Esma Balkir


2023

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Concept-Based Explanations to Test for False Causal Relationships Learned by Abusive Language Classifiers
Isar Nejadgholi | Svetlana Kiritchenko | Kathleen C. Fraser | Esma Balkir
The 7th Workshop on Online Abuse and Harms (WOAH)

Classifiers tend to learn a false causal relationship between an over-represented concept and a label, which can result in over-reliance on the concept and compromised classification accuracy. It is imperative to have methods in place that can compare different models and identify over-reliances on specific concepts. We consider three well-known abusive language classifiers trained on large English datasets and focus on the concept of negative emotions, which is an important signal but should not be learned as a sufficient feature for the label of abuse. Motivated by the definition of global sufficiency, we first examine the unwanted dependencies learned by the classifiers by assessing their accuracy on a challenge set across all decision thresholds. Further, recognizing that a challenge set might not always be available, we introduce concept-based explanation metrics to assess the influence of the concept on the labels. These explanations allow us to compare classifiers regarding the degree of false global sufficiency they have learned between a concept and a label.

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This prompt is measuring <mask>: evaluating bias evaluation in language models
Seraphina Goldfarb-Tarrant | Eddie Ungless | Esma Balkir | Su Lin Blodgett
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2023

Bias research in NLP seeks to analyse models for social biases, thus helping NLP practitioners uncover, measure, and mitigate social harms. We analyse the body of work that uses prompts and templates to assess bias in language models. We draw on a measurement modelling framework to create a taxonomy of attributes that capture what a bias test aims to measure and how that measurement is carried out. By applying this taxonomy to 90 bias tests, we illustrate qualitatively and quantitatively that core aspects of bias test conceptualisations and operationalisations are frequently unstated or ambiguous, carry implicit assumptions, or be mismatched. Our analysis illuminates the scope of possible bias types the field is able to measure, and reveals types that are as yet under-researched. We offer guidance to enable the community to explore a wider section of the possible bias space, and to better close the gap between desired outcomes and experimental design, both for bias and for evaluating language models more broadly.

2022

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Towards Procedural Fairness: Uncovering Biases in How a Toxic Language Classifier Uses Sentiment Information
Isar Nejadgholi | Esma Balkir | Kathleen Fraser | Svetlana Kiritchenko
Proceedings of the Fifth BlackboxNLP Workshop on Analyzing and Interpreting Neural Networks for NLP

Previous works on the fairness of toxic language classifiers compare the output of models with different identity terms as input features but do not consider the impact of other important concepts present in the context. Here, besides identity terms, we take into account high-level latent features learned by the classifier and investigate the interaction between these features and identity terms. For a multi-class toxic language classifier, we leverage a concept-based explanation framework to calculate the sensitivity of the model to the concept of sentiment, which has been used before as a salient feature for toxic language detection. Our results show that although for some classes, the classifier has learned the sentiment information as expected, this information is outweighed by the influence of identity terms as input features. This work is a step towards evaluating procedural fairness, where unfair processes lead to unfair outcomes. The produced knowledge can guide debiasing techniques to ensure that important concepts besides identity terms are well-represented in training datasets.

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Does Moral Code have a Moral Code? Probing Delphi’s Moral Philosophy
Kathleen C. Fraser | Svetlana Kiritchenko | Esma Balkir
Proceedings of the 2nd Workshop on Trustworthy Natural Language Processing (TrustNLP 2022)

In an effort to guarantee that machine learning model outputs conform with human moral values, recent work has begun exploring the possibility of explicitly training models to learn the difference between right and wrong. This is typically done in a bottom-up fashion, by exposing the model to different scenarios, annotated with human moral judgements. One question, however, is whether the trained models actually learn any consistent, higher-level ethical principles from these datasets – and if so, what? Here, we probe the Allen AI Delphi model with a set of standardized morality questionnaires, and find that, despite some inconsistencies, Delphi tends to mirror the moral principles associated with the demographic groups involved in the annotation process. We question whether this is desirable and discuss how we might move forward with this knowledge.

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Challenges in Applying Explainability Methods to Improve the Fairness of NLP Models
Esma Balkir | Svetlana Kiritchenko | Isar Nejadgholi | Kathleen Fraser
Proceedings of the 2nd Workshop on Trustworthy Natural Language Processing (TrustNLP 2022)

Motivations for methods in explainable artificial intelligence (XAI) often include detecting, quantifying and mitigating bias, and contributing to making machine learning models fairer. However, exactly how an XAI method can help in combating biases is often left unspecified. In this paper, we briefly review trends in explainability and fairness in NLP research, identify the current practices in which explainability methods are applied to detect and mitigate bias, and investigate the barriers preventing XAI methods from being used more widely in tackling fairness issues.

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Necessity and Sufficiency for Explaining Text Classifiers: A Case Study in Hate Speech Detection
Esma Balkir | Isar Nejadgholi | Kathleen Fraser | Svetlana Kiritchenko
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

We present a novel feature attribution method for explaining text classifiers, and analyze it in the context of hate speech detection. Although feature attribution models usually provide a single importance score for each token, we instead provide two complementary and theoretically-grounded scores – necessity and sufficiency – resulting in more informative explanations. We propose a transparent method that calculates these values by generating explicit perturbations of the input text, allowing the importance scores themselves to be explainable. We employ our method to explain the predictions of different hate speech detection models on the same set of curated examples from a test suite, and show that different values of necessity and sufficiency for identity terms correspond to different kinds of false positive errors, exposing sources of classifier bias against marginalized groups.

2020

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Tensors over Semirings for Latent-Variable Weighted Logic Programs
Esma Balkir | Daniel Gildea | Shay B. Cohen
Proceedings of the 16th International Conference on Parsing Technologies and the IWPT 2020 Shared Task on Parsing into Enhanced Universal Dependencies

Semiring parsing is an elegant framework for describing parsers by using semiring weighted logic programs. In this paper we present a generalization of this concept: latent-variable semiring parsing. With our framework, any semiring weighted logic program can be latentified by transforming weights from scalar values of a semiring to rank-n arrays, or tensors, of semiring values, allowing the modelling of latent-variable models within the semiring parsing framework. Semiring is too strong a notion when dealing with tensors, and we have to resort to a weaker structure: a partial semiring. We prove that this generalization preserves all the desired properties of the original semiring framework while strictly increasing its expressiveness.

2019

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Using Pairwise Occurrence Information to Improve Knowledge Graph Completion on Large-Scale Datasets
Esma Balkir | Masha Naslidnyk | Dave Palfrey | Arpit Mittal
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing and the 9th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (EMNLP-IJCNLP)

Bilinear models such as DistMult and ComplEx are effective methods for knowledge graph (KG) completion. However, they require large batch sizes, which becomes a performance bottleneck when training on large scale datasets due to memory constraints. In this paper we use occurrences of entity-relation pairs in the dataset to construct a joint learning model and to increase the quality of sampled negatives during training. We show on three standard datasets that when these two techniques are combined, they give a significant improvement in performance, especially when the batch size and the number of generated negative examples are low relative to the size of the dataset. We then apply our techniques to a dataset containing 2 million entities and demonstrate that our model outperforms the baseline by 2.8% absolute on hits@1.