Alessandro Stolfo


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Groundedness in Retrieval-augmented Long-form Generation: An Empirical Study
Alessandro Stolfo
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: NAACL 2024

We present an empirical study of groundedness in long-form question answering (LFQA) by retrieval-augmented large language models (LLMs).In particular, we evaluate whether every generated sentence is grounded in the retrieved documents or the model’s pre-training data.Across 3 datasets and 4 model families, our findings reveal that a significant fraction of generated sentences are consistently ungrounded, even when those sentences contain correct ground-truth answers.Additionally, we examine the impacts of factors such as model size, decoding strategy, and instruction tuning on groundedness. Our results show that while larger models tend to ground their outputs more effectively, a significant portion of correct answers remains compromised by hallucinations. This study provides novel insights into the groundedness challenges in LFQA and underscores the necessity for more robust mechanisms in LLMs to mitigate the generation of ungrounded content.


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Longtonotes: OntoNotes with Longer Coreference Chains
Kumar Shridhar | Nicholas Monath | Raghuveer Thirukovalluru | Alessandro Stolfo | Manzil Zaheer | Andrew McCallum | Mrinmaya Sachan
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EACL 2023

Ontonotes has served as the most important benchmark for coreference resolution. However, for ease of annotation, several long documents in Ontonotes were split into smaller parts. In this work, we build a corpus of coreference-annotated documents of significantly longer length than what is currently available. We do so by providing an accurate, manually-curated, merging of annotations from documents that were split into multiple parts in the original Ontonotes annotation process. The resulting corpus, which we call LongtoNotes contains documents in multiple genres of the English language with varying lengths, the longest of which are up to 8x the length of documents in Ontonotes, and 2x those in Litbank.We evaluate state-of-the-art neural coreference systems on this new corpus, analyze the relationships between model architectures/hyperparameters and document length on performance and efficiency of the models, and demonstrate areas of improvement in long-document coreference modelling revealed by our new corpus.

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Distilling Reasoning Capabilities into Smaller Language Models
Kumar Shridhar | Alessandro Stolfo | Mrinmaya Sachan
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2023

Step-by-step reasoning approaches like chain of thought (CoT) have proved to be very effective in inducing reasoning capabilities in large language models. However, the success of the CoT approach is fundamentally tied to the model size, and billion parameter-scale models are often needed to get CoT to work. In this paper, we propose a knowledge distillation approach that leverages the step-by-step CoT reasoning capabilities of larger models and distills these abilities into smaller models. In this work, we propose an alternative reasoning scheme, Socratic CoT that learns a decomposition of the original problem into a sequence of subproblems and uses it to guide the intermediate reasoning steps. We use Socratic CoT to train a combination of two small distilled models: a problem decomposer and a subproblem solver. In practice, given a new problem, the two distilled models work in sync to decompose and solve complex problems. On multiple reasoning datasets (GSM8K, StrategyQA, and SVAMP), our proposed distillation strategies boosts the performance of smaller models over 70% compared to the baselines. Finally, we investigate when Socratic CoT is an effective alternative to CoT, demonstrating cases where a much smaller model (GPT-2 large) can outperform a 10X larger model (GPT-3 6B). Our code is available:

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Towards a Mechanistic Interpretation of Multi-Step Reasoning Capabilities of Language Models
Yifan Hou | Jiaoda Li | Yu Fei | Alessandro Stolfo | Wangchunshu Zhou | Guangtao Zeng | Antoine Bosselut | Mrinmaya Sachan
Proceedings of the 2023 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Recent work has shown that language models (LMs) have strong multi-step (i.e., procedural) reasoning capabilities. However, it is unclear whether LMs perform these tasks by cheating with answers memorized from pretraining corpus, or, via a multi-step reasoning mechanism. In this paper, we try to answer this question by exploring a mechanistic interpretation of LMs for multi-step reasoning tasks. Concretely, we hypothesize that the LM implicitly embeds a reasoning tree resembling the correct reasoning process within it. We test this hypothesis by introducing a new probing approach (called MechanisticProbe) that recovers the reasoning tree from the model’s attention patterns. We use our probe to analyze two LMs: GPT-2 on a synthetic task (k-th smallest element), and LLaMA on two simple language-based reasoning tasks (ProofWriter & AI2 Reasoning Challenge). We show that MechanisticProbe is able to detect the information of the reasoning tree from the model’s attentions for most examples, suggesting that the LM indeed is going through a process of multi-step reasoning within its architecture in many cases.

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A Mechanistic Interpretation of Arithmetic Reasoning in Language Models using Causal Mediation Analysis
Alessandro Stolfo | Yonatan Belinkov | Mrinmaya Sachan
Proceedings of the 2023 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Mathematical reasoning in large language models (LMs) has garnered significant attention in recent work, but there is a limited understanding of how these models process and store information related to arithmetic tasks within their architecture. In order to improve our understanding of this aspect of language models, we present a mechanistic interpretation of Transformer-based LMs on arithmetic questions using a causal mediation analysis framework. By intervening on the activations of specific model components and measuring the resulting changes in predicted probabilities, we identify the subset of parameters responsible for specific predictions. This provides insights into how information related to arithmetic is processed by LMs. Our experimental results indicate that LMs process the input by transmitting the information relevant to the query from mid-sequence early layers to the final token using the attention mechanism. Then, this information is processed by a set of MLP modules, which generate result-related information that is incorporated into the residual stream. To assess the specificity of the observed activation dynamics, we compare the effects of different model components on arithmetic queries with other tasks, including number retrieval from prompts and factual knowledge questions.

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A Causal Framework to Quantify the Robustness of Mathematical Reasoning with Language Models
Alessandro Stolfo | Zhijing Jin | Kumar Shridhar | Bernhard Schoelkopf | Mrinmaya Sachan
Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

We have recently witnessed a number of impressive results on hard mathematical reasoning problems with language models. At the same time, the robustness of these models has also been called into question; recent works have shown that models can rely on shallow patterns in the problem description when generating a solution. Building on the idea of behavioral testing, we propose a novel framework, which pins down the causal effect of various factors in the input, e.g., the surface form of the problem text, the operands, and math operators on the output solution. By grounding the behavioral analysis in a causal graph describing an intuitive reasoning process, we study the behavior of language models in terms of robustness and sensitivity to direct interventions in the input space. We apply our framework on a test bed of math word problems. Our analysis shows that robustness does not appear to continuously improve as a function of size, but the GPT-3 Davinci models (175B) achieve a dramatic improvement in both robustness and sensitivity compared to all other GPT variants.


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A Simple Unsupervised Approach for Coreference Resolution using Rule-based Weak Supervision
Alessandro Stolfo | Chris Tanner | Vikram Gupta | Mrinmaya Sachan
Proceedings of the 11th Joint Conference on Lexical and Computational Semantics

Labeled data for the task of Coreference Resolution is a scarce resource, requiring significant human effort. While state-of-the-art coreference models rely on such data, we propose an approach that leverages an end-to-end neural model in settings where labeled data is unavailable. Specifically, using weak supervision, we transfer the linguistic knowledge encoded by Stanford?s rule-based coreference system to the end-to-end model, which jointly learns rich, contextualized span representations and coreference chains. Our experiments on the English OntoNotes corpus demonstrate that our approach effectively benefits from the noisy coreference supervision, producing an improvement over Stanford?s rule-based system (+3.7 F1) and outperforming the previous best unsupervised model (+0.9 F1). Additionally, we validate the efficacy of our method on two other datasets: PreCo and Litbank (+2.5 and +5 F1 on Stanford’s system, respectively).