Aaron Mueller


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Fine-tuning Encoders for Improved Monolingual and Zero-shot Polylingual Neural Topic Modeling
Aaron Mueller | Mark Dredze
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Neural topic models can augment or replace bag-of-words inputs with the learned representations of deep pre-trained transformer-based word prediction models. One added benefit when using representations from multilingual models is that they facilitate zero-shot polylingual topic modeling. However, while it has been widely observed that pre-trained embeddings should be fine-tuned to a given task, it is not immediately clear what supervision should look like for an unsupervised task such as topic modeling. Thus, we propose several methods for fine-tuning encoders to improve both monolingual and zero-shot polylingual neural topic modeling. We consider fine-tuning on auxiliary tasks, constructing a new topic classification task, integrating the topic classification objective directly into topic model training, and continued pre-training. We find that fine-tuning encoder representations on topic classification and integrating the topic classification task directly into topic modeling improves topic quality, and that fine-tuning encoder representations on any task is the most important factor for facilitating cross-lingual transfer.

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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
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)

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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Decoding Methods for Neural Narrative Generation
Alexandra DeLucia | Aaron Mueller | Xiang Lisa Li | João Sedoc
Proceedings of the 1st Workshop on Natural Language Generation, Evaluation, and Metrics (GEM 2021)

Narrative generation is an open-ended NLP task in which a model generates a story given a prompt. The task is similar to neural response generation for chatbots; however, innovations in response generation are often not applied to narrative generation, despite the similarity between these tasks. We aim to bridge this gap by applying and evaluating advances in decoding methods for neural response generation to neural narrative generation. In particular, we employ GPT-2 and perform ablations across nucleus sampling thresholds and diverse decoding hyperparameters—specifically, maximum mutual information—analyzing results over multiple criteria with automatic and human evaluation. We find that (1) nucleus sampling is generally best with thresholds between 0.7 and 0.9; (2) a maximum mutual information objective can improve the quality of generated stories; and (3) established automatic metrics do not correlate well with human judgments of narrative quality on any qualitative metric.


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Cross-Linguistic Syntactic Evaluation of Word Prediction Models
Aaron Mueller | Garrett Nicolai | Panayiota Petrou-Zeniou | Natalia Talmina | Tal Linzen
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

A range of studies have concluded that neural word prediction models can distinguish grammatical from ungrammatical sentences with high accuracy. However, these studies are based primarily on monolingual evidence from English. To investigate how these models’ ability to learn syntax varies by language, we introduce CLAMS (Cross-Linguistic Assessment of Models on Syntax), a syntactic evaluation suite for monolingual and multilingual models. CLAMS includes subject-verb agreement challenge sets for English, French, German, Hebrew and Russian, generated from grammars we develop. We use CLAMS to evaluate LSTM language models as well as monolingual and multilingual BERT. Across languages, monolingual LSTMs achieved high accuracy on dependencies without attractors, and generally poor accuracy on agreement across object relative clauses. On other constructions, agreement accuracy was generally higher in languages with richer morphology. Multilingual models generally underperformed monolingual models. Multilingual BERT showed high syntactic accuracy on English, but noticeable deficiencies in other languages.

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The Johns Hopkins University Bible Corpus: 1600+ Tongues for Typological Exploration
Arya D. McCarthy | Rachel Wicks | Dylan Lewis | Aaron Mueller | Winston Wu | Oliver Adams | Garrett Nicolai | Matt Post | David Yarowsky
Proceedings of the 12th Language Resources and Evaluation Conference

We present findings from the creation of a massively parallel corpus in over 1600 languages, the Johns Hopkins University Bible Corpus (JHUBC). The corpus consists of over 4000 unique translations of the Christian Bible and counting. Our data is derived from scraping several online resources and merging them with existing corpora, combining them under a common scheme that is verse-parallel across all translations. We detail our effort to scrape, clean, align, and utilize this ripe multilingual dataset. The corpus captures the great typological variety of the world’s languages. We catalog this by showing highly similar proportions of representation of Ethnologue’s typological features in our corpus. We also give an example application: projecting pronoun features like clusivity across alignments to richly annotate languages which do not mark the distinction.

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An Analysis of Massively Multilingual Neural Machine Translation for Low-Resource Languages
Aaron Mueller | Garrett Nicolai | Arya D. McCarthy | Dylan Lewis | Winston Wu | David Yarowsky
Proceedings of the 12th Language Resources and Evaluation Conference

In this work, we explore massively multilingual low-resource neural machine translation. Using translations of the Bible (which have parallel structure across languages), we train models with up to 1,107 source languages. We create various multilingual corpora, varying the number and relatedness of source languages. Using these, we investigate the best ways to use this many-way aligned resource for multilingual machine translation. Our experiments employ a grammatically and phylogenetically diverse set of source languages during testing for more representative evaluations. We find that best practices in this domain are highly language-specific: adding more languages to a training set is often better, but too many harms performance—the best number depends on the source language. Furthermore, training on related languages can improve or degrade performance, depending on the language. As there is no one-size-fits-most answer, we find that it is critical to tailor one’s approach to the source language and its typology.

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Fine-grained Morphosyntactic Analysis and Generation Tools for More Than One Thousand Languages
Garrett Nicolai | Dylan Lewis | Arya D. McCarthy | Aaron Mueller | Winston Wu | David Yarowsky
Proceedings of the 12th Language Resources and Evaluation Conference

Exploiting the broad translation of the Bible into the world’s languages, we train and distribute morphosyntactic tools for approximately one thousand languages, vastly outstripping previous distributions of tools devoted to the processing of inflectional morphology. Evaluation of the tools on a subset of available inflectional dictionaries demonstrates strong initial models, supplemented and improved through ensembling and dictionary-based reranking. Likewise, a novel type-to-token based evaluation metric allows us to confirm that models generalize well across rare and common forms alike


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Modeling Color Terminology Across Thousands of Languages
Arya D. McCarthy | Winston Wu | Aaron Mueller | William Watson | David Yarowsky
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing and the 9th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (EMNLP-IJCNLP)

There is an extensive history of scholarship into what constitutes a “basic” color term, as well as a broadly attested acquisition sequence of basic color terms across many languages, as articulated in the seminal work of Berlin and Kay (1969). This paper employs a set of diverse measures on massively cross-linguistic data to operationalize and critique the Berlin and Kay color term hypotheses. Collectively, the 14 empirically-grounded computational linguistic metrics we design—as well as their aggregation—correlate strongly with both the Berlin and Kay basic/secondary color term partition (γ = 0.96) and their hypothesized universal acquisition sequence. The measures and result provide further empirical evidence from computational linguistics in support of their claims, as well as additional nuance: they suggest treating the partition as a spectrum instead of a dichotomy.

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Quantity doesn’t buy quality syntax with neural language models
Marten van Schijndel | Aaron Mueller | Tal Linzen
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing and the 9th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (EMNLP-IJCNLP)

Recurrent neural networks can learn to predict upcoming words remarkably well on average; in syntactically complex contexts, however, they often assign unexpectedly high probabilities to ungrammatical words. We investigate to what extent these shortcomings can be mitigated by increasing the size of the network and the corpus on which it is trained. We find that gains from increasing network size are minimal beyond a certain point. Likewise, expanding the training corpus yields diminishing returns; we estimate that the training corpus would need to be unrealistically large for the models to match human performance. A comparison to GPT and BERT, Transformer-based models trained on billions of words, reveals that these models perform even more poorly than our LSTMs in some constructions. Our results make the case for more data efficient architectures.

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Sentence-Level Adaptation for Low-Resource Neural Machine Translation
Aaron Mueller | Yash Kumar Lal
Proceedings of the 2nd Workshop on Technologies for MT of Low Resource Languages