Dennis Ulmer


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Experimental Standards for Deep Learning in Natural Language Processing Research
Dennis Ulmer | Elisa Bassignana | Max Müller-Eberstein | Daniel Varab | Mike Zhang | Rob van der Goot | Christian Hardmeier | Barbara Plank
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2022

The field of Deep Learning (DL) has undergone explosive growth during the last decade, with a substantial impact on Natural Language Processing (NLP) as well. Yet, compared to more established disciplines, a lack of common experimental standards remains an open challenge to the field at large. Starting from fundamental scientific principles, we distill ongoing discussions on experimental standards in NLP into a single, widely-applicable methodology. Following these best practices is crucial to strengthen experimental evidence, improve reproducibility and enable scientific progress. These standards are further collected in a public repository to help them transparently adapt to future needs.

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Exploring Predictive Uncertainty and Calibration in NLP: A Study on the Impact of Method & Data Scarcity
Dennis Ulmer | Jes Frellsen | Christian Hardmeier
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2022

We investigate the problem of determining the predictive confidence (or, conversely, uncertainty) of a neural classifier through the lens of low-resource languages. By training models on sub-sampled datasets in three different languages, we assess the quality of estimates from a wide array of approaches and their dependence on the amount of available data. We find that while approaches based on pre-trained models and ensembles achieve the best results overall, the quality of uncertainty estimates can surprisingly suffer with more data. We also perform a qualitative analysis of uncertainties on sequences, discovering that a model’s total uncertainty seems to be influenced to a large degree by its data uncertainty, not model uncertainty. All model implementations are open-sourced in a software package.


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Assessing Incrementality in Sequence-to-Sequence Models
Dennis Ulmer | Dieuwke Hupkes | Elia Bruni
Proceedings of the 4th Workshop on Representation Learning for NLP (RepL4NLP-2019)

Since their inception, encoder-decoder models have successfully been applied to a wide array of problems in computational linguistics. The most recent successes are predominantly due to the use of different variations of attention mechanisms, but their cognitive plausibility is questionable. In particular, because past representations can be revisited at any point in time, attention-centric methods seem to lack an incentive to build up incrementally more informative representations of incoming sentences. This way of processing stands in stark contrast with the way in which humans are believed to process language: continuously and rapidly integrating new information as it is encountered. In this work, we propose three novel metrics to assess the behavior of RNNs with and without an attention mechanism and identify key differences in the way the different model types process sentences.

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On the Realization of Compositionality in Neural Networks
Joris Baan | Jana Leible | Mitja Nikolaus | David Rau | Dennis Ulmer | Tim Baumgärtner | Dieuwke Hupkes | Elia Bruni
Proceedings of the 2019 ACL Workshop BlackboxNLP: Analyzing and Interpreting Neural Networks for NLP

We present a detailed comparison of two types of sequence to sequence models trained to conduct a compositional task. The models are architecturally identical at inference time, but differ in the way that they are trained: our baseline model is trained with a task-success signal only, while the other model receives additional supervision on its attention mechanism (Attentive Guidance), which has shown to be an effective method for encouraging more compositional solutions. We first confirm that the models with attentive guidance indeed infer more compositional solutions than the baseline, by training them on the lookup table task presented by Liska et al. (2019). We then do an in-depth analysis of the structural differences between the two model types, focusing in particular on the organisation of the parameter space and the hidden layer activations and find noticeable differences in both these aspects. Guided networks focus more on the components of the input rather than the sequence as a whole and develop small functional groups of neurons with specific purposes that use their gates more selectively. Results from parameter heat maps, component swapping and graph analysis also indicate that guided networks exhibit a more modular structure with a small number of specialized, strongly connected neurons.