Transactions of the Association for Computational Linguistics (2016)


bib (full) Transactions of the Association for Computational Linguistics, Volume 4

Transactions of the Association for Computational Linguistics, Volume 4
Lillian Lee | Mark Johnson | Kristina Toutanova

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Morpho-syntactic Lexicon Generation Using Graph-based Semi-supervised Learning
Manaal Faruqui | Ryan McDonald | Radu Soricut

Morpho-syntactic lexicons provide information about the morphological and syntactic roles of words in a language. Such lexicons are not available for all languages and even when available, their coverage can be limited. We present a graph-based semi-supervised learning method that uses the morphological, syntactic and semantic relations between words to automatically construct wide coverage lexicons from small seed sets. Our method is language-independent, and we show that we can expand a 1000 word seed lexicon to more than 100 times its size with high quality for 11 languages. In addition, the automatically created lexicons provide features that improve performance in two downstream tasks: morphological tagging and dependency parsing.

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Learning to Understand Phrases by Embedding the Dictionary
Felix Hill | Kyunghyun Cho | Anna Korhonen | Yoshua Bengio

Distributional models that learn rich semantic word representations are a success story of recent NLP research. However, developing models that learn useful representations of phrases and sentences has proved far harder. We propose using the definitions found in everyday dictionaries as a means of bridging this gap between lexical and phrasal semantics. Neural language embedding models can be effectively trained to map dictionary definitions (phrases) to (lexical) representations of the words defined by those definitions. We present two applications of these architectures: reverse dictionaries that return the name of a concept given a definition or description and general-knowledge crossword question answerers. On both tasks, neural language embedding models trained on definitions from a handful of freely-available lexical resources perform as well or better than existing commercial systems that rely on significant task-specific engineering. The results highlight the effectiveness of both neural embedding architectures and definition-based training for developing models that understand phrases and sentences.

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A Bayesian Model of Diachronic Meaning Change
Lea Frermann | Mirella Lapata

Word meanings change over time and an automated procedure for extracting this information from text would be useful for historical exploratory studies, information retrieval or question answering. We present a dynamic Bayesian model of diachronic meaning change, which infers temporal word representations as a set of senses and their prevalence. Unlike previous work, we explicitly model language change as a smooth, gradual process. We experimentally show that this modeling decision is beneficial: our model performs competitively on meaning change detection tasks whilst inducing discernible word senses and their development over time. Application of our model to the SemEval-2015 temporal classification benchmark datasets further reveals that it performs on par with highly optimized task-specific systems.

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Detecting Cross-Cultural Differences Using a Multilingual Topic Model
E.D. Gutiérrez | Ekaterina Shutova | Patricia Lichtenstein | Gerard de Melo | Luca Gilardi

Understanding cross-cultural differences has important implications for world affairs and many aspects of the life of society. Yet, the majority of text-mining methods to date focus on the analysis of monolingual texts. In contrast, we present a statistical model that simultaneously learns a set of common topics from multilingual, non-parallel data and automatically discovers the differences in perspectives on these topics across linguistic communities. We perform a behavioural evaluation of a subset of the differences identified by our model in English and Spanish to investigate their psychological validity.

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An Empirical Analysis of Formality in Online Communication
Ellie Pavlick | Joel Tetreault

This paper presents an empirical study of linguistic formality. We perform an analysis of humans’ perceptions of formality in four different genres. These findings are used to develop a statistical model for predicting formality, which is evaluated under different feature settings and genres. We apply our model to an investigation of formality in online discussion forums, and present findings consistent with theories of formality and linguistic coordination.

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Decoding Anagrammed Texts Written in an Unknown Language and Script
Bradley Hauer | Grzegorz Kondrak

Algorithmic decipherment is a prime example of a truly unsupervised problem. The first step in the decipherment process is the identification of the encrypted language. We propose three methods for determining the source language of a document enciphered with a monoalphabetic substitution cipher. The best method achieves 97% accuracy on 380 languages. We then present an approach to decoding anagrammed substitution ciphers, in which the letters within words have been arbitrarily transposed. It obtains the average decryption word accuracy of 93% on a set of 50 ciphertexts in 5 languages. Finally, we report the results on the Voynich manuscript, an unsolved fifteenth century cipher, which suggest Hebrew as the language of the document.

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Learning Tier-based Strictly 2-Local Languages
Adam Jardine | Jeffrey Heinz

The Tier-based Strictly 2-Local (TSL2) languages are a class of formal languages which have been shown to model long-distance phonotactic generalizations in natural language (Heinz et al., 2011). This paper introduces the Tier-based Strictly 2-Local Inference Algorithm (2TSLIA), the first nonenumerative learner for the TSL2 languages. We prove the 2TSLIA is guaranteed to converge in polynomial time on a data sample whose size is bounded by a constant.

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Adapting to All Domains at Once: Rewarding Domain Invariance in SMT
Hoang Cuong | Khalil Sima’an | Ivan Titov

Existing work on domain adaptation for statistical machine translation has consistently assumed access to a small sample from the test distribution (target domain) at training time. In practice, however, the target domain may not be known at training time or it may change to match user needs. In such situations, it is natural to push the system to make safer choices, giving higher preference to domain-invariant translations, which work well across domains, over risky domain-specific alternatives. We encode this intuition by (1) inducing latent subdomains from the training data only; (2) introducing features which measure how specialized phrases are to individual induced sub-domains; (3) estimating feature weights on out-of-domain data (rather than on the target domain). We conduct experiments on three language pairs and a number of different domains. We observe consistent improvements over a baseline which does not explicitly reward domain invariance.

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A Joint Model for Answer Sentence Ranking and Answer Extraction
Md Arafat Sultan | Vittorio Castelli | Radu Florian

Answer sentence ranking and answer extraction are two key challenges in question answering that have traditionally been treated in isolation, i.e., as independent tasks. In this article, we (1) explain how both tasks are related at their core by a common quantity, and (2) propose a simple and intuitive joint probabilistic model that addresses both via joint computation but task-specific application of that quantity. In our experiments with two TREC datasets, our joint model substantially outperforms state-of-the-art systems in both tasks.

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Transforming Dependency Structures to Logical Forms for Semantic Parsing
Siva Reddy | Oscar Täckström | Michael Collins | Tom Kwiatkowski | Dipanjan Das | Mark Steedman | Mirella Lapata

The strongly typed syntax of grammar formalisms such as CCG, TAG, LFG and HPSG offers a synchronous framework for deriving syntactic structures and semantic logical forms. In contrast—partly due to the lack of a strong type system—dependency structures are easy to annotate and have become a widely used form of syntactic analysis for many languages. However, the lack of a type system makes a formal mechanism for deriving logical forms from dependency structures challenging. We address this by introducing a robust system based on the lambda calculus for deriving neo-Davidsonian logical forms from dependency trees. These logical forms are then used for semantic parsing of natural language to Freebase. Experiments on the Free917 and Web-Questions datasets show that our representation is superior to the original dependency trees and that it outperforms a CCG-based representation on this task. Compared to prior work, we obtain the strongest result to date on Free917 and competitive results on WebQuestions.

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Concept Grounding to Multiple Knowledge Bases via Indirect Supervision
Chen-Tse Tsai | Dan Roth

We consider the problem of disambiguating concept mentions appearing in documents and grounding them in multiple knowledge bases, where each knowledge base addresses some aspects of the domain. This problem poses a few additional challenges beyond those addressed in the popular Wikification problem. Key among them is that most knowledge bases do not contain the rich textual and structural information Wikipedia does; consequently, the main supervision signal used to train Wikification rankers does not exist anymore. In this work we develop an algorithmic approach that, by carefully examining the relations between various related knowledge bases, generates an indirect supervision signal it uses to train a ranking model that accurately chooses knowledge base entries for a given mention; moreover, it also induces prior knowledge that can be used to support a global coherent mapping of all the concepts in a given document to the knowledge bases. Using the biomedical domain as our application, we show that our indirectly supervised ranking model outperforms other unsupervised baselines and that the quality of this indirect supervision scheme is very close to a supervised model. We also show that considering multiple knowledge bases together has an advantage over grounding concepts to each knowledge base individually.

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Learning to Make Inferences in a Semantic Parsing Task
Kyle Richardson | Jonas Kuhn

We introduce a new approach to training a semantic parser that uses textual entailment judgements as supervision. These judgements are based on high-level inferences about whether the meaning of one sentence follows from another. When applied to an existing semantic parsing task, they prove to be a useful tool for revealing semantic distinctions and background knowledge not captured in the target representations. This information is used to improve the quality of the semantic representations being learned and to acquire generic knowledge for reasoning. Experiments are done on the benchmark Sportscaster corpus (Chen and Mooney, 2008), and a novel RTE-inspired inference dataset is introduced. On this new dataset our method strongly outperforms several strong baselines. Separately, we obtain state-of-the-art results on the original Sportscaster semantic parsing task.

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Reassessing the Goals of Grammatical Error Correction: Fluency Instead of Grammaticality
Keisuke Sakaguchi | Courtney Napoles | Matt Post | Joel Tetreault

The field of grammatical error correction (GEC) has grown substantially in recent years, with research directed at both evaluation metrics and improved system performance against those metrics. One unvisited assumption, however, is the reliance of GEC evaluation on error-coded corpora, which contain specific labeled corrections. We examine current practices and show that GEC’s reliance on such corpora unnaturally constrains annotation and automatic evaluation, resulting in (a) sentences that do not sound acceptable to native speakers and (b) system rankings that do not correlate with human judgments. In light of this, we propose an alternate approach that jettisons costly error coding in favor of unannotated, whole-sentence rewrites. We compare the performance of existing metrics over different gold-standard annotations, and show that automatic evaluation with our new annotation scheme has very strong correlation with expert rankings (ρ = 0.82). As a result, we advocate for a fundamental and necessary shift in the goal of GEC, from correcting small, labeled error types, to producing text that has native fluency.

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Efficient Structured Inference for Transition-Based Parsing with Neural Networks and Error States
Ashish Vaswani | Kenji Sagae

Transition-based approaches based on local classification are attractive for dependency parsing due to their simplicity and speed, despite producing results slightly below the state-of-the-art. In this paper, we propose a new approach for approximate structured inference for transition-based parsing that produces scores suitable for global scoring using local models. This is accomplished with the introduction of error states in local training, which add information about incorrect derivation paths typically left out completely in locally-trained models. Using neural networks for our local classifiers, our approach achieves 93.61% accuracy for transition-based dependency parsing in English.

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Generating Training Data for Semantic Role Labeling based on Label Transfer from Linked Lexical Resources
Silvana Hartmann | Judith Eckle-Kohler | Iryna Gurevych

We present a new approach for generating role-labeled training data using Linked Lexical Resources, i.e., integrated lexical resources that combine several resources (e.g., Word-Net, FrameNet, Wiktionary) by linking them on the sense or on the role level. Unlike resource-based supervision in relation extraction, we focus on complex linguistic annotations, more specifically FrameNet senses and roles. The automatically labeled training data ( are evaluated on four corpora from different domains for the tasks of word sense disambiguation and semantic role classification. Results show that classifiers trained on our generated data equal those resulting from a standard supervised setting.

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J-NERD: Joint Named Entity Recognition and Disambiguation with Rich Linguistic Features
Dat Ba Nguyen | Martin Theobald | Gerhard Weikum

Methods for Named Entity Recognition and Disambiguation (NERD) perform NER and NED in two separate stages. Therefore, NED may be penalized with respect to precision by NER false positives, and suffers in recall from NER false negatives. Conversely, NED does not fully exploit information computed by NER such as types of mentions. This paper presents J-NERD, a new approach to perform NER and NED jointly, by means of a probabilistic graphical model that captures mention spans, mention types, and the mapping of mentions to entities in a knowledge base. We present experiments with different kinds of texts from the CoNLL’03, ACE’05, and ClueWeb’09-FACC1 corpora. J-NERD consistently outperforms state-of-the-art competitors in end-to-end NERD precision, recall, and F1.

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Discrete-State Variational Autoencoders for Joint Discovery and Factorization of Relations
Diego Marcheggiani | Ivan Titov

We present a method for unsupervised open-domain relation discovery. In contrast to previous (mostly generative and agglomerative clustering) approaches, our model relies on rich contextual features and makes minimal independence assumptions. The model is composed of two parts: a feature-rich relation extractor, which predicts a semantic relation between two entities, and a factorization model, which reconstructs arguments (i.e., the entities) relying on the predicted relation. The two components are estimated jointly so as to minimize errors in recovering arguments. We study factorization models inspired by previous work in relation factorization and selectional preference modeling. Our models substantially outperform the generative and agglomerative-clustering counterparts and achieve state-of-the-art performance.

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Unsupervised Part-Of-Speech Tagging with Anchor Hidden Markov Models
Karl Stratos | Michael Collins | Daniel Hsu

We tackle unsupervised part-of-speech (POS) tagging by learning hidden Markov models (HMMs) that are particularly well-suited for the problem. These HMMs, which we call anchor HMMs, assume that each tag is associated with at least one word that can have no other tag, which is a relatively benign condition for POS tagging (e.g., “the” is a word that appears only under the determiner tag). We exploit this assumption and extend the non-negative matrix factorization framework of Arora et al. (2013) to design a consistent estimator for anchor HMMs. In experiments, our algorithm is competitive with strong baselines such as the clustering method of Brown et al. (1992) and the log-linear model of Berg-Kirkpatrick et al. (2010). Furthermore, it produces an interpretable model in which hidden states are automatically lexicalized by words.

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ABCNN: Attention-Based Convolutional Neural Network for Modeling Sentence Pairs
Wenpeng Yin | Hinrich Schütze | Bing Xiang | Bowen Zhou

How to model a pair of sentences is a critical issue in many NLP tasks such as answer selection (AS), paraphrase identification (PI) and textual entailment (TE). Most prior work (i) deals with one individual task by fine-tuning a specific system; (ii) models each sentence’s representation separately, rarely considering the impact of the other sentence; or (iii) relies fully on manually designed, task-specific linguistic features. This work presents a general Attention Based Convolutional Neural Network (ABCNN) for modeling a pair of sentences. We make three contributions. (i) The ABCNN can be applied to a wide variety of tasks that require modeling of sentence pairs. (ii) We propose three attention schemes that integrate mutual influence between sentences into CNNs; thus, the representation of each sentence takes into consideration its counterpart. These interdependent sentence pair representations are more powerful than isolated sentence representations. (iii) ABCNNs achieve state-of-the-art performance on AS, PI and TE tasks. We release code at:

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Word Embeddings as Metric Recovery in Semantic Spaces
Tatsunori B. Hashimoto | David Alvarez-Melis | Tommi S. Jaakkola

Continuous word representations have been remarkably useful across NLP tasks but remain poorly understood. We ground word embeddings in semantic spaces studied in the cognitive-psychometric literature, taking these spaces as the primary objects to recover. To this end, we relate log co-occurrences of words in large corpora to semantic similarity assessments and show that co-occurrences are indeed consistent with an Euclidean semantic space hypothesis. Framing word embedding as metric recovery of a semantic space unifies existing word embedding algorithms, ties them to manifold learning, and demonstrates that existing algorithms are consistent metric recovery methods given co-occurrence counts from random walks. Furthermore, we propose a simple, principled, direct metric recovery algorithm that performs on par with the state-of-the-art word embedding and manifold learning methods. Finally, we complement recent focus on analogies by constructing two new inductive reasoning datasets—series completion and classification—and demonstrate that word embeddings can be used to solve them as well.

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Comparing Apples to Apple: The Effects of Stemmers on Topic Models
Alexandra Schofield | David Mimno

Rule-based stemmers such as the Porter stemmer are frequently used to preprocess English corpora for topic modeling. In this work, we train and evaluate topic models on a variety of corpora using several different stemming algorithms. We examine several different quantitative measures of the resulting models, including likelihood, coherence, model stability, and entropy. Despite their frequent use in topic modeling, we find that stemmers produce no meaningful improvement in likelihood and coherence and in fact can degrade topic stability.

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Multilingual Projection for Parsing Truly Low-Resource Languages
Željko Agić | Anders Johannsen | Barbara Plank | Héctor Martínez Alonso | Natalie Schluter | Anders Søgaard

We propose a novel approach to cross-lingual part-of-speech tagging and dependency parsing for truly low-resource languages. Our annotation projection-based approach yields tagging and parsing models for over 100 languages. All that is needed are freely available parallel texts, and taggers and parsers for resource-rich languages. The empirical evaluation across 30 test languages shows that our method consistently provides top-level accuracies, close to established upper bounds, and outperforms several competitive baselines.

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Simple and Accurate Dependency Parsing Using Bidirectional LSTM Feature Representations
Eliyahu Kiperwasser | Yoav Goldberg

We present a simple and effective scheme for dependency parsing which is based on bidirectional-LSTMs (BiLSTMs). Each sentence token is associated with a BiLSTM vector representing the token in its sentential context, and feature vectors are constructed by concatenating a few BiLSTM vectors. The BiLSTM is trained jointly with the parser objective, resulting in very effective feature extractors for parsing. We demonstrate the effectiveness of the approach by applying it to a greedy transition-based parser as well as to a globally optimized graph-based parser. The resulting parsers have very simple architectures, and match or surpass the state-of-the-art accuracies on English and Chinese.

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Sparse Non-negative Matrix Language Modeling
Joris Pelemans | Noam Shazeer | Ciprian Chelba

We present Sparse Non-negative Matrix (SNM) estimation, a novel probability estimation technique for language modeling that can efficiently incorporate arbitrary features. We evaluate SNM language models on two corpora: the One Billion Word Benchmark and a subset of the LDC English Gigaword corpus. Results show that SNM language models trained with n-gram features are a close match for the well-established Kneser-Ney models. The addition of skip-gram features yields a model that is in the same league as the state-of-the-art recurrent neural network language models, as well as complementary: combining the two modeling techniques yields the best known result on the One Billion Word Benchmark. On the Gigaword corpus further improvements are observed using features that cross sentence boundaries. The computational advantages of SNM estimation over both maximum entropy and neural network estimation are probably its main strength, promising an approach that has large flexibility in combining arbitrary features and yet scales gracefully to large amounts of data.

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Multi-lingual Dependency Parsing Evaluation: a Large-scale Analysis of Word Order Properties using Artificial Data
Kristina Gulordava | Paola Merlo

The growing work in multi-lingual parsing faces the challenge of fair comparative evaluation and performance analysis across languages and their treebanks. The difficulty lies in teasing apart the properties of treebanks, such as their size or average sentence length, from those of the annotation scheme, and from the linguistic properties of languages. We propose a method to evaluate the effects of word order of a language on dependency parsing performance, while controlling for confounding treebank properties. The method uses artificially-generated treebanks that are minimal permutations of actual treebanks with respect to two word order properties: word order variation and dependency lengths. Based on these artificial data on twelve languages, we show that longer dependencies and higher word order variability degrade parsing performance. Our method also extends to minimal pairs of individual sentences, leading to a finer-grained understanding of parsing errors.

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Named Entity Recognition with Bidirectional LSTM-CNNs
Jason P.C. Chiu | Eric Nichols

Named entity recognition is a challenging task that has traditionally required large amounts of knowledge in the form of feature engineering and lexicons to achieve high performance. In this paper, we present a novel neural network architecture that automatically detects word- and character-level features using a hybrid bidirectional LSTM and CNN architecture, eliminating the need for most feature engineering. We also propose a novel method of encoding partial lexicon matches in neural networks and compare it to existing approaches. Extensive evaluation shows that, given only tokenized text and publicly available word embeddings, our system is competitive on the CoNLL-2003 dataset and surpasses the previously reported state of the art performance on the OntoNotes 5.0 dataset by 2.13 F1 points. By using two lexicons constructed from publicly-available sources, we establish new state of the art performance with an F1 score of 91.62 on CoNLL-2003 and 86.28 on OntoNotes, surpassing systems that employ heavy feature engineering, proprietary lexicons, and rich entity linking information.

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Deep Recurrent Models with Fast-Forward Connections for Neural Machine Translation
Jie Zhou | Ying Cao | Xuguang Wang | Peng Li | Wei Xu

Neural machine translation (NMT) aims at solving machine translation (MT) problems using neural networks and has exhibited promising results in recent years. However, most of the existing NMT models are shallow and there is still a performance gap between a single NMT model and the best conventional MT system. In this work, we introduce a new type of linear connections, named fast-forward connections, based on deep Long Short-Term Memory (LSTM) networks, and an interleaved bi-directional architecture for stacking the LSTM layers. Fast-forward connections play an essential role in propagating the gradients and building a deep topology of depth 16. On the WMT’14 English-to-French task, we achieve BLEU=37.7 with a single attention model, which outperforms the corresponding single shallow model by 6.2 BLEU points. This is the first time that a single NMT model achieves state-of-the-art performance and outperforms the best conventional model by 0.7 BLEU points. We can still achieve BLEU=36.3 even without using an attention mechanism. After special handling of unknown words and model ensembling, we obtain the best score reported to date on this task with BLEU=40.4. Our models are also validated on the more difficult WMT’14 English-to-German task.

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A Latent Variable Model Approach to PMI-based Word Embeddings
Sanjeev Arora | Yuanzhi Li | Yingyu Liang | Tengyu Ma | Andrej Risteski

Semantic word embeddings represent the meaning of a word via a vector, and are created by diverse methods. Many use nonlinear operations on co-occurrence statistics, and have hand-tuned hyperparameters and reweighting methods. This paper proposes a new generative model, a dynamic version of the log-linear topic model of Mnih and Hinton (2007). The methodological novelty is to use the prior to compute closed form expressions for word statistics. This provides a theoretical justification for nonlinear models like PMI, word2vec, and GloVe, as well as some hyperparameter choices. It also helps explain why low-dimensional semantic embeddings contain linear algebraic structure that allows solution of word analogies, as shown by Mikolov et al. (2013a) and many subsequent papers. Experimental support is provided for the generative model assumptions, the most important of which is that latent word vectors are fairly uniformly dispersed in space.

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Optimizing Statistical Machine Translation for Text Simplification
Wei Xu | Courtney Napoles | Ellie Pavlick | Quanze Chen | Chris Callison-Burch

Most recent sentence simplification systems use basic machine translation models to learn lexical and syntactic paraphrases from a manually simplified parallel corpus. These methods are limited by the quality and quantity of manually simplified corpora, which are expensive to build. In this paper, we conduct an in-depth adaptation of statistical machine translation to perform text simplification, taking advantage of large-scale paraphrases learned from bilingual texts and a small amount of manual simplifications with multiple references. Our work is the first to design automatic metrics that are effective for tuning and evaluating simplification systems, which will facilitate iterative development for this task.

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Encoding Prior Knowledge with Eigenword Embeddings
Dominique Osborne | Shashi Narayan | Shay B. Cohen

Canonical correlation analysis (CCA) is a method for reducing the dimension of data represented using two views. It has been previously used to derive word embeddings, where one view indicates a word, and the other view indicates its context. We describe a way to incorporate prior knowledge into CCA, give a theoretical justification for it, and test it by deriving word embeddings and evaluating them on a myriad of datasets.

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Many Languages, One Parser
Waleed Ammar | George Mulcaire | Miguel Ballesteros | Chris Dyer | Noah A. Smith

We train one multilingual model for dependency parsing and use it to parse sentences in several languages. The parsing model uses (i) multilingual word clusters and embeddings; (ii) token-level language information; and (iii) language-specific features (fine-grained POS tags). This input representation enables the parser not only to parse effectively in multiple languages, but also to generalize across languages based on linguistic universals and typological similarities, making it more effective to learn from limited annotations. Our parser’s performance compares favorably to strong baselines in a range of data scenarios, including when the target language has a large treebank, a small treebank, or no treebank for training.

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Easy-First Dependency Parsing with Hierarchical Tree LSTMs
Eliyahu Kiperwasser | Yoav Goldberg

We suggest a compositional vector representation of parse trees that relies on a recursive combination of recurrent-neural network encoders. To demonstrate its effectiveness, we use the representation as the backbone of a greedy, bottom-up dependency parser, achieving very strong accuracies for English and Chinese, without relying on external word embeddings. The parser’s implementation is available for download at the first author’s webpage.

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Large-scale Analysis of Counseling Conversations: An Application of Natural Language Processing to Mental Health
Tim Althoff | Kevin Clark | Jure Leskovec

Mental illness is one of the most pressing public health issues of our time. While counseling and psychotherapy can be effective treatments, our knowledge about how to conduct successful counseling conversations has been limited due to lack of large-scale data with labeled outcomes of the conversations. In this paper, we present a large-scale, quantitative study on the discourse of text-message-based counseling conversations. We develop a set of novel computational discourse analysis methods to measure how various linguistic aspects of conversations are correlated with conversation outcomes. Applying techniques such as sequence-based conversation models, language model comparisons, message clustering, and psycholinguistics-inspired word frequency analyses, we discover actionable conversation strategies that are associated with better conversation outcomes.

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Fast, Small and Exact: Infinite-order Language Modelling with Compressed Suffix Trees
Ehsan Shareghi | Matthias Petri | Gholamreza Haffari | Trevor Cohn

Efficient methods for storing and querying are critical for scaling high-order m-gram language models to large corpora. We propose a language model based on compressed suffix trees, a representation that is highly compact and can be easily held in memory, while supporting queries needed in computing language model probabilities on-the-fly. We present several optimisations which improve query runtimes up to 2500×, despite only incurring a modest increase in construction time and memory usage. For large corpora and high Markov orders, our method is highly competitive with the state-of-the-art KenLM package. It imposes much lower memory requirements, often by orders of magnitude, and has runtimes that are either similar (for training) or comparable (for querying).

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The Galactic Dependencies Treebanks: Getting More Data by Synthesizing New Languages
Dingquan Wang | Jason Eisner

We release Galactic Dependencies 1.0—a large set of synthetic languages not found on Earth, but annotated in Universal Dependencies format. This new resource aims to provide training and development data for NLP methods that aim to adapt to unfamiliar languages. Each synthetic treebank is produced from a real treebank by stochastically permuting the dependents of nouns and/or verbs to match the word order of other real languages. We discuss the usefulness, realism, parsability, perplexity, and diversity of the synthetic languages. As a simple demonstration of the use of Galactic Dependencies, we consider single-source transfer, which attempts to parse a real target language using a parser trained on a “nearby” source language. We find that including synthetic source languages somewhat increases the diversity of the source pool, which significantly improves results for most target languages.

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Minimally Supervised Number Normalization
Kyle Gorman | Richard Sproat

We propose two models for verbalizing numbers, a key component in speech recognition and synthesis systems. The first model uses an end-to-end recurrent neural network. The second model, drawing inspiration from the linguistics literature, uses finite-state transducers constructed with a minimal amount of training data. While both models achieve near-perfect performance, the latter model can be trained using several orders of magnitude less data than the former, making it particularly useful for low-resource languages.

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Assessing the Ability of LSTMs to Learn Syntax-Sensitive Dependencies
Tal Linzen | Emmanuel Dupoux | Yoav Goldberg

The success of long short-term memory (LSTM) neural networks in language processing is typically attributed to their ability to capture long-distance statistical regularities. Linguistic regularities are often sensitive to syntactic structure; can such dependencies be captured by LSTMs, which do not have explicit structural representations? We begin addressing this question using number agreement in English subject-verb dependencies. We probe the architecture’s grammatical competence both using training objectives with an explicit grammatical target (number prediction, grammaticality judgments) and using language models. In the strongly supervised settings, the LSTM achieved very high overall accuracy (less than 1% errors), but errors increased when sequential and structural information conflicted. The frequency of such errors rose sharply in the language-modeling setting. We conclude that LSTMs can capture a non-trivial amount of grammatical structure given targeted supervision, but stronger architectures may be required to further reduce errors; furthermore, the language modeling signal is insufficient for capturing syntax-sensitive dependencies, and should be supplemented with more direct supervision if such dependencies need to be captured.

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Understanding Satirical Articles Using Common-Sense
Dan Goldwasser | Xiao Zhang

Automatic satire detection is a subtle text classification task, for machines and at times, even for humans. In this paper we argue that satire detection should be approached using common-sense inferences, rather than traditional text classification methods. We present a highly structured latent variable model capturing the required inferences. The model abstracts over the specific entities appearing in the articles, grouping them into generalized categories, thus allowing the model to adapt to previously unseen situations.

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Utilizing Temporal Information for Taxonomy Construction
Luu Anh Tuan | Siu Cheung Hui | See Kiong Ng

Taxonomies play an important role in many applications by organizing domain knowledge into a hierarchy of ‘is-a’ relations between terms. Previous work on automatic construction of taxonomies from text documents either ignored temporal information or used fixed time periods to discretize the time series of documents. In this paper, we propose a time-aware method to automatically construct and effectively maintain a taxonomy from a given series of documents preclustered for a domain of interest. The method extracts temporal information from the documents and uses a timestamp contribution function to score the temporal relevance of the evidence from source texts when identifying the taxonomic relations for constructing the taxonomy. Experimental results show that our proposed method outperforms the state-of-the-art methods by increasing F-measure up to 7%–20%. Furthermore, the proposed method can incrementally update the taxonomy by adding fresh relations from new data and removing outdated relations using an information decay function. It thus avoids rebuilding the whole taxonomy from scratch for every update and keeps the taxonomy effectively up-to-date in order to track the latest information trends in the rapidly evolving domain.