Adam Trischler


2021

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Modeling Event Plausibility with Consistent Conceptual Abstraction
Ian Porada | Kaheer Suleman | Adam Trischler | Jackie Chi Kit Cheung
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Understanding natural language requires common sense, one aspect of which is the ability to discern the plausibility of events. While distributional models—most recently pre-trained, Transformer language models—have demonstrated improvements in modeling event plausibility, their performance still falls short of humans’. In this work, we show that Transformer-based plausibility models are markedly inconsistent across the conceptual classes of a lexical hierarchy, inferring that “a person breathing” is plausible while “a dentist breathing” is not, for example. We find this inconsistency persists even when models are softly injected with lexical knowledge, and we present a simple post-hoc method of forcing model consistency that improves correlation with human plausibility judgements.

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An Empirical Study on Neural Keyphrase Generation
Rui Meng | Xingdi Yuan | Tong Wang | Sanqiang Zhao | Adam Trischler | Daqing He
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Recent years have seen a flourishing of neural keyphrase generation (KPG) works, including the release of several large-scale datasets and a host of new models to tackle them. Model performance on KPG tasks has increased significantly with evolving deep learning research. However, there lacks a comprehensive comparison among different model designs, and a thorough investigation on related factors that may affect a KPG system’s generalization performance. In this empirical study, we aim to fill this gap by providing extensive experimental results and analyzing the most crucial factors impacting the generalizability of KPG models. We hope this study can help clarify some of the uncertainties surrounding the KPG task and facilitate future research on this topic.

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ADEPT: An Adjective-Dependent Plausibility Task
Ali Emami | Ian Porada | Alexandra Olteanu | Kaheer Suleman | Adam Trischler | Jackie Chi Kit Cheung
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)

A false contract is more likely to be rejected than a contract is, yet a false key is less likely than a key to open doors. While correctly interpreting and assessing the effects of such adjective-noun pairs (e.g., false key) on the plausibility of given events (e.g., opening doors) underpins many natural language understanding tasks, doing so often requires a significant degree of world knowledge and common-sense reasoning. We introduce ADEPT – a large-scale semantic plausibility task consisting of over 16 thousand sentences that are paired with slightly modified versions obtained by adding an adjective to a noun. Overall, we find that while the task appears easier for human judges (85% accuracy), it proves more difficult for transformer-based models like RoBERTa (71% accuracy). Our experiments also show that neither the adjective itself nor its taxonomic class suffice in determining the correct plausibility judgement, emphasizing the importance of endowing automatic natural language understanding systems with more context sensitivity and common-sense reasoning.

2020

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An Analysis of Dataset Overlap on Winograd-Style Tasks
Ali Emami | Kaheer Suleman | Adam Trischler | Jackie Chi Kit Cheung
Proceedings of the 28th International Conference on Computational Linguistics

The Winograd Schema Challenge (WSC) and variants inspired by it have become important benchmarks for common-sense reasoning (CSR). Model performance on the WSC has quickly progressed from chance-level to near-human using neural language models trained on massive corpora. In this paper, we analyze the effects of varying degrees of overlaps that occur between these corpora and the test instances in WSC-style tasks. We find that a large number of test instances overlap considerably with the pretraining corpora on which state-of-the-art models are trained, and that a significant drop in classification accuracy occurs when models are evaluated on instances with minimal overlap. Based on these results, we provide the WSC-Web dataset, consisting of over 60k pronoun disambiguation problems scraped from web data, being both the largest corpus to date, and having a significantly lower proportion of overlaps with current pretraining corpora.

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Interactive Machine Comprehension with Information Seeking Agents
Xingdi Yuan | Jie Fu | Marc-Alexandre Côté | Yi Tay | Chris Pal | Adam Trischler
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Existing machine reading comprehension (MRC) models do not scale effectively to real-world applications like web-level information retrieval and question answering (QA). We argue that this stems from the nature of MRC datasets: most of these are static environments wherein the supporting documents and all necessary information are fully observed. In this paper, we propose a simple method that reframes existing MRC datasets as interactive, partially observable environments. Specifically, we “occlude” the majority of a document’s text and add context-sensitive commands that reveal “glimpses” of the hidden text to a model. We repurpose SQuAD and NewsQA as an initial case study, and then show how the interactive corpora can be used to train a model that seeks relevant information through sequential decision making. We believe that this setting can contribute in scaling models to web-level QA scenarios.

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One Size Does Not Fit All: Generating and Evaluating Variable Number of Keyphrases
Xingdi Yuan | Tong Wang | Rui Meng | Khushboo Thaker | Peter Brusilovsky | Daqing He | Adam Trischler
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Different texts shall by nature correspond to different number of keyphrases. This desideratum is largely missing from existing neural keyphrase generation models. In this study, we address this problem from both modeling and evaluation perspectives. We first propose a recurrent generative model that generates multiple keyphrases as delimiter-separated sequences. Generation diversity is further enhanced with two novel techniques by manipulating decoder hidden states. In contrast to previous approaches, our model is capable of generating diverse keyphrases and controlling number of outputs. We further propose two evaluation metrics tailored towards the variable-number generation. We also introduce a new dataset StackEx that expands beyond the only existing genre (i.e., academic writing) in keyphrase generation tasks. With both previous and new evaluation metrics, our model outperforms strong baselines on all datasets.

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Exploring and Predicting Transferability across NLP Tasks
Tu Vu | Tong Wang | Tsendsuren Munkhdalai | Alessandro Sordoni | Adam Trischler | Andrew Mattarella-Micke | Subhransu Maji | Mohit Iyyer
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

Recent advances in NLP demonstrate the effectiveness of training large-scale language models and transferring them to downstream tasks. Can fine-tuning these models on tasks other than language modeling further improve performance? In this paper, we conduct an extensive study of the transferability between 33 NLP tasks across three broad classes of problems (text classification, question answering, and sequence labeling). Our results show that transfer learning is more beneficial than previously thought, especially when target task data is scarce, and can improve performance even with low-data source tasks that differ substantially from the target task (e.g., part-of-speech tagging transfers well to the DROP QA dataset). We also develop task embeddings that can be used to predict the most transferable source tasks for a given target task, and we validate their effectiveness in experiments controlled for source and target data size. Overall, our experiments reveal that factors such as data size, task and domain similarity, and task complexity all play a role in determining transferability.

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Exploiting Structured Knowledge in Text via Graph-Guided Representation Learning
Tao Shen | Yi Mao | Pengcheng He | Guodong Long | Adam Trischler | Weizhu Chen
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

In this work, we aim at equipping pre-trained language models with structured knowledge. We present two self-supervised tasks learning over raw text with the guidance from knowledge graphs. Building upon entity-level masked language models, our first contribution is an entity masking scheme that exploits relational knowledge underlying the text. This is fulfilled by using a linked knowledge graph to select informative entities and then masking their mentions. In addition, we use knowledge graphs to obtain distractors for the masked entities, and propose a novel distractor-suppressed ranking objective that is optimized jointly with masked language model. In contrast to existing paradigms, our approach uses knowledge graphs implicitly, only during pre-training, to inject language models with structured knowledge via learning from raw text. It is more efficient than retrieval-based methods that perform entity linking and integration during finetuning and inference, and generalizes more effectively than the methods that directly learn from concatenated graph triples. Experiments show that our proposed model achieves improved performance on five benchmarks, including question answering and knowledge base completion.

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On the Systematicity of Probing Contextualized Word Representations: The Case of Hypernymy in BERT
Abhilasha Ravichander | Eduard Hovy | Kaheer Suleman | Adam Trischler | Jackie Chi Kit Cheung
Proceedings of the Ninth Joint Conference on Lexical and Computational Semantics

Contextualized word representations have become a driving force in NLP, motivating widespread interest in understanding their capabilities and the mechanisms by which they operate. Particularly intriguing is their ability to identify and encode conceptual abstractions. Past work has probed BERT representations for this competence, finding that BERT can correctly retrieve noun hypernyms in cloze tasks. In this work, we ask the question: do probing studies shed light on systematic knowledge in BERT representations? As a case study, we examine hypernymy knowledge encoded in BERT representations. In particular, we demonstrate through a simple consistency probe that the ability to correctly retrieve hypernyms in cloze tasks, as used in prior work, does not correspond to systematic knowledge in BERT. Our main conclusion is cautionary: even if BERT demonstrates high probing accuracy for a particular competence, it does not necessarily follow that BERT ‘understands’ a concept, and it cannot be expected to systematically generalize across applicable contexts.

2019

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Interactive Language Learning by Question Answering
Xingdi Yuan | Marc-Alexandre Côté | Jie Fu | Zhouhan Lin | Chris Pal | Yoshua Bengio | Adam Trischler
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing and the 9th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (EMNLP-IJCNLP)

Humans observe and interact with the world to acquire knowledge. However, most existing machine reading comprehension (MRC) tasks miss the interactive, information-seeking component of comprehension. Such tasks present models with static documents that contain all necessary information, usually concentrated in a single short substring. Thus, models can achieve strong performance through simple word- and phrase-based pattern matching. We address this problem by formulating a novel text-based question answering task: Question Answering with Interactive Text (QAit). In QAit, an agent must interact with a partially observable text-based environment to gather information required to answer questions. QAit poses questions about the existence, location, and attributes of objects found in the environment. The data is built using a text-based game generator that defines the underlying dynamics of interaction with the environment. We propose and evaluate a set of baseline models for the QAit task that includes deep reinforcement learning agents. Experiments show that the task presents a major challenge for machine reading systems, while humans solve it with relative ease.

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How Reasonable are Common-Sense Reasoning Tasks: A Case-Study on the Winograd Schema Challenge and SWAG
Paul Trichelair | Ali Emami | Adam Trischler | Kaheer Suleman | Jackie Chi Kit Cheung
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing and the 9th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (EMNLP-IJCNLP)

Recent studies have significantly improved the state-of-the-art on common-sense reasoning (CSR) benchmarks like the Winograd Schema Challenge (WSC) and SWAG. The question we ask in this paper is whether improved performance on these benchmarks represents genuine progress towards common-sense-enabled systems. We make case studies of both benchmarks and design protocols that clarify and qualify the results of previous work by analyzing threats to the validity of previous experimental designs. Our protocols account for several properties prevalent in common-sense benchmarks including size limitations, structural regularities, and variable instance difficulty.

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The KnowRef Coreference Corpus: Removing Gender and Number Cues for Difficult Pronominal Anaphora Resolution
Ali Emami | Paul Trichelair | Adam Trischler | Kaheer Suleman | Hannes Schulz | Jackie Chi Kit Cheung
Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

We introduce a new benchmark for coreference resolution and NLI, KnowRef, that targets common-sense understanding and world knowledge. Previous coreference resolution tasks can largely be solved by exploiting the number and gender of the antecedents, or have been handcrafted and do not reflect the diversity of naturally occurring text. We present a corpus of over 8,000 annotated text passages with ambiguous pronominal anaphora. These instances are both challenging and realistic. We show that various coreference systems, whether rule-based, feature-rich, or neural, perform significantly worse on the task than humans, who display high inter-annotator agreement. To explain this performance gap, we show empirically that state-of-the art models often fail to capture context, instead relying on the gender or number of candidate antecedents to make a decision. We then use problem-specific insights to propose a data-augmentation trick called antecedent switching to alleviate this tendency in models. Finally, we show that antecedent switching yields promising results on other tasks as well: we use it to achieve state-of-the-art results on the GAP coreference task.

2018

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Neural Models for Key Phrase Extraction and Question Generation
Sandeep Subramanian | Tong Wang | Xingdi Yuan | Saizheng Zhang | Adam Trischler | Yoshua Bengio
Proceedings of the Workshop on Machine Reading for Question Answering

We propose a two-stage neural model to tackle question generation from documents. First, our model estimates the probability that word sequences in a document are ones that a human would pick when selecting candidate answers by training a neural key-phrase extractor on the answers in a question-answering corpus. Predicted key phrases then act as target answers and condition a sequence-to-sequence question-generation model with a copy mechanism. Empirically, our key-phrase extraction model significantly outperforms an entity-tagging baseline and existing rule-based approaches. We further demonstrate that our question generation system formulates fluent, answerable questions from key phrases. This two-stage system could be used to augment or generate reading comprehension datasets, which may be leveraged to improve machine reading systems or in educational settings.

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A Generalized Knowledge Hunting Framework for the Winograd Schema Challenge
Ali Emami | Adam Trischler | Kaheer Suleman | Jackie Chi Kit Cheung
Proceedings of the 2018 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Student Research Workshop

We introduce an automatic system that performs well on two common-sense reasoning tasks, the Winograd Schema Challenge (WSC) and the Choice of Plausible Alternatives (COPA). Problem instances from these tasks require diverse, complex forms of inference and knowledge to solve. Our method uses a knowledge-hunting module to gather text from the web, which serves as evidence for candidate problem resolutions. Given an input problem, our system generates relevant queries to send to a search engine. It extracts and classifies knowledge from the returned results and weighs it to make a resolution. Our approach improves F1 performance on the WSC by 0.16 over the previous best and is competitive with the state-of-the-art on COPA, demonstrating its general applicability.

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A Knowledge Hunting Framework for Common Sense Reasoning
Ali Emami | Noelia De La Cruz | Adam Trischler | Kaheer Suleman | Jackie Chi Kit Cheung
Proceedings of the 2018 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

We introduce an automatic system that achieves state-of-the-art results on the Winograd Schema Challenge (WSC), a common sense reasoning task that requires diverse, complex forms of inference and knowledge. Our method uses a knowledge hunting module to gather text from the web, which serves as evidence for candidate problem resolutions. Given an input problem, our system generates relevant queries to send to a search engine, then extracts and classifies knowledge from the returned results and weighs them to make a resolution. Our approach improves F1 performance on the full WSC by 0.21 over the previous best and represents the first system to exceed 0.5 F1. We further demonstrate that the approach is competitive on the Choice of Plausible Alternatives (COPA) task, which suggests that it is generally applicable.

2017

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Machine Comprehension by Text-to-Text Neural Question Generation
Xingdi Yuan | Tong Wang | Caglar Gulcehre | Alessandro Sordoni | Philip Bachman | Saizheng Zhang | Sandeep Subramanian | Adam Trischler
Proceedings of the 2nd Workshop on Representation Learning for NLP

We propose a recurrent neural model that generates natural-language questions from documents, conditioned on answers. We show how to train the model using a combination of supervised and reinforcement learning. After teacher forcing for standard maximum likelihood training, we fine-tune the model using policy gradient techniques to maximize several rewards that measure question quality. Most notably, one of these rewards is the performance of a question-answering system. We motivate question generation as a means to improve the performance of question answering systems. Our model is trained and evaluated on the recent question-answering dataset SQuAD.

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NewsQA: A Machine Comprehension Dataset
Adam Trischler | Tong Wang | Xingdi Yuan | Justin Harris | Alessandro Sordoni | Philip Bachman | Kaheer Suleman
Proceedings of the 2nd Workshop on Representation Learning for NLP

We present NewsQA, a challenging machine comprehension dataset of over 100,000 human-generated question-answer pairs. Crowdworkers supply questions and answers based on a set of over 10,000 news articles from CNN, with answers consisting of spans of text in the articles. We collect this dataset through a four-stage process designed to solicit exploratory questions that require reasoning. Analysis confirms that NewsQA demands abilities beyond simple word matching and recognizing textual entailment. We measure human performance on the dataset and compare it to several strong neural models. The performance gap between humans and machines (13.3% F1) indicates that significant progress can be made on NewsQA through future research. The dataset is freely available online.

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Plan, Attend, Generate: Character-Level Neural Machine Translation with Planning
Caglar Gulcehre | Francis Dutil | Adam Trischler | Yoshua Bengio
Proceedings of the 2nd Workshop on Representation Learning for NLP

We investigate the integration of a planning mechanism into an encoder-decoder architecture with attention. We develop a model that can plan ahead when it computes alignments between the source and target sequences not only for a single time-step but for the next k time-steps as well by constructing a matrix of proposed future alignments and a commitment vector that governs whether to follow or recompute the plan. This mechanism is inspired by strategic attentive reader and writer (STRAW) model, a recent neural architecture for planning with hierarchical reinforcement learning that can also learn higher level temporal abstractions. Our proposed model is end-to-end trainable with differentiable operations. We show that our model outperforms strong baselines on character-level translation task from WMT’15 with fewer parameters and computes alignments that are qualitatively intuitive.

2016

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Natural Language Comprehension with the EpiReader
Adam Trischler | Zheng Ye | Xingdi Yuan | Philip Bachman | Alessandro Sordoni | Kaheer Suleman
Proceedings of the 2016 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

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A Parallel-Hierarchical Model for Machine Comprehension on Sparse Data
Adam Trischler | Zheng Ye | Xingdi Yuan | Jing He | Philip Bachman
Proceedings of the 54th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)