Amit Seker


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AlephBERT: Language Model Pre-training and Evaluation from Sub-Word to Sentence Level
Amit Seker | Elron Bandel | Dan Bareket | Idan Brusilovsky | Refael Greenfeld | Reut Tsarfaty
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Large Pre-trained Language Models (PLMs) have become ubiquitous in the development of language understanding technology and lie at the heart of many artificial intelligence advances. While advances reported for English using PLMs are unprecedented, reported advances using PLMs for Hebrew are few and far between. The problem is twofold. First, so far, Hebrew resources for training large language models are not of the same magnitude as their English counterparts. Second, most benchmarks available to evaluate progress in Hebrew NLP require morphological boundaries which are not available in the output of standard PLMs. In this work we remedy both aspects. We present AlephBERT, a large PLM for Modern Hebrew, trained on larger vocabulary and a larger dataset than any Hebrew PLM before. Moreover, we introduce a novel neural architecture that recovers the morphological segments encoded in contextualized embedding vectors. Based on this new morphological component we offer an evaluation suite consisting of multiple tasks and benchmarks that cover sentence-level, word-level and sub-word level analyses. On all tasks, AlephBERT obtains state-of-the-art results beyond contemporary Hebrew baselines. We make our AlephBERT model, the morphological extraction model, and the Hebrew evaluation suite publicly available, for evaluating future Hebrew PLMs.


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From SPMRL to NMRL: What Did We Learn (and Unlearn) in a Decade of Parsing Morphologically-Rich Languages (MRLs)?
Reut Tsarfaty | Dan Bareket | Stav Klein | Amit Seker
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

It has been exactly a decade since the first establishment of SPMRL, a research initiative unifying multiple research efforts to address the peculiar challenges of Statistical Parsing for Morphologically-Rich Languages (MRLs). Here we reflect on parsing MRLs in that decade, highlight the solutions and lessons learned for the architectural, modeling and lexical challenges in the pre-neural era, and argue that similar challenges re-emerge in neural architectures for MRLs. We then aim to offer a climax, suggesting that incorporating symbolic ideas proposed in SPMRL terms into nowadays neural architectures has the potential to push NLP for MRLs to a new level. We sketch a strategies for designing Neural Models for MRLs (NMRL), and showcase preliminary support for these strategies via investigating the task of multi-tagging in Hebrew, a morphologically-rich, high-fusion, language.

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A Pointer Network Architecture for Joint Morphological Segmentation and Tagging
Amit Seker | Reut Tsarfaty
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2020

Morphologically Rich Languages (MRLs) such as Arabic, Hebrew and Turkish often require Morphological Disambiguation (MD), i.e., the prediction of morphological decomposition of tokens into morphemes, early in the pipeline. Neural MD may be addressed as a simple pipeline, where segmentation is followed by sequence tagging, or as an end-to-end model, predicting morphemes from raw tokens. Both approaches are sub-optimal; the former is heavily prone to error propagation, and the latter does not enjoy explicit access to the basic processing units called morphemes. This paper offers MD architecture that combines the symbolic knowledge of morphemes with the learning capacity of neural end-to-end modeling. We propose a new, general and easy-to-implement Pointer Network model where the input is a morphological lattice and the output is a sequence of indices pointing at a single disambiguated path of morphemes. We demonstrate the efficacy of the model on segmentation and tagging, for Hebrew and Turkish texts, based on their respective Universal Dependencies (UD) treebanks. Our experiments show that with complete lattices, our model outperforms all shared-task results on segmenting and tagging these languages. On the SPMRL treebank, our model outperforms all previously reported results for Hebrew MD in realistic scenarios.


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Joint Transition-Based Models for Morpho-Syntactic Parsing: Parsing Strategies for MRLs and a Case Study from Modern Hebrew
Amir More | Amit Seker | Victoria Basmova | Reut Tsarfaty
Transactions of the Association for Computational Linguistics, Volume 7

In standard NLP pipelines, morphological analysis and disambiguation (MA&D) precedes syntactic and semantic downstream tasks. However, for languages with complex and ambiguous word-internal structure, known as morphologically rich languages (MRLs), it has been hypothesized that syntactic context may be crucial for accurate MA&D, and vice versa. In this work we empirically confirm this hypothesis for Modern Hebrew, an MRL with complex morphology and severe word-level ambiguity, in a novel transition-based framework. Specifically, we propose a joint morphosyntactic transition-based framework which formally unifies two distinct transition systems, morphological and syntactic, into a single transition-based system with joint training and joint inference. We empirically show that MA&D results obtained in the joint settings outperform MA&D results obtained by the respective standalone components, and that end-to-end parsing results obtained by our joint system present a new state of the art for Hebrew dependency parsing.

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What’s Wrong with Hebrew NLP? And How to Make it Right
Reut Tsarfaty | Shoval Sadde | Stav Klein | Amit Seker
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing and the 9th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (EMNLP-IJCNLP): System Demonstrations

For languages with simple morphology such as English, automatic annotation pipelines such as spaCy or Stanford’s CoreNLP successfully serve projects in academia and the industry. For many morphologically-rich languages (MRLs), similar pipelines show sub-optimal performance that limits their applicability for text analysis in research and the industry. The sub-optimal performance is mainly due to errors in early morphological disambiguation decisions, that cannot be recovered later on in the pipeline, yielding incoherent annotations on the whole. This paper describes the design and use of the ONLP suite, a joint morpho-syntactic infrastructure for processing Modern Hebrew texts. The joint inference over morphology and syntax substantially limits error propagation, and leads to high accuracy. ONLP provides rich and expressive annotations which already serve diverse academic and commercial needs. Its accompanying demo further serves educational activities, introducing Hebrew NLP intricacies to researchers and non-researchers alike.


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Universal Morpho-Syntactic Parsing and the Contribution of Lexica: Analyzing the ONLP Lab Submission to the CoNLL 2018 Shared Task
Amit Seker | Amir More | Reut Tsarfaty
Proceedings of the CoNLL 2018 Shared Task: Multilingual Parsing from Raw Text to Universal Dependencies

We present the contribution of the ONLP lab at the Open University of Israel to the UD shared task on multilingual parsing from raw text to Universal Dependencies. Our contribution is based on a transition-based parser called ‘yap – yet another parser’, which includes a standalone morphological model, a standalone dependency model, and a joint morphosyntactic model. In the task we used yap‘s standalone dependency parser to parse input morphologically disambiguated by UDPipe, and obtained the official score of 58.35 LAS. In our follow up investigation we use yap to show how the incorporation of morphological and lexical resources may improve the performance of end-to-end raw-to-dependencies parsing in the case of a morphologically-rich and low-resource language, Modern Hebrew. Our results on Hebrew underscore the importance of CoNLL-UL, a UD-compatible standard for accessing external lexical resources, for enhancing end-to-end UD parsing, in particular for morphologically rich and low-resource languages. We thus encourage the community to create, convert, or make available more such lexica in future tasks.

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The Hebrew Universal Dependency Treebank: Past Present and Future
Shoval Sade | Amit Seker | Reut Tsarfaty
Proceedings of the Second Workshop on Universal Dependencies (UDW 2018)

The Hebrew treebank (HTB), consisting of 6221 morpho-syntactically annotated newspaper sentences, has been the only resource for training and validating statistical parsers and taggers for Hebrew, for almost two decades now. During these decades, the HTB has gone through a trajectory of automatic and semi-automatic conversions, until arriving at its UDv2 form. In this work we manually validate the UDv2 version of the HTB, and, according to our findings, we apply scheme changes that bring the UD HTB to the same theoretical grounds as the rest of UD. Our experimental parsing results with UDv2New confirm that improving the coherence and internal consistency of the UD HTB indeed leads to improved parsing performance. At the same time, our analysis demonstrates that there is more to be done at the point of intersection of UD with other linguistic processing layers, in particular, at the points where UD interfaces external morphological and lexical resources.