Charles Ling


pdf bib
Source-Free Unsupervised Domain Adaptation for Question Answering via Prompt-Assisted Self-learning
Maxwell Yin | Boyu Wang | Charles Ling
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: NAACL 2024

This work addresses source-free domain adaptation (SFDA) for Question Answering (QA), wherein a model trained on a source domain is adapted to unlabeled target domains without additional source data. Existing SFDA methods only focus on the adaptation phase, overlooking the impact of source domain training on model generalizability. In this paper, we argue that source model training itself is also critical for improving the adaptation performance and stability. To this end, we investigate the role of prompt learning as an effective method to internalize domain-agnostic QA knowledge, which can be integrated into source training. After source training, an interactive self-learning strategy is proposed to further fine tune both model and prompt in the model adaptation phase. This leads to the Prompt-Assisted Self-Adaptive Learning (PASAL), an innovative SFDA approach for QA. Empirical evaluation on four benchmark datasets shows that PASAL surpasses existing methods in managing domain gaps and demonstrates greater stability across various target domains, validating the significance of source domain training for effective domain adaptation.

pdf bib
Source-Free Domain Adaptation for Question Answering with Masked Self-training
Maxwell J. Yin | Boyu Wang | Yue Dong | Charles Ling
Transactions of the Association for Computational Linguistics, Volume 12

Previous unsupervised domain adaptation (UDA) methods for question answering (QA) require access to source domain data while fine-tuning the model for the target domain. Source domain data may, however, contain sensitive information and should be protected. In this study, we investigate a more challenging setting, source-free UDA, in which we have only the pretrained source model and target domain data, without access to source domain data. We propose a novel self-training approach to QA models that integrates a specially designed mask module for domain adaptation. The mask is auto-adjusted to extract key domain knowledge when trained on the source domain. To maintain previously learned domain knowledge, certain mask weights are frozen during adaptation, while other weights are adjusted to mitigate domain shifts with pseudo-labeled samples generated in the target domain. Our empirical results on four benchmark datasets suggest that our approach significantly enhances the performance of pretrained QA models on the target domain, and even outperforms models that have access to the source data during adaptation.


pdf bib
Catching Attention with Automatic Pull Quote Selection
Tanner Bohn | Charles Ling
Proceedings of the 28th International Conference on Computational Linguistics

To advance understanding on how to engage readers, we advocate the novel task of automatic pull quote selection. Pull quotes are a component of articles specifically designed to catch the attention of readers with spans of text selected from the article and given more salient presentation. This task differs from related tasks such as summarization and clickbait identification by several aspects. We establish a spectrum of baseline approaches to the task, ranging from handcrafted features to a neural mixture-of-experts to cross-task models. By examining the contributions of individual features and embedding dimensions from these models, we uncover unexpected properties of pull quotes to help answer the important question of what engages readers. Human evaluation also supports the uniqueness of this task and the suitability of our selection models. The benefits of exploring this problem further are clear: pull quotes increase enjoyment and readability, shape reader perceptions, and facilitate learning. Code to reproduce this work is available at


pdf bib
Learning Sentence Embeddings for Coherence Modelling and Beyond
Tanner Bohn | Yining Hu | Jinhang Zhang | Charles Ling
Proceedings of the International Conference on Recent Advances in Natural Language Processing (RANLP 2019)

We present a novel and effective technique for performing text coherence tasks while facilitating deeper insights into the data. Despite obtaining ever-increasing task performance, modern deep-learning approaches to NLP tasks often only provide users with the final network decision and no additional understanding of the data. In this work, we show that a new type of sentence embedding learned through self-supervision can be applied effectively to text coherence tasks while serving as a window through which deeper understanding of the data can be obtained. To produce these sentence embeddings, we train a recurrent neural network to take individual sentences and predict their location in a document in the form of a distribution over locations. We demonstrate that these embeddings, combined with simple visual heuristics, can be used to achieve performance competitive with state-of-the-art on multiple text coherence tasks, outperforming more complex and specialized approaches. Additionally, we demonstrate that these embeddings can provide insights useful to writers for improving writing quality and informing document structuring, and assisting readers in summarizing and locating information.