Akhila Yerukola


pdf bib
Don’t Take This Out of Context!: On the Need for Contextual Models and Evaluations for Stylistic Rewriting
Akhila Yerukola | Xuhui Zhou | Elizabeth Clark | Maarten Sap
Proceedings of the 2023 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Most existing stylistic text rewriting methods and evaluation metrics operate on a sentence level, but ignoring the broader context of the text can lead to preferring generic, ambiguous, and incoherent rewrites. In this paper, we investigate integrating the preceding textual context into both the rewriting and evaluation stages of stylistic text rewriting, and introduce a new composite contextual evaluation metric CtxSimFit that combines similarity to the original sentence with contextual cohesiveness. We comparatively evaluate non-contextual and contextual rewrites in formality, toxicity, and sentiment transfer tasks. Our experiments show that humans significantly prefer contextual rewrites as more fitting and natural over non-contextual ones, yet existing sentence-level automatic metrics (e.g., ROUGE, SBERT) correlate poorly with human preferences (𝜌=0–0.3). In contrast, human preferences are much better reflected by both our novel CtxSimFit (𝜌=0.7–0.9) as well as proposed context-infused versions of common metrics (𝜌=0.4–0.7). Overall, our findings highlight the importance of integrating context into the generation and especially the evaluation stages of stylistic text rewriting.

pdf bib
COBRA Frames: Contextual Reasoning about Effects and Harms of Offensive Statements
Xuhui Zhou | Hao Zhu | Akhila Yerukola | Thomas Davidson | Jena D. Hwang | Swabha Swayamdipta | Maarten Sap
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2023

Warning: This paper contains content that may be offensive or upsetting. Understanding the harms and offensiveness of statements requires reasoning about the social and situational context in which statements are made. For example, the utterance “your English is very good” may implicitly signal an insult when uttered by a white man to a non-white colleague, but uttered by an ESL teacher to their student would be interpreted as a genuine compliment. Such contextual factors have been largely ignored by previous approaches to toxic language detection. We introduce COBRA frames, the first context-aware formalism for explaining the intents, reactions, and harms of offensive or biased statements grounded in their social and situational context. We create COBRACORPUS, a dataset of 33k potentially offensive statements paired with machine-generated contexts and free-text explanations of offensiveness, implied biases, speaker intents, and listener reactions. To study the contextual dynamics of offensiveness, we train models to generate COBRA explanations, with and without access to the context. We find that explanations by context-agnostic models are significantly worse than by context-aware ones, especially in situations where the context inverts the statement’s offensiveness (29% accuracy drop). Our work highlights the importance and feasibility of contextualized NLP by modeling social factors.

pdf bib
Beyond Denouncing Hate: Strategies for Countering Implied Biases and Stereotypes in Language
Jimin Mun | Emily Allaway | Akhila Yerukola | Laura Vianna | Sarah-Jane Leslie | Maarten Sap
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2023

Counterspeech, i.e., responses to counteract potential harms of hateful speech, has become an increasingly popular solution to address online hate speech without censorship. However, properly countering hateful language requires countering and dispelling the underlying inaccurate stereotypes implied by such language. In this work, we draw from psychology and philosophy literature to craft six psychologically inspired strategies to challenge the underlying stereotypical implications of hateful language. We first examine the convincingness of each of these strategies through a user study, and then compare their usages in both human- and machine-generated counterspeech datasets. Our results show that human-written counterspeech uses countering strategies that are more specific to the implied stereotype (e.g., counter examples to the stereotype, external factors about the stereotype’s origins), whereas machine-generated counterspeech uses less specific strategies (e.g., generally denouncing the hatefulness of speech). Furthermore, machine generated counterspeech often employs strategies that humans deem less convincing compared to human-produced counterspeech. Our findings point to the importance of accounting for the underlying stereotypical implications of speech when generating counterspeech and for better machine reasoning about anti-stereotypical examples.


pdf bib
Explainable Slot Type Attentions to Improve Joint Intent Detection and Slot Filling
Kalpa Gunaratna | Vijay Srinivasan | Akhila Yerukola | Hongxia Jin
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2022

Joint intent detection and slot filling is a key research topic in natural language understanding (NLU). Existing joint intent and slot filling systems analyze and compute features collectively for all slot types, and importantly, have no way to explain the slot filling model decisions. In this work, we propose a novel approach that: (i) learns to generate additional slot type specific features in order to improve accuracy and (ii) provides explanations for slot filling decisions for the first time in a joint NLU model. We perform an additional constrained supervision using a set of binary classifiers for the slot type specific feature learning, thus ensuring appropriate attention weights are learned in the process to explain slot filling decisions for utterances. Our model is inherently explainable and does not need any post-hoc processing. We evaluate our approach on two widely used datasets and show accuracy improvements. Moreover, a detailed analysis is also provided for the exclusive slot explainability.


pdf bib
The GEM Benchmark: Natural Language Generation, its Evaluation and Metrics
Sebastian Gehrmann | Tosin Adewumi | Karmanya Aggarwal | Pawan Sasanka Ammanamanchi | Anuoluwapo Aremu | Antoine Bosselut | Khyathi Raghavi Chandu | Miruna-Adriana Clinciu | Dipanjan Das | Kaustubh Dhole | Wanyu Du | Esin Durmus | Ondřej Dušek | Chris Chinenye Emezue | Varun Gangal | Cristina Garbacea | Tatsunori Hashimoto | Yufang Hou | Yacine Jernite | Harsh Jhamtani | Yangfeng Ji | Shailza Jolly | Mihir Kale | Dhruv Kumar | Faisal Ladhak | Aman Madaan | Mounica Maddela | Khyati Mahajan | Saad Mahamood | Bodhisattwa Prasad Majumder | Pedro Henrique Martins | Angelina McMillan-Major | Simon Mille | Emiel van Miltenburg | Moin Nadeem | Shashi Narayan | Vitaly Nikolaev | Andre Niyongabo Rubungo | Salomey Osei | Ankur Parikh | Laura Perez-Beltrachini | Niranjan Ramesh Rao | Vikas Raunak | Juan Diego Rodriguez | Sashank Santhanam | João Sedoc | Thibault Sellam | Samira Shaikh | Anastasia Shimorina | Marco Antonio Sobrevilla Cabezudo | Hendrik Strobelt | Nishant Subramani | Wei Xu | Diyi Yang | Akhila Yerukola | Jiawei Zhou
Proceedings of the 1st Workshop on Natural Language Generation, Evaluation, and Metrics (GEM 2021)

We introduce GEM, a living benchmark for natural language Generation (NLG), its Evaluation, and Metrics. Measuring progress in NLG relies on a constantly evolving ecosystem of automated metrics, datasets, and human evaluation standards. Due to this moving target, new models often still evaluate on divergent anglo-centric corpora with well-established, but flawed, metrics. This disconnect makes it challenging to identify the limitations of current models and opportunities for progress. Addressing this limitation, GEM provides an environment in which models can easily be applied to a wide set of tasks and in which evaluation strategies can be tested. Regular updates to the benchmark will help NLG research become more multilingual and evolve the challenge alongside models. This paper serves as the description of the data for the 2021 shared task at the associated GEM Workshop.

pdf bib
Data Augmentation for Voice-Assistant NLU using BERT-based Interchangeable Rephrase
Akhila Yerukola | Mason Bretan | Hongxia Jin
Proceedings of the 16th Conference of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Main Volume

We introduce a data augmentation technique based on byte pair encoding and a BERT-like self-attention model to boost performance on spoken language understanding tasks. We compare and evaluate this method with a range of augmentation techniques encompassing generative models such as VAEs and performance-boosting techniques such as synonym replacement and back-translation. We show our method performs strongly on domain and intent classification tasks for a voice assistant and in a user-study focused on utterance naturalness and semantic similarity.


pdf bib
Do Massively Pretrained Language Models Make Better Storytellers?
Abigail See | Aneesh Pappu | Rohun Saxena | Akhila Yerukola | Christopher D. Manning
Proceedings of the 23rd Conference on Computational Natural Language Learning (CoNLL)

Large neural language models trained on massive amounts of text have emerged as a formidable strategy for Natural Language Understanding tasks. However, the strength of these models as Natural Language Generators is less clear. Though anecdotal evidence suggests that these models generate better quality text, there has been no detailed study characterizing their generation abilities. In this work, we compare the performance of an extensively pretrained model, OpenAI GPT2-117 (Radford et al., 2019), to a state-of-the-art neural story generation model (Fan et al., 2018). By evaluating the generated text across a wide variety of automatic metrics, we characterize the ways in which pretrained models do, and do not, make better storytellers. We find that although GPT2-117 conditions more strongly on context, is more sensitive to ordering of events, and uses more unusual words, it is just as likely to produce repetitive and under-diverse text when using likelihood-maximizing decoding algorithms.