Alexander Hanbo Li


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Dual Reader-Parser on Hybrid Textual and Tabular Evidence for Open Domain Question Answering
Alexander Hanbo Li | Patrick Ng | Peng Xu | Henghui Zhu | Zhiguo Wang | Bing Xiang
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)

The current state-of-the-art generative models for open-domain question answering (ODQA) have focused on generating direct answers from unstructured textual information. However, a large amount of world’s knowledge is stored in structured databases, and need to be accessed using query languages such as SQL. Furthermore, query languages can answer questions that require complex reasoning, as well as offering full explainability. In this paper, we propose a hybrid framework that takes both textual and tabular evidences as input and generates either direct answers or SQL queries depending on which form could better answer the question. The generated SQL queries can then be executed on the associated databases to obtain the final answers. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first paper that applies Text2SQL to ODQA tasks. Empirically, we demonstrate that on several ODQA datasets, the hybrid methods consistently outperforms the baseline models that only takes homogeneous input by a large margin. Specifically we achieve the state-of-the-art performance on OpenSQuAD dataset using a T5-base model. In a detailed analysis, we demonstrate that the being able to generate structural SQL queries can always bring gains, especially for those questions that requires complex reasoning.

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Contextual Rephrase Detection for Reducing Friction in Dialogue Systems
Zhuoyi Wang | Saurabh Gupta | Jie Hao | Xing Fan | Dingcheng Li | Alexander Hanbo Li | Chenlei Guo
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

For voice assistants like Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri, correctly interpreting users’ intentions is of utmost importance. However, users sometimes experience friction with these assistants, caused by errors from different system components or user errors such as slips of the tongue. Users tend to rephrase their queries until they get a satisfactory response. Rephrase detection is used to identify the rephrases and has long been treated as a task with pairwise input, which does not fully utilize the contextual information (e.g. users’ implicit feedback). To this end, we propose a contextual rephrase detection model ContReph to automatically identify rephrases from multi-turn dialogues. We showcase how to leverage the dialogue context and user-agent interaction signals, including the user’s implicit feedback and the time gap between different turns, which can help significantly outperform the pairwise rephrase detection models.

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Learning to Selectively Learn for Weakly-supervised Paraphrase Generation
Kaize Ding | Dingcheng Li | Alexander Hanbo Li | Xing Fan | Chenlei Guo | Yang Liu | Huan Liu
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Paraphrase generation is a longstanding NLP task that has diverse applications on downstream NLP tasks. However, the effectiveness of existing efforts predominantly relies on large amounts of golden labeled data. Though unsupervised endeavors have been proposed to alleviate this issue, they may fail to generate meaningful paraphrases due to the lack of supervision signals. In this work, we go beyond the existing paradigms and propose a novel approach to generate high-quality paraphrases with data of weak supervision. Specifically, we tackle the weakly-supervised paraphrase generation problem by: (1) obtaining abundant weakly-labeled parallel sentences via retrieval-based pseudo paraphrase expansion; and (2) developing a meta-learning framework to progressively select valuable samples for fine-tuning a pre-trained language model BART on the sentential paraphrasing task. We demonstrate that our approach achieves significant improvements over existing unsupervised approaches, and is even comparable in performance with supervised state-of-the-arts.