Investment management professionals (IMPs) often make decisions after manual analysis of text transcripts of central banks’ conferences or companies’ earning calls. Their current software tools, while interactive, largely leave users unassisted in using these transcripts. A key component to designing speech and NLP techniques for this community is to qualitatively characterize their perceptions of AI as well as their legitimate needs so as to (1) better apply existing NLP methods, (2) direct future research and (3) correct IMPs’ perceptions of what AI is capable of. This paper presents such a study, through a contextual inquiry with eleven IMPs, uncovering their information practices when using such transcripts. We then propose a taxonomy of user requirements and usability criteria to support IMP decision making, and validate the taxonomy through participatory design workshops with four IMPs. Our investigation suggests that: (1) IMPs view visualization methods and natural language processing algorithms primarily as time-saving tools that are incapable of enhancing either discovery or interpretation and (2) their existing software falls well short of the state of the art in both visualization and NLP.
Probing BERT’s general ability to reason about syntax is no simple endeavour, primarily because of the uncertainty surrounding how large language models represent syntactic structure. Many prior accounts of BERT’s agility as a syntactic tool (Clark et al., 2013; Lau et al., 2014; Marvin and Linzen, 2018; Chowdhury and Zamparelli, 2018; Warstadt et al., 2019, 2020; Hu et al., 2020) have therefore confined themselves to studying very specific linguistic phenomena, and there has still been no definitive answer as to whether BERT “knows” syntax.The advent of perturbed masking (Wu et al., 2020) would then seem to be significant, because this is a parameter-free probing method that directly samples syntactic trees from BERT’s embeddings. These sampled trees outperform a right-branching baseline, thus providing preliminary evidence that BERT’s syntactic competence bests a simple baseline. This baseline is underwhelming, however, and our reappraisal below suggests that this result, too, is inconclusive.We propose RH Probe, an encoder-decoder probing architecture that operates on two probing tasks. We find strong empirical evidence confirming the existence of important syntactic information in BERT, but this information alone appears not to be enough to reproduce syntax in its entirety. Our probe makes crucial use of a conjecture made by Roark and Holling-shead (2008) that a particular lexical annotation that we shall call RH distance is a sufficient encoding of unlabelled binary syntactic trees, and we prove this conjecture.
Does BERT store surface knowledge in its bottom layers, syntactic knowledge in its middle layers, and semantic knowledge in its upper layers? In re-examining Jawahar et al. (2019) and Tenney et al.’s (2019a) probes into the structure of BERT, we have found that the pipeline-like separation that they asserted lacks conclusive empirical support. BERT’s structure is, however, linguistically founded, although perhaps in a way that is more nuanced than can be explained by layers alone. We introduce a novel probe, called GridLoc, through which we can also take into account token positions, training rounds, and random seeds. Using GridLoc, we are able to detect other, stronger regularities that suggest that pseudo-cognitive appeals to layer depth may not be the preferable mode of explanation for BERT’s inner workings.
In the midst of a global pandemic, understanding the public’s opinion of their government’s policy-level, non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) is a crucial component of the health-policy-making process. Prior work on CoViD-19 NPI sentiment analysis by the epidemiological community has proceeded without a method for properly attributing sentiment changes to events, an ability to distinguish the influence of various events across time, a coherent model for predicting the public’s opinion of future events of the same sort, nor even a means of conducting significance tests. We argue here that this urgently needed evaluation method does already exist. In the financial sector, event studies of the fluctuations in a publicly traded company’s stock price are commonplace for determining the effects of earnings announcements, product placements, etc. The same method is suitable for analysing temporal sentiment variation in the light of policy-level NPIs. We provide a case study of Twitter sentiment towards policy-level NPIs in Canada. Our results confirm a generally positive connection between the announcements of NPIs and Twitter sentiment, and we document a promising correlation between the results of this study and a public-health survey of popular compliance with NPIs.
When working with problems in natural language processing, we can find ourselves in situations where the traditional measurements of descriptive complexity are ineffective at describing the behaviour of our algorithms. It is easy to see why — the models we use are often general frameworks into which difficult-to-define tasks can be embedded. These frameworks can have more power than we typically use, and so complexity measures such as worst-case running time can drastically overestimate the cost of running our algorithms. In particular, they can make an apparently tractable problem seem NP-complete. Using empirical studies to evaluate performance is a necessary but incomplete method of dealing with this mismatch, since these studies no longer act as a guarantee of good performance. In this paper we use statistical measures such as entropy to give an updated analysis of the complexity of the NP-complete Most Probable Sentence problem for pCFGs, which can then be applied to word sense disambiguation and inference tasks. We can bound both the running time and the error in a simple search algorithm, allowing for a much faster search than the NP-completeness of this problem would suggest.
The growing availability of powerful mobile devices and other edge devices, together with increasing regulatory and security concerns about the exchange of personal information across networks of these devices has challenged the Computational Linguistics community to develop methods that are at once fast, space-efficient, accurate and amenable to secure encoding schemes such as homomorphic encryption. Inspired by recent work that restricts floating point precision to speed up neural network training in hardware-based SIMD, we have developed a method for compressing word vector embeddings into integers using the Chinese Reminder Theorem that speeds up addition by up to 48.27% and at the same time compresses GloVe word embedding libraries by up to 25.86%. We explore the practicality of this simple approach by investigating the trade-off between precision and performance in two NLP tasks: compositional semantic relatedness and opinion target sentiment classification. We find that in both tasks, lowering floating point number precision results in negligible changes to performance.
In this paper, we present the first statistical parser for Lambek categorial grammar (LCG), a grammatical formalism for which the graphical proof method known as *proof nets* is applicable. Our parser incorporates proof net structure and constraints into a system based on self-attention networks via novel model elements. Our experiments on an English LCG corpus show that incorporating term graph structure is helpful to the model, improving both parsing accuracy and coverage. Moreover, we derive novel loss functions by expressing proof net constraints as differentiable functions of our model output, enabling us to train our parser without ground-truth derivations.
In this paper, we define an abstract task called structural realization that generates words given a prefix of words and a partial representation of a parse tree. We also present a method for solving instances of this task using a Gated Graph Neural Network (GGNN). We evaluate it with standard accuracy measures, as well as with respect to perplexity, in which its comparison to previous work on language modelling serves to quantify the information added to a lexical selection task by the presence of syntactic knowledge. That the addition of parse-tree-internal nodes to this neural model should improve the model, with respect both to accuracy and to more conventional measures such as perplexity, may seem unsurprising, but previous attempts have not met with nearly as much success. We have also learned that transverse links through the parse tree compromise the model’s accuracy at generating adjectival and nominal parts of speech.
Ever since Pereira (2000) provided evidence against Chomsky’s (1957) conjecture that statistical language modelling is incommensurable with the aims of grammaticality prediction as a research enterprise, a new area of research has emerged that regards statistical language models as “psycholinguistic subjects” and probes their ability to acquire syntactic knowledge. The advent of The Corpus of Linguistic Acceptability (CoLA) (Warstadt et al., 2019) has earned a spot on the leaderboard for acceptability judgements, and the polemic between Lau et al. (2017) and Sprouse et al. (2018) has raised fundamental questions about the nature of grammaticality and how acceptability judgements should be elicited. All the while, we are told that neural language models continue to improve. That is not an easy claim to test at present, however, because there is almost no agreement on how to measure their improvement when it comes to grammaticality and acceptability judgements. The GLUE leaderboard bundles CoLA together with a Matthews correlation coefficient (MCC), although probably because CoLA’s seminal publication was using it to compute inter-rater reliabilities. Researchers working in this area have used other accuracy and correlation scores, often driven by a need to reconcile and compare various discrete and continuous variables with each other. The score that we will advocate for in this paper, the point biserial correlation, in fact compares a discrete variable (for us, acceptability judgements) to a continuous variable (for us, neural language model probabilities). The only previous work in this area to choose the PBC that we are aware of is Sprouse et al. (2018a), and that paper actually applied it backwards (with some justification) so that the language model probability was treated as the discrete binary variable by setting a threshold. With the PBC in mind, we will first reappraise some recent work in syntactically targeted linguistic evaluations (Hu et al., 2020), arguing that while their experimental design sets a new high watermark for this topic, their results may not prove what they have claimed. We then turn to the task-independent assessment of language models as grammaticality classifiers. Prior to the introduction of the GLUE leaderboard, the vast majority of this assessment was essentially anecdotal, and we find the use of the MCC in this regard to be problematic. We conduct several studies with PBCs to compare several popular language models. We also study the effects of several variables such as normalization and data homogeneity on PBC.
In CCG and other highly lexicalized grammars, supertagging a sentence’s words with their lexical categories is a critical step for efficient parsing. Because of the high degree of lexicalization in these grammars, the lexical categories can be very complex. Existing approaches to supervised CCG supertagging treat the categories as atomic units, even when the categories are not simple; when they encounter words with categories unseen during training, their guesses are accordingly unsophisticated. In this paper, we make use of the primitives and operators that constitute the lexical categories of categorial grammars. Instead of opaque labels, we treat lexical categories themselves as linear sequences. We present an LSTM-based model that replaces standard word-level classification with prediction of a sequence of primitives, similarly to LSTM decoders. Our model obtains state-of-the-art word accuracy for single-task English CCG supertagging, increases parser coverage and F1, and is able to produce novel categories. Analysis shows a synergistic effect between this decomposed view and incorporation of prediction history.
We present a new temporal annotation standard, THEE-TimeML, and a corpus TheeBank enabling precise temporal information extraction (TIE) for event-based surveillance (EBS) systems in the public health domain. Current EBS must estimate the occurrence time of each event based on coarse document metadata such as document publication time. Because of the complicated language and narration style of news articles, estimated case outbreak times are often inaccurate or even erroneous. Thus, it is necessary to create annotation standards and corpora to facilitate the development of TIE systems in the public health domain to address this problem.We will discuss the adaptations that have proved necessary for this domain as we present THEE-TimeML and TheeBank. Finally, we document the corpus annotation process, and demonstrate the immediate benefit to public health applications brought by the annotations.
We introduce the French Absolute Beginner (FAB) speech corpus. The corpus is intended for the development and study of Computer-Assisted Pronunciation Training (CAPT) tools for absolute beginner learners. Data were recorded during two experiments focusing on using a CAPT system in paired role-play tasks. The setting grants FAB three distinguishing features from other non-native corpora: the experimental setting is ecologically valid, closing the gap between training and deployment; it features a label set based on teacher feedback, allowing for context-sensitive CAPT; and data have been primarily collected from absolute beginners, a group often ignored. Participants did not read prompts, but instead recalled and modified dialogues that were modelled in videos. Unable to distinguish modelled words solely from viewing videos, speakers often uttered unintelligible or out-of-L2 words. The corpus is split into three partitions: one from an experiment with minimal feedback; another with explicit, word-level feedback; and a third with supplementary read-and-record data. A subset of words in the first partition has been labelled as more or less native, with inter-annotator agreement reported. In the explicit feedback partition, labels are derived from the experiment’s online feedback. The FAB corpus is scheduled to be made freely available by the end of 2020.
The Air Travel Information Service (ATIS) corpus has been the most common benchmark for evaluating Spoken Language Understanding (SLU) tasks for more than three decades since it was released. Recent state-of-the-art neural models have obtained F1-scores near 98% on the task of slot filling. We developed a rule-based grammar for the ATIS domain that achieves a 95.82% F1-score on our evaluation set. In the process, we furthermore discovered numerous shortcomings in the ATIS corpus annotation, which we have fixed. This paper presents a detailed account of these shortcomings, our proposed repairs, our rule-based grammar and the neural slot-filling architectures associated with ATIS. We also rationally reappraise the motivations for choosing a neural architecture in view of this account. Fixing the annotation errors results in a relative error reduction of between 19.4 and 52% across all architectures. We nevertheless argue that neural models must play a different role in ATIS dialogues because of the latter’s lack of variety.
We consider two related problems in this paper. Given an undeciphered alphabetic writing system or mono-alphabetic cipher, determine: (1) which of its letters are vowels and which are consonants; and (2) whether the writing system is a vocalic alphabet or an abjad. We are able to show that a very simple spectral decomposition based on character co-occurrences provides nearly perfect performance with respect to answering both question types.