When language models process syntactically complex sentences, do they use their representations of syntax in a manner that is consistent with the grammar of the language? We propose AlterRep, an intervention-based method to address this question. For any linguistic feature of a given sentence, AlterRep generates counterfactual representations by altering how the feature is encoded, while leaving in- tact all other aspects of the original representation. By measuring the change in a model’s word prediction behavior when these counterfactual representations are substituted for the original ones, we can draw conclusions about the causal effect of the linguistic feature in question on the model’s behavior. We apply this method to study how BERT models of different sizes process relative clauses (RCs). We find that BERT variants use RC boundary information during word prediction in a manner that is consistent with the rules of English grammar; this RC boundary information generalizes to a considerable extent across different RC types, suggesting that BERT represents RCs as an abstract linguistic category.
Given the increasingly prominent role NLP models (will) play in our lives, it is important for human expectations of model behavior to align with actual model behavior. Using Natural Language Inference (NLI) as a case study, we investigate the extent to which human-generated explanations of models’ inference decisions align with how models actually make these decisions. More specifically, we define three alignment metrics that quantify how well natural language explanations align with model sensitivity to input words, as measured by integrated gradients. Then, we evaluate eight different models (the base and large versions of BERT,RoBERTa and ELECTRA, as well as anRNN and bag-of-words model), and find that the BERT-base model has the highest alignment with human-generated explanations, for all alignment metrics. Focusing in on transformers, we find that the base versions tend to have higher alignment with human-generated explanations than their larger counterparts, suggesting that increasing the number of model parameters leads, in some cases, to worse alignment with human explanations. Finally, we find that a model’s alignment with human explanations is not predicted by the model’s accuracy, suggesting that accuracy and alignment are complementary ways to evaluate models.
We introduce Dynabench, an open-source platform for dynamic dataset creation and model benchmarking. Dynabench runs in a web browser and supports human-and-model-in-the-loop dataset creation: annotators seek to create examples that a target model will misclassify, but that another person will not. In this paper, we argue that Dynabench addresses a critical need in our community: contemporary models quickly achieve outstanding performance on benchmark tasks but nonetheless fail on simple challenge examples and falter in real-world scenarios. With Dynabench, dataset creation, model development, and model assessment can directly inform each other, leading to more robust and informative benchmarks. We report on four initial NLP tasks, illustrating these concepts and highlighting the promise of the platform, and address potential objections to dynamic benchmarking as a new standard for the field.
Neural language models (LMs) perform well on tasks that require sensitivity to syntactic structure. Drawing on the syntactic priming paradigm from psycholinguistics, we propose a novel technique to analyze the representations that enable such success. By establishing a gradient similarity metric between structures, this technique allows us to reconstruct the organization of the LMs’ syntactic representational space. We use this technique to demonstrate that LSTM LMs’ representations of different types of sentences with relative clauses are organized hierarchically in a linguistically interpretable manner, suggesting that the LMs track abstract properties of the sentence.