Chengyu Dong


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Debiasing Made State-of-the-art: Revisiting the Simple Seed-based Weak Supervision for Text Classification
Chengyu Dong | Zihan Wang | Jingbo Shang
Proceedings of the 2023 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Recent advances in weakly supervised text classification mostly focus on designing sophisticated methods to turn high-level human heuristics into quality pseudo-labels. In this paper, we revisit the seed matching-based method, which is arguably the simplest way to generate pseudo-labels, and show that its power was greatly underestimated. We show that the limited performance of seed matching is largely due to the label bias injected by the simple seed-match rule, which prevents the classifier from learning reliable confidence for selecting high-quality pseudo-labels. Interestingly, simply deleting the seed words present in the matched input texts can mitigate the label bias and help learn better confidence. Subsequently, the performance achieved by seed matching can be improved significantly, making it on par with or even better than the state-of-the-art. Furthermore, to handle the case when the seed words are not made known, we propose to simply delete the word tokens in the input text randomly with a high deletion ratio. Remarkably, seed matching equipped with this random deletion method can often achieve even better performance than that with seed deletion.

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SELFOOD: Self-Supervised Out-Of-Distribution Detection via Learning to Rank
Dheeraj Mekala | Adithya Samavedhi | Chengyu Dong | Jingbo Shang
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2023

Deep neural classifiers trained with cross-entropy loss (CE loss) often suffer from poor calibration, necessitating the task of out-of-distribution (OOD) detection. Traditional supervised OOD detection methods require expensive manual annotation of in-distribution and OOD samples. To address the annotation bottleneck, we introduce SELFOOD, a self-supervised OOD detection method that requires only in-distribution samples as supervision. We cast OOD detection as an inter-document intra-label (IDIL) ranking problem and train the classifier with our pairwise ranking loss, referred to as IDIL loss. Specifically, given a set of in-distribution documents and their labels, for each label, we train the classifier to rank the softmax scores of documents belonging to that label to be higher than the scores of documents that belong to other labels. Unlike CE loss, our IDIL loss function reaches zero when the desired confidence ranking is achieved and gradients are backpropagated to decrease probabilities associated with incorrect labels rather than continuously increasing the probability of the correct label. Extensive experiments with several classifiers on multiple classification datasets demonstrate the effectiveness of our method in both coarse- and fine-grained settings.


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LOPS: Learning Order Inspired Pseudo-Label Selection for Weakly Supervised Text Classification
Dheeraj Mekala | Chengyu Dong | Jingbo Shang
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2022

Weakly supervised text classification methods typically train a deep neural classifier based on pseudo-labels. The quality of pseudo-labels is crucial to final performance but they are inevitably noisy due to their heuristic nature, so selecting the correct ones has a huge potential for performance boost. One straightforward solution is to select samples based on the softmax probability scores in the neural classifier corresponding to their pseudo-labels. However, we show through our experiments that such solutions are ineffective and unstable due to the erroneously high-confidence predictions from poorly calibrated models. Recent studies on the memorization effects of deep neural models suggest that these models first memorize training samples with clean labels and then those with noisy labels. Inspired by this observation, we propose a novel pseudo-label selection method LOPS that takes learning order of samples into consideration. We hypothesize that the learning order reflects the probability of wrong annotation in terms of ranking, and therefore, propose to select the samples that are learnt earlier. LOPS can be viewed as a strong performance-boost plug-in to most existing weakly-supervised text classification methods, as confirmed in extensive experiments on four real-world datasets.


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BFClass: A Backdoor-free Text Classification Framework
Zichao Li | Dheeraj Mekala | Chengyu Dong | Jingbo Shang
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2021

Backdoor attack introduces artificial vulnerabilities into the model by poisoning a subset of the training data via injecting triggers and modifying labels. Various trigger design strategies have been explored to attack text classifiers, however, defending such attacks remains an open problem. In this work, we propose BFClass, a novel efficient backdoor-free training framework for text classification. The backbone of BFClass is a pre-trained discriminator that predicts whether each token in the corrupted input was replaced by a masked language model. To identify triggers, we utilize this discriminator to locate the most suspicious token from each training sample and then distill a concise set by considering their association strengths with particular labels. To recognize the poisoned subset, we examine the training samples with these identified triggers as the most suspicious token, and check if removing the trigger will change the poisoned model’s prediction. Extensive experiments demonstrate that BFClass can identify all the triggers, remove 95% poisoned training samples with very limited false alarms, and achieve almost the same performance as the models trained on the benign training data.

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“Average” Approximates “First Principal Component”? An Empirical Analysis on Representations from Neural Language Models
Zihan Wang | Chengyu Dong | Jingbo Shang
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Contextualized representations based on neural language models have furthered the state of the art in various NLP tasks. Despite its great success, the nature of such representations remains a mystery. In this paper, we present an empirical property of these representations—”average” approximates “first principal component”. Specifically, experiments show that the average of these representations shares almost the same direction as the first principal component of the matrix whose columns are these representations. We believe this explains why the average representation is always a simple yet strong baseline. Our further examinations show that this property also holds in more challenging scenarios, for example, when the representations are from a model right after its random initialization. Therefore, we conjecture that this property is intrinsic to the distribution of representations and not necessarily related to the input structure. We realize that these representations empirically follow a normal distribution for each dimension, and by assuming this is true, we demonstrate that the empirical property can be in fact derived mathematically.