Bill Yuchen Lin

Also published as: Bill Y. Lin


2022

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On Continual Model Refinement in Out-of-Distribution Data Streams
Bill Yuchen Lin | Sida Wang | Xi Lin | Robin Jia | Lin Xiao | Xiang Ren | Scott Yih
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Real-world natural language processing (NLP) models need to be continually updated to fix the prediction errors in out-of-distribution (OOD) data streams while overcoming catastrophic forgetting. However, existing continual learning (CL) problem setups cannot cover such a realistic and complex scenario. In response to this, we propose a new CL problem formulation dubbed continual model refinement (CMR). Compared to prior CL settings, CMR is more practical and introduces unique challenges (boundary-agnostic and non-stationary distribution shift, diverse mixtures of multiple OOD data clusters, error-centric streams, etc.). We extend several existing CL approaches to the CMR setting and evaluate them extensively. For benchmarking and analysis, we propose a general sampling algorithm to obtain dynamic OOD data streams with controllable non-stationarity, as well as a suite of metrics measuring various aspects of online performance. Our experiments and detailed analysis reveal the promise and challenges of the CMR problem, supporting that studying CMR in dynamic OOD streams can benefit the longevity of deployed NLP models in production.

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Proceedings of the First Workshop on Commonsense Representation and Reasoning (CSRR 2022)
Yash Kumar Lal | Bill Yuchen Lin
Proceedings of the First Workshop on Commonsense Representation and Reasoning (CSRR 2022)

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Proceedings of the First Workshop on Federated Learning for Natural Language Processing (FL4NLP 2022)
Bill Yuchen Lin | Chaoyang He | Chulin Xie | Fatemehsadat Mireshghallah | Ninareh Mehrabi | Tian Li | Mahdi Soltanolkotabi | Xiang Ren
Proceedings of the First Workshop on Federated Learning for Natural Language Processing (FL4NLP 2022)

2021

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RockNER: A Simple Method to Create Adversarial Examples for Evaluating the Robustness of Named Entity Recognition Models
Bill Yuchen Lin | Wenyang Gao | Jun Yan | Ryan Moreno | Xiang Ren
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

To audit the robustness of named entity recognition (NER) models, we propose RockNER, a simple yet effective method to create natural adversarial examples. Specifically, at the entity level, we replace target entities with other entities of the same semantic class in Wikidata; at the context level, we use pre-trained language models (e.g., BERT) to generate word substitutions. Together, the two levels of at- tack produce natural adversarial examples that result in a shifted distribution from the training data on which our target models have been trained. We apply the proposed method to the OntoNotes dataset and create a new benchmark named OntoRock for evaluating the robustness of existing NER models via a systematic evaluation protocol. Our experiments and analysis reveal that even the best model has a significant performance drop, and these models seem to memorize in-domain entity patterns instead of reasoning from the context. Our work also studies the effects of a few simple data augmentation methods to improve the robustness of NER models.

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CrossFit: A Few-shot Learning Challenge for Cross-task Generalization in NLP
Qinyuan Ye | Bill Yuchen Lin | Xiang Ren
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Humans can learn a new language task efficiently with only few examples, by leveraging their knowledge obtained when learning prior tasks. In this paper, we explore whether and how such cross-task generalization ability can be acquired, and further applied to build better few-shot learners across diverse NLP tasks. We introduce CrossFit, a problem setup for studying cross-task generalization ability, which standardizes seen/unseen task partitions, data access during different learning stages, and the evaluation protocols. To instantiate different seen/unseen task partitions in CrossFit and facilitate in-depth analysis, we present the NLP Few-shot Gym, a repository of 160 diverse few-shot NLP tasks created from open-access NLP datasets and converted to a unified text-to-text format. Our analysis reveals that the few-shot learning ability on unseen tasks can be improved via an upstream learning stage using a set of seen tasks. We also observe that the selection of upstream learning tasks can significantly influence few-shot performance on unseen tasks, asking further analysis on task similarity and transferability.

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RICA: Evaluating Robust Inference Capabilities Based on Commonsense Axioms
Pei Zhou | Rahul Khanna | Seyeon Lee | Bill Yuchen Lin | Daniel Ho | Jay Pujara | Xiang Ren
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Pre-trained language models (PTLMs) have achieved impressive performance on commonsense inference benchmarks, but their ability to employ commonsense to make robust inferences, which is crucial for effective communications with humans, is debated. In the pursuit of advancing fluid human-AI communication, we propose a new challenge, RICA: Robust Inference using Commonsense Axioms, that evaluates robust commonsense inference despite textual perturbations. To generate data for this challenge, we develop a systematic and scalable procedure using commonsense knowledge bases and probe PTLMs across two different evaluation settings. Extensive experiments on our generated probe sets with more than 10k statements show that PTLMs perform no better than random guessing on the zero-shot setting, are heavily impacted by statistical biases, and are not robust to perturbation attacks. We also find that fine-tuning on similar statements offer limited gains, as PTLMs still fail to generalize to unseen inferences. Our new large-scale benchmark exposes a significant gap between PTLMs and human-level language understanding and offers a new challenge for PTLMs to demonstrate commonsense.

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RiddleSense: Reasoning about Riddle Questions Featuring Linguistic Creativity and Commonsense Knowledge
Bill Yuchen Lin | Ziyi Wu | Yichi Yang | Dong-Ho Lee | Xiang Ren
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL-IJCNLP 2021

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Learn Continually, Generalize Rapidly: Lifelong Knowledge Accumulation for Few-shot Learning
Xisen Jin | Bill Yuchen Lin | Mohammad Rostami | Xiang Ren
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2021

The ability to continuously expand knowledge over time and utilize it to rapidly generalize to new tasks is a key feature of human linguistic intelligence. Existing models that pursue rapid generalization to new tasks (e.g., few-shot learning methods), however, are mostly trained in a single shot on fixed datasets, unable to dynamically expand their knowledge; while continual learning algorithms are not specifically designed for rapid generalization. We present a new learning setup, Continual Learning of Few-Shot Learners (CLIF), to address challenges of both learning settings in a unified setup. CLIF assumes a model learns from a sequence of diverse NLP tasks arriving sequentially, accumulating knowledge for improved generalization to new tasks, while also retaining performance on the tasks learned earlier. We examine how the generalization ability is affected in the continual learning setup, evaluate a number of continual learning algorithms, and propose a novel regularized adapter generation approach. We find that catastrophic forgetting affects generalization ability to a lesser degree than performance on seen tasks; while continual learning algorithms can still bring considerable benefit to the generalization ability.

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Probing Commonsense Explanation in Dialogue Response Generation
Pei Zhou | Pegah Jandaghi | Hyundong Cho | Bill Yuchen Lin | Jay Pujara | Xiang Ren
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2021

Humans use commonsense reasoning (CSR) implicitly to produce natural and coherent responses in conversations. Aiming to close the gap between current response generation (RG) models and human communication abilities, we want to understand why RG models respond as they do by probing RG model’s understanding of commonsense reasoning that elicits proper responses. We formalize the problem by framing commonsense as a latent variable in the RG task and using explanations for responses as textual form of commonsense. We collect 6k annotated explanations justifying responses from four dialogue datasets and ask humans to verify them and propose two probing settings to evaluate RG models’ CSR capabilities. Probing results show that models fail to capture the logical relations between commonsense explanations and responses and fine-tuning on in-domain data and increasing model sizes do not lead to understanding of CSR for RG. We hope our study motivates more research in making RG models emulate the human reasoning process in pursuit of smooth human-AI communication.

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Differentiable Open-Ended Commonsense Reasoning
Bill Yuchen Lin | Haitian Sun | Bhuwan Dhingra | Manzil Zaheer | Xiang Ren | William Cohen
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Current commonsense reasoning research focuses on developing models that use commonsense knowledge to answer multiple-choice questions. However, systems designed to answer multiple-choice questions may not be useful in applications that do not provide a small list of candidate answers to choose from. As a step towards making commonsense reasoning research more realistic, we propose to study open-ended commonsense reasoning (OpenCSR) — the task of answering a commonsense question without any pre-defined choices — using as a resource only a corpus of commonsense facts written in natural language. OpenCSR is challenging due to a large decision space, and because many questions require implicit multi-hop reasoning. As an approach to OpenCSR, we propose DrFact, an efficient Differentiable model for multi-hop Reasoning over knowledge Facts. To evaluate OpenCSR methods, we adapt several popular commonsense reasoning benchmarks, and collect multiple new answers for each test question via crowd-sourcing. Experiments show that DrFact outperforms strong baseline methods by a large margin.

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Common Sense Beyond English: Evaluating and Improving Multilingual Language Models for Commonsense Reasoning
Bill Yuchen Lin | Seyeon Lee | Xiaoyang Qiao | Xiang Ren
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)

Commonsense reasoning research has so far been limited to English. We aim to evaluate and improve popular multilingual language models (ML-LMs) to help advance commonsense reasoning (CSR) beyond English. We collect the Mickey corpus, consisting of 561k sentences in 11 different languages, which can be used for analyzing and improving ML-LMs. We propose Mickey Probe, a language-general probing task for fairly evaluating the common sense of popular ML-LMs across different languages. In addition, we also create two new datasets, X-CSQA and X-CODAH, by translating their English versions to 14 other languages, so that we can evaluate popular ML-LMs for cross-lingual commonsense reasoning. To improve the performance beyond English, we propose a simple yet effective method — multilingual contrastive pretraining (MCP). It significantly enhances sentence representations, yielding a large performance gain on both benchmarks (e.g., +2.7% accuracy for X-CSQA over XLM-R_L).

2020

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Learning to Contextually Aggregate Multi-Source Supervision for Sequence Labeling
Ouyu Lan | Xiao Huang | Bill Yuchen Lin | He Jiang | Liyuan Liu | Xiang Ren
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Sequence labeling is a fundamental task for a range of natural language processing problems. When used in practice, its performance is largely influenced by the annotation quality and quantity, and meanwhile, obtaining ground truth labels is often costly. In many cases, ground truth labels do not exist, but noisy annotations or annotations from different domains are accessible. In this paper, we propose a novel framework Consensus Network (ConNet) that can be trained on annotations from multiple sources (e.g., crowd annotation, cross-domain data). It learns individual representation for every source and dynamically aggregates source-specific knowledge by a context-aware attention module. Finally, it leads to a model reflecting the agreement (consensus) among multiple sources. We evaluate the proposed framework in two practical settings of multi-source learning: learning with crowd annotations and unsupervised cross-domain model adaptation. Extensive experimental results show that our model achieves significant improvements over existing methods in both settings. We also demonstrate that the method can apply to various tasks and cope with different encoders.

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TriggerNER: Learning with Entity Triggers as Explanations for Named Entity Recognition
Bill Yuchen Lin | Dong-Ho Lee | Ming Shen | Ryan Moreno | Xiao Huang | Prashant Shiralkar | Xiang Ren
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Training neural models for named entity recognition (NER) in a new domain often requires additional human annotations (e.g., tens of thousands of labeled instances) that are usually expensive and time-consuming to collect. Thus, a crucial research question is how to obtain supervision in a cost-effective way. In this paper, we introduce “entity triggers,” an effective proxy of human explanations for facilitating label-efficient learning of NER models. An entity trigger is defined as a group of words in a sentence that helps to explain why humans would recognize an entity in the sentence. We crowd-sourced 14k entity triggers for two well-studied NER datasets. Our proposed model, Trigger Matching Network, jointly learns trigger representations and soft matching module with self-attention such that can generalize to unseen sentences easily for tagging. Our framework is significantly more cost-effective than the traditional neural NER frameworks. Experiments show that using only 20% of the trigger-annotated sentences results in a comparable performance as using 70% of conventional annotated sentences.

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LEAN-LIFE: A Label-Efficient Annotation Framework Towards Learning from Explanation
Dong-Ho Lee | Rahul Khanna | Bill Yuchen Lin | Seyeon Lee | Qinyuan Ye | Elizabeth Boschee | Leonardo Neves | Xiang Ren
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics: System Demonstrations

Successfully training a deep neural network demands a huge corpus of labeled data. However, each label only provides limited information to learn from, and collecting the requisite number of labels involves massive human effort. In this work, we introduce LEAN-LIFE, a web-based, Label-Efficient AnnotatioN framework for sequence labeling and classification tasks, with an easy-to-use UI that not only allows an annotator to provide the needed labels for a task but also enables LearnIng From Explanations for each labeling decision. Such explanations enable us to generate useful additional labeled data from unlabeled instances, bolstering the pool of available training data. On three popular NLP tasks (named entity recognition, relation extraction, sentiment analysis), we find that using this enhanced supervision allows our models to surpass competitive baseline F1 scores by more than 5-10 percentage points, while using 2X times fewer labeled instances. Our framework is the first to utilize this enhanced supervision technique and does so for three important tasks – thus providing improved annotation recommendations to users and an ability to build datasets of (data, label, explanation) triples instead of the regular (data, label) pair.

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Scalable Multi-Hop Relational Reasoning for Knowledge-Aware Question Answering
Yanlin Feng | Xinyue Chen | Bill Yuchen Lin | Peifeng Wang | Jun Yan | Xiang Ren
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

Existing work on augmenting question answering (QA) models with external knowledge (e.g., knowledge graphs) either struggle to model multi-hop relations efficiently, or lack transparency into the model’s prediction rationale. In this paper, we propose a novel knowledge-aware approach that equips pre-trained language models (PTLMs) has with a multi-hop relational reasoning module, named multi-hop graph relation network (MHGRN). It performs multi-hop, multi-relational reasoning over subgraphs extracted from external knowledge graphs. The proposed reasoning module unifies path-based reasoning methods and graph neural networks to achieve better interpretability and scalability. We also empirically show its effectiveness and scalability on CommonsenseQA and OpenbookQA datasets, and interpret its behaviors with case studies, with the code for experiments released.

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Birds have four legs?! NumerSense: Probing Numerical Commonsense Knowledge of Pre-Trained Language Models
Bill Yuchen Lin | Seyeon Lee | Rahul Khanna | Xiang Ren
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

Recent works show that pre-trained language models (PTLMs), such as BERT, possess certain commonsense and factual knowledge. They suggest that it is promising to use PTLMs as “neural knowledge bases” via predicting masked words. Surprisingly, we find that this may not work for numerical commonsense knowledge (e.g., a bird usually has two legs). In this paper, we investigate whether and to what extent we can induce numerical commonsense knowledge from PTLMs as well as the robustness of this process. In this paper, we investigate whether and to what extent we can induce numerical commonsense knowledge from PTLMs as well as the robustness of this process. To study this, we introduce a novel probing task with a diagnostic dataset, NumerSense, containing 13.6k masked-word-prediction probes (10.5k for fine-tuning and 3.1k for testing). Our analysis reveals that: (1) BERT and its stronger variant RoBERTa perform poorly on the diagnostic dataset prior to any fine-tuning; (2) fine-tuning with distant supervision brings some improvement; (3) the best supervised model still performs poorly as compared to human performance (54.06% vs. 96.3% in accuracy).

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CommonGen: A Constrained Text Generation Challenge for Generative Commonsense Reasoning
Bill Yuchen Lin | Wangchunshu Zhou | Ming Shen | Pei Zhou | Chandra Bhagavatula | Yejin Choi | Xiang Ren
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2020

Recently, large-scale pre-trained language models have demonstrated impressive performance on several commonsense-reasoning benchmark datasets. However, building machines with commonsense to compose realistically plausible sentences remains challenging. In this paper, we present a constrained text generation task, CommonGen associated with a benchmark dataset, to explicitly test machines for the ability of generative commonsense reasoning. Given a set of common concepts (e.g., dog, frisbee, catch, throw); the task is to generate a coherent sentence describing an everyday scenario using these concepts (e.g., “a man throws a frisbee and his dog catches it”). The CommonGen task is challenging because it inherently requires 1) relational reasoning with background commonsense knowledge and 2) compositional generalization ability to work on unseen concept combinations. Our dataset, constructed through a combination of crowdsourced and existing caption corpora, consists of 77k commonsense descriptions over 35k unique concept-sets. Experiments show that there is a large gap between state-of-the-art text generation models (e.g., T5) and human performance (31.6% v.s. 63.5% in SPICE metric). Furthermore, we demonstrate that the learned generative commonsense reasoning capability can be transferred to improve downstream tasks such as CommonsenseQA (76.9% to 78.4 in dev accuracy) by generating additional context.

2019

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KagNet: Knowledge-Aware Graph Networks for Commonsense Reasoning
Bill Yuchen Lin | Xinyue Chen | Jamin Chen | Xiang Ren
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing and the 9th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (EMNLP-IJCNLP)

Commonsense reasoning aims to empower machines with the human ability to make presumptions about ordinary situations in our daily life. In this paper, we propose a textual inference framework for answering commonsense questions, which effectively utilizes external, structured commonsense knowledge graphs to perform explainable inferences. The framework first grounds a question-answer pair from the semantic space to the knowledge-based symbolic space as a schema graph, a related sub-graph of external knowledge graphs. It represents schema graphs with a novel knowledge-aware graph network module named KagNet, and finally scores answers with graph representations. Our model is based on graph convolutional networks and LSTMs, with a hierarchical path-based attention mechanism. The intermediate attention scores make it transparent and interpretable, which thus produce trustworthy inferences. Using ConceptNet as the only external resource for Bert-based models, we achieved state-of-the-art performance on the CommonsenseQA, a large-scale dataset for commonsense reasoning.

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AlpacaTag: An Active Learning-based Crowd Annotation Framework for Sequence Tagging
Bill Yuchen Lin | Dong-Ho Lee | Frank F. Xu | Ouyu Lan | Xiang Ren
Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics: System Demonstrations

We introduce an open-source web-based data annotation framework (AlpacaTag) for sequence tagging tasks such as named-entity recognition (NER). The distinctive advantages of AlpacaTag are three-fold. 1) Active intelligent recommendation: dynamically suggesting annotations and sampling the most informative unlabeled instances with a back-end active learned model; 2) Automatic crowd consolidation: enhancing real-time inter-annotator agreement by merging inconsistent labels from multiple annotators; 3) Real-time model deployment: users can deploy their models in downstream systems while new annotations are being made. AlpacaTag is a comprehensive solution for sequence labeling tasks, ranging from rapid tagging with recommendations powered by active learning and auto-consolidation of crowd annotations to real-time model deployment.

2018

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Mining Cross-Cultural Differences and Similarities in Social Media
Bill Yuchen Lin | Frank F. Xu | Kenny Zhu | Seung-won Hwang
Proceedings of the 56th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Cross-cultural differences and similarities are common in cross-lingual natural language understanding, especially for research in social media. For instance, people of distinct cultures often hold different opinions on a single named entity. Also, understanding slang terms across languages requires knowledge of cross-cultural similarities. In this paper, we study the problem of computing such cross-cultural differences and similarities. We present a lightweight yet effective approach, and evaluate it on two novel tasks: 1) mining cross-cultural differences of named entities and 2) finding similar terms for slang across languages. Experimental results show that our framework substantially outperforms a number of baseline methods on both tasks. The framework could be useful for machine translation applications and research in computational social science.

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Automatic Extraction of Commonsense LocatedNear Knowledge
Frank F. Xu | Bill Yuchen Lin | Kenny Zhu
Proceedings of the 56th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 2: Short Papers)

LocatedNear relation is a kind of commonsense knowledge describing two physical objects that are typically found near each other in real life. In this paper, we study how to automatically extract such relationship through a sentence-level relation classifier and aggregating the scores of entity pairs from a large corpus. Also, we release two benchmark datasets for evaluation and future research.

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Neural Adaptation Layers for Cross-domain Named Entity Recognition
Bill Yuchen Lin | Wei Lu
Proceedings of the 2018 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Recent research efforts have shown that neural architectures can be effective in conventional information extraction tasks such as named entity recognition, yielding state-of-the-art results on standard newswire datasets. However, despite significant resources required for training such models, the performance of a model trained on one domain typically degrades dramatically when applied to a different domain, yet extracting entities from new emerging domains such as social media can be of significant interest. In this paper, we empirically investigate effective methods for conveniently adapting an existing, well-trained neural NER model for a new domain. Unlike existing approaches, we propose lightweight yet effective methods for performing domain adaptation for neural models. Specifically, we introduce adaptation layers on top of existing neural architectures, where no re-training using the source domain data is required. We conduct extensive empirical studies and show that our approach significantly outperforms state-of-the-art methods.

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ExtRA: Extracting Prominent Review Aspects from Customer Feedback
Zhiyi Luo | Shanshan Huang | Frank F. Xu | Bill Yuchen Lin | Hanyuan Shi | Kenny Zhu
Proceedings of the 2018 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Many existing systems for analyzing and summarizing customer reviews about products or service are based on a number of prominent review aspects. Conventionally, the prominent review aspects of a product type are determined manually. This costly approach cannot scale to large and cross-domain services such as Amazon.com, Taobao.com or Yelp.com where there are a large number of product types and new products emerge almost every day. In this paper, we propose a novel framework, for extracting the most prominent aspects of a given product type from textual reviews. The proposed framework, ExtRA, extracts K most prominent aspect terms or phrases which do not overlap semantically automatically without supervision. Extensive experiments show that ExtRA is effective and achieves the state-of-the-art performance on a dataset consisting of different product types.

2017

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Multi-channel BiLSTM-CRF Model for Emerging Named Entity Recognition in Social Media
Bill Y. Lin | Frank Xu | Zhiyi Luo | Kenny Zhu
Proceedings of the 3rd Workshop on Noisy User-generated Text

In this paper, we present our multi-channel neural architecture for recognizing emerging named entity in social media messages, which we applied in the Novel and Emerging Named Entity Recognition shared task at the EMNLP 2017 Workshop on Noisy User-generated Text (W-NUT). We propose a novel approach, which incorporates comprehensive word representations with multi-channel information and Conditional Random Fields (CRF) into a traditional Bidirectional Long Short-Term Memory (BiLSTM) neural network without using any additional hand-craft features such as gazetteers. In comparison with other systems participating in the shared task, our system won the 2nd place.