Gerasimos Spanakis


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Sequence Shortening for Context-Aware Machine Translation
Paweł Maka | Yusuf Semerci | Jan Scholtes | Gerasimos Spanakis
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EACL 2024

Context-aware Machine Translation aims to improve translations of sentences by incorporating surrounding sentences as context. Towards this task, two main architectures have been applied, namely single-encoder (based on concatenation) and multi-encoder models. In this study, we show that a special case of multi-encoder architecture, where the latent representation of the source sentence is cached and reused as the context in the next step, achieves higher accuracy on the contrastive datasets (where the models have to rank the correct translation among the provided sentences) and comparable BLEU and COMET scores as the single- and multi-encoder approaches. Furthermore, we investigate the application of Sequence Shortening to the cached representations. We test three pooling-based shortening techniques and introduce two novel methods - Latent Grouping and Latent Selecting, where the network learns to group tokens or selects the tokens to be cached as context. Our experiments show that the two methods achieve competitive BLEU and COMET scores and accuracies on the contrastive datasets to the other tested methods while potentially allowing for higher interpretability and reducing the growth of memory requirements with increased context size.


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Finding the Law: Enhancing Statutory Article Retrieval via Graph Neural Networks
Antoine Louis | Gijs van Dijck | Gerasimos Spanakis
Proceedings of the 17th Conference of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Statutory article retrieval (SAR), the task of retrieving statute law articles relevant to a legal question, is a promising application of legal text processing. In particular, high-quality SAR systems can improve the work efficiency of legal professionals and provide basic legal assistance to citizens in need at no cost. Unlike traditional ad-hoc information retrieval, where each document is considered a complete source of information, SAR deals with texts whose full sense depends on complementary information from the topological organization of statute law. While existing works ignore these domain-specific dependencies, we propose a novel graph-augmented dense statute retriever (G-DSR) model that incorporates the structure of legislation via a graph neural network to improve dense retrieval performance. Experimental results show that our approach outperforms strong retrieval baselines on a real-world expert-annotated SAR dataset.

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IDTraffickers: An Authorship Attribution Dataset to link and connect Potential Human-Trafficking Operations on Text Escort Advertisements
Vageesh Saxena | Benjamin Ashpole | Gijs van Dijck | Gerasimos Spanakis
Proceedings of the 2023 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Human trafficking (HT) is a pervasive global issue affecting vulnerable individuals, violating their fundamental human rights. Investigations reveal that a significant number of HT cases are associated with online advertisements (ads), particularly in escort markets. Consequently, identifying and connecting HT vendors has become increasingly challenging for Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs). To address this issue, we introduce IDTraffickers, an extensive dataset consisting of 87,595 text ads and 5,244 vendor labels to enable the verification and identification of potential HT vendors on online escort markets. To establish a benchmark for authorship identification, we train a DeCLUTR-small model, achieving a macro-F1 score of 0.8656 in a closed-set classification environment. Next, we leverage the style representations extracted from the trained classifier to conduct authorship verification, resulting in a mean r-precision score of 0.8852 in an open-set ranking environment. Finally, to encourage further research and ensure responsible data sharing, we plan to release IDTraffickers for the authorship attribution task to researchers under specific conditions, considering the sensitive nature of the data. We believe that the availability of our dataset and benchmarks will empower future researchers to utilize our findings, thereby facilitating the effective linkage of escort ads and the development of more robust approaches for identifying HT indicators.

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Regulation and NLP (RegNLP): Taming Large Language Models
Catalina Goanta | Nikolaos Aletras | Ilias Chalkidis | Sofia Ranchordás | Gerasimos Spanakis
Proceedings of the 2023 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

The scientific innovation in Natural Language Processing (NLP) and more broadly in artificial intelligence (AI) is at its fastest pace to date. As large language models (LLMs) unleash a new era of automation, important debates emerge regarding the benefits and risks of their development, deployment and use. Currently, these debates have been dominated by often polarized narratives mainly led by the AI Safety and AI Ethics movements. This polarization, often amplified by social media, is swaying political agendas on AI regulation and governance and posing issues of regulatory capture. Capture occurs when the regulator advances the interests of the industry it is supposed to regulate, or of special interest groups rather than pursuing the general public interest. Meanwhile in NLP research, attention has been increasingly paid to the discussion of regulating risks and harms. This often happens without systematic methodologies or sufficient rooting in the disciplines that inspire an extended scope of NLP research, jeopardizing the scientific integrity of these endeavors. Regulation studies are a rich source of knowledge on how to systematically deal with risk and uncertainty, as well as with scientific evidence, to evaluate and compare regulatory options. This resource has largely remained untapped so far. In this paper, we argue how NLP research on these topics can benefit from proximity to regulatory studies and adjacent fields. We do so by discussing basic tenets of regulation, and risk and uncertainty, and by highlighting the shortcomings of current NLP discussions dealing with risk assessment. Finally, we advocate for the development of a new multidisciplinary research space on regulation and NLP (RegNLP), focused on connecting scientific knowledge to regulatory processes based on systematic methodologies.

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VendorLink: An NLP approach for Identifying & Linking Vendor Migrants & Potential Aliases on Darknet Markets
Vageesh Saxena | Nils Rethmeier | Gijs van Dijck | Gerasimos Spanakis
Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

The anonymity on the Darknet allows vendors to stay undetected by using multiple vendor aliases or frequently migrating between markets. Consequently, illegal markets and their connections are challenging to uncover on the Darknet. To identify relationships between illegal markets and their vendors, we propose VendorLink, an NLP-based approach that examines writing patterns to verify, identify, and link unique vendor accounts across text advertisements (ads) on seven public Darknet markets. In contrast to existing literature, VendorLink utilizes the strength of supervised pre-training to perform closed-set vendor verification, open-set vendor identification, and low-resource market adaption tasks. Through VendorLink, we uncover (i) 15 migrants and 71 potential aliases in the Alphabay-Dreams-Silk dataset, (ii) 17 migrants and 3 potential aliases in the Valhalla-Berlusconi dataset, and (iii) 75 migrants and 10 potential aliases in the Traderoute-Agora dataset. Altogether, our approach can help Law Enforcement Agencies (LEA) make more informed decisions by verifying and identifying migrating vendors and their potential aliases on existing and Low-Resource (LR) emerging Darknet markets.

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Larth: Dataset and Machine Translation for Etruscan
Gianluca Vico | Gerasimos Spanakis
Proceedings of the Ancient Language Processing Workshop

Etruscan is an ancient language spoken in Italy from the 7th century BC to the 1st century AD. There are no native speakers of the language at the present day, and its resources are scarce, as there are an estimated 12,000 known inscriptions. To the best of our knowledge, there are no publicly available Etruscan corpora for natural language processing. Therefore, we propose a dataset for machine translation from Etruscan to English, which contains 2891 translated examples from existing academic sources. Some examples are extracted manually, while others are acquired in an automatic way. Along with the dataset, we benchmark different machine translation models observing that it is possible to achieve a BLEU score of 10.1 with a small transformer model. Releasing the dataset can help enable future research on this language, similar languages or other languages with scarce resources.

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Imagination is All You Need! Curved Contrastive Learning for Abstract Sequence Modeling Utilized on Long Short-Term Dialogue Planning
Justus-Jonas Erker | Stefan Schaffer | Gerasimos Spanakis
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2023

Inspired by the curvature of space-time, we introduce Curved Contrastive Learning (CCL), a novel representation learning technique for learning the relative turn distance between utterance pairs in multi-turn dialogues. The resulting bi-encoder models can guide transformers as a response ranking model towards a goal in a zero-shot fashion by projecting the goal utterance and the corresponding reply candidates into a latent space. Here the cosine similarity indicates the distance/reachability of a candidate utterance toward the corresponding goal. Furthermore, we explore how these forward-entailing language representations can be utilized for assessing the likelihood of sequences by the entailment strength i.e. through the cosine similarity of its individual members (encoded separately) as an emergent property in the curved space. These non-local properties allow us to imagine the likelihood of future patterns in dialogues, specifically by ordering/identifying future goal utterances that are multiple turns away, given a dialogue context. As part of our analysis, we investigate characteristics that make conversations (un)plannable and find strong evidence of planning capability over multiple turns (in 61.56% over 3 turns) in conversations from the DailyDialog dataset. Finally, we show how we achieve higher efficiency in sequence modeling tasks compared to previous work thanks to our relativistic approach, where only the last utterance needs to be encoded and computed during inference.


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A Cancel Culture Corpus through the Lens of Natural Language Processing
Justus-Jonas Erker | Catalina Goanta | Gerasimos Spanakis
Proceedings of the First Workshop on Language Technology and Resources for a Fair, Inclusive, and Safe Society within the 13th Language Resources and Evaluation Conference

Cancel Culture as an Internet phenomenon has been previously explored from a social and legal science perspective. This paper demonstrates how Natural Language Processing tasks can be derived from this previous work, underlying techniques on how cancel culture can be measured, identified and evaluated. As part of this paper, we introduce a first cancel culture data set with of over 2.3 million tweets and a framework to enlarge it further. We provide a detailed analysis of this data set and propose a set of features, based on various models including sentiment analysis and emotion detection that can help characterizing cancel culture.

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A Statutory Article Retrieval Dataset in French
Antoine Louis | Gerasimos Spanakis
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Statutory article retrieval is the task of automatically retrieving law articles relevant to a legal question. While recent advances in natural language processing have sparked considerable interest in many legal tasks, statutory article retrieval remains primarily untouched due to the scarcity of large-scale and high-quality annotated datasets. To address this bottleneck, we introduce the Belgian Statutory Article Retrieval Dataset (BSARD), which consists of 1,100+ French native legal questions labeled by experienced jurists with relevant articles from a corpus of 22,600+ Belgian law articles. Using BSARD, we benchmark several state-of-the-art retrieval approaches, including lexical and dense architectures, both in zero-shot and supervised setups. We find that fine-tuned dense retrieval models significantly outperform other systems. Our best performing baseline achieves 74.8% R@100, which is promising for the feasibility of the task and indicates there is still room for improvement. By the specificity of the domain and addressed task, BSARD presents a unique challenge problem for future research on legal information retrieval. Our dataset and source code are publicly available.


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SeqAttack: On Adversarial Attacks for Named Entity Recognition
Walter Simoncini | Gerasimos Spanakis
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing: System Demonstrations

Named Entity Recognition is a fundamental task in information extraction and is an essential element for various Natural Language Processing pipelines. Adversarial attacks have been shown to greatly affect the performance of text classification systems but knowledge about their effectiveness against named entity recognition models is limited. This paper investigates the effectiveness and portability of adversarial attacks from text classification to named entity recognition and the ability of adversarial training to counteract these attacks. We find that character-level and word-level attacks are the most effective, but adversarial training can grant significant protection at little to no expense of standard performance. Alongside our results, we also release SeqAttack, a framework to conduct adversarial attacks against token classification models (used in this work for named entity recognition) and a companion web application to inspect and cherry pick adversarial examples.


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Evaluating Bias In Dutch Word Embeddings
Rodrigo Alejandro Chávez Mulsa | Gerasimos Spanakis
Proceedings of the Second Workshop on Gender Bias in Natural Language Processing

Recent research in Natural Language Processing has revealed that word embeddings can encode social biases present in the training data which can affect minorities in real world applications. This paper explores the gender bias implicit in Dutch embeddings while investigating whether English language based approaches can also be used in Dutch. We implement the Word Embeddings Association Test (WEAT), Clustering and Sentence Embeddings Association Test (SEAT) methods to quantify the gender bias in Dutch word embeddings, then we proceed to reduce the bias with Hard-Debias and Sent-Debias mitigation methods and finally we evaluate the performance of the debiased embeddings in downstream tasks. The results suggest that, among others, gender bias is present in traditional and contextualized Dutch word embeddings. We highlight how techniques used to measure and reduce bias created for English can be used in Dutch embeddings by adequately translating the data and taking into account the unique characteristics of the language. Furthermore, we analyze the effect of the debiasing techniques on downstream tasks which show a negligible impact on traditional embeddings and a 2% decrease in performance in contextualized embeddings. Finally, we release the translated Dutch datasets to the public along with the traditional embeddings with mitigated bias.

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Adapting End-to-End Speech Recognition for Readable Subtitles
Danni Liu | Jan Niehues | Gerasimos Spanakis
Proceedings of the 17th International Conference on Spoken Language Translation

Automatic speech recognition (ASR) systems are primarily evaluated on transcription accuracy. However, in some use cases such as subtitling, verbatim transcription would reduce output readability given limited screen size and reading time. Therefore, this work focuses on ASR with output compression, a task challenging for supervised approaches due to the scarcity of training data. We first investigate a cascaded system, where an unsupervised compression model is used to post-edit the transcribed speech. We then compare several methods of end-to-end speech recognition under output length constraints. The experiments show that with limited data far less than needed for training a model from scratch, we can adapt a Transformer-based ASR model to incorporate both transcription and compression capabilities. Furthermore, the best performance in terms of WER and ROUGE scores is achieved by explicitly modeling the length constraints within the end-to-end ASR system.


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Storyline detection and tracking using Dynamic Latent Dirichlet Allocation
Daniel Brüggermann | Yannik Hermey | Carsten Orth | Darius Schneider | Stefan Selzer | Gerasimos Spanakis
Proceedings of the 2nd Workshop on Computing News Storylines (CNS 2016)