Cognitively plausible visual dialogue models should keep a mental scoreboard of shared established facts in the dialogue context. We propose a theory-based evaluation method for investigating to what degree models pretrained on the VisDial dataset incrementally build representations that appropriately do scorekeeping. Our conclusion is that the ability to make the distinction between shared and privately known statements along the dialogue is moderately present in the analysed models, but not always incrementally consistent, which may partially be due to the limited need for grounding interactions in the original task.
Incremental processing allows interactive systems to respond based on partial inputs, which is a desirable property e.g. in dialogue agents. The currently popular Transformer architecture inherently processes sequences as a whole, abstracting away the notion of time. Recent work attempts to apply Transformers incrementally via restart-incrementality by repeatedly feeding, to an unchanged model, increasingly longer input prefixes to produce partial outputs. However, this approach is computationally costly and does not scale efficiently for long sequences. In parallel, we witness efforts to make Transformers more efficient, e.g. the Linear Transformer (LT) with a recurrence mechanism. In this work, we examine the feasibility of LT for incremental NLU in English. Our results show that the recurrent LT model has better incremental performance and faster inference speed compared to the standard Transformer and LT with restart-incrementality, at the cost of part of the non-incremental (full sequence) quality. We show that the performance drop can be mitigated by training the model to wait for right context before committing to an output and that training with input prefixes is beneficial for delivering correct partial outputs.
This report describes the course Evaluation of NLP Systems, taught for Computational Linguistics undergraduate students during the winter semester 20/21 at the University of Potsdam, Germany. It was a discussion-based seminar that covered different aspects of evaluation in NLP, namely paradigms, common procedures, data annotation, metrics and measurements, statistical significance testing, best practices and common approaches in specific NLP tasks and applications.
While humans process language incrementally, the best language encoders currently used in NLP do not. Both bidirectional LSTMs and Transformers assume that the sequence that is to be encoded is available in full, to be processed either forwards and backwards (BiLSTMs) or as a whole (Transformers). We investigate how they behave under incremental interfaces, when partial output must be provided based on partial input seen up to a certain time step, which may happen in interactive systems. We test five models on various NLU datasets and compare their performance using three incremental evaluation metrics. The results support the possibility of using bidirectional encoders in incremental mode while retaining most of their non-incremental quality. The “omni-directional” BERT model, which achieves better non-incremental performance, is impacted more by the incremental access. This can be alleviated by adapting the training regime (truncated training), or the testing procedure, by delaying the output until some right context is available or by incorporating hypothetical right contexts generated by a language model like GPT-2.