Elior Sulem


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Yes, No or IDK: The Challenge of Unanswerable Yes/No Questions
Elior Sulem | Jamaal Hay | Dan Roth
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

The Yes/No QA task (Clark et al., 2019) consists of “Yes” or “No” questions about a given context. However, in realistic scenarios, the information provided in the context is not always sufficient in order to answer the question. For example, given the context “She married a lawyer from New-York.”, we don’t know whether the answer to the question “Did she marry in New York?” is “Yes” or “No”. In this paper, we extend the Yes/No QA task, adding questions with an IDK answer, and show its considerable difficulty compared to the original 2-label task. For this purpose, we (i) enrich the BoolQ dataset (Clark et al., 2019) to include unanswerable questions and (ii) create out-of-domain test sets for the Yes/No/IDK QA task. We study the contribution of training on other Natural Language Understanding tasks. We focus in particular on Extractive QA (Rajpurkar et al., 2018) and Recognizing Textual Entailments (RTE; Dagan et al., 2013), analyzing the differences between 2 and 3 labels using the new data.

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Capturing the Content of a Document through Complex Event Identification
Zheng Qi | Elior Sulem | Haoyu Wang | Xiaodong Yu | Dan Roth
Proceedings of the 11th Joint Conference on Lexical and Computational Semantics

Granular events, instantiated in a document by predicates, can usually be grouped into more general events, called complex events. Together, they capture the major content of the document. Recent work grouped granular events by defining event regions, filtering out sentences that are irrelevant to the main content. However, this approach assumes that a given complex event is always described in consecutive sentences, which does not always hold in practice. In this paper, we introduce the task of complex event identification. We address this task as a pipeline, first predicting whether two granular events mentioned in the text belong to the same complex event, independently of their position in the text, and then using this to cluster them into complex events. Due to the difficulty of predicting whether two granular events belong to the same complex event in isolation, we propose a context-augmented representation learning approach CONTEXTRL that adds additional context to better model the pairwise relation between granular events. We show that our approach outperforms strong baselines on the complex event identification task and further present a promising case study exploring the effectiveness of using complex events as input for document-level argument extraction.


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BabyBERTa: Learning More Grammar With Small-Scale Child-Directed Language
Philip A. Huebner | Elior Sulem | Fisher Cynthia | Dan Roth
Proceedings of the 25th Conference on Computational Natural Language Learning

Transformer-based language models have taken the NLP world by storm. However, their potential for addressing important questions in language acquisition research has been largely ignored. In this work, we examined the grammatical knowledge of RoBERTa (Liu et al., 2019) when trained on a 5M word corpus of language acquisition data to simulate the input available to children between the ages 1 and 6. Using the behavioral probing paradigm, we found that a smaller version of RoBERTa-base that never predicts unmasked tokens, which we term BabyBERTa, acquires grammatical knowledge comparable to that of pre-trained RoBERTa-base - and does so with approximately 15X fewer parameters and 6,000X fewer words. We discuss implications for building more efficient models and the learnability of grammar from input available to children. Lastly, to support research on this front, we release our novel grammar test suite that is compatible with the small vocabulary of child-directed input.

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Do We Know What We Don’t Know? Studying Unanswerable Questions beyond SQuAD 2.0
Elior Sulem | Jamaal Hay | Dan Roth
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2021

Understanding when a text snippet does not provide a sought after information is an essential part of natural language utnderstanding. Recent work (SQuAD 2.0; Rajpurkar et al., 2018) has attempted to make some progress in this direction by enriching the SQuAD dataset for the Extractive QA task with unanswerable questions. However, as we show, the performance of a top system trained on SQuAD 2.0 drops considerably in out-of-domain scenarios, limiting its use in practical situations. In order to study this we build an out-of-domain corpus, focusing on simple event-based questions and distinguish between two types of IDK questions: competitive questions, where the context includes an entity of the same type as the expected answer, and simpler, non-competitive questions where there is no entity of the same type in the context. We find that SQuAD 2.0-based models fail even in the case of the simpler questions. We then analyze the similarities and differences between the IDK phenomenon in Extractive QA and the Recognizing Textual Entailments task (RTE; Dagan et al., 2013) and investigate the extent to which the latter can be used to improve the performance.

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Zero-shot Event Extraction via Transfer Learning: Challenges and Insights
Qing Lyu | Hongming Zhang | Elior Sulem | Dan Roth
Proceedings of the 59th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 11th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (Volume 2: Short Papers)

Event extraction has long been a challenging task, addressed mostly with supervised methods that require expensive annotation and are not extensible to new event ontologies. In this work, we explore the possibility of zero-shot event extraction by formulating it as a set of Textual Entailment (TE) and/or Question Answering (QA) queries (e.g. “A city was attacked” entails “There is an attack”), exploiting pretrained TE/QA models for direct transfer. On ACE-2005 and ERE, our system achieves acceptable results, yet there is still a large gap from supervised approaches, showing that current QA and TE technologies fail in transferring to a different domain. To investigate the reasons behind the gap, we analyze the remaining key challenges, their respective impact, and possible improvement directions.


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Semantic Structural Decomposition for Neural Machine Translation
Elior Sulem | Omri Abend | Ari Rappoport
Proceedings of the Ninth Joint Conference on Lexical and Computational Semantics

Building on recent advances in semantic parsing and text simplification, we investigate the use of semantic splitting of the source sentence as preprocessing for machine translation. We experiment with a Transformer model and evaluate using large-scale crowd-sourcing experiments. Results show a significant increase in fluency on long sentences on an English-to- French setting with a training corpus of 5M sentence pairs, while retaining comparable adequacy. We also perform a manual analysis which explores the tradeoff between adequacy and fluency in the case where all sentence lengths are considered.


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SemEval-2019 Task 1: Cross-lingual Semantic Parsing with UCCA
Daniel Hershcovich | Zohar Aizenbud | Leshem Choshen | Elior Sulem | Ari Rappoport | Omri Abend
Proceedings of the 13th International Workshop on Semantic Evaluation

We present the SemEval 2019 shared task on Universal Conceptual Cognitive Annotation (UCCA) parsing in English, German and French, and discuss the participating systems and results. UCCA is a cross-linguistically applicable framework for semantic representation, which builds on extensive typological work and supports rapid annotation. UCCA poses a challenge for existing parsing techniques, as it exhibits reentrancy (resulting in DAG structures), discontinuous structures and non-terminal nodes corresponding to complex semantic units. The shared task has yielded improvements over the state-of-the-art baseline in all languages and settings. Full results can be found in the task’s website https://competitions.codalab.org/competitions/19160.

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The Language of Legal and Illegal Activity on the Darknet
Leshem Choshen | Dan Eldad | Daniel Hershcovich | Elior Sulem | Omri Abend
Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

The non-indexed parts of the Internet (the Darknet) have become a haven for both legal and illegal anonymous activity. Given the magnitude of these networks, scalably monitoring their activity necessarily relies on automated tools, and notably on NLP tools. However, little is known about what characteristics texts communicated through the Darknet have, and how well do off-the-shelf NLP tools do on this domain. This paper tackles this gap and performs an in-depth investigation of the characteristics of legal and illegal text in the Darknet, comparing it to a clear net website with similar content as a control condition. Taking drugs-related websites as a test case, we find that texts for selling legal and illegal drugs have several linguistic characteristics that distinguish them from one another, as well as from the control condition, among them the distribution of POS tags, and the coverage of their named entities in Wikipedia.


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BLEU is Not Suitable for the Evaluation of Text Simplification
Elior Sulem | Omri Abend | Ari Rappoport
Proceedings of the 2018 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

BLEU is widely considered to be an informative metric for text-to-text generation, including Text Simplification (TS). TS includes both lexical and structural aspects. In this paper we show that BLEU is not suitable for the evaluation of sentence splitting, the major structural simplification operation. We manually compiled a sentence splitting gold standard corpus containing multiple structural paraphrases, and performed a correlation analysis with human judgments. We find low or no correlation between BLEU and the grammaticality and meaning preservation parameters where sentence splitting is involved. Moreover, BLEU often negatively correlates with simplicity, essentially penalizing simpler sentences.

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Simple and Effective Text Simplification Using Semantic and Neural Methods
Elior Sulem | Omri Abend | Ari Rappoport
Proceedings of the 56th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Sentence splitting is a major simplification operator. Here we present a simple and efficient splitting algorithm based on an automatic semantic parser. After splitting, the text is amenable for further fine-tuned simplification operations. In particular, we show that neural Machine Translation can be effectively used in this situation. Previous application of Machine Translation for simplification suffers from a considerable disadvantage in that they are over-conservative, often failing to modify the source in any way. Splitting based on semantic parsing, as proposed here, alleviates this issue. Extensive automatic and human evaluation shows that the proposed method compares favorably to the state-of-the-art in combined lexical and structural simplification.

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Semantic Structural Evaluation for Text Simplification
Elior Sulem | Omri Abend | Ari Rappoport
Proceedings of the 2018 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies, Volume 1 (Long Papers)

Current measures for evaluating text simplification systems focus on evaluating lexical text aspects, neglecting its structural aspects. In this paper we propose the first measure to address structural aspects of text simplification, called SAMSA. It leverages recent advances in semantic parsing to assess simplification quality by decomposing the input based on its semantic structure and comparing it to the output. SAMSA provides a reference-less automatic evaluation procedure, avoiding the problems that reference-based methods face due to the vast space of valid simplifications for a given sentence. Our human evaluation experiments show both SAMSA’s substantial correlation with human judgments, as well as the deficiency of existing reference-based measures in evaluating structural simplification.


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Conceptual Annotations Preserve Structure Across Translations: A French-English Case Study
Elior Sulem | Omri Abend | Ari Rappoport
Proceedings of the 1st Workshop on Semantics-Driven Statistical Machine Translation (S2MT 2015)