, we have seen a colossal effort in pre-training multilingual text encoders using large-scale corpora in many languages to facilitate cross-lingual transfer learning. However, due to typological differences across languages, the cross-lingual transfer is challenging. Nevertheless, language syntax, e.g., syntactic dependencies, can bridge the typological gap. Previous works have shown that pre-trained multilingual encoders, such as mBERT (CITATION), capture language syntax, helping cross-lingual transfer. This work shows that explicitly providing language syntax and training mBERT using an auxiliary objective to encode the universal dependency tree structure helps cross-lingual transfer. We perform rigorous experiments on four NLP tasks, including text classification, question answering, named entity recognition, and task-oriented semantic parsing. The experiment results show that syntax-augmented mBERT improves cross-lingual transfer on popular benchmarks, such as PAWS-X and MLQA, by 1.4 and 1.6 points on average across all languages. In the generalized transfer setting, the performance boosted significantly, with 3.9 and 3.1 points on average in PAWS-X and MLQA.

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How to Adapt Your Pretrained Multilingual Model to 1600 Languages
Abteen Ebrahimi | Katharina Kann

Pretrained multilingual models (PMMs) enable zero-shot learning via cross-lingual transfer, performing best for languages seen during pretraining. While methods exist to improve performance for unseen languages, they have almost exclusively been evaluated using amounts of raw text only available for a small fraction of the world’s languages. In this paper, we evaluate the performance of existing methods to adapt PMMs to new languages using a resource available for close to 1600 languages: the New Testament. This is challenging for two reasons: (1) the small corpus size, and (2) the narrow domain. While performance drops for all approaches, we surprisingly still see gains of up to 17.69% accuracy for part-of-speech tagging and 6.29 F1 for NER on average over all languages as compared to XLM-R. Another unexpected finding is that continued pretraining, the simplest approach, performs best. Finally, we perform a case study to disentangle the effects of domain and size and to shed light on the influence of the finetuning source language.

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Weakly Supervised Named Entity Tagging with Learnable Logical Rules
Jiacheng Li | Haibo Ding | Jingbo Shang | Julian McAuley | Zhe Feng

We study the problem of building entity tagging systems by using a few rules as weak supervision. Previous methods mostly focus on disambiguating entity types based on contexts and expert-provided rules, while assuming entity spans are given. In this work, we propose a novel method TALLOR that bootstraps high-quality logical rules to train a neural tagger in a fully automated manner. Specifically, we introduce compound rules that are composed from simple rules to increase the precision of boundary detection and generate more diverse pseudo labels. We further design a dynamic label selection strategy to ensure pseudo label quality and therefore avoid overfitting the neural tagger. Experiments on three datasets demonstrate that our method outperforms other weakly supervised methods and even rivals a state-of-the-art distantly supervised tagger with a lexicon of over 2,000 terms when starting from only 20 simple rules. Our method can serve as a tool for rapidly building taggers in emerging domains and tasks. Case studies show that learned rules can potentially explain the predicted entities.

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Prefix-Tuning: Optimizing Continuous Prompts for Generation
Xiang Lisa Li | Percy Liang

Fine-tuning is the de facto way of leveraging large pretrained language models for downstream tasks. However, fine-tuning modifies all the language model parameters and therefore necessitates storing a full copy for each task. In this paper, we propose prefix-tuning, a lightweight alternative to fine-tuning for natural language generation tasks, which keeps language model parameters frozen and instead optimizes a sequence of continuous task-specific vectors, which we call the prefix. Prefix-tuning draws inspiration from prompting for language models, allowing subsequent tokens to attend to this prefix as if it were “virtual tokens”. We apply prefix-tuning to GPT-2 for table-to-text generation and to BART for summarization. We show that by learning only 0.1% of the parameters, prefix-tuning obtains comparable performance in the full data setting, outperforms fine-tuning in low-data settings, and extrapolates better to examples with topics that are unseen during training.

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One2Set: Generating Diverse Keyphrases as a Set
Jiacheng Ye | Tao Gui | Yichao Luo | Yige Xu | Qi Zhang

Recently, the sequence-to-sequence models have made remarkable progress on the task of keyphrase generation (KG) by concatenating multiple keyphrases in a predefined order as a target sequence during training. However, the keyphrases are inherently an unordered set rather than an ordered sequence. Imposing a predefined order will introduce wrong bias during training, which can highly penalize shifts in the order between keyphrases. In this work, we propose a new training paradigm One2Set without predefining an order to concatenate the keyphrases. To fit this paradigm, we propose a novel model that utilizes a fixed set of learned control codes as conditions to generate a set of keyphrases in parallel. To solve the problem that there is no correspondence between each prediction and target during training, we propose a K-step label assignment mechanism via bipartite matching, which greatly increases the diversity and reduces the repetition rate of generated keyphrases. The experimental results on multiple benchmarks demonstrate that our approach significantly outperforms the state-of-the-art methods.

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Continuous Language Generative Flow
Zineng Tang | Shiyue Zhang | Hyounghun Kim | Mohit Bansal

Recent years have witnessed various types of generative models for natural language generation (NLG), especially RNNs or transformer based sequence-to-sequence models, as well as variational autoencoder (VAE) and generative adversarial network (GAN) based models. However, flow-based generative models, which achieve strong performance in image generation due to their invertibility and exact density estimation properties, have been less explored for NLG. In this paper, we propose a flow-based language generation model by adapting previous flow generative models to language generation via continuous input embeddings, adapted affine coupling structures, and a novel architecture for autoregressive text generation. We also apply our framework to Sequence-to-Sequence generation, including text- and video-based Question Generation (QG) and Neural Machine Translation (NMT), and data augmentation for Question Answering (QA). We use our language flow model to provide extra input features for QG and NMT, which achieves improvements over the strong QG baselines on SQuAD and TVQA and NMT baseline on WMT16. We also augment QA data with new context by injecting noise to the latent features of the language flow and show this augmentation leads to a large performance improvement from strong baselines on SQuAD and TVQA.

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TWAG: A Topic-Guided Wikipedia Abstract Generator
Fangwei Zhu | Shangqing Tu | Jiaxin Shi | Juanzi Li | Lei Hou | Tong Cui

Wikipedia abstract generation aims to distill a Wikipedia abstract from web sources and has met significant success by adopting multi-document summarization techniques. However, previous works generally view the abstract as plain text, ignoring the fact that it is a description of a certain entity and can be decomposed into different topics. In this paper, we propose a two-stage model TWAG that guides the abstract generation with topical information. First, we detect the topic of each input paragraph with a classifier trained on existing Wikipedia articles to divide input documents into different topics. Then, we predict the topic distribution of each abstract sentence, and decode the sentence from topic-aware representations with a Pointer-Generator network. We evaluate our model on the WikiCatSum dataset, and the results show that TWAG outperforms various existing baselines and is capable of generating comprehensive abstracts.

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ForecastQA: A Question Answering Challenge for Event Forecasting with Temporal Text Data
Woojeong Jin | Rahul Khanna | Suji Kim | Dong-Ho Lee | Fred Morstatter | Aram Galstyan | Xiang Ren

Event forecasting is a challenging, yet important task, as humans seek to constantly plan for the future. Existing automated forecasting studies rely mostly on structured data, such as time-series or event-based knowledge graphs, to help predict future events. In this work, we aim to formulate a task, construct a dataset, and provide benchmarks for developing methods for event forecasting with large volumes of unstructured text data. To simulate the forecasting scenario on temporal news documents, we formulate the problem as a restricted-domain, multiple-choice, question-answering (QA) task. Unlike existing QA tasks, our task limits accessible information, and thus a model has to make a forecasting judgement. To showcase the usefulness of this task formulation, we introduce ForecastQA, a question-answering dataset consisting of 10,392 event forecasting questions, which have been collected and verified via crowdsourcing efforts. We present our experiments on ForecastQA using BERTbased models and find that our best model achieves 61.0% accuracy on the dataset, which still lags behind human performance by about 19%. We hope ForecastQA will support future research efforts in bridging this gap.

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Recursive Tree-Structured Self-Attention for Answer Sentence Selection
Khalil Mrini | Emilia Farcas | Ndapa Nakashole

Syntactic structure is an important component of natural language text. Recent top-performing models in Answer Sentence Selection (AS2) use self-attention and transfer learning, but not syntactic structure. Tree structures have shown strong performance in tasks with sentence pair input like semantic relatedness. We investigate whether tree structures can boost performance in AS2. We introduce the Tree Aggregation Transformer: a novel recursive, tree-structured self-attention model for AS2. The recursive nature of our model is able to represent all levels of syntactic parse trees with only one additional self-attention layer. Without transfer learning, we establish a new state of the art on the popular TrecQA and WikiQA benchmark datasets. Additionally, we evaluate our method on four Community Question Answering datasets, and find that tree-structured representations have limitations with noisy user-generated text. We conduct probing experiments to evaluate how our models leverage tree structures across datasets. Our findings show that the ability of tree-structured models to successfully absorb syntactic information is strongly correlated with a higher performance in AS2.

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How Knowledge Graph and Attention Help? A Qualitative Analysis into Bag-level Relation Extraction
Zikun Hu | Yixin Cao | Lifu Huang | Tat-Seng Chua

Knowledge Graph (KG) and attention mechanism have been demonstrated effective in introducing and selecting