Transactions of the Association for Computational Linguistics (2019)


bib (full) Transactions of the Association for Computational Linguistics, Volume 7

Transactions of the Association for Computational Linguistics, Volume 7
Lillian Lee | Mark Johnson | Brian Roark | Ani Nenkova

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Grammar Error Correction in Morphologically Rich Languages: The Case of Russian
Alla Rozovskaya | Dan Roth

Until now, most of the research in grammar error correction focused on English, and the problem has hardly been explored for other languages. We address the task of correcting writing mistakes in morphologically rich languages, with a focus on Russian. We present a corrected and error-tagged corpus of Russian learner writing and develop models that make use of existing state-of-the-art methods that have been well studied for English. Although impressive results have recently been achieved for grammar error correction of non-native English writing, these results are limited to domains where plentiful training data are available. Because annotation is extremely costly, these approaches are not suitable for the majority of domains and languages. We thus focus on methods that use “minimal supervision”; that is, those that do not rely on large amounts of annotated training data, and show how existing minimal-supervision approaches extend to a highly inflectional language such as Russian. The results demonstrate that these methods are particularly useful for correcting mistakes in grammatical phenomena that involve rich morphology.

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Semantic Neural Machine Translation Using AMR
Linfeng Song | Daniel Gildea | Yue Zhang | Zhiguo Wang | Jinsong Su

It is intuitive that semantic representations can be useful for machine translation, mainly because they can help in enforcing meaning preservation and handling data sparsity (many sentences correspond to one meaning) of machine translation models. On the other hand, little work has been done on leveraging semantics for neural machine translation (NMT). In this work, we study the usefulness of AMR (abstract meaning representation) on NMT. Experiments on a standard English-to-German dataset show that incorporating AMR as additional knowledge can significantly improve a strong attention-based sequence-to-sequence neural translation model.

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Joint Transition-Based Models for Morpho-Syntactic Parsing: Parsing Strategies for MRLs and a Case Study from Modern Hebrew
Amir More | Amit Seker | Victoria Basmova | Reut Tsarfaty

In standard NLP pipelines, morphological analysis and disambiguation (MA&D) precedes syntactic and semantic downstream tasks. However, for languages with complex and ambiguous word-internal structure, known as morphologically rich languages (MRLs), it has been hypothesized that syntactic context may be crucial for accurate MA&D, and vice versa. In this work we empirically confirm this hypothesis for Modern Hebrew, an MRL with complex morphology and severe word-level ambiguity, in a novel transition-based framework. Specifically, we propose a joint morphosyntactic transition-based framework which formally unifies two distinct transition systems, morphological and syntactic, into a single transition-based system with joint training and joint inference. We empirically show that MA&D results obtained in the joint settings outperform MA&D results obtained by the respective standalone components, and that end-to-end parsing results obtained by our joint system present a new state of the art for Hebrew dependency parsing.

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Analysis Methods in Neural Language Processing: A Survey
Yonatan Belinkov | James Glass

The field of natural language processing has seen impressive progress in recent years, with neural network models replacing many of the traditional systems. A plethora of new models have been proposed, many of which are thought to be opaque compared to their feature-rich counterparts. This has led researchers to analyze, interpret, and evaluate neural networks in novel and more fine-grained ways. In this survey paper, we review analysis methods in neural language processing, categorize them according to prominent research trends, highlight existing limitations, and point to potential directions for future work.

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Unlexicalized Transition-based Discontinuous Constituency Parsing
Maximin Coavoux | Benoît Crabbé | Shay B. Cohen

Lexicalized parsing models are based on the assumptions that (i) constituents are organized around a lexical head and (ii) bilexical statistics are crucial to solve ambiguities. In this paper, we introduce an unlexicalized transition-based parser for discontinuous constituency structures, based on a structure-label transition system and a bi-LSTM scoring system. We compare it with lexicalized parsing models in order to address the question of lexicalization in the context of discontinuous constituency parsing. Our experiments show that unlexicalized models systematically achieve higher results than lexicalized models, and provide additional empirical evidence that lexicalization is not necessary to achieve strong parsing results. Our best unlexicalized model sets a new state of the art on English and German discontinuous constituency treebanks. We further provide a per-phenomenon analysis of its errors on discontinuous constituents.

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Synchronous Bidirectional Neural Machine Translation
Long Zhou | Jiajun Zhang | Chengqing Zong

Existing approaches to neural machine translation (NMT) generate the target language sequence token-by-token from left to right. However, this kind of unidirectional decoding framework cannot make full use of the target-side future contexts which can be produced in a right-to-left decoding direction, and thus suffers from the issue of unbalanced outputs. In this paper, we introduce a synchronous bidirectional–neural machine translation (SB-NMT) that predicts its outputs using left-to-right and right-to-left decoding simultaneously and interactively, in order to leverage both of the history and future information at the same time. Specifically, we first propose a new algorithm that enables synchronous bidirectional decoding in a single model. Then, we present an interactive decoding model in which left-to-right (right-to-left) generation does not only depend on its previously generated outputs, but also relies on future contexts predicted by right-to-left (left-to-right) decoding. We extensively evaluate the proposed SB-NMT model on large-scale NIST Chinese–English, WMT14 English–German, and WMT18 Russian–English translation tasks. Experimental results demonstrate that our model achieves significant improvements over the strong Transformer model by 3.92, 1.49, and 1.04 BLEU points, respectively, and obtains the state-of-the-art performance on Chinese–English and English–German translation tasks.

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Learning Multilingual Word Embeddings in Latent Metric Space: A Geometric Approach
Pratik Jawanpuria | Arjun Balgovind | Anoop Kunchukuttan | Bamdev Mishra

We propose a novel geometric approach for learning bilingual mappings given monolingual embeddings and a bilingual dictionary. Our approach decouples the source-to-target language transformation into (a) language-specific rotations on the original embeddings to align them in a common, latent space, and (b) a language-independent similarity metric in this common space to better model the similarity between the embeddings. Overall, we pose the bilingual mapping problem as a classification problem on smooth Riemannian manifolds. Empirically, our approach outperforms previous approaches on the bilingual lexicon induction and cross-lingual word similarity tasks. We next generalize our framework to represent multiple languages in a common latent space. Language-specific rotations for all the languages and a common similarity metric in the latent space are learned jointly from bilingual dictionaries for multiple language pairs. We illustrate the effectiveness of joint learning for multiple languages in an indirect word translation setting.

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Rotational Unit of Memory: A Novel Representation Unit for RNNs with Scalable Applications
Rumen Dangovski | Li Jing | Preslav Nakov | Mićo Tatalović | Marin Soljačić

Stacking long short-term memory (LSTM) cells or gated recurrent units (GRUs) as part of a recurrent neural network (RNN) has become a standard approach to solving a number of tasks ranging from language modeling to text summarization. Although LSTMs and GRUs were designed to model long-range dependencies more accurately than conventional RNNs, they nevertheless have problems copying or recalling information from the long distant past. Here, we derive a phase-coded representation of the memory state, Rotational Unit of Memory (RUM), that unifies the concepts of unitary learning and associative memory. We show experimentally that RNNs based on RUMs can solve basic sequential tasks such as memory copying and memory recall much better than LSTMs/GRUs. We further demonstrate that by replacing LSTM/GRU with RUM units we can apply neural networks to real-world problems such as language modeling and text summarization, yielding results comparable to the state of the art.

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GILE: A Generalized Input-Label Embedding for Text Classification
Nikolaos Pappas | James Henderson

Neural text classification models typically treat output labels as categorical variables that lack description and semantics. This forces their parametrization to be dependent on the label set size, and, hence, they are unable to scale to large label sets and generalize to unseen ones. Existing joint input-label text models overcome these issues by exploiting label descriptions, but they are unable to capture complex label relationships, have rigid parametrization, and their gains on unseen labels happen often at the expense of weak performance on the labels seen during training. In this paper, we propose a new input-label model that generalizes over previous such models, addresses their limitations, and does not compromise performance on seen labels. The model consists of a joint nonlinear input-label embedding with controllable capacity and a joint-space-dependent classification unit that is trained with cross-entropy loss to optimize classification performance. We evaluate models on full-resource and low- or zero-resource text classification of multilingual news and biomedical text with a large label set. Our model outperforms monolingual and multilingual models that do not leverage label semantics and previous joint input-label space models in both scenarios.

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Autosegmental Input Strictly Local Functions
Jane Chandlee | Adam Jardine

Autosegmental representations (ARs; Goldsmith, 1976) are claimed to enable local analyses of otherwise non-local phenomena Odden (1994). Focusing on the domain of tone, we investigate this ability of ARs using a computationally well-defined notion of locality extended from Chandlee (2014). The result is a more nuanced understanding of the way in which ARs interact with phonological locality.

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SECTOR: A Neural Model for Coherent Topic Segmentation and Classification
Sebastian Arnold | Rudolf Schneider | Philippe Cudré-Mauroux | Felix A. Gers | Alexander Löser

When searching for information, a human reader first glances over a document, spots relevant sections, and then focuses on a few sentences for resolving her intention. However, the high variance of document structure complicates the identification of the salient topic of a given section at a glance. To tackle this challenge, we present SECTOR, a model to support machine reading systems by segmenting documents into coherent sections and assigning topic labels to each section. Our deep neural network architecture learns a latent topic embedding over the course of a document. This can be leveraged to classify local topics from plain text and segment a document at topic shifts. In addition, we contribute WikiSection, a publicly available data set with 242k labeled sections in English and German from two distinct domains: diseases and cities. From our extensive evaluation of 20 architectures, we report a highest score of 71.6% F1 for the segmentation and classification of 30 topics from the English city domain, scored by our SECTOR long short-term memory model with Bloom filter embeddings and bidirectional segmentation. This is a significant improvement of 29.5 points F1 over state-of-the-art CNN classifiers with baseline segmentation.

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Complex Program Induction for Querying Knowledge Bases in the Absence of Gold Programs
Amrita Saha | Ghulam Ahmed Ansari | Abhishek Laddha | Karthik Sankaranarayanan | Soumen Chakrabarti

Recent years have seen increasingly complex question-answering on knowledge bases (KBQA) involving logical, quantitative, and comparative reasoning over KB subgraphs. Neural Program Induction (NPI) is a pragmatic approach toward modularizing the reasoning process by translating a complex natural language query into a multi-step executable program. While NPI has been commonly trained with the ‘‘gold’’ program or its sketch, for realistic KBQA applications such gold programs are expensive to obtain. There, practically only natural language queries and the corresponding answers can be provided for training. The resulting combinatorial explosion in program space, along with extremely sparse rewards, makes NPI for KBQA ambitious and challenging. We present Complex Imperative Program Induction from Terminal Rewards (CIPITR), an advanced neural programmer that mitigates reward sparsity with auxiliary rewards, and restricts the program space to semantically correct programs using high-level constraints, KB schema, and inferred answer type. CIPITR solves complex KBQA considerably more accurately than key-value memory networks and neural symbolic machines (NSM). For moderately complex queries requiring 2- to 5-step programs, CIPITR scores at least 3× higher F1 than the competing systems. On one of the hardest class of programs (comparative reasoning) with 5–10 steps, CIPITR outperforms NSM by a factor of 89 and memory networks by 9 times.

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Categorical Metadata Representation for Customized Text Classification
Jihyeok Kim | Reinald Kim Amplayo | Kyungjae Lee | Sua Sung | Minji Seo | Seung-won Hwang

The performance of text classification has improved tremendously using intelligently engineered neural-based models, especially those injecting categorical metadata as additional information, e.g., using user/product information for sentiment classification. This information has been used to modify parts of the model (e.g., word embeddings, attention mechanisms) such that results can be customized according to the metadata. We observe that current representation methods for categorical metadata, which are devised for human consumption, are not as effective as claimed in popular classification methods, outperformed even by simple concatenation of categorical features in the final layer of the sentence encoder. We conjecture that categorical features are harder to represent for machine use, as available context only indirectly describes the category, and even such context is often scarce (for tail category). To this end, we propose using basis vectors to effectively incorporate categorical metadata on various parts of a neural-based model. This additionally decreases the number of parameters dramatically, especially when the number of categorical features is large. Extensive experiments on various data sets with different properties are performed and show that through our method, we can represent categorical metadata more effectively to customize parts of the model, including unexplored ones, and increase the performance of the model greatly.

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DREAM: A Challenge Data Set and Models for Dialogue-Based Reading Comprehension
Kai Sun | Dian Yu | Jianshu Chen | Dong Yu | Yejin Choi | Claire Cardie

We present DREAM, the first dialogue-based multiple-choice reading comprehension data set. Collected from English as a Foreign Language examinations designed by human experts to evaluate the comprehension level of Chinese learners of English, our data set contains 10,197 multiple-choice questions for 6,444 dialogues. In contrast to existing reading comprehension data sets, DREAM is the first to focus on in-depth multi-turn multi-party dialogue understanding. DREAM is likely to present significant challenges for existing reading comprehension systems: 84% of answers are non-extractive, 85% of questions require reasoning beyond a single sentence, and 34% of questions also involve commonsense knowledge. We apply several popular neural reading comprehension models that primarily exploit surface information within the text and find them to, at best, just barely outperform a rule-based approach. We next investigate the effects of incorporating dialogue structure and different kinds of general world knowledge into both rule-based and (neural and non-neural) machine learning-based reading comprehension models. Experimental results on the DREAM data set show the effectiveness of dialogue structure and general world knowledge. DREAM is available at

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Learning Neural Sequence-to-Sequence Models from Weak Feedback with Bipolar Ramp Loss
Laura Jehl | Carolin Lawrence | Stefan Riezler

In many machine learning scenarios, supervision by gold labels is not available and conse quently neural models cannot be trained directly by maximum likelihood estimation. In a weak supervision scenario, metric-augmented objectives can be employed to assign feedback to model outputs, which can be used to extract a supervision signal for training. We present several objectives for two separate weakly supervised tasks, machine translation and semantic parsing. We show that objectives should actively discourage negative outputs in addition to promoting a surrogate gold structure. This notion of bipolarity is naturally present in ramp loss objectives, which we adapt to neural models. We show that bipolar ramp loss objectives outperform other non-bipolar ramp loss objectives and minimum risk training on both weakly supervised tasks, as well as on a supervised machine translation task. Additionally, we introduce a novel token-level ramp loss objective, which is able to outperform even the best sequence-level ramp loss on both weakly supervised tasks.

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CoQA: A Conversational Question Answering Challenge
Siva Reddy | Danqi Chen | Christopher D. Manning

Humans gather information through conversations involving a series of interconnected questions and answers. For machines to assist in information gathering, it is therefore essential to enable them to answer conversational questions. We introduce CoQA, a novel dataset for building Conversational Question Answering systems. Our dataset contains 127k questions with answers, obtained from 8k conversations about text passages from seven diverse domains. The questions are conversational, and the answers are free-form text with their corresponding evidence highlighted in the passage. We analyze CoQA in depth and show that conversational questions have challenging phenomena not present in existing reading comprehension datasets (e.g., coreference and pragmatic reasoning). We evaluate strong dialogue and reading comprehension models on CoQA. The best system obtains an F1 score of 65.4%, which is 23.4 points behind human performance (88.8%), indicating that there is ample room for improvement. We present CoQA as a challenge to the community at

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What You Say and How You Say it: Joint Modeling of Topics and Discourse in Microblog Conversations
Jichuan Zeng | Jing Li | Yulan He | Cuiyun Gao | Michael R. Lyu | Irwin King

This paper presents an unsupervised framework for jointly modeling topic content and discourse behavior in microblog conversations. Concretely, we propose a neural model to discover word clusters indicating what a conversation concerns (i.e., topics) and those reflecting how participants voice their opinions (i.e., discourse).1 Extensive experiments show that our model can yield both coherent topics and meaningful discourse behavior. Further study shows that our topic and discourse representations can benefit the classification of microblog messages, especially when they are jointly trained with the classifier. Our data sets and code are available at:

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Calculating the Optimal Step in Shift-Reduce Dependency Parsing: From Cubic to Linear Time
Mark-Jan Nederhof

We present a new cubic-time algorithm to calculate the optimal next step in shift-reduce dependency parsing, relative to ground truth, commonly referred to as dynamic oracle. Unlike existing algorithms, it is applicable if the training corpus contains non-projective structures. We then show that for a projective training corpus, the time complexity can be improved from cubic to linear.

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Densely Connected Graph Convolutional Networks for Graph-to-Sequence Learning
Zhijiang Guo | Yan Zhang | Zhiyang Teng | Wei Lu

We focus on graph-to-sequence learning, which can be framed as transducing graph structures to sequences for text generation. To capture structural information associated with graphs, we investigate the problem of encoding graphs using graph convolutional networks (GCNs). Unlike various existing approaches where shallow architectures were used for capturing local structural information only, we introduce a dense connection strategy, proposing a novel Densely Connected Graph Convolutional Network (DCGCN). Such a deep architecture is able to integrate both local and non-local features to learn a better structural representation of a graph. Our model outperforms the state-of-the-art neural models significantly on AMR-to-text generation and syntax-based neural machine translation.

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Attention-Passing Models for Robust and Data-Efficient End-to-End Speech Translation
Matthias Sperber | Graham Neubig | Jan Niehues | Alex Waibel

Speech translation has traditionally been approached through cascaded models consisting of a speech recognizer trained on a corpus of transcribed speech, and a machine translation system trained on parallel texts. Several recent works have shown the feasibility of collapsing the cascade into a single, direct model that can be trained in an end-to-end fashion on a corpus of translated speech. However, experiments are inconclusive on whether the cascade or the direct model is stronger, and have only been conducted under the unrealistic assumption that both are trained on equal amounts of data, ignoring other available speech recognition and machine translation corpora. In this paper, we demonstrate that direct speech translation models require more data to perform well than cascaded models, and although they allow including auxiliary data through multi-task training, they are poor at exploiting such data, putting them at a severe disadvantage. As a remedy, we propose the use of end- to-end trainable models with two attention mechanisms, the first establishing source speech to source text alignments, the second modeling source to target text alignment. We show that such models naturally decompose into multi-task–trainable recognition and translation tasks and propose an attention-passing technique that alleviates error propagation issues in a previous formulation of a model with two attention stages. Our proposed model outperforms all examined baselines and is able to exploit auxiliary training data much more effectively than direct attentional models.

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On the Complexity and Typology of Inflectional Morphological Systems
Ryan Cotterell | Christo Kirov | Mans Hulden | Jason Eisner

We quantify the linguistic complexity of different languages’ morphological systems. We verify that there is a statistically significant empirical trade-off between paradigm size and irregularity: A language’s inflectional paradigms may be either large in size or highly irregular, but never both. We define a new measure of paradigm irregularity based on the conditional entropy of the surface realization of a paradigm— how hard it is to jointly predict all the word forms in a paradigm from the lemma. We estimate irregularity by training a predictive model. Our measurements are taken on large morphological paradigms from 36 typologically diverse languages.

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Syntax-aware Semantic Role Labeling without Parsing
Rui Cai | Mirella Lapata

In this paper we focus on learning dependency aware representations for semantic role labeling without recourse to an external parser. The backbone of our model is an LSTM-based semantic role labeler jointly trained with two auxiliary tasks: predicting the dependency label of a word and whether there exists an arc linking it to the predicate. The auxiliary tasks provide syntactic information that is specific to semantic role labeling and are learned from training data (dependency annotations) without relying on existing dependency parsers, which can be noisy (e.g., on out-of-domain data or infrequent constructions). Experimental results on the CoNLL-2009 benchmark dataset show that our model outperforms the state of the art in English, and consistently improves performance in other languages, including Chinese, German, and Spanish.

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A Generative Model for Punctuation in Dependency Trees
Xiang Lisa Li | Dingquan Wang | Jason Eisner

Treebanks traditionally treat punctuation marks as ordinary words, but linguists have suggested that a tree’s “true” punctuation marks are not observed (Nunberg, 1990). These latent “underlying” marks serve to delimit or separate constituents in the syntax tree. When the tree’s yield is rendered as a written sentence, a string rewriting mechanism transduces the underlying marks into “surface” marks, which are part of the observed (surface) string but should not be regarded as part of the tree. We formalize this idea in a generative model of punctuation that admits efficient dynamic programming. We train it without observing the underlying marks, by locally maximizing the incomplete data likelihood (similarly to the EM algorithm). When we use the trained model to reconstruct the tree’s underlying punctuation, the results appear plausible across 5 languages, and in particular are consistent with Nunberg’s analysis of English. We show that our generative model can be used to beat baselines on punctuation restoration. Also, our reconstruction of a sentence’s underlying punctuation lets us appropriately render the surface punctuation (via our trained underlying-to-surface mechanism) when we syntactically transform the sentence.

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Learning End-to-End Goal-Oriented Dialog with Maximal User Task Success and Minimal Human Agent Use
Janarthanan Rajendran | Jatin Ganhotra | Lazaros C. Polymenakos

Neural end-to-end goal-oriented dialog systems showed promise to reduce the workload of human agents for customer service, as well as reduce wait time for users. However, their inability to handle new user behavior at deployment has limited their usage in real world. In this work, we propose an end-to-end trainable method for neural goal-oriented dialog systems that handles new user behaviors at deployment by transferring the dialog to a human agent intelligently. The proposed method has three goals: 1) maximize user’s task success by transferring to human agents, 2) minimize the load on the human agents by transferring to them only when it is essential, and 3) learn online from the human agent’s responses to reduce human agents’ load further. We evaluate our proposed method on a modified-bAbI dialog task, which simulates the scenario of new user behaviors occurring at test time. Experimental results show that our proposed method is effective in achieving the desired goals.

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Trick Me If You Can: Human-in-the-Loop Generation of Adversarial Examples for Question Answering
Eric Wallace | Pedro Rodriguez | Shi Feng | Ikuya Yamada | Jordan Boyd-Graber

Adversarial evaluation stress-tests a model’s understanding of natural language. Because past approaches expose superficial patterns, the resulting adversarial examples are limited in complexity and diversity. We propose human- in-the-loop adversarial generation, where human authors are guided to break models. We aid the authors with interpretations of model predictions through an interactive user interface. We apply this generation framework to a question answering task called Quizbowl, where trivia enthusiasts craft adversarial questions. The resulting questions are validated via live human–computer matches: Although the questions appear ordinary to humans, they systematically stump neural and information retrieval models. The adversarial questions cover diverse phenomena from multi-hop reasoning to entity type distractors, exposing open challenges in robust question answering.

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Still a Pain in the Neck: Evaluating Text Representations on Lexical Composition
Vered Shwartz | Ido Dagan

Building meaningful phrase representations is challenging because phrase meanings are not simply the sum of their constituent meanings. Lexical composition can shift the meanings of the constituent words and introduce implicit information. We tested a broad range of textual representations for their capacity to address these issues. We found that, as expected, contextualized word representations perform better than static word embeddings, more so on detecting meaning shift than in recovering implicit information, in which their performance is still far from that of humans. Our evaluation suite, consisting of six tasks related to lexical composition effects, can serve future research aiming to improve representations.

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Multiattentive Recurrent Neural Network Architecture for Multilingual Readability Assessment
Ion Madrazo Azpiazu | Maria Soledad Pera

We present a multiattentive recurrent neural network architecture for automatic multilingual readability assessment. This architecture considers raw words as its main input, but internally captures text structure and informs its word attention process using other syntax- and morphology-related datapoints, known to be of great importance to readability. This is achieved by a multiattentive strategy that allows the neural network to focus on specific parts of a text for predicting its reading level. We conducted an exhaustive evaluation using data sets targeting multiple languages and prediction task types, to compare the proposed model with traditional, state-of-the-art, and other neural network strategies.

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No Word is an Island—A Transformation Weighting Model for Semantic Composition
Corina Dima | Daniël de Kok | Neele Witte | Erhard Hinrichs

Composition models of distributional semantics are used to construct phrase representations from the representations of their words. Composition models are typically situated on two ends of a spectrum. They either have a small number of parameters but compose all phrases in the same way, or they perform word-specific compositions at the cost of a far larger number of parameters. In this paper we propose transformation weighting (TransWeight), a composition model that consistently outperforms existing models on nominal compounds, adjective-noun phrases, and adverb-adjective phrases in English, German, and Dutch. TransWeight drastically reduces the number of parameters needed compared with the best model in the literature by composing similar words in the same way.

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Natural Questions: A Benchmark for Question Answering Research
Tom Kwiatkowski | Jennimaria Palomaki | Olivia Redfield | Michael Collins | Ankur Parikh | Chris Alberti | Danielle Epstein | Illia Polosukhin | Jacob Devlin | Kenton Lee | Kristina Toutanova | Llion Jones | Matthew Kelcey | Ming-Wei Chang | Andrew M. Dai | Jakob Uszkoreit | Quoc Le | Slav Petrov

We present the Natural Questions corpus, a question answering data set. Questions consist of real anonymized, aggregated queries issued to the Google search engine. An annotator is presented with a question along with a Wikipedia page from the top 5 search results, and annotates a long answer (typically a paragraph) and a short answer (one or more entities) if present on the page, or marks null if no long/short answer is present. The public release consists of 307,373 training examples with single annotations; 7,830 examples with 5-way annotations for development data; and a further 7,842 examples with 5-way annotated sequestered as test data. We present experiments validating quality of the data. We also describe analysis of 25-way annotations on 302 examples, giving insights into human variability on the annotation task. We introduce robust metrics for the purposes of evaluating question answering systems; demonstrate high human upper bounds on these metrics; and establish baseline results using competitive methods drawn from related literature.

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Tabula Nearly Rasa: Probing the Linguistic Knowledge of Character-level Neural Language Models Trained on Unsegmented Text
Michael Hahn | Marco Baroni

Recurrent neural networks (RNNs) have reached striking performance in many natural language processing tasks. This has renewed interest in whether these generic sequence processing devices are inducing genuine linguistic knowledge. Nearly all current analytical studies, however, initialize the RNNs with a vocabulary of known words, and feed them tokenized input during training. We present a multi-lingual study of the linguistic knowledge encoded in RNNs trained as character-level language models, on input data with word boundaries removed. These networks face a tougher and more cognitively realistic task, having to discover any useful linguistic unit from scratch based on input statistics. The results show that our “near tabula rasa” RNNs are mostly able to solve morphological, syntactic and semantic tasks that intuitively presuppose word-level knowledge, and indeed they learned, to some extent, to track word boundaries. Our study opens the door to speculations about the necessity of an explicit, rigid word lexicon in language learning and usage.

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Graph Convolutional Network with Sequential Attention for Goal-Oriented Dialogue Systems
Suman Banerjee | Mitesh M. Khapra

Domain-specific goal-oriented dialogue systems typically require modeling three types of inputs, namely, (i) the knowledge-base associated with the domain, (ii) the history of the conversation, which is a sequence of utterances, and (iii) the current utterance for which the response needs to be generated. While modeling these inputs, current state-of-the-art models such as Mem2Seq typically ignore the rich structure inherent in the knowledge graph and the sentences in the conversation context. Inspired by the recent success of structure-aware Graph Convolutional Networks (GCNs) for various NLP tasks such as machine translation, semantic role labeling, and document dating, we propose a memory-augmented GCN for goal-oriented dialogues. Our model exploits (i) the entity relation graph in a knowledge-base and (ii) the dependency graph associated with an utterance to compute richer representations for words and entities. Further, we take cognizance of the fact that in certain situations, such as when the conversation is in a code-mixed language, dependency parsers may not be available. We show that in such situations we could use the global word co-occurrence graph to enrich the representations of utterances. We experiment with four datasets: (i) the modified DSTC2 dataset, (ii) recently released code-mixed versions of DSTC2 dataset in four languages, (iii) Wizard-of-Oz style CAM676 dataset, and (iv) Wizard-of-Oz style MultiWOZ dataset. On all four datasets our method outperforms existing methods, on a wide range of evaluation metrics.

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Decomposing Generalization: Models of Generic, Habitual, and Episodic Statements
Venkata Govindarajan | Benjamin Van Durme | Aaron Steven White

We present a novel semantic framework for modeling linguistic expressions of generalization— generic, habitual, and episodic statements—as combinations of simple, real-valued referential properties of predicates and their arguments. We use this framework to construct a dataset covering the entirety of the Universal Dependencies English Web Treebank. We use this dataset to probe the efficacy of type-level and token-level information—including hand-engineered features and static (GloVe) and contextual (ELMo) word embeddings—for predicting expressions of generalization.

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Where’s My Head? Definition, Data Set, and Models for Numeric Fused-Head Identification and Resolution
Yanai Elazar | Yoav Goldberg

We provide the first computational treatment of fused-heads constructions (FHs), focusing on the numeric fused-heads (NFHs). FHs constructions are noun phrases in which the head noun is missing and is said to be “fused” with its dependent modifier. This missing information is implicit and is important for sentence understanding. The missing references are easily filled in by humans but pose a challenge for computational models. We formulate the handling of FHs as a two stages process: Identification of the FH construction and resolution of the missing head. We explore the NFH phenomena in large corpora of English text and create (1) a data set and a highly accurate method for NFH identification; (2) a 10k examples (1 M tokens) crowd-sourced data set of NFH resolution; and (3) a neural baseline for the NFH resolution task. We release our code and data set, to foster further research into this challenging problem.

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Measuring Online Debaters’ Persuasive Skill from Text over Time
Kelvin Luu | Chenhao Tan | Noah A. Smith

Online debates allow people to express their persuasive abilities and provide exciting opportunities for understanding persuasion. Prior studies have focused on studying persuasion in debate content, but without accounting for each debater’s history or exploring the progression of a debater’s persuasive ability. We study debater skill by modeling how participants progress over time in a collection of debates from We build on a widely used model of skill in two-player games and augment it with linguistic features of a debater’s content. We show that online debaters’ skill levels do tend to improve over time. Incorporating linguistic profiles leads to more robust skill estimation than winning records alone. Notably, we find that an interaction feature combining uncertainty cues (hedging) with terms strongly associated with either side of a particular debate (fightin’ words) is more predictive than either feature on its own, indicating the importance of fine- grained linguistic features.

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Enabling Robust Grammatical Error Correction in New Domains: Data Sets, Metrics, and Analyses
Courtney Napoles | Maria Nădejde | Joel Tetreault

Until now, grammatical error correction (GEC) has been primarily evaluated on text written by non-native English speakers, with a focus on student essays. This paper enables GEC development on text written by native speakers by providing a new data set and metric. We present a multiple-reference test corpus for GEC that includes 4,000 sentences in two new domains (formal and informal writing by native English speakers) and 2,000 sentences from a diverse set of non-native student writing. We also collect human judgments of several GEC systems on this new test set and perform a meta-evaluation, assessing how reliable automatic metrics are across these domains. We find that commonly used GEC metrics have inconsistent performance across domains, and therefore we propose a new ensemble metric that is robust on all three domains of text.

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Morphological Analysis Using a Sequence Decoder
Ekin Akyürek | Erenay Dayanık | Deniz Yuret

We introduce Morse, a recurrent encoder-decoder model that produces morphological analyses of each word in a sentence. The encoder turns the relevant information about the word and its context into a fixed size vector representation and the decoder generates the sequence of characters for the lemma followed by a sequence of individual morphological features. We show that generating morphological features individually rather than as a combined tag allows the model to handle rare or unseen tags and to outperform whole-tag models. In addition, generating morphological features as a sequence rather than, for example, an unordered set allows our model to produce an arbitrary number of features that represent multiple inflectional groups in morphologically complex languages. We obtain state-of-the-art results in nine languages of different morphological complexity under low-resource, high-resource, and transfer learning settings. We also introduce TrMor2018, a new high-accuracy Turkish morphology data set. Our Morse implementation and the TrMor2018 data set are available online to support future research.1See for a Morse implementation in Julia/Knet (Yuret, 2016) and for the new Turkish data set.

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Weakly Supervised Domain Detection
Yumo Xu | Mirella Lapata

In this paper we introduce domain detection as a new natural language processing task. We argue that the ability to detect textual segments that are domain-heavy (i.e., sentences or phrases that are representative of and provide evidence for a given domain) could enhance the robustness and portability of various text classification applications. We propose an encoder-detector framework for domain detection and bootstrap classifiers with multiple instance learning. The model is hierarchically organized and suited to multilabel classification. We demonstrate that despite learning with minimal supervision, our model can be applied to text spans of different granularities, languages, and genres. We also showcase the potential of domain detection for text summarization.

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Massively Multilingual Sentence Embeddings for Zero-Shot Cross-Lingual Transfer and Beyond
Mikel Artetxe | Holger Schwenk

We introduce an architecture to learn joint multilingual sentence representations for 93 languages, belonging to more than 30 different families and written in 28 different scripts. Our system uses a single BiLSTM encoder with a shared byte-pair encoding vocabulary for all languages, which is coupled with an auxiliary decoder and trained on publicly available parallel corpora. This enables us to learn a classifier on top of the resulting embeddings using English annotated data only, and transfer it to any of the 93 languages without any modification. Our experiments in cross-lingual natural language inference (XNLI data set), cross-lingual document classification (MLDoc data set), and parallel corpus mining (BUCC data set) show the effectiveness of our approach. We also introduce a new test set of aligned sentences in 112 languages, and show that our sentence embeddings obtain strong results in multilingual similarity search even for low- resource languages. Our implementation, the pre-trained encoder, and the multilingual test set are available at

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Efficient Contextual Representation Learning With Continuous Outputs
Liunian Harold Li | Patrick H. Chen | Cho-Jui Hsieh | Kai-Wei Chang

Contextual representation models have achieved great success in improving various downstream natural language processing tasks. However, these language-model-based encoders are difficult to train due to their large parameter size and high computational complexity. By carefully examining the training procedure, we observe that the softmax layer, which predicts a distribution of the target word, often induces significant overhead, especially when the vocabulary size is large. Therefore, we revisit the design of the output layer and consider directly predicting the pre-trained embedding of the target word for a given context. When applied to ELMo, the proposed approach achieves a 4-fold speedup and eliminates 80% trainable parameters while achieving competitive performance on downstream tasks. Further analysis shows that the approach maintains the speed advantage under various settings, even when the sentence encoder is scaled up.

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Neural Network Acceptability Judgments
Alex Warstadt | Amanpreet Singh | Samuel R. Bowman

This paper investigates the ability of artificial neural networks to judge the grammatical acceptability of a sentence, with the goal of testing their linguistic competence. We introduce the Corpus of Linguistic Acceptability (CoLA), a set of 10,657 English sentences labeled as grammatical or ungrammatical from published linguistics literature. As baselines, we train several recurrent neural network models on acceptability classification, and find that our models outperform unsupervised models by Lau et al. (2016) on CoLA. Error-analysis on specific grammatical phenomena reveals that both Lau et al.’s models and ours learn systematic generalizations like subject-verb-object order. However, all models we test perform far below human level on a wide range of grammatical constructions.

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Perturbation Based Learning for Structured NLP Tasks with Application to Dependency Parsing
Amichay Doitch | Ram Yazdi | Tamir Hazan | Roi Reichart

The best solution of structured prediction models in NLP is often inaccurate because of limited expressive power of the model or to non-exact parameter estimation. One way to mitigate this problem is sampling candidate solutions from the model’s solution space, reasoning that effective exploration of this space should yield high-quality solutions. Unfortunately, sampling is often computationally hard and many works hence back-off to sub-optimal strategies, such as extraction of the best scoring solutions of the model, which are not as diverse as sampled solutions. In this paper we propose a perturbation-based approach where sampling from a probabilistic model is computationally efficient. We present a learning algorithm for the variance of the perturbations, and empirically demonstrate its importance. Moreover, while finding the argmax in our model is intractable, we propose an efficient and effective approximation. We apply our framework to cross-lingual dependency parsing across 72 corpora from 42 languages and to lightly supervised dependency parsing across 13 corpora from 12 languages, and demonstrate strong results in terms of both the quality of the entire solution list and of the final solution.1

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Insertion-based Decoding with Automatically Inferred Generation Order
Jiatao Gu | Qi Liu | Kyunghyun Cho

Conventional neural autoregressive decoding commonly assumes a fixed left-to-right generation order, which may be sub-optimal. In this work, we propose a novel decoding algorithm— InDIGO—which supports flexible sequence generation in arbitrary orders through insertion operations. We extend Transformer, a state-of-the-art sequence generation model, to efficiently implement the proposed approach, enabling it to be trained with either a pre-defined generation order or adaptive orders obtained from beam-search. Experiments on four real-world tasks, including word order recovery, machine translation, image caption, and code generation, demonstrate that our algorithm can generate sequences following arbitrary orders, while achieving competitive or even better performance compared with the conventional left-to-right generation. The generated sequences show that InDIGO adopts adaptive generation orders based on input information.

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Inherent Disagreements in Human Textual Inferences
Ellie Pavlick | Tom Kwiatkowski

We analyze human’s disagreements about the validity of natural language inferences. We show that, very often, disagreements are not dismissible as annotation “noise”, but rather persist as we collect more ratings and as we vary the amount of context provided to raters. We further show that the type of uncertainty captured by current state-of-the-art models for natural language inference is not reflective of the type of uncertainty present in human disagreements. We discuss implications of our results in relation to the recognizing textual entailment (RTE)/natural language inference (NLI) task. We argue for a refined evaluation objective that requires models to explicitly capture the full distribution of plausible human judgments.

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Deep Contextualized Self-training for Low Resource Dependency Parsing
Guy Rotman | Roi Reichart

Neural dependency parsing has proven very effective, achieving state-of-the-art results on numerous domains and languages. Unfortunately, it requires large amounts of labeled data, which is costly and laborious to create. In this paper we propose a self-training algorithm that alleviates this annotation bottleneck by training a parser on its own output. Our Deep Contextualized Self-training (DCST) algorithm utilizes representation models trained on sequence labeling tasks that are derived from the parser’s output when applied to unlabeled data, and integrates these models with the base parser through a gating mechanism. We conduct experiments across multiple languages, both in low resource in-domain and in cross-domain setups, and demonstrate that DCST substantially outperforms traditional self-training as well as recent semi-supervised training methods.1

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Paraphrase-Sense-Tagged Sentences
Anne Cocos | Chris Callison-Burch

Many natural language processing tasks require discriminating the particular meaning of a word in context, but building corpora for developing sense-aware models can be a challenge. We present a large resource of example usages for words having a particular meaning, called Paraphrase-Sense-Tagged Sentences (PSTS). Built on the premise that a word’s paraphrases instantiate its fine-grained meanings (i.e., bug has different meanings corresponding to its paraphrases fly and microbe) the resource contains up to 10,000 sentences for each of 3 million target-paraphrase pairs where the target word takes on the meaning of the paraphrase. We describe an automatic method based on bilingual pivoting used to enumerate sentences for PSTS, and present two models for ranking PSTS sentences based on their quality. Finally, we demonstrate the utility of PSTS by using it to build a dataset for the task of hypernym prediction in context. Training a model on this automatically generated dataset produces accuracy that is competitive with a model trained on smaller datasets crafted with some manual effort.