Guanyi Chen


2022

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Non-neural Models Matter: a Re-evaluation of Neural Referring Expression Generation Systems
Fahime Same | Guanyi Chen | Kees Van Deemter
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

In recent years, neural models have often outperformed rule-based and classic Machine Learning approaches in NLG. These classic approaches are now often disregarded, for example when new neural models are evaluated. We argue that they should not be overlooked, since, for some tasks, well-designed non-neural approaches achieve better performance than neural ones. In this paper, the task of generating referring expressions in linguistic context is used as an example. We examined two very different English datasets (WEBNLG and WSJ), and evaluated each algorithm using both automatic and human evaluations.Overall, the results of these evaluations suggest that rule-based systems with simple rule sets achieve on-par or better performance on both datasets compared to state-of-the-art neural REG systems. In the case of the more realistic dataset, WSJ, a machine learning-based system with well-designed linguistic features performed best. We hope that our work can encourage researchers to consider non-neural models in future.

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MMChat: Multi-Modal Chat Dataset on Social Media
Yinhe Zheng | Guanyi Chen | Xin Liu | Jian Sun
Proceedings of the Thirteenth Language Resources and Evaluation Conference

Incorporating multi-modal contexts in conversation is an important step for developing more engaging dialogue systems. In this work, we explore this direction by introducing MMChat: a large scale Chinese multi-modal dialogue corpus (32.4M raw dialogues and 120.84K filtered dialogues). Unlike previous corpora that are crowd-sourced or collected from fictitious movies, MMChat contains image-grounded dialogues collected from real conversations on social media, in which the sparsity issue is observed. Specifically, image-initiated dialogues in common communications may deviate to some non-image-grounded topics as the conversation proceeds. To better investigate this issue, we manually annotate 100K dialogues from MMChat and further filter the corpus accordingly, which yields MMChat-hf. We develop a benchmark model to address the sparsity issue in dialogue generation tasks by adapting the attention routing mechanism on image features. Experiments demonstrate the usefulness of incorporating image features and the effectiveness in handling the sparsity of image features.

2021

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What can Neural Referential Form Selectors Learn?
Guanyi Chen | Fahime Same | Kees van Deemter
Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Natural Language Generation

Despite achieving encouraging results, neural Referring Expression Generation models are often thought to lack transparency. We probed neural Referential Form Selection (RFS) models to find out to what extent the linguistic features influencing the RE form are learned and captured by state-of-the-art RFS models. The results of 8 probing tasks show that all the defined features were learned to some extent. The probing tasks pertaining to referential status and syntactic position exhibited the highest performance. The lowest performance was achieved by the probing models designed to predict discourse structure properties beyond the sentence level.

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Using BERT for choosing classifiers in Mandarin
Jani Järnfors | Guanyi Chen | Kees van Deemter | Rint Sybesma
Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Natural Language Generation

Choosing the most suitable classifier in a linguistic context is a well-known problem in the production of Mandarin and many other languages. The present paper proposes a solution based on BERT, compares this solution to previous neural and rule-based models, and argues that the BERT model performs particularly well on those difficult cases where the classifier adds information to the text.

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Affective Decoding for Empathetic Response Generation
Chengkun Zeng | Guanyi Chen | Chenghua Lin | Ruizhe Li | Zhi Chen
Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Natural Language Generation

Understanding speaker’s feelings and producing appropriate responses with emotion connection is a key communicative skill for empathetic dialogue systems. In this paper, we propose a simple technique called Affective Decoding for empathetic response generation. Our method can effectively incorporate emotion signals during each decoding step, and can additionally be augmented with an auxiliary dual emotion encoder, which learns separate embeddings for the speaker and listener given the emotion base of the dialogue. Extensive empirical studies show that our models are perceived to be more empathetic by human evaluations, in comparison to several strong mainstream methods for empathetic responding.

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Highly Efficient Knowledge Graph Embedding Learning with Orthogonal Procrustes Analysis
Xutan Peng | Guanyi Chen | Chenghua Lin | Mark Stevenson
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Knowledge Graph Embeddings (KGEs) have been intensively explored in recent years due to their promise for a wide range of applications. However, existing studies focus on improving the final model performance without acknowledging the computational cost of the proposed approaches, in terms of execution time and environmental impact. This paper proposes a simple yet effective KGE framework which can reduce the training time and carbon footprint by orders of magnitudes compared with state-of-the-art approaches, while producing competitive performance. We highlight three technical innovations: full batch learning via relational matrices, closed-form Orthogonal Procrustes Analysis for KGEs, and non-negative-sampling training. In addition, as the first KGE method whose entity embeddings also store full relation information, our trained models encode rich semantics and are highly interpretable. Comprehensive experiments and ablation studies involving 13 strong baselines and two standard datasets verify the effectiveness and efficiency of our algorithm.

2020

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DGST: a Dual-Generator Network for Text Style Transfer
Xiao Li | Guanyi Chen | Chenghua Lin | Ruizhe Li
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

We propose DGST, a novel and simple Dual-Generator network architecture for text Style Transfer. Our model employs two generators only, and does not rely on any discriminators or parallel corpus for training. Both quantitative and qualitative experiments on the Yelp and IMDb datasets show that our model gives competitive performance compared to several strong baselines with more complicated architecture designs.

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Listener’s Social Identity Matters in Personalised Response Generation
Guanyi Chen | Yinhe Zheng | Yupei Du
Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Natural Language Generation

Personalised response generation enables generating human-like responses by means of assigning the generator a social identity. However, pragmatics theory suggests that human beings adjust the way of speaking based on not only who they are but also whom they are talking to. In other words, when modelling personalised dialogues, it might be favourable if we also take the listener’s social identity into consideration. To validate this idea, we use gender as a typical example of a social variable to investigate how the listener’s identity influences the language used in Chinese dialogues on social media. Also, we build personalised generators. The experiment results demonstrate that the listener’s identity indeed matters in the language use of responses and that the response generator can capture such differences in language use. More interestingly, by additionally modelling the listener’s identity, the personalised response generator performs better in its own identity.

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Lessons from Computational Modelling of Reference Production in Mandarin and English
Guanyi Chen | Kees van Deemter
Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Natural Language Generation

Referring expression generation (REG) algorithms offer computational models of the production of referring expressions. In earlier work, a corpus of referring expressions (REs) in Mandarin was introduced. In the present paper, we annotate this corpus, evaluate classic REG algorithms on it, and compare the results with earlier results on the evaluation of REG for English referring expressions. Next, we offer an in-depth analysis of the corpus, focusing on issues that arise from the grammar of Mandarin. We discuss shortcomings of previous REG evaluations that came to light during our investigation and we highlight some surprising results. Perhaps most strikingly, we found a much higher proportion of under-specified expressions than previous studies had suggested, not just in Mandarin but in English as well.

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Gradations of Error Severity in Automatic Image Descriptions
Emiel van Miltenburg | Wei-Ting Lu | Emiel Krahmer | Albert Gatt | Guanyi Chen | Lin Li | Kees van Deemter
Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Natural Language Generation

Earlier research has shown that evaluation metrics based on textual similarity (e.g., BLEU, CIDEr, Meteor) do not correlate well with human evaluation scores for automatically generated text. We carried out an experiment with Chinese speakers, where we systematically manipulated image descriptions to contain different kinds of errors. Because our manipulated descriptions form minimal pairs with the reference descriptions, we are able to assess the impact of different kinds of errors on the perceived quality of the descriptions. Our results show that different kinds of errors elicit significantly different evaluation scores, even though all erroneous descriptions differ in only one character from the reference descriptions. Evaluation metrics based solely on textual similarity are unable to capture these differences, which (at least partially) explains their poor correlation with human judgments. Our work provides the foundations for future work, where we aim to understand why different errors are seen as more or less severe.

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Improving Variational Autoencoder for Text Modelling with Timestep-Wise Regularisation
Ruizhe Li | Xiao Li | Guanyi Chen | Chenghua Lin
Proceedings of the 28th International Conference on Computational Linguistics

The Variational Autoencoder (VAE) is a popular and powerful model applied to text modelling to generate diverse sentences. However, an issue known as posterior collapse (or KL loss vanishing) happens when the VAE is used in text modelling, where the approximate posterior collapses to the prior, and the model will totally ignore the latent variables and be degraded to a plain language model during text generation. Such an issue is particularly prevalent when RNN-based VAE models are employed for text modelling. In this paper, we propose a simple, generic architecture called Timestep-Wise Regularisation VAE (TWR-VAE), which can effectively avoid posterior collapse and can be applied to any RNN-based VAE models. The effectiveness and versatility of our model are demonstrated in different tasks, including language modelling and dialogue response generation.

2019

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QTUNA: A Corpus for Understanding How Speakers Use Quantification
Guanyi Chen | Kees van Deemter | Silvia Pagliaro | Louk Smalbil | Chenghua Lin
Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Natural Language Generation

A prominent strand of work in formal semantics investigates the ways in which human languages quantify over the elements of a set, as when we say “All A are B ”, “All except two A are B ”, “Only a few of the A are B ” and so on. Our aim is to build Natural Language Generation algorithms that mimic humans’ use of quantified expressions. To inform these algorithms, we conducted on a series of elicitation experiments in which human speakers were asked to perform a linguistic task that invites the use of quantified expressions. We discuss how these experiments were conducted and what corpora they gave rise to. We conduct an informal analysis of the corpora, and offer an initial assessment of the challenges that these corpora pose for Natural Language Generation. The dataset is available at: https://github.com/a-quei/qtuna.

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A Closer Look at Recent Results of Verb Selection for Data-to-Text NLG
Guanyi Chen | Jin-Ge Yao
Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Natural Language Generation

Automatic natural language generation systems need to use the contextually-appropriate verbs when describing different kinds of facts or events, which has triggered research interest on verb selection for data-to-text generation. In this paper, we discuss a few limitations of the current task settings and the evaluation metrics. We also provide two simple, efficient, interpretable baseline approaches for statistical selection of trend verbs, which give a strong performance on both previously used evaluation metrics and our new evaluation.

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Generating Quantified Descriptions of Abstract Visual Scenes
Guanyi Chen | Kees van Deemter | Chenghua Lin
Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Natural Language Generation

Quantified expressions have always taken up a central position in formal theories of meaning and language use. Yet quantified expressions have so far attracted far less attention from the Natural Language Generation community than, for example, referring expressions. In an attempt to start redressing the balance, we investigate a recently developed corpus in which quantified expressions play a crucial role; the corpus is the result of a carefully controlled elicitation experiment, in which human participants were asked to describe visually presented scenes. Informed by an analysis of this corpus, we propose algorithms that produce computer-generated descriptions of a wider class of visual scenes, and we evaluate the descriptions generated by these algorithms in terms of their correctness, completeness, and human-likeness. We discuss what this exercise can teach us about the nature of quantification and about the challenges posed by the generation of quantified expressions.

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A Dual-Attention Hierarchical Recurrent Neural Network for Dialogue Act Classification
Ruizhe Li | Chenghua Lin | Matthew Collinson | Xiao Li | Guanyi Chen
Proceedings of the 23rd Conference on Computational Natural Language Learning (CoNLL)

Recognising dialogue acts (DA) is important for many natural language processing tasks such as dialogue generation and intention recognition. In this paper, we propose a dual-attention hierarchical recurrent neural network for DA classification. Our model is partially inspired by the observation that conversational utterances are normally associated with both a DA and a topic, where the former captures the social act and the latter describes the subject matter. However, such a dependency between DAs and topics has not been utilised by most existing systems for DA classification. With a novel dual task-specific attention mechanism, our model is able, for utterances, to capture information about both DAs and topics, as well as information about the interactions between them. Experimental results show that by modelling topic as an auxiliary task, our model can significantly improve DA classification, yielding better or comparable performance to the state-of-the-art method on three public datasets.

2018

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SimpleNLG-ZH: a Linguistic Realisation Engine for Mandarin
Guanyi Chen | Kees van Deemter | Chenghua Lin
Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Natural Language Generation

We introduce SimpleNLG-ZH, a realisation engine for Mandarin that follows the software design paradigm of SimpleNLG (Gatt and Reiter, 2009). We explain the core grammar (morphology and syntax) and the lexicon of SimpleNLG-ZH, which is very different from English and other languages for which SimpleNLG engines have been built. The system was evaluated by regenerating expressions from a body of test sentences and a corpus of human-authored expressions. Human evaluation was conducted to estimate the quality of regenerated sentences.

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Modelling Pro-drop with the Rational Speech Acts Model
Guanyi Chen | Kees van Deemter | Chenghua Lin
Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Natural Language Generation

We extend the classic Referring Expressions Generation task by considering zero pronouns in “pro-drop” languages such as Chinese, modelling their use by means of the Bayesian Rational Speech Acts model (Frank and Goodman, 2012). By assuming that highly salient referents are most likely to be referred to by zero pronouns (i.e., pro-drop is more likely for salient referents than the less salient ones), the model offers an attractive explanation of a phenomenon not previously addressed probabilistically.

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ABDN at SemEval-2018 Task 10: Recognising Discriminative Attributes using Context Embeddings and WordNet
Rui Mao | Guanyi Chen | Ruizhe Li | Chenghua Lin
Proceedings of the 12th International Workshop on Semantic Evaluation

This paper describes the system that we submitted for SemEval-2018 task 10: capturing discriminative attributes. Our system is built upon a simple idea of measuring the attribute word’s similarity with each of the two semantically similar words, based on an extended word embedding method and WordNet. Instead of computing the similarities between the attribute and semantically similar words by using standard word embeddings, we propose a novel method that combines word and context embeddings which can better measure similarities. Our model is simple and effective, which achieves an average F1 score of 0.62 on the test set.