Christopher Clark


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Iconary: A Pictionary-Based Game for Testing Multimodal Communication with Drawings and Text
Christopher Clark | Jordi Salvador | Dustin Schwenk | Derrick Bonafilia | Mark Yatskar | Eric Kolve | Alvaro Herrasti | Jonghyun Choi | Sachin Mehta | Sam Skjonsberg | Carissa Schoenick | Aaron Sarnat | Hannaneh Hajishirzi | Aniruddha Kembhavi | Oren Etzioni | Ali Farhadi
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Communicating with humans is challenging for AIs because it requires a shared understanding of the world, complex semantics (e.g., metaphors or analogies), and at times multi-modal gestures (e.g., pointing with a finger, or an arrow in a diagram). We investigate these challenges in the context of Iconary, a collaborative game of drawing and guessing based on Pictionary, that poses a novel challenge for the research community. In Iconary, a Guesser tries to identify a phrase that a Drawer is drawing by composing icons, and the Drawer iteratively revises the drawing to help the Guesser in response. This back-and-forth often uses canonical scenes, visual metaphor, or icon compositions to express challenging words, making it an ideal test for mixing language and visual/symbolic communication in AI. We propose models to play Iconary and train them on over 55,000 games between human players. Our models are skillful players and are able to employ world knowledge in language models to play with words unseen during training.


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Learning to Model and Ignore Dataset Bias with Mixed Capacity Ensembles
Christopher Clark | Mark Yatskar | Luke Zettlemoyer
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2020

Many datasets have been shown to contain incidental correlations created by idiosyncrasies in the data collection process. For example, sentence entailment datasets can have spurious word-class correlations if nearly all contradiction sentences contain the word “not”, and image recognition datasets can have tell-tale object-background correlations if dogs are always indoors. In this paper, we propose a method that can automatically detect and ignore these kinds of dataset-specific patterns, which we call dataset biases. Our method trains a lower capacity model in an ensemble with a higher capacity model. During training, the lower capacity model learns to capture relatively shallow correlations, which we hypothesize are likely to reflect dataset bias. This frees the higher capacity model to focus on patterns that should generalize better. We ensure the models learn non-overlapping approaches by introducing a novel method to make them conditionally independent. Importantly, our approach does not require the bias to be known in advance. We evaluate performance on synthetic datasets, and four datasets built to penalize models that exploit known biases on textual entailment, visual question answering, and image recognition tasks. We show improvement in all settings, including a 10 point gain on the visual question answering dataset.


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Don’t Take the Easy Way Out: Ensemble Based Methods for Avoiding Known Dataset Biases
Christopher Clark | Mark Yatskar | Luke Zettlemoyer
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing and the 9th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (EMNLP-IJCNLP)

State-of-the-art models often make use of superficial patterns in the data that do not generalize well to out-of-domain or adversarial settings. For example, textual entailment models often learn that particular key words imply entailment, irrespective of context, and visual question answering models learn to predict prototypical answers, without considering evidence in the image. In this paper, we show that if we have prior knowledge of such biases, we can train a model to be more robust to domain shift. Our method has two stages: we (1) train a naive model that makes predictions exclusively based on dataset biases, and (2) train a robust model as part of an ensemble with the naive one in order to encourage it to focus on other patterns in the data that are more likely to generalize. Experiments on five datasets with out-of-domain test sets show significantly improved robustness in all settings, including a 12 point gain on a changing priors visual question answering dataset and a 9 point gain on an adversarial question answering test set.

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BoolQ: Exploring the Surprising Difficulty of Natural Yes/No Questions
Christopher Clark | Kenton Lee | Ming-Wei Chang | Tom Kwiatkowski | Michael Collins | Kristina Toutanova
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies, Volume 1 (Long and Short Papers)

In this paper we study yes/no questions that are naturally occurring — meaning that they are generated in unprompted and unconstrained settings. We build a reading comprehension dataset, BoolQ, of such questions, and show that they are unexpectedly challenging. They often query for complex, non-factoid information, and require difficult entailment-like inference to solve. We also explore the effectiveness of a range of transfer learning baselines. We find that transferring from entailment data is more effective than transferring from paraphrase or extractive QA data, and that it, surprisingly, continues to be very beneficial even when starting from massive pre-trained language models such as BERT. Our best method trains BERT on MultiNLI and then re-trains it on our train set. It achieves 80.4% accuracy compared to 90% accuracy of human annotators (and 62% majority-baseline), leaving a significant gap for future work.


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Simple and Effective Multi-Paragraph Reading Comprehension
Christopher Clark | Matt Gardner
Proceedings of the 56th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

We introduce a method of adapting neural paragraph-level question answering models to the case where entire documents are given as input. Most current question answering models cannot scale to document or multi-document input, and naively applying these models to each paragraph independently often results in them being distracted by irrelevant text. We show that it is possible to significantly improve performance by using a modified training scheme that teaches the model to ignore non-answer containing paragraphs. Our method involves sampling multiple paragraphs from each document, and using an objective function that requires the model to produce globally correct output. We additionally identify and improve upon a number of other design decisions that arise when working with document-level data. Experiments on TriviaQA and SQuAD shows our method advances the state of the art, including a 10 point gain on TriviaQA.

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Deep Contextualized Word Representations
Matthew E. Peters | Mark Neumann | Mohit Iyyer | Matt Gardner | Christopher Clark | Kenton Lee | Luke Zettlemoyer
Proceedings of the 2018 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies, Volume 1 (Long Papers)

We introduce a new type of deep contextualized word representation that models both (1) complex characteristics of word use (e.g., syntax and semantics), and (2) how these uses vary across linguistic contexts (i.e., to model polysemy). Our word vectors are learned functions of the internal states of a deep bidirectional language model (biLM), which is pre-trained on a large text corpus. We show that these representations can be easily added to existing models and significantly improve the state of the art across six challenging NLP problems, including question answering, textual entailment and sentiment analysis. We also present an analysis showing that exposing the deep internals of the pre-trained network is crucial, allowing downstream models to mix different types of semi-supervision signals.