Cheng Chen


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Developing a Production System for Purpose of Call Detection in Business Phone Conversations
Elena Khasanova | Pooja Hiranandani | Shayna Gardiner | Cheng Chen | Simon Corston-Oliver | Xue-Yong Fu
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies: Industry Track

For agents at a contact centre receiving calls, the most important piece of information is the reason for a given call. An agent cannot provide support on a call if they do not know why a customer is calling. In this paper we describe our implementation of a commercial system to detect Purpose of Call statements in English business call transcripts in real time. We present a detailed analysis of types of Purpose of Call statements and language patterns related to them, discuss an approach to collect rich training data by bootstrapping from a set of rules to a neural model, and describe a hybrid model which consists of a transformer-based classifier and a set of rules by leveraging insights from the analysis of call transcripts. The model achieved 88.6 F1 on average in various types of business calls when tested on real life data and has low inference time. We reflect on the challenges and design decisions when developing and deploying the system.

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BLINK with Elasticsearch for Efficient Entity Linking in Business Conversations
Md Tahmid Rahman Laskar | Cheng Chen | Aliaksandr Martsinovich | Jonathan Johnston | Xue-Yong Fu | Shashi Bhushan Tn | Simon Corston-Oliver
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies: Industry Track

An Entity Linking system aligns the textual mentions of entities in a text to their corresponding entries in a knowledge base. However, deploying a neural entity linking system for efficient real-time inference in production environments is a challenging task. In this work, we present a neural entity linking system that connects the product and organization type entities in business conversations to their corresponding Wikipedia and Wikidata entries. The proposed system leverages Elasticsearch to ensure inference efficiency when deployed in a resource limited cloud machine, and obtains significant improvements in terms of inference speed and memory consumption while retaining high accuracy.

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Improving Named Entity Recognition in Telephone Conversations via Effective Active Learning with Human in the Loop
Md Tahmid Rahman Laskar | Cheng Chen | Xue-yong Fu | Shashi Bhushan Tn
Proceedings of the Fourth Workshop on Data Science with Human-in-the-Loop (Language Advances)

Telephone transcription data can be very noisy due to speech recognition errors, disfluencies, etc. Not only that annotating such data is very challenging for the annotators, but also such data may have lots of annotation errors even after the annotation job is completed, resulting in a very poor model performance. In this paper, we present an active learning framework that leverages human in the loop learning to identify data samples from the annotated dataset for re-annotation that are more likely to contain annotation errors. In this way, we largely reduce the need for data re-annotation for the whole dataset. We conduct extensive experiments with our proposed approach for Named Entity Recognition and observe that by re-annotating only about 6% training instances out of the whole dataset, the F1 score for a certain entity type can be significantly improved by about 25%.

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bert2BERT: Towards Reusable Pretrained Language Models
Cheng Chen | Yichun Yin | Lifeng Shang | Xin Jiang | Yujia Qin | Fengyu Wang | Zhi Wang | Xiao Chen | Zhiyuan Liu | Qun Liu
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

In recent years, researchers tend to pre-train ever-larger language models to explore the upper limit of deep models. However, large language model pre-training costs intensive computational resources, and most of the models are trained from scratch without reusing the existing pre-trained models, which is wasteful. In this paper, we propose bert2BERT, which can effectively transfer the knowledge of an existing smaller pre-trained model to a large model through parameter initialization and significantly improve the pre-training efficiency of the large model. Specifically, we extend the previous function-preserving method proposed in computer vision on the Transformer-based language model, and further improve it by proposing a novel method, advanced knowledge for large model’s initialization. In addition, a two-stage learning method is proposed to further accelerate the pre-training. We conduct extensive experiments on representative PLMs (e.g., BERT and GPT) and demonstrate that (1) our method can save a significant amount of training cost compared with baselines including learning from scratch, StackBERT and MSLT; (2) our method is generic and applicable to different types of pre-trained models. In particular, bert2BERT saves about 45% and 47% computational cost of pre-training BERT\rm BASE and GPT\rm BASE by reusing the models of almost their half sizes.

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Inverse is Better! Fast and Accurate Prompt for Few-shot Slot Tagging
Yutai Hou | Cheng Chen | Xianzhen Luo | Bohan Li | Wanxiang Che
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2022

Prompting methods recently achieve impressive success in few-shot learning. These methods modify input samples with prompt sentence pieces, and decode label tokens to map samples to corresponding labels. However, such a paradigm is very inefficient for the task of slot tagging. Since slot tagging samples are multiple consecutive words in a sentence, the prompting methods have to enumerate all n-grams token spans to find all the possible slots, which greatly slows down the prediction. To tackle this, we introduce an inverse paradigm for prompting. Different from the classic prompts mapping tokens to labels, we reversely predict slot values given slot types. Such inverse prompting only requires a one-turn prediction for each slot type and greatly speeds up the prediction. Besides, we propose a novel Iterative Prediction Strategy, from which the model learns to refine predictions by considering the relations between different slot types. We find, somewhat surprisingly, the proposed method not only predicts faster but also significantly improves the effect (improve over 6.1 F1-scores on 10-shot setting) and achieves new state-of-the-art performance.

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Entity-level Sentiment Analysis in Contact Center Telephone Conversations
Xue-yong Fu | Cheng Chen | Md Tahmid Rahman Laskar | Shayna Gardiner | Pooja Hiranandani | Shashi Bhushan Tn
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing: Industry Track

Entity-level sentiment analysis predicts the sentiment about entities mentioned in a given text. It is very useful in a business context to understand user emotions towards certain entities, such as products or companies. In this paper, we demonstrate how we developed an entity-level sentiment analysis system that analyzes English telephone conversation transcripts in contact centers to provide business insight. We present two approaches, one entirely based on the transformer-based DistilBERT model, and another that uses a neural network supplemented with some heuristic rules.

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An Effective, Performant Named Entity Recognition System for Noisy Business Telephone Conversation Transcripts
Xue-Yong Fu | Cheng Chen | Md Tahmid Rahman Laskar | Shashi Bhushan Tn | Simon Corston-Oliver
Proceedings of the Eighth Workshop on Noisy User-generated Text (W-NUT 2022)

We present a simple yet effective method to train a named entity recognition (NER) model that operates on business telephone conversation transcripts that contain noise due to the nature of spoken conversation and artifacts of automatic speech recognition. We first fine-tune LUKE, a state-of-the-art Named Entity Recognition (NER) model, on a limited amount of transcripts, then use it as the teacher model to teach a smaller DistilBERT-based student model using a large amount of weakly labeled data and a small amount of human-annotated data. The model achieves high accuracy while also satisfying the practical constraints for inclusion in a commercial telephony product: realtime performance when deployed on cost-effective CPUs rather than GPUs. In this paper, we introduce the fine-tune-then-distill method for entity recognition on real world noisy data to deploy our NER model in a limited budget production environment. By generating pseudo-labels using a large teacher model pre-trained on typed text while fine-tuned on noisy speech text to train a smaller student model, we make the student model 75x times faster while reserving 99.09% of its accuracy. These findings demonstrate that our proposed approach is very effective in limited budget scenarios to alleviate the need of human labeling of a large amount of noisy data.


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Improving Punctuation Restoration for Speech Transcripts via External Data
Xue-Yong Fu | Cheng Chen | Md Tahmid Rahman Laskar | Shashi Bhushan | Simon Corston-Oliver
Proceedings of the Seventh Workshop on Noisy User-generated Text (W-NUT 2021)

Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) systems generally do not produce punctuated transcripts. To make transcripts more readable and follow the expected input format for downstream language models, it is necessary to add punctuation marks. In this paper, we tackle the punctuation restoration problem specifically for the noisy text (e.g., phone conversation scenarios). To leverage the available written text datasets, we introduce a data sampling technique based on an n-gram language model to sample more training data that are similar to our in-domain data. Moreover, we propose a two-stage fine-tuning approach that utilizes the sampled external data as well as our in-domain dataset for models based on BERT. Extensive experiments show that the proposed approach outperforms the baseline with an improvement of 1.12% F1 score.

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Learning to Bridge Metric Spaces: Few-shot Joint Learning of Intent Detection and Slot Filling
Yutai Hou | Yongkui Lai | Cheng Chen | Wanxiang Che | Ting Liu
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL-IJCNLP 2021

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AutoTinyBERT: Automatic Hyper-parameter Optimization for Efficient Pre-trained Language Models
Yichun Yin | Cheng Chen | Lifeng Shang | Xin Jiang | Xiao Chen | Qun Liu
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)

Pre-trained language models (PLMs) have achieved great success in natural language processing. Most of PLMs follow the default setting of architecture hyper-parameters (e.g., the hidden dimension is a quarter of the intermediate dimension in feed-forward sub-networks) in BERT. Few studies have been conducted to explore the design of architecture hyper-parameters in BERT, especially for the more efficient PLMs with tiny sizes, which are essential for practical deployment on resource-constrained devices. In this paper, we adopt the one-shot Neural Architecture Search (NAS) to automatically search architecture hyper-parameters. Specifically, we carefully design the techniques of one-shot learning and the search space to provide an adaptive and efficient development way of tiny PLMs for various latency constraints. We name our method AutoTinyBERT and evaluate its effectiveness on the GLUE and SQuAD benchmarks. The extensive experiments show that our method outperforms both the SOTA search-based baseline (NAS-BERT) and the SOTA distillation-based methods (such as DistilBERT, TinyBERT, MiniLM, and MobileBERT). In addition, based on the obtained architectures, we propose a more efficient development method that is even faster than the development of a single PLM. The source code and models will be publicly available upon publication.