Alexander Richard Fabbri

Also published as: Alexander Fabbri, Alexander R. Fabbri


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Lexical Repetitions Lead to Rote Learning: Unveiling the Impact of Lexical Overlap in Train and Test Reference Summaries
Prafulla Choubey | Alexander Fabbri | Caiming Xiong | Chien-Sheng Wu
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2023

Ideal summarization models should generalize to novel summary-worthy content without remembering reference training summaries by rote. However, a single average performance score on the entire test set is inadequate in determining such model competencies. We propose a fine-grained evaluation protocol by partitioning a test set based on the lexical similarity of reference test summaries with training summaries. We observe up to a 5x (1.2x) difference in ROUGE-2 (entity recall) scores between the subsets with the lowest and highest similarity. Next, we show that such training repetitions also make a model vulnerable to rote learning, reproducing data artifacts such as factual errors, especially when reference test summaries are lexically close to training summaries. Consequently, we propose to limit lexical repetitions in training summaries during both supervised fine-tuning and likelihood calibration stages to improve the performance on novel test cases while retaining average performance. Our automatic and human evaluations on novel test subsets and recent news articles show that limiting lexical repetitions in training summaries can prevent rote learning and improve generalization.

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SummEdits: Measuring LLM Ability at Factual Reasoning Through The Lens of Summarization
Philippe Laban | Wojciech Kryscinski | Divyansh Agarwal | Alexander Fabbri | Caiming Xiong | Shafiq Joty | Chien-Sheng Wu
Proceedings of the 2023 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

With the recent appearance of LLMs in practical settings, having methods that can effectively detect factual inconsistencies is crucial to reduce the propagation of misinformation and improve trust in model outputs. When testing on existing factual consistency benchmarks, we find that a few large language models (LLMs) perform competitively on classification benchmarks for factual inconsistency detection compared to traditional non-LLM methods. However, a closer analysis reveals issues with existing evaluation benchmarks, affecting evaluation precision. To address this, we propose a new protocol for inconsistency detection benchmark creation and implement it in a 10-domain benchmark called SummEdits. This new benchmark is 20 times more cost-effective per sample than previous benchmarks and highly reproducible, as we estimate inter-annotator agreement at about 0.9. Most LLMs struggle on SummEdits, with performance close to random chance. The best-performing model, GPT-4, is still 8% below estimated human performance, highlighting the gaps in LLMs’ ability to reason about facts and detect inconsistencies when they occur.

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Towards Interpretable and Efficient Automatic Reference-Based Summarization Evaluation
Yixin Liu | Alexander Fabbri | Yilun Zhao | Pengfei Liu | Shafiq Joty | Chien-Sheng Wu | Caiming Xiong | Dragomir Radev
Proceedings of the 2023 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Interpretability and efficiency are two important considerations for the adoption of neural automatic metrics. In this work, we develop strong-performing automatic metrics for reference-based summarization evaluation, based on a two-stage evaluation pipeline that first extracts basic information units from one text sequence and then checks the extracted units in another sequence. The metrics we developed include two-stage metrics that can provide high interpretability at both the fine-grained unit level and summary level, and one-stage metrics that achieve a balance between efficiency and interpretability. We make the developed tools publicly available at


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CREATIVESUMM: Shared Task on Automatic Summarization for Creative Writing
Divyansh Agarwal | Alexander R. Fabbri | Simeng Han | Wojciech Kryscinski | Faisal Ladhak | Bryan Li | Kathleen McKeown | Dragomir Radev | Tianyi Zhang | Sam Wiseman
Proceedings of The Workshop on Automatic Summarization for Creative Writing

This paper introduces the shared task of summrizing documents in several creative domains, namely literary texts, movie scripts, and television scripts. Summarizing these creative documents requires making complex literary interpretations, as well as understanding non-trivial temporal dependencies in texts containing varied styles of plot development and narrative structure. This poses unique challenges and is yet underexplored for text summarization systems. In this shared task, we introduce four sub-tasks and their corresponding datasets, focusing on summarizing books, movie scripts, primetime television scripts, and daytime soap opera scripts. We detail the process of curating these datasets for the task, as well as the metrics used for the evaluation of the submissions. As part of the CREATIVESUMM workshop at COLING 2022, the shared task attracted 18 submissions in total. We discuss the submissions and the baselines for each sub-task in this paper, along with directions for facilitating future work.

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Exploring Neural Models for Query-Focused Summarization
Jesse Vig | Alexander Fabbri | Wojciech Kryscinski | Chien-Sheng Wu | Wenhao Liu
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: NAACL 2022

Query-focused summarization (QFS) aims to produce summaries that answer particular questions of interest, enabling greater user control and personalization. While recently released datasets, such as QMSum or AQuaMuSe, facilitate research efforts in QFS, the field lacks a comprehensive study of the broad space of applicable modeling methods. In this paper we conduct a systematic exploration of neural approaches to QFS, considering two general classes of methods: two-stage extractive-abstractive solutions and end-to-end models. Within those categories, we investigate existing models and explore strategies for transfer learning. We also present two modeling extensions that achieve state-of-the-art performance on the QMSum dataset, up to a margin of 3.38 ROUGE-1, 3.72 ROUGE2, and 3.28 ROUGE-L when combined with transfer learning strategies. Results from human evaluation suggest that the best models produce more comprehensive and factually consistent summaries compared to a baseline model. Code and checkpoints are made publicly available:

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AnswerSumm: A Manually-Curated Dataset and Pipeline for Answer Summarization
Alexander Fabbri | Xiaojian Wu | Srini Iyer | Haoran Li | Mona Diab
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Community Question Answering (CQA) fora such as Stack Overflow and Yahoo! Answers contain a rich resource of answers to a wide range of community-based questions. Each question thread can receive a large number of answers with different perspectives. One goal of answer summarization is to produce a summary that reflects the range of answer perspectives. A major obstacle for this task is the absence of a dataset to provide supervision for producing such summaries. Recent works propose heuristics to create such data, but these are often noisy and do not cover all answer perspectives present. This work introduces a novel dataset of 4,631 CQA threads for answer summarization curated by professional linguists. Our pipeline gathers annotations for all subtasks of answer summarization, including relevant answer sentence selection, grouping these sentences based on perspectives, summarizing each perspective, and producing an overall summary. We analyze and benchmark state-of-the-art models on these subtasks and introduce a novel unsupervised approach for multi-perspective data augmentation that boosts summarization performance according to automatic evaluation. Finally, we propose reinforcement learning rewards to improve factual consistency and answer coverage and analyze areas for improvement.

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QAFactEval: Improved QA-Based Factual Consistency Evaluation for Summarization
Alexander Fabbri | Chien-Sheng Wu | Wenhao Liu | Caiming Xiong
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Factual consistency is an essential quality of text summarization models in practical settings. Existing work in evaluating this dimension can be broadly categorized into two lines of research, entailment-based and question answering (QA)-based metrics, and different experimental setups often lead to contrasting conclusions as to which paradigm performs the best. In this work, we conduct an extensive comparison of entailment and QA-based metrics, demonstrating that carefully choosing the components of a QA-based metric, especially question generation and answerability classification, is critical to performance. Building on those insights, we propose an optimized metric, which we call QAFactEval, that leads to a 14% average improvement over previous QA-based metrics on the SummaC factual consistency benchmark, and also outperforms the best-performing entailment-based metric. Moreover, we find that QA-based and entailment-based metrics can offer complementary signals and be combined into a single metric for a further performance boost.

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Bidimensional Leaderboards: Generate and Evaluate Language Hand in Hand
Jungo Kasai | Keisuke Sakaguchi | Ronan Le Bras | Lavinia Dunagan | Jacob Morrison | Alexander Fabbri | Yejin Choi | Noah A. Smith
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Natural language processing researchers have identified limitations of evaluation methodology for generation tasks, with new questions raised about the validity of automatic metrics and of crowdworker judgments. Meanwhile, efforts to improve generation models tend to depend on simple n-gram overlap metrics (e.g., BLEU, ROUGE). We argue that new advances on models and metrics should each more directly benefit and inform the other. We therefore propose a generalization of leaderboards, bidimensional leaderboards (Billboards), that simultaneously tracks progress in language generation models and metrics for their evaluation. Unlike conventional unidimensional leaderboards that sort submitted systems by predetermined metrics, a Billboard accepts both generators and evaluation metrics as competing entries. A Billboard automatically creates an ensemble metric that selects and linearly combines a few metrics based on a global analysis across generators. Further, metrics are ranked based on their correlation with human judgments. We release four Billboards for machine translation, summarization, and image captioning. We demonstrate that a linear ensemble of a few diverse metrics sometimes substantially outperforms existing metrics in isolation. Our mixed-effects model analysis shows that most automatic metrics, especially the reference-based ones, overrate machine over human generation, demonstrating the importance of updating metrics as generation models become stronger (and perhaps more similar to humans) in the future.

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Investigating Crowdsourcing Protocols for Evaluating the Factual Consistency of Summaries
Xiangru Tang | Alexander Fabbri | Haoran Li | Ziming Mao | Griffin Adams | Borui Wang | Asli Celikyilmaz | Yashar Mehdad | Dragomir Radev
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Current pre-trained models applied for summarization are prone to factual inconsistencies that misrepresent the source text. Evaluating the factual consistency of summaries is thus necessary to develop better models. However, the human evaluation setup for evaluating factual consistency has not been standardized. To determine the factors that affect the reliability of the human evaluation, we crowdsource evaluations for factual consistency across state-of-the-art models on two news summarization datasets using the rating-based Likert Scale and ranking-based Best-Worst Scaling. Our analysis reveals that the ranking-based Best-Worst Scaling offers a more reliable measure of summary quality across datasets and that the reliability of Likert ratings highly depends on the target dataset and the evaluation design. To improve crowdsourcing reliability, we extend the scale of the Likert rating and present a scoring algorithm for Best-Worst Scaling that we call value learning. Our crowdsourcing guidelines will be publicly available to facilitate future work on factual consistency in summarization.


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ConvoSumm: Conversation Summarization Benchmark and Improved Abstractive Summarization with Argument Mining
Alexander Fabbri | Faiaz Rahman | Imad Rizvi | Borui Wang | Haoran Li | Yashar Mehdad | Dragomir Radev
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)

While online conversations can cover a vast amount of information in many different formats, abstractive text summarization has primarily focused on modeling solely news articles. This research gap is due, in part, to the lack of standardized datasets for summarizing online discussions. To address this gap, we design annotation protocols motivated by an issues–viewpoints–assertions framework to crowdsource four new datasets on diverse online conversation forms of news comments, discussion forums, community question answering forums, and email threads. We benchmark state-of-the-art models on our datasets and analyze characteristics associated with the data. To create a comprehensive benchmark, we also evaluate these models on widely-used conversation summarization datasets to establish strong baselines in this domain. Furthermore, we incorporate argument mining through graph construction to directly model the issues, viewpoints, and assertions present in a conversation and filter noisy input, showing comparable or improved results according to automatic and human evaluations.

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Improving Zero and Few-Shot Abstractive Summarization with Intermediate Fine-tuning and Data Augmentation
Alexander Fabbri | Simeng Han | Haoyuan Li | Haoran Li | Marjan Ghazvininejad | Shafiq Joty | Dragomir Radev | Yashar Mehdad
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Models pretrained with self-supervised objectives on large text corpora achieve state-of-the-art performance on English text summarization tasks. However, these models are typically fine-tuned on hundreds of thousands of data points, an infeasible requirement when applying summarization to new, niche domains. In this work, we introduce a novel and generalizable method, called WikiTransfer, for fine-tuning pretrained models for summarization in an unsupervised, dataset-specific manner. WikiTransfer fine-tunes pretrained models on pseudo-summaries, produced from generic Wikipedia data, which contain characteristics of the target dataset, such as the length and level of abstraction of the desired summaries. WikiTransfer models achieve state-of-the-art, zero-shot abstractive summarization performance on the CNN-DailyMail dataset and demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach on three additional diverse datasets. These models are more robust to noisy data and also achieve better or comparable few-shot performance using 10 and 100 training examples when compared to few-shot transfer from other summarization datasets. To further boost performance, we employ data augmentation via round-trip translation as well as introduce a regularization term for improved few-shot transfer. To understand the role of dataset aspects in transfer performance and the quality of the resulting output summaries, we further study the effect of the components of our unsupervised fine-tuning data and analyze few-shot performance using both automatic and human evaluation.

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SummEval: Re-evaluating Summarization Evaluation
Alexander R. Fabbri | Wojciech Kryściński | Bryan McCann | Caiming Xiong | Richard Socher | Dragomir Radev
Transactions of the Association for Computational Linguistics, Volume 9

The scarcity of comprehensive up-to-date studies on evaluation metrics for text summarization and the lack of consensus regarding evaluation protocols continue to inhibit progress. We address the existing shortcomings of summarization evaluation methods along five dimensions: 1) we re-evaluate 14 automatic evaluation metrics in a comprehensive and consistent fashion using neural summarization model outputs along with expert and crowd-sourced human annotations; 2) we consistently benchmark 23 recent summarization models using the aforementioned automatic evaluation metrics; 3) we assemble the largest collection of summaries generated by models trained on the CNN/DailyMail news dataset and share it in a unified format; 4) we implement and share a toolkit that provides an extensible and unified API for evaluating summarization models across a broad range of automatic metrics; and 5) we assemble and share the largest and most diverse, in terms of model types, collection of human judgments of model-generated summaries on the CNN/Daily Mail dataset annotated by both expert judges and crowd-source workers. We hope that this work will help promote a more complete evaluation protocol for text summarization as well as advance research in developing evaluation metrics that better correlate with human judgments.


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Template-Based Question Generation from Retrieved Sentences for Improved Unsupervised Question Answering
Alexander Fabbri | Patrick Ng | Zhiguo Wang | Ramesh Nallapati | Bing Xiang
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Question Answering (QA) is in increasing demand as the amount of information available online and the desire for quick access to this content grows. A common approach to QA has been to fine-tune a pretrained language model on a task-specific labeled dataset. This paradigm, however, relies on scarce, and costly to obtain, large-scale human-labeled data. We propose an unsupervised approach to training QA models with generated pseudo-training data. We show that generating questions for QA training by applying a simple template on a related, retrieved sentence rather than the original context sentence improves downstream QA performance by allowing the model to learn more complex context-question relationships. Training a QA model on this data gives a relative improvement over a previous unsupervised model in F1 score on the SQuAD dataset by about 14%, and 20% when the answer is a named entity, achieving state-of-the-art performance on SQuAD for unsupervised QA.

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R-VGAE: Relational-variational Graph Autoencoder for Unsupervised Prerequisite Chain Learning
Irene Li | Alexander Fabbri | Swapnil Hingmire | Dragomir Radev
Proceedings of the 28th International Conference on Computational Linguistics

The task of concept prerequisite chain learning is to automatically determine the existence of prerequisite relationships among concept pairs. In this paper, we frame learning prerequisite relationships among concepts as an unsupervised task with no access to labeled concept pairs during training. We propose a model called the Relational-Variational Graph AutoEncoder (R-VGAE) to predict concept relations within a graph consisting of concept and resource nodes. Results show that our unsupervised approach outperforms graph-based semi-supervised methods and other baseline methods by up to 9.77% and 10.47% in terms of prerequisite relation prediction accuracy and F1 score. Our method is notably the first graph-based model that attempts to make use of deep learning representations for the task of unsupervised prerequisite learning. We also expand an existing corpus which totals 1,717 English Natural Language Processing (NLP)-related lecture slide files and manual concept pair annotations over 322 topics.


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Multi-News: A Large-Scale Multi-Document Summarization Dataset and Abstractive Hierarchical Model
Alexander Fabbri | Irene Li | Tianwei She | Suyi Li | Dragomir Radev
Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Automatic generation of summaries from multiple news articles is a valuable tool as the number of online publications grows rapidly. Single document summarization (SDS) systems have benefited from advances in neural encoder-decoder model thanks to the availability of large datasets. However, multi-document summarization (MDS) of news articles has been limited to datasets of a couple of hundred examples. In this paper, we introduce Multi-News, the first large-scale MDS news dataset. Additionally, we propose an end-to-end model which incorporates a traditional extractive summarization model with a standard SDS model and achieves competitive results on MDS datasets. We benchmark several methods on Multi-News and hope that this work will promote advances in summarization in the multi-document setting.

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Improving Low-Resource Cross-lingual Document Retrieval by Reranking with Deep Bilingual Representations
Rui Zhang | Caitlin Westerfield | Sungrok Shim | Garrett Bingham | Alexander Fabbri | William Hu | Neha Verma | Dragomir Radev
Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

In this paper, we propose to boost low-resource cross-lingual document retrieval performance with deep bilingual query-document representations. We match queries and documents in both source and target languages with four components, each of which is implemented as a term interaction-based deep neural network with cross-lingual word embeddings as input. By including query likelihood scores as extra features, our model effectively learns to rerank the retrieved documents by using a small number of relevance labels for low-resource language pairs. Due to the shared cross-lingual word embedding space, the model can also be directly applied to another language pair without any training label. Experimental results on the Material dataset show that our model outperforms the competitive translation-based baselines on English-Swahili, English-Tagalog, and English-Somali cross-lingual information retrieval tasks.

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CoSQL: A Conversational Text-to-SQL Challenge Towards Cross-Domain Natural Language Interfaces to Databases
Tao Yu | Rui Zhang | Heyang Er | Suyi Li | Eric Xue | Bo Pang | Xi Victoria Lin | Yi Chern Tan | Tianze Shi | Zihan Li | Youxuan Jiang | Michihiro Yasunaga | Sungrok Shim | Tao Chen | Alexander Fabbri | Zifan Li | Luyao Chen | Yuwen Zhang | Shreya Dixit | Vincent Zhang | Caiming Xiong | Richard Socher | Walter Lasecki | Dragomir Radev
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing and the 9th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (EMNLP-IJCNLP)

We present CoSQL, a corpus for building cross-domain, general-purpose database (DB) querying dialogue systems. It consists of 30k+ turns plus 10k+ annotated SQL queries, obtained from a Wizard-of-Oz (WOZ) collection of 3k dialogues querying 200 complex DBs spanning 138 domains. Each dialogue simulates a real-world DB query scenario with a crowd worker as a user exploring the DB and a SQL expert retrieving answers with SQL, clarifying ambiguous questions, or otherwise informing of unanswerable questions. When user questions are answerable by SQL, the expert describes the SQL and execution results to the user, hence maintaining a natural interaction flow. CoSQL introduces new challenges compared to existing task-oriented dialogue datasets: (1) the dialogue states are grounded in SQL, a domain-independent executable representation, instead of domain-specific slot value pairs, and (2) because testing is done on unseen databases, success requires generalizing to new domains. CoSQL includes three tasks: SQL-grounded dialogue state tracking, response generation from query results, and user dialogue act prediction. We evaluate a set of strong baselines for each task and show that CoSQL presents significant challenges for future research. The dataset, baselines, and leaderboard will be released at


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TutorialBank: A Manually-Collected Corpus for Prerequisite Chains, Survey Extraction and Resource Recommendation
Alexander Fabbri | Irene Li | Prawat Trairatvorakul | Yijiao He | Weitai Ting | Robert Tung | Caitlin Westerfield | Dragomir Radev
Proceedings of the 56th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

The field of Natural Language Processing (NLP) is growing rapidly, with new research published daily along with an abundance of tutorials, codebases and other online resources. In order to learn this dynamic field or stay up-to-date on the latest research, students as well as educators and researchers must constantly sift through multiple sources to find valuable, relevant information. To address this situation, we introduce TutorialBank, a new, publicly available dataset which aims to facilitate NLP education and research. We have manually collected and categorized over 5,600 resources on NLP as well as the related fields of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and Information Retrieval (IR). Our dataset is notably the largest manually-picked corpus of resources intended for NLP education which does not include only academic papers. Additionally, we have created both a search engine and a command-line tool for the resources and have annotated the corpus to include lists of research topics, relevant resources for each topic, prerequisite relations among topics, relevant sub-parts of individual resources, among other annotations. We are releasing the dataset and present several avenues for further research.

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Sarcasm Analysis Using Conversation Context
Debanjan Ghosh | Alexander R. Fabbri | Smaranda Muresan
Computational Linguistics, Volume 44, Issue 4 - December 2018

Computational models for sarcasm detection have often relied on the content of utterances in isolation. However, the speaker’s sarcastic intent is not always apparent without additional context. Focusing on social media discussions, we investigate three issues: (1) does modeling conversation context help in sarcasm detection? (2) can we identify what part of conversation context triggered the sarcastic reply? and (3) given a sarcastic post that contains multiple sentences, can we identify the specific sentence that is sarcastic? To address the first issue, we investigate several types of Long Short-Term Memory (LSTM) networks that can model both the conversation context and the current turn. We show that LSTM networks with sentence-level attention on context and current turn, as well as the conditional LSTM network, outperform the LSTM model that reads only the current turn. As conversation context, we consider the prior turn, the succeeding turn, or both. Our computational models are tested on two types of social media platforms: Twitter and discussion forums. We discuss several differences between these data sets, ranging from their size to the nature of the gold-label annotations. To address the latter two issues, we present a qualitative analysis of the attention weights produced by the LSTM models (with attention) and discuss the results compared with human performance on the two tasks.


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The Role of Conversation Context for Sarcasm Detection in Online Interactions
Debanjan Ghosh | Alexander Richard Fabbri | Smaranda Muresan
Proceedings of the 18th Annual SIGdial Meeting on Discourse and Dialogue

Computational models for sarcasm detection have often relied on the content of utterances in isolation. However, speaker’s sarcastic intent is not always obvious without additional context. Focusing on social media discussions, we investigate two issues: (1) does modeling of conversation context help in sarcasm detection and (2) can we understand what part of conversation context triggered the sarcastic reply. To address the first issue, we investigate several types of Long Short-Term Memory (LSTM) networks that can model both the conversation context and the sarcastic response. We show that the conditional LSTM network (Rocktäschel et al. 2015) and LSTM networks with sentence level attention on context and response outperform the LSTM model that reads only the response. To address the second issue, we present a qualitative analysis of attention weights produced by the LSTM models with attention and discuss the results compared with human performance on the task.