Abstractive summarization models are typically pre-trained on large amounts of generic texts, then fine-tuned on tens or hundreds of thousands of annotated samples. However, in opinion summarization, large annotated datasets of reviews paired with reference summaries are not available and would be expensive to create. This calls for fine-tuning methods robust to overfitting on small datasets. In addition, generically pre-trained models are often not accustomed to the specifics of customer reviews and, after fine-tuning, yield summaries with disfluencies and semantic mistakes. To address these problems, we utilize an efficient few-shot method based on adapters which, as we show, can easily store in-domain knowledge. Instead of fine-tuning the entire model, we add adapters and pre-train them in a task-specific way on a large corpus of unannotated customer reviews, using held-out reviews as pseudo summaries. Then, fine-tune the adapters on the small available human-annotated dataset. We show that this self-supervised adapter pre-training improves summary quality over standard fine-tuning by 2.0 and 1.3 ROUGE-L points on the Amazon and Yelp datasets, respectively. Finally, for summary personalization, we condition on aspect keyword queries, automatically created from generic datasets. In the same vein, we pre-train the adapters in a query-based manner on customer reviews and then fine-tune them on annotated datasets. This results in better-organized summary content reflected in improved coherence and fewer redundancies.
Opinion summarization has been traditionally approached with unsupervised, weakly-supervised and few-shot learning techniques. In this work, we collect a large dataset of summaries paired with user reviews for over 31,000 products, enabling supervised training. However, the number of reviews per product is large (320 on average), making summarization – and especially training a summarizer – impractical. Moreover, the content of many reviews is not reflected in the human-written summaries, and, thus, the summarizer trained on random review subsets hallucinates. In order to deal with both of these challenges, we formulate the task as jointly learning to select informative subsets of reviews and summarizing the opinions expressed in these subsets. The choice of the review subset is treated as a latent variable, predicted by a small and simple selector. The subset is then fed into a more powerful summarizer. For joint training, we use amortized variational inference and policy gradient methods. Our experiments demonstrate the importance of selecting informative reviews resulting in improved quality of summaries and reduced hallucinations.
Opinion summarization is the task of automatically creating summaries that reflect subjective information expressed in multiple documents, such as product reviews. While the majority of previous work has focused on the extractive setting, i.e., selecting fragments from input reviews to produce a summary, we let the model generate novel sentences and hence produce abstractive summaries. Recent progress in summarization has seen the development of supervised models which rely on large quantities of document-summary pairs. Since such training data is expensive to acquire, we instead consider the unsupervised setting, in other words, we do not use any summaries in training. We define a generative model for a review collection which capitalizes on the intuition that when generating a new review given a set of other reviews of a product, we should be able to control the “amount of novelty” going into the new review or, equivalently, vary the extent to which it deviates from the input. At test time, when generating summaries, we force the novelty to be minimal, and produce a text reflecting consensus opinions. We capture this intuition by defining a hierarchical variational autoencoder model. Both individual reviews and the products they correspond to are associated with stochastic latent codes, and the review generator (“decoder”) has direct access to the text of input reviews through the pointer-generator mechanism. Experiments on Amazon and Yelp datasets, show that setting at test time the review’s latent code to its mean, allows the model to produce fluent and coherent summaries reflecting common opinions.
Opinion summarization is the automatic creation of text reflecting subjective information expressed in multiple documents, such as user reviews of a product. The task is practically important and has attracted a lot of attention. However, due to the high cost of summary production, datasets large enough for training supervised models are lacking. Instead, the task has been traditionally approached with extractive methods that learn to select text fragments in an unsupervised or weakly-supervised way. Recently, it has been shown that abstractive summaries, potentially more fluent and better at reflecting conflicting information, can also be produced in an unsupervised fashion. However, these models, not being exposed to actual summaries, fail to capture their essential properties. In this work, we show that even a handful of summaries is sufficient to bootstrap generation of the summary text with all expected properties, such as writing style, informativeness, fluency, and sentiment preservation. We start by training a conditional Transformer language model to generate a new product review given other available reviews of the product. The model is also conditioned on review properties that are directly related to summaries; the properties are derived from reviews with no manual effort. In the second stage, we fine-tune a plug-in module that learns to predict property values on a handful of summaries. This lets us switch the generator to the summarization mode. We show on Amazon and Yelp datasets that our approach substantially outperforms previous extractive and abstractive methods in automatic and human evaluation.
We introduce a method for embedding words as probability densities in a low-dimensional space. Rather than assuming that a word embedding is fixed across the entire text collection, as in standard word embedding methods, in our Bayesian model we generate it from a word-specific prior density for each occurrence of a given word. Intuitively, for each word, the prior density encodes the distribution of its potential ‘meanings’. These prior densities are conceptually similar to Gaussian embeddings of ėwcitevilnis2014word. Interestingly, unlike the Gaussian embeddings, we can also obtain context-specific densities: they encode uncertainty about the sense of a word given its context and correspond to the approximate posterior distributions within our model. The context-dependent densities have many potential applications: for example, we show that they can be directly used in the lexical substitution task. We describe an effective estimation method based on the variational autoencoding framework. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our embedding technique on a range of standard benchmarks.