Duncan Blythe


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FLAIR: An Easy-to-Use Framework for State-of-the-Art NLP
Alan Akbik | Tanja Bergmann | Duncan Blythe | Kashif Rasul | Stefan Schweter | Roland Vollgraf
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Demonstrations)

We present FLAIR, an NLP framework designed to facilitate training and distribution of state-of-the-art sequence labeling, text classification and language models. The core idea of the framework is to present a simple, unified interface for conceptually very different types of word and document embeddings. This effectively hides all embedding-specific engineering complexity and allows researchers to “mix and match” various embeddings with little effort. The framework also implements standard model training and hyperparameter selection routines, as well as a data fetching module that can download publicly available NLP datasets and convert them into data structures for quick set up of experiments. Finally, FLAIR also ships with a “model zoo” of pre-trained models to allow researchers to use state-of-the-art NLP models in their applications. This paper gives an overview of the framework and its functionality. The framework is available on GitHub at https://github.com/zalandoresearch/flair .


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Contextual String Embeddings for Sequence Labeling
Alan Akbik | Duncan Blythe | Roland Vollgraf
Proceedings of the 27th International Conference on Computational Linguistics

Recent advances in language modeling using recurrent neural networks have made it viable to model language as distributions over characters. By learning to predict the next character on the basis of previous characters, such models have been shown to automatically internalize linguistic concepts such as words, sentences, subclauses and even sentiment. In this paper, we propose to leverage the internal states of a trained character language model to produce a novel type of word embedding which we refer to as contextual string embeddings. Our proposed embeddings have the distinct properties that they (a) are trained without any explicit notion of words and thus fundamentally model words as sequences of characters, and (b) are contextualized by their surrounding text, meaning that the same word will have different embeddings depending on its contextual use. We conduct a comparative evaluation against previous embeddings and find that our embeddings are highly useful for downstream tasks: across four classic sequence labeling tasks we consistently outperform the previous state-of-the-art. In particular, we significantly outperform previous work on English and German named entity recognition (NER), allowing us to report new state-of-the-art F1-scores on the CoNLL03 shared task. We release all code and pre-trained language models in a simple-to-use framework to the research community, to enable reproduction of these experiments and application of our proposed embeddings to other tasks: https://github.com/zalandoresearch/flair