Eric Robertson


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A Unified Evaluation Framework for Novelty Detection and Accommodation in NLP with an Instantiation in Authorship Attribution
Neeraj Varshney | Himanshu Gupta | Eric Robertson | Bing Liu | Chitta Baral
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2023

State-of-the-art natural language processing models have been shown to achieve remarkable performance in ‘closed-world’ settings where all the labels in the evaluation set are known at training time. However, in real-world settings, ‘novel’ instances that do not belong to any known class are often observed. This renders the ability to deal with novelties crucial. To initiate a systematic research in this important area of ‘dealing with novelties’, we introduce NoveltyTask, a multi-stage task to evaluate a system’s performance on pipelined novelty ‘detection’ and ‘accommodation’ tasks. We provide mathematical formulation of NoveltyTask and instantiate it with the authorship attribution task that pertains to identifying the correct author of a given text. We use amazon reviews corpus and compile a large dataset (consisting of 250k instances across 200 authors/labels) for NoveltyTask. We conduct comprehensive experiments and explore several baseline methods for the task. Our results show that the methods achieve considerably low performance making the task challenging and leaving sufficient room for improvement. Finally, we believe our work will encourage research in this underexplored area of dealing with novelties, an important step en route to developing robust systems.


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Semantic Novelty Detection and Characterization in Factual Text Involving Named Entities
Nianzu Ma | Sahisnu Mazumder | Alexander Politowicz | Bing Liu | Eric Robertson | Scott Grigsby
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Much of the existing work on text novelty detection has been studied at the topic level, i.e., identifying whether the topic of a document or a sentence is novel or not. Little work has been done at the fine-grained semantic level (or contextual level). For example, given that we know Elon Musk is the CEO of a technology company, the sentence “Elon Musk acted in the sitcom The Big Bang Theory” is novel and surprising because normally a CEO would not be an actor. Existing topic-based novelty detection methods work poorly on this problem because they do not perform semantic reasoning involving relations between named entities in the text and their background knowledge. This paper proposes an effective model (called PAT-SND) to solve the problem, which can also characterize the novelty. An annotated dataset is also created. Evaluation shows that PAT-SND outperforms 10 baselines by large margins.


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Semantic Novelty Detection in Natural Language Descriptions
Nianzu Ma | Alexander Politowicz | Sahisnu Mazumder | Jiahua Chen | Bing Liu | Eric Robertson | Scott Grigsby
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

This paper proposes to study a fine-grained semantic novelty detection task, which can be illustrated with the following example. It is normal that a person walks a dog in the park, but if someone says “A man is walking a chicken in the park”, it is novel. Given a set of natural language descriptions of normal scenes, we want to identify descriptions of novel scenes. We are not aware of any existing work that solves the problem. Although existing novelty or anomaly detection algorithms are applicable, since they are usually topic-based, they perform poorly on our fine-grained semantic novelty detection task. This paper proposes an effective model (called GAT-MA) to solve the problem and also contributes a new dataset. Experimental evaluation shows that GAT-MA outperforms 11 baselines by large margins.