Alexander O’Connor


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Shape of Synth to Come: Why We Should Use Synthetic Data for English Surface Realization
Henry Elder | Robert Burke | Alexander O’Connor | Jennifer Foster
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

The Surface Realization Shared Tasks of 2018 and 2019 were Natural Language Generation shared tasks with the goal of exploring approaches to surface realization from Universal-Dependency-like trees to surface strings for several languages. In the 2018 shared task there was very little difference in the absolute performance of systems trained with and without additional, synthetically created data, and a new rule prohibiting the use of synthetic data was introduced for the 2019 shared task. Contrary to the findings of the 2018 shared task, we show, in experiments on the English 2018 dataset, that the use of synthetic data can have a substantial positive effect – an improvement of almost 8 BLEU points for a previously state-of-the-art system. We analyse the effects of synthetic data, and we argue that its use should be encouraged rather than prohibited so that future research efforts continue to explore systems that can take advantage of such data.

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How to Make Neural Natural Language Generation as Reliable as Templates in Task-Oriented Dialogue
Henry Elder | Alexander O’Connor | Jennifer Foster
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

Neural Natural Language Generation (NLG) systems are well known for their unreliability. To overcome this issue, we propose a data augmentation approach which allows us to restrict the output of a network and guarantee reliability. While this restriction means generation will be less diverse than if randomly sampled, we include experiments that demonstrate the tendency of existing neural generation approaches to produce dull and repetitive text, and we argue that reliability is more important than diversity for this task. The system trained using this approach scored 100% in semantic accuracy on the E2E NLG Challenge dataset, the same as a template system.


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Designing a Symbolic Intermediate Representation for Neural Surface Realization
Henry Elder | Jennifer Foster | James Barry | Alexander O’Connor
Proceedings of the Workshop on Methods for Optimizing and Evaluating Neural Language Generation

Generated output from neural NLG systems often contain errors such as hallucination, repetition or contradiction. This work focuses on designing a symbolic intermediate representation to be used in multi-stage neural generation with the intention of reducing the frequency of failed outputs. We show that surface realization from this intermediate representation is of high quality and when the full system is applied to the E2E dataset it outperforms the winner of the E2E challenge. Furthermore, by breaking out the surface realization step from typically end-to-end neural systems, we also provide a framework for non-neural based content selection and planning systems to potentially take advantage of semi-supervised pretraining of neural surface realization models.


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E2E NLG Challenge Submission: Towards Controllable Generation of Diverse Natural Language
Henry Elder | Sebastian Gehrmann | Alexander O’Connor | Qun Liu
Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Natural Language Generation

In natural language generation (NLG), the task is to generate utterances from a more abstract input, such as structured data. An added challenge is to generate utterances that contain an accurate representation of the input, while reflecting the fluency and variety of human-generated text. In this paper, we report experiments with NLG models that can be used in task oriented dialogue systems. We explore the use of additional input to the model to encourage diversity and control of outputs. While our submission does not rank highly using automated metrics, qualitative investigation of generated utterances suggests the use of additional information in neural network NLG systems to be a promising research direction.


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From DBpedia and WordNet hierarchies to LinkedIn and Twitter
Aonghus McGovern | Alexander O’Connor | Vincent Wade
Proceedings of the 4th Workshop on Linked Data in Linguistics: Resources and Applications


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On Using Linked Data for Language Resource Sharing in the Long Tail of the Localisation Market
David Lewis | Alexander O’Connor | Andrzej Zydroń | Gerd Sjögren | Rahzeb Choudhury
Proceedings of the Eighth International Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation (LREC'12)

Innovations in localisation have focused on the collection and leverage of language resources. However, smaller localisation clients and Language Service Providers are poorly positioned to exploit the benefits of language resource reuse in comparison to larger companies. Their low throughput of localised content means they have little opportunity to amass significant resources, such as Translation memories and Terminology databases, to reuse between jobs or to train statistical machine translation engines tailored to their domain specialisms and language pairs. We propose addressing this disadvantage via the sharing and pooling of language resources. However, the current localisation standards do not support multiparty sharing, are not well integrated with emerging language resource standards and do not address key requirements in determining ownership and license terms for resources. We survey standards and research in the area of Localisation, Language Resources and Language Technologies to leverage existing localisation standards via Linked Data methodologies. This points to the potential of using semantic representation of existing data models for localisation workflow metadata, terminology, parallel text, provenance and access control, which we illustrate with an RDF example.