Retriever-reader models achieve competitive performance across many different NLP tasks such as open question answering and dialogue conversations. In this work, we notice these models easily overfit the top-rank retrieval passages and standard training fails to reason over the entire retrieval passages. We introduce a learnable passage mask mechanism which desensitizes the impact from the top-rank retrieval passages and prevents the model from overfitting. Controlling the gradient variance with fewer mask candidates and selecting the mask candidates with one-shot bi-level optimization, our learnable regularization strategy enforces the answer generation to focus on the entire retrieval passages. Experiments on different tasks across open question answering, dialogue conversation, and fact verification show that our method consistently outperforms its baselines. Extensive experiments and ablation studies demonstrate that our method can be general, effective, and beneficial for many NLP tasks.
Learning embedding layers (for classes, words, items, etc.) is a key component of lots of applications, ranging from natural language processing, recommendation systems to electronic health records, etc.However, the frequency of real-world items follows a long-tail distribution in these applications, causing naive training methods perform poorly on the rare items. A line of previous works address this problem by transferring the knowledge from the frequent items to rare items by introducing an auxiliary transfer loss. However, when defined improperly, the transfer loss may introduce harmful biases and deteriorate the performance.In this work, we propose a harmless transfer learning framework that limits the impact of the potential biases in both the definition and optimization of the transfer loss. On the definition side, we reduce the bias in transfer loss by focusing on the items to which information from high-frequency items can be efficiently transferred. On the optimization side, we leverage a lexicographic optimization framework to efficiently incorporate the information of the transfer loss without hurting the minimization of the main prediction loss function. Our method serves as a plug-in module and significantly boosts the performance on a variety of NLP and recommendation system tasks.
Active learning, which effectively collects informative unlabeled data for annotation, reduces the demand for labeled data. In this work, we propose to retrieve unlabeled samples with a local sensitivity and hardness-aware acquisition function. The proposed method generates data copies through local perturbations and selects data points whose predictive likelihoods diverge the most from their copies. We further empower our acquisition function by injecting the select-worst case perturbation. Our method achieves consistent gains over the commonly used active learning strategies in various classification tasks. Furthermore, we observe consistent improvements over the baselines on the study of prompt selection in prompt-based few-shot learning. These experiments demonstrate that our acquisition guided by local sensitivity and hardness can be effective and beneficial for many NLP tasks.
Training NLP systems typically assumes access to annotated data that has a single human label per example. Given imperfect labeling from annotators and inherent ambiguity of language, we hypothesize that single label is not sufficient to learn the spectrum of language interpretation. We explore new annotation distribution schemes, assigning multiple labels per example for a small subset of training examples. Introducing such multi label examples at the cost of annotating fewer examples brings clear gains on natural language inference task and entity typing task, even when we simply first train with a single label data and then fine tune with multi label examples. Extending a MixUp data augmentation framework, we propose a learning algorithm that can learn from training examples with different amount of annotation (with zero, one, or multiple labels). This algorithm efficiently combines signals from uneven training data and brings additional gains in low annotation budget and cross domain settings. Together, our method achieves consistent gains in two tasks, suggesting distributing labels unevenly among training examples can be beneficial for many NLP tasks.
State-of-the-art NLP models can often be fooled by human-unaware transformations such as synonymous word substitution. For security reasons, it is of critical importance to develop models with certified robustness that can provably guarantee that the prediction is can not be altered by any possible synonymous word substitution. In this work, we propose a certified robust method based on a new randomized smoothing technique, which constructs a stochastic ensemble by applying random word substitutions on the input sentences, and leverage the statistical properties of the ensemble to provably certify the robustness. Our method is simple and structure-free in that it only requires the black-box queries of the model outputs, and hence can be applied to any pre-trained models (such as BERT) and any types of models (world-level or subword-level). Our method significantly outperforms recent state-of-the-art methods for certified robustness on both IMDB and Amazon text classification tasks. To the best of our knowledge, we are the first work to achieve certified robustness on large systems such as BERT with practically meaningful certified accuracy.