Traditional multi-task learning architectures learn a single model across multiple tasks through a shared encoder followed by task-specific decoders. Learning these models often requires specialized training algorithms that address task-conflict in the shared parameter updates, which otherwise can lead to negative transfer. A new type of multi-task learning within NLP homogenizes multi-task architectures as a shared encoder and language model decoder, which does surprisingly well across a range of diverse tasks. Does this new architecture suffer from task-conflicts that require specialized training algorithms? We study how certain factors in the shift towards text-to-text models affects multi-task conflict and negative transfer, finding that both directional conflict and transfer are surprisingly constant across architectures.
Modern neural networks do not always produce well-calibrated predictions, even when trained with a proper scoring function such as cross-entropy. In classification settings, simple methods such as isotonic regression or temperature scaling may be used in conjunction with a held-out dataset to calibrate model outputs. However, extending these methods to structured prediction is not always straightforward or effective; furthermore, a held-out calibration set may not always be available. In this paper, we study ensemble distillation as a general framework for producing well-calibrated structured prediction models while avoiding the prohibitive inference-time cost of ensembles. We validate this framework on two tasks: named-entity recognition and machine translation. We find that, across both tasks, ensemble distillation produces models which retain much of, and occasionally improve upon, the performance and calibration benefits of ensembles, while only requiring a single model during test-time.
Named-entities are inherently multilingual, and annotations in any given language may be limited. This motivates us to consider polyglot named-entity recognition (NER), where one model is trained using annotated data drawn from more than one language. However, a straightforward implementation of this simple idea does not always work in practice: naive training of NER models using annotated data drawn from multiple languages consistently underperforms models trained on monolingual data alone, despite having access to more training data. The starting point of this paper is a simple solution to this problem, in which polyglot models are fine-tuned on monolingual data to consistently and significantly outperform their monolingual counterparts. To explain this phenomena, we explore the sources of multilingual transfer in polyglot NER models and examine the weight structure of polyglot models compared to their monolingual counterparts. We find that polyglot models efficiently share many parameters across languages and that fine-tuning may utilize a large number of those parameters.
To disambiguate between closely related concepts, entity linking systems need to effectively distill cues from their context, which may be quite noisy. We investigate several techniques for using these cues in the context of noisy entity linking on short texts. Our starting point is a state-of-the-art attention-based model from prior work; while this model’s attention typically identifies context that is topically relevant, it fails to identify some of the most indicative surface strings, especially those exhibiting lexical overlap with the true title. Augmenting the model with convolutional networks over characters still leaves it largely unable to pick up on these cues compared to sparse features that target them directly, indicating that automatically learning how to identify relevant character-level context features is a hard problem. Our final system outperforms past work on the WikilinksNED test set by 2.8% absolute.