Danqi Chen


2021

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Phrase Retrieval Learns Passage Retrieval, Too
Jinhyuk Lee | Alexander Wettig | Danqi Chen
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Dense retrieval methods have shown great promise over sparse retrieval methods in a range of NLP problems. Among them, dense phrase retrieval—the most fine-grained retrieval unit—is appealing because phrases can be directly used as the output for question answering and slot filling tasks. In this work, we follow the intuition that retrieving phrases naturally entails retrieving larger text blocks and study whether phrase retrieval can serve as the basis for coarse-level retrieval including passages and documents. We first observe that a dense phrase-retrieval system, without any retraining, already achieves better passage retrieval accuracy (+3-5% in top-5 accuracy) compared to passage retrievers, which also helps achieve superior end-to-end QA performance with fewer passages. Then, we provide an interpretation for why phrase-level supervision helps learn better fine-grained entailment compared to passage-level supervision, and also show that phrase retrieval can be improved to achieve competitive performance in document-retrieval tasks such as entity linking and knowledge-grounded dialogue. Finally, we demonstrate how phrase filtering and vector quantization can reduce the size of our index by 4-10x, making dense phrase retrieval a practical and versatile solution in multi-granularity retrieval.

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Single-dataset Experts for Multi-dataset Question Answering
Dan Friedman | Ben Dodge | Danqi Chen
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Many datasets have been created for training reading comprehension models, and a natural question is whether we can combine them to build models that (1) perform better on all of the training datasets and (2) generalize and transfer better to new datasets. Prior work has addressed this goal by training one network simultaneously on multiple datasets, which works well on average but is prone to over- or under-fitting different sub- distributions and might transfer worse compared to source models with more overlap with the target dataset. Our approach is to model multi-dataset question answering with an ensemble of single-dataset experts, by training a collection of lightweight, dataset-specific adapter modules (Houlsby et al., 2019) that share an underlying Transformer model. We find that these Multi-Adapter Dataset Experts (MADE) outperform all our baselines in terms of in-distribution accuracy, and simple methods based on parameter-averaging lead to better zero-shot generalization and few-shot transfer performance, offering a strong and versatile starting point for building new reading comprehension systems.

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Simple Entity-Centric Questions Challenge Dense Retrievers
Christopher Sciavolino | Zexuan Zhong | Jinhyuk Lee | Danqi Chen
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Open-domain question answering has exploded in popularity recently due to the success of dense retrieval models, which have surpassed sparse models using only a few supervised training examples. However, in this paper, we demonstrate current dense models are not yet the holy grail of retrieval. We first construct EntityQuestions, a set of simple, entity-rich questions based on facts from Wikidata (e.g., “Where was Arve Furset born?”), and observe that dense retrievers drastically under-perform sparse methods. We investigate this issue and uncover that dense retrievers can only generalize to common entities unless the question pattern is explicitly observed during training. We discuss two simple solutions towards addressing this critical problem. First, we demonstrate that data augmentation is unable to fix the generalization problem. Second, we argue a more robust passage encoder helps facilitate better question adaptation using specialized question encoders. We hope our work can shed light on the challenges in creating a robust, universal dense retriever that works well across different input distributions.

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SimCSE: Simple Contrastive Learning of Sentence Embeddings
Tianyu Gao | Xingcheng Yao | Danqi Chen
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

This paper presents SimCSE, a simple contrastive learning framework that greatly advances the state-of-the-art sentence embeddings. We first describe an unsupervised approach, which takes an input sentence and predicts itself in a contrastive objective, with only standard dropout used as noise. This simple method works surprisingly well, performing on par with previous supervised counterparts. We find that dropout acts as minimal data augmentation and removing it leads to a representation collapse. Then, we propose a supervised approach, which incorporates annotated pairs from natural language inference datasets into our contrastive learning framework, by using “entailment” pairs as positives and “contradiction” pairs as hard negatives. We evaluate SimCSE on standard semantic textual similarity (STS) tasks, and our unsupervised and supervised models using BERT base achieve an average of 76.3% and 81.6% Spearman’s correlation respectively, a 4.2% and 2.2% improvement compared to previous best results. We also show—both theoretically and empirically—that contrastive learning objective regularizes pre-trained embeddings’ anisotropic space to be more uniform, and it better aligns positive pairs when supervised signals are available.

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A Frustratingly Easy Approach for Entity and Relation Extraction
Zexuan Zhong | Danqi Chen
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

End-to-end relation extraction aims to identify named entities and extract relations between them. Most recent work models these two subtasks jointly, either by casting them in one structured prediction framework, or performing multi-task learning through shared representations. In this work, we present a simple pipelined approach for entity and relation extraction, and establish the new state-of-the-art on standard benchmarks (ACE04, ACE05 and SciERC), obtaining a 1.7%-2.8% absolute improvement in relation F1 over previous joint models with the same pre-trained encoders. Our approach essentially builds on two independent encoders and merely uses the entity model to construct the input for the relation model. Through a series of careful examinations, we validate the importance of learning distinct contextual representations for entities and relations, fusing entity information early in the relation model, and incorporating global context. Finally, we also present an efficient approximation to our approach which requires only one pass of both entity and relation encoders at inference time, achieving an 8-16× speedup with a slight reduction in accuracy.

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Non-Parametric Few-Shot Learning for Word Sense Disambiguation
Howard Chen | Mengzhou Xia | Danqi Chen
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Word sense disambiguation (WSD) is a long-standing problem in natural language processing. One significant challenge in supervised all-words WSD is to classify among senses for a majority of words that lie in the long-tail distribution. For instance, 84% of the annotated words have less than 10 examples in the SemCor training data. This issue is more pronounced as the imbalance occurs in both word and sense distributions. In this work, we propose MetricWSD, a non-parametric few-shot learning approach to mitigate this data imbalance issue. By learning to compute distances among the senses of a given word through episodic training, MetricWSD transfers knowledge (a learned metric space) from high-frequency words to infrequent ones. MetricWSD constructs the training episodes tailored to word frequencies and explicitly addresses the problem of the skewed distribution, as opposed to mixing all the words trained with parametric models in previous work. Without resorting to any lexical resources, MetricWSD obtains strong performance against parametric alternatives, achieving a 75.1 F1 score on the unified WSD evaluation benchmark (Raganato et al., 2017b). Our analysis further validates that infrequent words and senses enjoy significant improvement.

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Factual Probing Is [MASK]: Learning vs. Learning to Recall
Zexuan Zhong | Dan Friedman | Danqi Chen
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Petroni et al. (2019) demonstrated that it is possible to retrieve world facts from a pre-trained language model by expressing them as cloze-style prompts and interpret the model’s prediction accuracy as a lower bound on the amount of factual information it encodes. Subsequent work has attempted to tighten the estimate by searching for better prompts, using a disjoint set of facts as training data. In this work, we make two complementary contributions to better understand these factual probing techniques. First, we propose OptiPrompt, a novel and efficient method which directly optimizes in continuous embedding space. We find this simple method is able to predict an additional 6.4% of facts in the LAMA benchmark. Second, we raise a more important question: Can we really interpret these probing results as a lower bound? Is it possible that these prompt-search methods learn from the training data too? We find, somewhat surprisingly, that the training data used by these methods contains certain regularities of the underlying fact distribution, and all the existing prompt methods, including ours, are able to exploit them for better fact prediction. We conduct a set of control experiments to disentangle “learning” from “learning to recall”, providing a more detailed picture of what different prompts can reveal about pre-trained language models.

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Making Pre-trained Language Models Better Few-shot Learners
Tianyu Gao | Adam Fisch | Danqi Chen
Proceedings of the 59th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 11th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (Volume 1: Long Papers)

The recent GPT-3 model (Brown et al., 2020) achieves remarkable few-shot performance solely by leveraging a natural-language prompt and a few task demonstrations as input context. Inspired by their findings, we study few-shot learning in a more practical scenario, where we use smaller language models for which fine-tuning is computationally efficient. We present LM-BFF—better few-shot fine-tuning of language models—a suite of simple and complementary techniques for fine-tuning language models on a small number of annotated examples. Our approach includes (1) prompt-based fine-tuning together with a novel pipeline for automating prompt generation; and (2) a refined strategy for dynamically and selectively incorporating demonstrations into each context. Finally, we present a systematic evaluation for analyzing few-shot performance on a range of NLP tasks, including classification and regression. Our experiments demonstrate that our methods combine to dramatically outperform standard fine-tuning procedures in this low resource setting, achieving up to 30% absolute improvement, and 11% on average across all tasks. Our approach makes minimal assumptions on task resources and domain expertise, and hence constitutes a strong task-agnostic method for few-shot learning.

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Learning Dense Representations of Phrases at Scale
Jinhyuk Lee | Mujeen Sung | Jaewoo Kang | Danqi Chen
Proceedings of the 59th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 11th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Open-domain question answering can be reformulated as a phrase retrieval problem, without the need for processing documents on-demand during inference (Seo et al., 2019). However, current phrase retrieval models heavily depend on sparse representations and still underperform retriever-reader approaches. In this work, we show for the first time that we can learn dense representations of phrases alone that achieve much stronger performance in open-domain QA. We present an effective method to learn phrase representations from the supervision of reading comprehension tasks, coupled with novel negative sampling methods. We also propose a query-side fine-tuning strategy, which can support transfer learning and reduce the discrepancy between training and inference. On five popular open-domain QA datasets, our model DensePhrases improves over previous phrase retrieval models by 15%-25% absolute accuracy and matches the performance of state-of-the-art retriever-reader models. Our model is easy to parallelize due to pure dense representations and processes more than 10 questions per second on CPUs. Finally, we directly use our pre-indexed dense phrase representations for two slot filling tasks, showing the promise of utilizing DensePhrases as a dense knowledge base for downstream tasks.

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Proceedings of the 3rd Workshop on Machine Reading for Question Answering
Adam Fisch | Alon Talmor | Danqi Chen | Eunsol Choi | Minjoon Seo | Patrick Lewis | Robin Jia | Sewon Min
Proceedings of the 3rd Workshop on Machine Reading for Question Answering

2020

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SpanBERT: Improving Pre-training by Representing and Predicting Spans
Mandar Joshi | Danqi Chen | Yinhan Liu | Daniel S. Weld | Luke Zettlemoyer | Omer Levy
Transactions of the Association for Computational Linguistics, Volume 8

We present SpanBERT, a pre-training method that is designed to better represent and predict spans of text. Our approach extends BERT by (1) masking contiguous random spans, rather than random tokens, and (2) training the span boundary representations to predict the entire content of the masked span, without relying on the individual token representations within it. SpanBERT consistently outperforms BERT and our better-tuned baselines, with substantial gains on span selection tasks such as question answering and coreference resolution. In particular, with the same training data and model size as BERTlarge, our single model obtains 94.6% and 88.7% F1 on SQuAD 1.1 and 2.0 respectively. We also achieve a new state of the art on the OntoNotes coreference resolution task (79.6% F1), strong performance on the TACRED relation extraction benchmark, and even gains on GLUE.1

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Open-Domain Question Answering
Danqi Chen | Wen-tau Yih
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Tutorial Abstracts

This tutorial provides a comprehensive and coherent overview of cutting-edge research in open-domain question answering (QA), the task of answering questions using a large collection of documents of diversified topics. We will start by first giving a brief historical background, discussing the basic setup and core technical challenges of the research problem, and then describe modern datasets with the common evaluation metrics and benchmarks. The focus will then shift to cutting-edge models proposed for open-domain QA, including two-stage retriever-reader approaches, dense retriever and end-to-end training, and retriever-free methods. Finally, we will cover some hybrid approaches using both text and large knowledge bases and conclude the tutorial with important open questions. We hope that the tutorial will not only help the audience to acquire up-to-date knowledge but also provide new perspectives to stimulate the advances of open-domain QA research in the next phase.

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Dense Passage Retrieval for Open-Domain Question Answering
Vladimir Karpukhin | Barlas Oguz | Sewon Min | Patrick Lewis | Ledell Wu | Sergey Edunov | Danqi Chen | Wen-tau Yih
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

Open-domain question answering relies on efficient passage retrieval to select candidate contexts, where traditional sparse vector space models, such as TF-IDF or BM25, are the de facto method. In this work, we show that retrieval can be practically implemented using dense representations alone, where embeddings are learned from a small number of questions and passages by a simple dual-encoder framework. When evaluated on a wide range of open-domain QA datasets, our dense retriever outperforms a strong Lucene-BM25 system greatly by 9%-19% absolute in terms of top-20 passage retrieval accuracy, and helps our end-to-end QA system establish new state-of-the-art on multiple open-domain QA benchmarks.

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TextHide: Tackling Data Privacy in Language Understanding Tasks
Yangsibo Huang | Zhao Song | Danqi Chen | Kai Li | Sanjeev Arora
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2020

An unsolved challenge in distributed or federated learning is to effectively mitigate privacy risks without slowing down training or reducing accuracy. In this paper, we propose TextHide aiming at addressing this challenge for natural language understanding tasks. It requires all participants to add a simple encryption step to prevent an eavesdropping attacker from recovering private text data. Such an encryption step is efficient and only affects the task performance slightly. In addition, TextHide fits well with the popular framework of fine-tuning pre-trained language models (e.g., BERT) for any sentence or sentence-pair task. We evaluate TextHide on the GLUE benchmark, and our experiments show that TextHide can effectively defend attacks on shared gradients or representations and the averaged accuracy reduction is only 1.9%. We also present an analysis of the security of TextHide using a conjecture about the computational intractability of a mathematical problem.

2019

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CoQA: A Conversational Question Answering Challenge
Siva Reddy | Danqi Chen | Christopher D. Manning
Transactions of the Association for Computational Linguistics, Volume 7

Humans gather information through conversations involving a series of interconnected questions and answers. For machines to assist in information gathering, it is therefore essential to enable them to answer conversational questions. We introduce CoQA, a novel dataset for building Conversational Question Answering systems. Our dataset contains 127k questions with answers, obtained from 8k conversations about text passages from seven diverse domains. The questions are conversational, and the answers are free-form text with their corresponding evidence highlighted in the passage. We analyze CoQA in depth and show that conversational questions have challenging phenomena not present in existing reading comprehension datasets (e.g., coreference and pragmatic reasoning). We evaluate strong dialogue and reading comprehension models on CoQA. The best system obtains an F1 score of 65.4%, which is 23.4 points behind human performance (88.8%), indicating that there is ample room for improvement. We present CoQA as a challenge to the community at https://stanfordnlp.github.io/coqa.

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A Discrete Hard EM Approach for Weakly Supervised Question Answering
Sewon Min | Danqi Chen | Hannaneh Hajishirzi | 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)

Many question answering (QA) tasks only provide weak supervision for how the answer should be computed. For example, TriviaQA answers are entities that can be mentioned multiple times in supporting documents, while DROP answers can be computed by deriving many different equations from numbers in the reference text. In this paper, we show it is possible to convert such tasks into discrete latent variable learning problems with a precomputed, task-specific set of possible solutions (e.g. different mentions or equations) that contains one correct option. We then develop a hard EM learning scheme that computes gradients relative to the most likely solution at each update. Despite its simplicity, we show that this approach significantly outperforms previous methods on six QA tasks, including absolute gains of 2–10%, and achieves the state-of-the-art on five of them. Using hard updates instead of maximizing marginal likelihood is key to these results as it encourages the model to find the one correct answer, which we show through detailed qualitative analysis.

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Proceedings of the 2nd Workshop on Machine Reading for Question Answering
Adam Fisch | Alon Talmor | Robin Jia | Minjoon Seo | Eunsol Choi | Danqi Chen
Proceedings of the 2nd Workshop on Machine Reading for Question Answering

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MRQA 2019 Shared Task: Evaluating Generalization in Reading Comprehension
Adam Fisch | Alon Talmor | Robin Jia | Minjoon Seo | Eunsol Choi | Danqi Chen
Proceedings of the 2nd Workshop on Machine Reading for Question Answering

We present the results of the Machine Reading for Question Answering (MRQA) 2019 shared task on evaluating the generalization capabilities of reading comprehension systems. In this task, we adapted and unified 18 distinct question answering datasets into the same format. Among them, six datasets were made available for training, six datasets were made available for development, and the rest were hidden for final evaluation. Ten teams submitted systems, which explored various ideas including data sampling, multi-task learning, adversarial training and ensembling. The best system achieved an average F1 score of 72.5 on the 12 held-out datasets, 10.7 absolute points higher than our initial baseline based on BERT.

2018

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Proceedings of the Workshop on Machine Reading for Question Answering
Eunsol Choi | Minjoon Seo | Danqi Chen | Robin Jia | Jonathan Berant
Proceedings of the Workshop on Machine Reading for Question Answering

2017

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Reading Wikipedia to Answer Open-Domain Questions
Danqi Chen | Adam Fisch | Jason Weston | Antoine Bordes
Proceedings of the 55th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

This paper proposes to tackle open-domain question answering using Wikipedia as the unique knowledge source: the answer to any factoid question is a text span in a Wikipedia article. This task of machine reading at scale combines the challenges of document retrieval (finding the relevant articles) with that of machine comprehension of text (identifying the answer spans from those articles). Our approach combines a search component based on bigram hashing and TF-IDF matching with a multi-layer recurrent neural network model trained to detect answers in Wikipedia paragraphs. Our experiments on multiple existing QA datasets indicate that (1) both modules are highly competitive with respect to existing counterparts and (2) multitask learning using distant supervision on their combination is an effective complete system on this challenging task.

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Position-aware Attention and Supervised Data Improve Slot Filling
Yuhao Zhang | Victor Zhong | Danqi Chen | Gabor Angeli | Christopher D. Manning
Proceedings of the 2017 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Organized relational knowledge in the form of “knowledge graphs” is important for many applications. However, the ability to populate knowledge bases with facts automatically extracted from documents has improved frustratingly slowly. This paper simultaneously addresses two issues that have held back prior work. We first propose an effective new model, which combines an LSTM sequence model with a form of entity position-aware attention that is better suited to relation extraction. Then we build TACRED, a large (119,474 examples) supervised relation extraction dataset obtained via crowdsourcing and targeted towards TAC KBP relations. The combination of better supervised data and a more appropriate high-capacity model enables much better relation extraction performance. When the model trained on this new dataset replaces the previous relation extraction component of the best TAC KBP 2015 slot filling system, its F1 score increases markedly from 22.2% to 26.7%.

2016

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Proceedings of the 5th Workshop on Automated Knowledge Base Construction
Jay Pujara | Tim Rocktaschel | Danqi Chen | Sameer Singh
Proceedings of the 5th Workshop on Automated Knowledge Base Construction

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A Thorough Examination of the CNN/Daily Mail Reading Comprehension Task
Danqi Chen | Jason Bolton | Christopher D. Manning
Proceedings of the 54th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

2015

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Representing Text for Joint Embedding of Text and Knowledge Bases
Kristina Toutanova | Danqi Chen | Patrick Pantel | Hoifung Poon | Pallavi Choudhury | Michael Gamon
Proceedings of the 2015 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

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Observed versus latent features for knowledge base and text inference
Kristina Toutanova | Danqi Chen
Proceedings of the 3rd Workshop on Continuous Vector Space Models and their Compositionality

2014

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A Fast and Accurate Dependency Parser using Neural Networks
Danqi Chen | Christopher Manning
Proceedings of the 2014 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)