Recent neural text-to-SQL models can effectively translate natural language questions to corresponding SQL queries on unseen databases. Working mostly on the Spider dataset, researchers have proposed increasingly sophisticated solutions to the problem. Contrary to this trend, in this paper we focus on simplifications. We begin by building DuoRAT, a re-implementation of the state-of-the-art RAT-SQL model that unlike RAT-SQL is using only relation-aware or vanilla transformers as the building blocks. We perform several ablation experiments using DuoRAT as the baseline model. Our experiments confirm the usefulness of some techniques and point out the redundancy of others, including structural SQL features and features that link the question with the schema.
Existing machine reading comprehension (MRC) models do not scale effectively to real-world applications like web-level information retrieval and question answering (QA). We argue that this stems from the nature of MRC datasets: most of these are static environments wherein the supporting documents and all necessary information are fully observed. In this paper, we propose a simple method that reframes existing MRC datasets as interactive, partially observable environments. Specifically, we “occlude” the majority of a document’s text and add context-sensitive commands that reveal “glimpses” of the hidden text to a model. We repurpose SQuAD and NewsQA as an initial case study, and then show how the interactive corpora can be used to train a model that seeks relevant information through sequential decision making. We believe that this setting can contribute in scaling models to web-level QA scenarios.
Understanding human preferences, along with cultural and social nuances, lives at the heart of natural language understanding. Concretely, we present a new task and corpus for learning alignments between machine and human preferences. Our newly introduced problem is concerned with predicting the preferable options from two sentences describing scenarios that may involve social and cultural situations. Our problem is framed as a natural language inference task with crowd-sourced preference votes by human players, obtained from a gamified voting platform. We benchmark several state-of-the-art neural models, along with BERT and friends on this task. Our experimental results show that current state-of-the-art NLP models still leave much room for improvement.
We present a method to produce abstractive summaries of long documents that exceed several thousand words via neural abstractive summarization. We perform a simple extractive step before generating a summary, which is then used to condition the transformer language model on relevant information before being tasked with generating a summary. We also show that this approach produces more abstractive summaries compared to prior work that employs a copy mechanism while still achieving higher ROUGE scores. We provide extensive comparisons with strong baseline methods, prior state of the art work as well as multiple variants of our approach including those using only transformers, only extractive techniques and combinations of the two. We examine these models using four different summarization tasks and datasets: arXiv papers, PubMed papers, the Newsroom and BigPatent datasets. We find that transformer based methods produce summaries with fewer n-gram copies, leading to n-gram copying statistics that are more similar to human generated abstracts. We include a human evaluation, finding that transformers are ranked highly for coherence and fluency, but purely extractive methods score higher for informativeness and relevance. We hope that these architectures and experiments may serve as strong points of comparison for future work. Note: The abstract above was collaboratively written by the authors and one of the models presented in this paper based on an earlier draft of this paper.
Neural generative models have been become increasingly popular when building conversational agents. They offer flexibility, can be easily adapted to new domains, and require minimal domain engineering. A common criticism of these systems is that they seldom understand or use the available dialog history effectively. In this paper, we take an empirical approach to understanding how these models use the available dialog history by studying the sensitivity of the models to artificially introduced unnatural changes or perturbations to their context at test time. We experiment with 10 different types of perturbations on 4 multi-turn dialog datasets and find that commonly used neural dialog architectures like recurrent and transformer-based seq2seq models are rarely sensitive to most perturbations such as missing or reordering utterances, shuffling words, etc. Also, by open-sourcing our code, we believe that it will serve as a useful diagnostic tool for evaluating dialog systems in the future.
Humans observe and interact with the world to acquire knowledge. However, most existing machine reading comprehension (MRC) tasks miss the interactive, information-seeking component of comprehension. Such tasks present models with static documents that contain all necessary information, usually concentrated in a single short substring. Thus, models can achieve strong performance through simple word- and phrase-based pattern matching. We address this problem by formulating a novel text-based question answering task: Question Answering with Interactive Text (QAit). In QAit, an agent must interact with a partially observable text-based environment to gather information required to answer questions. QAit poses questions about the existence, location, and attributes of objects found in the environment. The data is built using a text-based game generator that defines the underlying dynamics of interaction with the environment. We propose and evaluate a set of baseline models for the QAit task that includes deep reinforcement learning agents. Experiments show that the task presents a major challenge for machine reading systems, while humans solve it with relative ease.
Neural Module Networks, originally proposed for the task of visual question answering, are a class of neural network architectures that involve human-specified neural modules, each designed for a specific form of reasoning. In current formulations of such networks only the parameters of the neural modules and/or the order of their execution is learned. In this work, we further expand this approach and also learn the underlying internal structure of modules in terms of the ordering and combination of simple and elementary arithmetic operators. We utilize a minimum amount of prior knowledge from the human-specified neural modules in the form of different input types and arithmetic operators used in these modules. Our results show that one is indeed able to simultaneously learn both internal module structure and module sequencing without extra supervisory signals for module execution sequencing. With this approach, we report performance comparable to models using hand-designed modules. In addition, we do a analysis of sensitivity of the learned modules w.r.t. the arithmetic operations and infer the analytical expressions of the learned modules.
Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) have gathered a lot of attention from the computer vision community, yielding impressive results for image generation. Advances in the adversarial generation of natural language from noise however are not commensurate with the progress made in generating images, and still lag far behind likelihood based methods. In this paper, we take a step towards generating natural language with a GAN objective alone. We introduce a simple baseline that addresses the discrete output space problem without relying on gradient estimators and show that it is able to achieve state-of-the-art results on a Chinese poem generation dataset. We present quantitative results on generating sentences from context-free and probabilistic context-free grammars, and qualitative language modeling results. A conditional version is also described that can generate sequences conditioned on sentence characteristics.