Data augmentation techniques are widely used for enhancing the performance of machine learning models by tackling class imbalance issues and data sparsity. State-of-the-art generative language models have been shown to provide significant gains across different NLP tasks. However, their applicability to data augmentation for text classification tasks in few-shot settings have not been fully explored, especially for specialised domains. In this paper, we leverage GPT-2 (Radford et al, 2019) for generating artificial training instances in order to improve classification performance. Our aim is to analyse the impact the selection process of seed training examples has over the quality of GPT-generated samples and consequently the classifier performance. We propose a human-in-the-loop approach for selecting seed samples. Further, we compare the approach to other seed selection strategies that exploit the characteristics of specialised domains such as human-created class hierarchical structure and the presence of noun phrases. Our results show that fine-tuning GPT-2 in a handful of label instances leads to consistent classification improvements and outperform competitive baselines. The seed selection strategies developed in this work lead to significant improvements over random seed selection for specialised domains. We show that guiding text generation through domain expert selection can lead to further improvements, which opens up interesting research avenues for combining generative models and active learning.
Pre-trained language models provide the foundations for state-of-the-art performance across a wide range of natural language processing tasks, including text classification. However, most classification datasets assume a large amount labeled data, which is commonly not the case in practical settings. In particular, in this paper we compare the performance of a light-weight linear classifier based on word embeddings, i.e., fastText (Joulin et al., 2017), versus a pre-trained language model, i.e., BERT (Devlin et al., 2019), across a wide range of datasets and classification tasks. In general, results show the importance of domain-specific unlabeled data, both in the form of word embeddings or language models. As for the comparison, BERT outperforms all baselines in standard datasets with large training sets. However, in settings with small training datasets a simple method like fastText coupled with domain-specific word embeddings performs equally well or better than BERT, even when pre-trained on domain-specific data.