Connor Baumler


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Which Examples Should be Multiply Annotated? Active Learning When Annotators May Disagree
Connor Baumler | Anna Sotnikova | Hal Daumé III
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2023

Linguistic annotations, especially for controversial topics like hate speech detection, are frequently contested due to annotator backgrounds and positionalities. In such situations, preserving this disagreement through the machine learning pipeline can be important for downstream use cases. However, capturing disagreement can increase annotation time and expense. Fortunately, for many tasks, not all examples are equally controversial; we develop an active learning approach, Disagreement Aware Active Learning (DAAL) that concentrates annotations on examples where model entropy and annotator entropy are the most different. Because we cannot know the true entropy of annotations on unlabeled examples, we estimate a model that predicts annotator entropy trained using very few multiply-labeled examples. We find that traditional uncertainty-based active learning underperforms simple passive learning on tasks with high levels of disagreement, but that our active learning approach is able to successfully improve on passive and active baselines, reducing the number of annotations required by at least 24% on average across several datasets.

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What Else Do I Need to Know? The Effect of Background Information on Users’ Reliance on QA Systems
Navita Goyal | Eleftheria Briakou | Amanda Liu | Connor Baumler | Claire Bonial | Jeffrey Micher | Clare Voss | Marine Carpuat | Hal Daumé III
Proceedings of the 2023 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

NLP systems have shown impressive performance at answering questions by retrieving relevant context. However, with the increasingly large models, it is impossible and often undesirable to constrain models’ knowledge or reasoning to only the retrieved context. This leads to a mismatch between the information that the models access to derive the answer and the information that is available to the user to assess the model predicted answer. In this work, we study how users interact with QA systems in the absence of sufficient information to assess their predictions. Further, we ask whether adding the requisite background helps mitigate users’ over-reliance on predictions. Our study reveals that users rely on model predictions even in the absence of sufficient information needed to assess the model’s correctness. Providing the relevant background, however, helps users better catch model errors, reducing over-reliance on incorrect predictions. On the flip side, background information also increases users’ confidence in their accurate as well as inaccurate judgments. Our work highlights that supporting users’ verification of QA predictions is an important, yet challenging, problem.


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Hybrid Semantics for Goal-Directed Natural Language Generation
Connor Baumler | Soumya Ray
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

We consider the problem of generating natural language given a communicative goal and a world description. We ask the question: is it possible to combine complementary meaning representations to scale a goal-directed NLG system without losing expressiveness? In particular, we consider using two meaning representations, one based on logical semantics and the other based on distributional semantics. We build upon an existing goal-directed generation system, S-STRUCT, which models sentence generation as planning in a Markov decision process. We develop a hybrid approach, which uses distributional semantics to quickly and imprecisely add the main elements of the sentence and then uses first-order logic based semantics to more slowly add the precise details. We find that our hybrid method allows S-STRUCT’s generation to scale significantly better in early phases of generation and that the hybrid can often generate sentences with the same quality as S-STRUCT in substantially less time. However, we also observe and give insight into cases where the imprecision in distributional semantics leads to generation that is not as good as using pure logical semantics.

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Recognition of They/Them as Singular Personal Pronouns in Coreference Resolution
Connor Baumler | Rachel Rudinger
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

As using they/them as personal pronouns becomes increasingly common in English, it is important that coreference resolution systems work as well for individuals who use personal “they” as they do for those who use gendered personal pronouns. We introduce a new benchmark for coreference resolution systems which evaluates singular personal “they” recognition. Using these WinoNB schemas, we evaluate a number of publicly available coreference resolution systems and confirm their bias toward resolving “they” pronouns as plural.