Avi Caciularu


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Optimizing Retrieval-augmented Reader Models via Token Elimination
Moshe Berchansky | Peter Izsak | Avi Caciularu | Ido Dagan | Moshe Wasserblat
Proceedings of the 2023 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Fusion-in-Decoder (FiD) is an effective retrieval-augmented language model applied across a variety of open-domain tasks, such as question answering, fact checking, etc. In FiD, supporting passages are first retrieved and then processed using a generative model (Reader), which can cause a significant bottleneck in decoding time, particularly with long outputs. In this work, we analyze the contribution and necessity of all the retrieved passages to the performance of reader models, and propose eliminating some of the retrieved information, at the token level, that might not contribute essential information to the answer generation process. We demonstrate that our method can reduce run-time by up to 62.2%, with only a 2% reduction in performance, and in some cases, even improve the performance results.

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The Curious Case of Hallucinatory (Un)answerability: Finding Truths in the Hidden States of Over-Confident Large Language Models
Aviv Slobodkin | Omer Goldman | Avi Caciularu | Ido Dagan | Shauli Ravfogel
Proceedings of the 2023 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Large language models (LLMs) have been shown to possess impressive capabilities, while also raising crucial concerns about the faithfulness of their responses. A primary issue arising in this context is the management of (un)answerable queries by LLMs, which often results in hallucinatory behavior due to overconfidence. In this paper, we explore the behavior of LLMs when presented with (un)answerable queries. We ask: do models represent the fact that the question is (un)answerable when generating a hallucinatory answer? Our results show strong indications that such models encode the answerability of an input query, with the representation of the first decoded token often being a strong indicator. These findings shed new light on the spatial organization within the latent representations of LLMs, unveiling previously unexplored facets of these models. Moreover, they pave the way for the development of improved decoding techniques with better adherence to factual generation, particularly in scenarios where query (un)answerability is a concern.

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Stop Uploading Test Data in Plain Text: Practical Strategies for Mitigating Data Contamination by Evaluation Benchmarks
Alon Jacovi | Avi Caciularu | Omer Goldman | Yoav Goldberg
Proceedings of the 2023 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Data contamination has become prevalent and challenging with the rise of models pretrained on large automatically-crawled corpora. For closed models, the training data becomes a trade secret, and even for open models, it is not trivial to detect contamination. Strategies such as leaderboards with hidden answers, or using test data which is guaranteed to be unseen, are expensive and become fragile with time. Assuming that all relevant actors value clean test data and will cooperate to mitigate data contamination, what can be done? We propose three strategies that can make a difference: (1) Test data made public should be encrypted with a public key and licensed to disallow derivative distribution; (2) demand training exclusion controls from closed API holders, and protect your test data by refusing to evaluate without them; (3) avoid data which appears with its solution on the internet, and release the web-page context of internet-derived data along with the data. These strategies are practical and can be effective in preventing data contamination.

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Peek Across: Improving Multi-Document Modeling via Cross-Document Question-Answering
Avi Caciularu | Matthew Peters | Jacob Goldberger | Ido Dagan | Arman Cohan
Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

The integration of multi-document pre-training objectives into language models has resulted in remarkable improvements in multi-document downstream tasks. In this work, we propose extending this idea by pre-training a generic multi-document model from a novel cross-document question answering pre-training objective. To that end, given a set (or cluster) of topically-related documents, we systematically generate semantically-oriented questions from a salient sentence in one document and challenge the model, during pre-training, to answer these questions while “peeking” into other topically-related documents. In a similar manner, the model is also challenged to recover the sentence from which the question was generated, again while leveraging cross-document information. This novel multi-document QA formulation directs the model to better recover cross-text informational relations, and introduces a natural augmentation that artificially increases the pre-training data. Further, unlike prior multi-document models that focus on either classification or summarization tasks, our pre-training objective formulation enables the model to perform tasks that involve both short text generation (e.g., QA) and long text generation (e.g., summarization).Following this scheme, we pre-train our model - termed QAmden - and evaluate its performance across several multi-document tasks, including multi-document QA, summarization, and query-focused summarization, yielding improvements of up to 7%, and significantly outperforms zero-shot GPT-3.5 and GPT-4.

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Revisiting Sentence Union Generation as a Testbed for Text Consolidation
Eran Hirsch | Valentina Pyatkin | Ruben Wolhandler | Avi Caciularu | Asi Shefer | Ido Dagan
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2023

Tasks involving text generation based on multiple input texts, such as multi-document summarization, long-form question answering and contemporary dialogue applications, challenge models for their ability to properly consolidate partly-overlapping multi-text information. However, these tasks entangle the consolidation phase with the often subjective and ill-defined content selection requirement, impeding proper assessment of models’ consolidation capabilities. In this paper, we suggest revisiting the sentence union generation task as an effective well-defined testbed for assessing text consolidation capabilities, decoupling the consolidation challenge from subjective content selection. To support research on this task, we present refined annotation methodology and tools for crowdsourcing sentence union, create the largest union dataset to date and provide an analysis of its rich coverage of various consolidation aspects. We then propose a comprehensive evaluation protocol for union generation, including both human and automatic evaluation. Finally, as baselines, we evaluate state-of-the-art language models on the task, along with a detailed analysis of their capacity to address multi-text consolidation challenges and their limitations.

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Don’t Add, don’t Miss: Effective Content Preserving Generation from Pre-Selected Text Spans
Aviv Slobodkin | Avi Caciularu | Eran Hirsch | Ido Dagan
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2023

The recently introduced Controlled Text Reduction (CTR) task isolates the text generation step within typical summarization-style tasks. It does so by challenging models to generate coherent text conforming to pre-selected content within the input text (“highlights”). This framing enables increased modularity in summarization-like tasks, allowing to couple a single CTR model with various content-selection setups and modules. However, there are currently no reliable CTR models, while the performance of the existing baseline for the task is mediocre, falling short of practical utility. Here, we address this gap by introducing a high-quality, open-source CTR model that tackles two prior key limitations: inadequate enforcement of the content-preservation constraint, and suboptimal silver training data. Addressing these, we amplify the content-preservation constraint in both training, via RL, and inference, via a controlled decoding strategy. Further, we substantially improve the silver training data quality via GPT-4 distillation. Overall, pairing the distilled dataset with the highlight-adherence strategies yields marked gains over the current baseline, of up to 30 ROUGE-L points, providing a reliable CTR model for downstream use.

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A Comprehensive Evaluation of Tool-Assisted Generation Strategies
Alon Jacovi | Avi Caciularu | Jonathan Herzig | Roee Aharoni | Bernd Bohnet | Mor Geva
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2023

A growing area of research investigates augmenting language models with tools (e.g., search engines, calculators) to overcome their shortcomings (e.g., missing or incorrect knowledge, incorrect logical inferences). Various few-shot tool-usage strategies have been proposed. However, there is no systematic and fair comparison across different strategies, or between these strategies and strong baselines that do not leverage tools. We conduct an extensive empirical analysis, finding that (1) across various datasets, example difficulty levels, and models, strong no-tool baselines are competitive to tool-assisted strategies, implying that effectively using tools with in-context demonstrations is a difficult unsolved problem; (2) for knowledge-retrieval tasks, strategies that *refine* incorrect outputs with tools outperform strategies that retrieve relevant information *ahead of* or *during generation*; (3) tool-assisted strategies are expensive in the number of tokens they require to work—incurring additional costs by orders of magnitude—which does not translate into significant improvement in performance. Overall, our findings suggest that few-shot tool integration is still an open challenge, emphasizing the need for comprehensive evaluations of future strategies to accurately assess their *benefits* and *costs*.


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Transformer Feed-Forward Layers Build Predictions by Promoting Concepts in the Vocabulary Space
Mor Geva | Avi Caciularu | Kevin Wang | Yoav Goldberg
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Transformer-based language models (LMs) are at the core of modern NLP, but their internal prediction construction process is opaque and largely not understood. In this work, we make a substantial step towards unveiling this underlying prediction process, by reverse-engineering the operation of the feed-forward network (FFN) layers, one of the building blocks of transformer models. We view the token representation as a changing distribution over the vocabulary, and the output from each FFN layer as an additive update to that distribution. Then, we analyze the FFN updates in the vocabulary space, showing that each update can be decomposed to sub-updates corresponding to single FFN parameter vectors, each promoting concepts that are often human-interpretable. We then leverage these findings for controlling LM predictions, where we reduce the toxicity of GPT2 by almost 50%, and for improving computation efficiency with a simple early exit rule, saving 20% of computation on average.

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Cross-document Event Coreference Search: Task, Dataset and Modeling
Alon Eirew | Avi Caciularu | Ido Dagan
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

The task of Cross-document Coreference Resolution has been traditionally formulated as requiring to identify all coreference links across a given set of documents. We propose an appealing, and often more applicable, complementary set up for the task – Cross-document Coreference Search, focusing in this paper on event coreference. Concretely, given a mention in context of an event of interest, considered as a query, the task is to find all coreferring mentions for the query event in a large document collection. To support research on this task, we create a corresponding dataset, which is derived from Wikipedia while leveraging annotations in the available Wikipedia Event Coreferecene dataset (WEC-Eng). Observing that the coreference search setup is largely analogous to the setting of Open Domain Question Answering, we adapt the prominent Deep Passage Retrieval (DPR) model to our setting, as an appealing baseline. Finally, we present a novel model that integrates a powerful coreference scoring scheme into the DPR architecture, yielding improved performance.

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QASem Parsing: Text-to-text Modeling of QA-based Semantics
Ayal Klein | Eran Hirsch | Ron Eliav | Valentina Pyatkin | Avi Caciularu | Ido Dagan
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Various works suggest the appeals of incorporating explicit semantic representations when addressing challenging realistic NLP scenarios. Common approaches offer either comprehensive linguistically-based formalisms, like AMR, or alternatively Open-IE, which provides a shallow and partial representation. More recently, an appealing trend introduces semi-structured natural-language structures as an intermediate meaning-capturing representation, often in the form of questions and answers. In this work, we further promote this line of research by considering three prior QA-based semantic representations. These cover verbal, nominalized and discourse-based predications, regarded as jointly providing a comprehensive representation of textual information — termed QASem. To facilitate this perspective, we investigate how to best utilize pre-trained sequence-to-sequence language models, which seem particularly promising for generating representations that consist of natural language expressions (questions and answers). In particular, we examine and analyze input and output linearization strategies, as well as data augmentation and multitask learning for a scarce training data setup. Consequently, we release the first unified QASem parsing tool, easily applicable for downstream tasks that can benefit from an explicit semi-structured account of information units in text.

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LM-Debugger: An Interactive Tool for Inspection and Intervention in Transformer-Based Language Models
Mor Geva | Avi Caciularu | Guy Dar | Paul Roit | Shoval Sadde | Micah Shlain | Bar Tamir | Yoav Goldberg
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing: System Demonstrations

The opaque nature and unexplained behavior of transformer-based language models (LMs) have spurred a wide interest in interpreting their predictions. However, current interpretation methods mostly focus on probing models from outside, executing behavioral tests, and analyzing salience input features, while the internal prediction construction process is largely not understood. In this work, we introduce LM-Debugger, an interactive debugger tool for transformer-based LMs, which provides a fine-grained interpretation of the model’s internal prediction process, as well as a powerful framework for intervening in LM behavior. For its backbone, LM-Debugger relies on a recent method that interprets the inner token representations and their updates by the feed-forward layers in the vocabulary space. We demonstrate the utility of LM-Debugger for single-prediction debugging, by inspecting the internal disambiguation process done by GPT2. Moreover, we show how easily LM-Debugger allows to shift model behavior in a direction of the user’s choice, by identifying a few vectors in the network and inducing effective interventions to the prediction process. We release LM-Debugger as an open-source tool and a demo over GPT2 models.

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Proposition-Level Clustering for Multi-Document Summarization
Ori Ernst | Avi Caciularu | Ori Shapira | Ramakanth Pasunuru | Mohit Bansal | Jacob Goldberger | Ido Dagan
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Text clustering methods were traditionally incorporated into multi-document summarization (MDS) as a means for coping with considerable information repetition. Particularly, clusters were leveraged to indicate information saliency as well as to avoid redundancy. Such prior methods focused on clustering sentences, even though closely related sentences usually contain also non-aligned parts. In this work, we revisit the clustering approach, grouping together sub-sentential propositions, aiming at more precise information alignment. Specifically, our method detects salient propositions, clusters them into paraphrastic clusters, and generates a representative sentence for each cluster via text fusion. Our summarization method improves over the previous state-of-the-art MDS method in the DUC 2004 and TAC 2011 datasets, both in automatic ROUGE scores and human preference.

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Long Context Question Answering via Supervised Contrastive Learning
Avi Caciularu | Ido Dagan | Jacob Goldberger | Arman Cohan
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Long-context question answering (QA) tasks require reasoning over a long document or multiple documents. Addressing these tasks often benefits from identifying a set of evidence spans (e.g., sentences), which provide supporting evidence for answering the question. In this work, we propose a novel method for equipping long-context QA models with an additional sequence-level objective for better identification of the supporting evidence. We achieve this via an additional contrastive supervision signal in finetuning, where the model is encouraged to explicitly discriminate supporting evidence sentences from negative ones by maximizing question-evidence similarity. The proposed additional loss exhibits consistent improvements on three different strong long-context transformer models, across two challenging question answering benchmarks – HotpotQA and QAsper.


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Denoising Word Embeddings by Averaging in a Shared Space
Avi Caciularu | Ido Dagan | Jacob Goldberger
Proceedings of *SEM 2021: The Tenth Joint Conference on Lexical and Computational Semantics

We introduce a new approach for smoothing and improving the quality of word embeddings. We consider a method of fusing word embeddings that were trained on the same corpus but with different initializations. We project all the models to a shared vector space using an efficient implementation of the Generalized Procrustes Analysis (GPA) procedure, previously used in multilingual word translation. Our word representation demonstrates consistent improvements over the raw models as well as their simplistic average, on a range of tasks. As the new representations are more stable and reliable, there is a noticeable improvement in rare word evaluations.

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Self-Supervised Document Similarity Ranking via Contextualized Language Models and Hierarchical Inference
Dvir Ginzburg | Itzik Malkiel | Oren Barkan | Avi Caciularu | Noam Koenigstein
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL-IJCNLP 2021

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CDLM: Cross-Document Language Modeling
Avi Caciularu | Arman Cohan | Iz Beltagy | Matthew Peters | Arie Cattan | Ido Dagan
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2021

We introduce a new pretraining approach geared for multi-document language modeling, incorporating two key ideas into the masked language modeling self-supervised objective. First, instead of considering documents in isolation, we pretrain over sets of multiple related documents, encouraging the model to learn cross-document relationships. Second, we improve over recent long-range transformers by introducing dynamic global attention that has access to the entire input to predict masked tokens. We release CDLM (Cross-Document Language Model), a new general language model for multi-document setting that can be easily applied to downstream tasks. Our extensive analysis shows that both ideas are essential for the success of CDLM, and work in synergy to set new state-of-the-art results for several multi-text tasks.

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On the Evolution of Word Order
Idan Rejwan | Avi Caciularu
Proceedings of the Student Research Workshop Associated with RANLP 2021

Most natural languages have a predominant or fixed word order. For example in English the word order is usually Subject-Verb-Object. This work attempts to explain this phenomenon as well as other typological findings regarding word order from a functional perspective. In particular, we examine whether fixed word order provides a functional advantage, explaining why these languages are prevalent. To this end, we consider an evolutionary model of language and demonstrate, both theoretically and using genetic algorithms, that a language with a fixed word order is optimal. We also show that adding information to the sentence, such as case markers and noun-verb distinction, reduces the need for fixed word order, in accordance with the typological findings.

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iFacetSum: Coreference-based Interactive Faceted Summarization for Multi-Document Exploration
Eran Hirsch | Alon Eirew | Ori Shapira | Avi Caciularu | Arie Cattan | Ori Ernst | Ramakanth Pasunuru | Hadar Ronen | Mohit Bansal | Ido Dagan
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing: System Demonstrations

We introduce iFᴀᴄᴇᴛSᴜᴍ, a web application for exploring topical document collections. iFᴀᴄᴇᴛSᴜᴍ integrates interactive summarization together with faceted search, by providing a novel faceted navigation scheme that yields abstractive summaries for the user’s selections. This approach offers both a comprehensive overview as well as particular details regard-ing subtopics of choice. The facets are automatically produced based on cross-document coreference pipelines, rendering generic concepts, entities and statements surfacing in the source texts. We analyze the effectiveness of our application through small-scale user studies that suggest the usefulness of our tool.


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Within-Between Lexical Relation Classification
Oren Barkan | Avi Caciularu | Ido Dagan
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

We propose the novel Within-Between Relation model for recognizing lexical-semantic relations between words. Our model integrates relational and distributional signals, forming an effective sub-space representation for each relation. We show that the proposed model is competitive and outperforms other baselines, across various benchmarks.

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Bayesian Hierarchical Words Representation Learning
Oren Barkan | Idan Rejwan | Avi Caciularu | Noam Koenigstein
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

This paper presents the Bayesian Hierarchical Words Representation (BHWR) learning algorithm. BHWR facilitates Variational Bayes word representation learning combined with semantic taxonomy modeling via hierarchical priors. By propagating relevant information between related words, BHWR utilizes the taxonomy to improve the quality of such representations. Evaluation of several linguistic datasets demonstrates the advantages of BHWR over suitable alternatives that facilitate Bayesian modeling with or without semantic priors. Finally, we further show that BHWR produces better representations for rare words.

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RecoBERT: A Catalog Language Model for Text-Based Recommendations
Itzik Malkiel | Oren Barkan | Avi Caciularu | Noam Razin | Ori Katz | Noam Koenigstein
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2020

Language models that utilize extensive self-supervised pre-training from unlabeled text, have recently shown to significantly advance the state-of-the-art performance in a variety of language understanding tasks. However, it is yet unclear if and how these recent models can be harnessed for conducting text-based recommendations. In this work, we introduce RecoBERT, a BERT-based approach for learning catalog-specialized language models for text-based item recommendations. We suggest novel training and inference procedures for scoring similarities between pairs of items, that don’t require item similarity labels. Both the training and the inference techniques were designed to utilize the unlabeled structure of textual catalogs, and minimize the discrepancy between them. By incorporating four scores during inference, RecoBERT can infer text-based item-to-item similarities more accurately than other techniques. In addition, we introduce a new language understanding task for wine recommendations using similarities based on professional wine reviews. As an additional contribution, we publish annotated recommendations dataset crafted by human wine experts. Finally, we evaluate RecoBERT and compare it to various state-of-the-art NLP models on wine and fashion recommendations tasks.

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Paraphrasing vs Coreferring: Two Sides of the Same Coin
Yehudit Meged | Avi Caciularu | Vered Shwartz | Ido Dagan
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2020

We study the potential synergy between two different NLP tasks, both confronting predicate lexical variability: identifying predicate paraphrases, and event coreference resolution. First, we used annotations from an event coreference dataset as distant supervision to re-score heuristically-extracted predicate paraphrases. The new scoring gained more than 18 points in average precision upon their ranking by the original scoring method. Then, we used the same re-ranking features as additional inputs to a state-of-the-art event coreference resolution model, which yielded modest but consistent improvements to the model’s performance. The results suggest a promising direction to leverage data and models for each of the tasks to the benefit of the other.