Christopher Hidey


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Compute-Efficient Churn Reduction for Conversational Agents
Christopher Hidey | Sarthak Sarthak
Proceedings of the 2023 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing: Industry Track

Model churn occurs when re-training a model yields different predictions despite using the same data and hyper-parameters. Churn reduction is crucial for industry conversational systems where users expect consistent results for the same queries. In this setting, compute resources are often limited due to latency requirements during serving and overall time constraints during re-training. To address this issue, we propose a compute-efficient method that mitigates churn without requiring extra resources for training or inference. Our approach involves a lightweight data pre-processing step that pairs semantic parses based on their “function call signature” and encourages similarity through an additional loss based on Jensen-Shannon Divergence. We validate the effectiveness of our method in three scenarios: academic (+3.93 percent improvement on average in a churn reduction metric), simulated noisy data (+8.09), and industry (+5.28) settings.

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DAMP: Doubly Aligned Multilingual Parser for Task-Oriented Dialogue
William Held | Christopher Hidey | Fei Liu | Eric Zhu | Rahul Goel | Diyi Yang | Rushin Shah
Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Modern virtual assistants use internal semantic parsing engines to convert user utterances to actionable commands. However, prior work has demonstrated multilingual models are less robust for semantic parsing compared to other tasks. In global markets such as India and Latin America, robust multilingual semantic parsing is critical as codeswitching between languages is prevalent for bilingual users. In this work we dramatically improve the zero-shot performance of a multilingual and codeswitched semantic parsing system using two stages of multilingual alignment. First, we show that contrastive alignment pretraining improves both English performance and transfer efficiency. We then introduce a constrained optimization approach for hyperparameter-free adversarial alignment during finetuning. Our Doubly Aligned Multilingual Parser (DAMP) improves mBERT transfer performance by 3x, 6x, and 81x on the Spanglish, Hinglish and Multilingual Task Oriented Parsing benchmarks respectively and outperforms XLM-R and mT5-Large using 3.2x fewer parameters.


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Reducing Model Churn: Stable Re-training of Conversational Agents
Christopher Hidey | Fei Liu | Rahul Goel
Proceedings of the 23rd Annual Meeting of the Special Interest Group on Discourse and Dialogue

Retraining modern deep learning systems can lead to variations in model performance even when trained using the same data and hyper-parameters by simply using different random seeds. This phenomenon is known as model churn or model jitter. This issue is often exacerbated in real world settings, where noise may be introduced in the data collection process. In this work we tackle the problem of stable retraining with a novel focus on structured prediction for conversational semantic parsing. We first quantify the model churn by introducing metrics for agreement between predictions across multiple retrainings. Next, we devise realistic scenarios for noise injection and demonstrate the effectiveness of various churn reduction techniques such as ensembling and distillation. Lastly, we discuss practical trade-offs between such techniques and show that co-distillation provides a sweet spot in terms of churn reduction with only a modest increase in resource usage.


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ENTRUST: Argument Reframing with Language Models and Entailment
Tuhin Chakrabarty | Christopher Hidey | Smaranda Muresan
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Framing involves the positive or negative presentation of an argument or issue depending on the audience and goal of the speaker. Differences in lexical framing, the focus of our work, can have large effects on peoples’ opinions and beliefs. To make progress towards reframing arguments for positive effects, we create a dataset and method for this task. We use a lexical resource for “connotations” to create a parallel corpus and propose a method for argument reframing that combines controllable text generation (positive connotation) with a post-decoding entailment component (same denotation). Our results show that our method is effective compared to strong baselines along the dimensions of fluency, meaning, and trustworthiness/reduction of fear.


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DeSePtion: Dual Sequence Prediction and Adversarial Examples for Improved Fact-Checking
Christopher Hidey | Tuhin Chakrabarty | Tariq Alhindi | Siddharth Varia | Kriste Krstovski | Mona Diab | Smaranda Muresan
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

The increased focus on misinformation has spurred development of data and systems for detecting the veracity of a claim as well as retrieving authoritative evidence. The Fact Extraction and VERification (FEVER) dataset provides such a resource for evaluating endto- end fact-checking, requiring retrieval of evidence from Wikipedia to validate a veracity prediction. We show that current systems for FEVER are vulnerable to three categories of realistic challenges for fact-checking – multiple propositions, temporal reasoning, and ambiguity and lexical variation – and introduce a resource with these types of claims. Then we present a system designed to be resilient to these “attacks” using multiple pointer networks for document selection and jointly modeling a sequence of evidence sentences and veracity relation predictions. We find that in handling these attacks we obtain state-of-the-art results on FEVER, largely due to improved evidence retrieval.


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AMPERSAND: Argument Mining for PERSuAsive oNline Discussions
Tuhin Chakrabarty | Christopher Hidey | Smaranda Muresan | Kathy McKeown | Alyssa Hwang
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing and the 9th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (EMNLP-IJCNLP)

Argumentation is a type of discourse where speakers try to persuade their audience about the reasonableness of a claim by presenting supportive arguments. Most work in argument mining has focused on modeling arguments in monologues. We propose a computational model for argument mining in online persuasive discussion forums that brings together the micro-level (argument as product) and macro-level (argument as process) models of argumentation. Fundamentally, this approach relies on identifying relations between components of arguments in a discussion thread. Our approach for relation prediction uses contextual information in terms of fine-tuning a pre-trained language model and leveraging discourse relations based on Rhetorical Structure Theory. We additionally propose a candidate selection method to automatically predict what parts of one’s argument will be targeted by other participants in the discussion. Our models obtain significant improvements compared to recent state-of-the-art approaches using pointer networks and a pre-trained language model.

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IMHO Fine-Tuning Improves Claim Detection
Tuhin Chakrabarty | Christopher Hidey | Kathy McKeown
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)

Claims are the central component of an argument. Detecting claims across different domains or data sets can often be challenging due to their varying conceptualization. We propose to alleviate this problem by fine-tuning a language model using a Reddit corpus of 5.5 million opinionated claims. These claims are self-labeled by their authors using the internet acronyms IMO/IMHO (in my (humble) opinion). Empirical results show that using this approach improves the state of art performance across four benchmark argumentation data sets by an average of 4 absolute F1 points in claim detection. As these data sets include diverse domains such as social media and student essays this improvement demonstrates the robustness of fine-tuning on this novel corpus.

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Fixed That for You: Generating Contrastive Claims with Semantic Edits
Christopher Hidey | Kathy McKeown
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)

Understanding contrastive opinions is a key component of argument generation. Central to an argument is the claim, a statement that is in dispute. Generating a counter-argument then requires generating a response in contrast to the main claim of the original argument. To generate contrastive claims, we create a corpus of Reddit comment pairs self-labeled by posters using the acronym FTFY (fixed that for you). We then train neural models on these pairs to edit the original claim and produce a new claim with a different view. We demonstrate significant improvement over a sequence-to-sequence baseline in BLEU score and a human evaluation for fluency, coherence, and contrast.

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Confirming the Non-compositionality of Idioms for Sentiment Analysis
Alyssa Hwang | Christopher Hidey
Proceedings of the Joint Workshop on Multiword Expressions and WordNet (MWE-WN 2019)

An idiom is defined as a non-compositional multiword expression, one whose meaning cannot be deduced from the definitions of the component words. This definition does not explicitly define the compositionality of an idiom’s sentiment; this paper aims to determine whether the sentiment of the component words of an idiom is related to the sentiment of that idiom. We use the Dictionary of Affect in Language augmented by WordNet to give each idiom in the Sentiment Lexicon of IDiomatic Expressions (SLIDE) a component-wise sentiment score and compare it to the phrase-level sentiment label crowdsourced by the creators of SLIDE. We find that there is no discernible relation between these two measures of idiom sentiment. This supports the hypothesis that idioms are not compositional for sentiment along with semantics and motivates further work in handling idioms for sentiment analysis.

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Discourse Relation Prediction: Revisiting Word Pairs with Convolutional Networks
Siddharth Varia | Christopher Hidey | Tuhin Chakrabarty
Proceedings of the 20th Annual SIGdial Meeting on Discourse and Dialogue

Word pairs across argument spans have been shown to be effective for predicting the discourse relation between them. We propose an approach to distill knowledge from word pairs for discourse relation classification with convolutional neural networks by incorporating joint learning of implicit and explicit relations. Our novel approach of representing the input as word pairs achieves state-of-the-art results on four-way classification of both implicit and explicit relations as well as one of the binary classification tasks. For explicit relation prediction, we achieve around 20% error reduction on the four-way task. At the same time, compared to a two-layered Bi-LSTM-CRF model, our model is able to achieve these results with half the number of learnable parameters and approximately half the amount of training time.


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Team SWEEPer: Joint Sentence Extraction and Fact Checking with Pointer Networks
Christopher Hidey | Mona Diab
Proceedings of the First Workshop on Fact Extraction and VERification (FEVER)

Many tasks such as question answering and reading comprehension rely on information extracted from unreliable sources. These systems would thus benefit from knowing whether a statement from an unreliable source is correct. We present experiments on the FEVER (Fact Extraction and VERification) task, a shared task that involves selecting sentences from Wikipedia and predicting whether a claim is supported by those sentences, refuted, or there is not enough information. Fact checking is a task that benefits from not only asserting or disputing the veracity of a claim but also finding evidence for that position. As these tasks are dependent on each other, an ideal model would consider the veracity of the claim when finding evidence and also find only the evidence that is relevant. We thus jointly model sentence extraction and verification on the FEVER shared task. Among all participants, we ranked 5th on the blind test set (prior to any additional human evaluation of the evidence).


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Analyzing the Semantic Types of Claims and Premises in an Online Persuasive Forum
Christopher Hidey | Elena Musi | Alyssa Hwang | Smaranda Muresan | Kathy McKeown
Proceedings of the 4th Workshop on Argument Mining

Argumentative text has been analyzed both theoretically and computationally in terms of argumentative structure that consists of argument components (e.g., claims, premises) and their argumentative relations (e.g., support, attack). Less emphasis has been placed on analyzing the semantic types of argument components. We propose a two-tiered annotation scheme to label claims and premises and their semantic types in an online persuasive forum, Change My View, with the long-term goal of understanding what makes a message persuasive. Premises are annotated with the three types of persuasive modes: ethos, logos, pathos, while claims are labeled as interpretation, evaluation, agreement, or disagreement, the latter two designed to account for the dialogical nature of our corpus. We aim to answer three questions: 1) can humans reliably annotate the semantic types of argument components? 2) are types of premises/claims positioned in recurrent orders? and 3) are certain types of claims and/or premises more likely to appear in persuasive messages than in non-persuasive messages?


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Identifying Causal Relations Using Parallel Wikipedia Articles
Christopher Hidey | Kathy McKeown
Proceedings of the 54th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)