Gustavo Aguilar


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Char2Subword: Extending the Subword Embedding Space Using Robust Character Compositionality
Gustavo Aguilar | Bryan McCann | Tong Niu | Nazneen Rajani | Nitish Shirish Keskar | Thamar Solorio
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2021

Byte-pair encoding (BPE) is a ubiquitous algorithm in the subword tokenization process of language models as it provides multiple benefits. However, this process is solely based on pre-training data statistics, making it hard for the tokenizer to handle infrequent spellings. On the other hand, though robust to misspellings, pure character-level models often lead to unreasonably long sequences and make it harder for the model to learn meaningful words. To alleviate these challenges, we propose a character-based subword module (char2subword) that learns the subword embedding table in pre-trained models like BERT. Our char2subword module builds representations from characters out of the subword vocabulary, and it can be used as a drop-in replacement of the subword embedding table. The module is robust to character-level alterations such as misspellings, word inflection, casing, and punctuation. We integrate it further with BERT through pre-training while keeping BERT transformer parameters fixed–and thus, providing a practical method. Finally, we show that incorporating our module to mBERT significantly improves the performance on the social media linguistic code-switching evaluation (LinCE) benchmark.

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Can images help recognize entities? A study of the role of images for Multimodal NER
Shuguang Chen | Gustavo Aguilar | Leonardo Neves | Thamar Solorio
Proceedings of the Seventh Workshop on Noisy User-generated Text (W-NUT 2021)

Multimodal named entity recognition (MNER) requires to bridge the gap between language understanding and visual context. While many multimodal neural techniques have been proposed to incorporate images into the MNER task, the model’s ability to leverage multimodal interactions remains poorly understood. In this work, we conduct in-depth analyses of existing multimodal fusion techniques from different perspectives and describe the scenarios where adding information from the image does not always boost performance. We also study the use of captions as a way to enrich the context for MNER. Experiments on three datasets from popular social platforms expose the bottleneck of existing multimodal models and the situations where using captions is beneficial.

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Data Augmentation for Cross-Domain Named Entity Recognition
Shuguang Chen | Gustavo Aguilar | Leonardo Neves | Thamar Solorio
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Current work in named entity recognition (NER) shows that data augmentation techniques can produce more robust models. However, most existing techniques focus on augmenting in-domain data in low-resource scenarios where annotated data is quite limited. In this work, we take this research direction to the opposite and study cross-domain data augmentation for the NER task. We investigate the possibility of leveraging data from high-resource domains by projecting it into the low-resource domains. Specifically, we propose a novel neural architecture to transform the data representation from a high-resource to a low-resource domain by learning the patterns (e.g. style, noise, abbreviations, etc.) in the text that differentiate them and a shared feature space where both domains are aligned. We experiment with diverse datasets and show that transforming the data to the low-resource domain representation achieves significant improvements over only using data from high-resource domains.


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LinCE: A Centralized Benchmark for Linguistic Code-switching Evaluation
Gustavo Aguilar | Sudipta Kar | Thamar Solorio
Proceedings of the 12th Language Resources and Evaluation Conference

Recent trends in NLP research have raised an interest in linguistic code-switching (CS); modern approaches have been proposed to solve a wide range of NLP tasks on multiple language pairs. Unfortunately, these proposed methods are hardly generalizable to different code-switched languages. In addition, it is unclear whether a model architecture is applicable for a different task while still being compatible with the code-switching setting. This is mainly because of the lack of a centralized benchmark and the sparse corpora that researchers employ based on their specific needs and interests. To facilitate research in this direction, we propose a centralized benchmark for Linguistic Code-switching Evaluation (LinCE) that combines eleven corpora covering four different code-switched language pairs (i.e., Spanish-English, Nepali-English, Hindi-English, and Modern Standard Arabic-Egyptian Arabic) and four tasks (i.e., language identification, named entity recognition, part-of-speech tagging, and sentiment analysis). As part of the benchmark centralization effort, we provide an online platform where researchers can submit their results while comparing with others in real-time. In addition, we provide the scores of different popular models, including LSTM, ELMo, and multilingual BERT so that the NLP community can compare against state-of-the-art systems. LinCE is a continuous effort, and we will expand it with more low-resource languages and tasks.

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Multi-view Story Characterization from Movie Plot Synopses and Reviews
Sudipta Kar | Gustavo Aguilar | Mirella Lapata | Thamar Solorio
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

This paper considers the problem of characterizing stories by inferring properties such as theme and style using written synopses and reviews of movies. We experiment with a multi-label dataset of movie synopses and a tagset representing various attributes of stories (e.g., genre, type of events). Our proposed multi-view model encodes the synopses and reviews using hierarchical attention and shows improvement over methods that only use synopses. Finally, we demonstrate how we can take advantage of such a model to extract a complementary set of story-attributes from reviews without direct supervision. We have made our dataset and source code publicly available at

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SemEval-2020 Task 9: Overview of Sentiment Analysis of Code-Mixed Tweets
Parth Patwa | Gustavo Aguilar | Sudipta Kar | Suraj Pandey | Srinivas PYKL | Björn Gambäck | Tanmoy Chakraborty | Thamar Solorio | Amitava Das
Proceedings of the Fourteenth Workshop on Semantic Evaluation

In this paper, we present the results of the SemEval-2020 Task 9 on Sentiment Analysis of Code-Mixed Tweets (SentiMix 2020). We also release and describe our Hinglish (Hindi-English)and Spanglish (Spanish-English) corpora annotated with word-level language identification and sentence-level sentiment labels. These corpora are comprised of 20K and 19K examples, respectively. The sentiment labels are - Positive, Negative, and Neutral. SentiMix attracted 89 submissions in total including 61 teams that participated in the Hinglish contest and 28 submitted systems to the Spanglish competition. The best performance achieved was 75.0% F1 score for Hinglish and 80.6% F1 for Spanglish. We observe that BERT-like models and ensemble methods are the most common and successful approaches among the participants.

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From English to Code-Switching: Transfer Learning with Strong Morphological Clues
Gustavo Aguilar | Thamar Solorio
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Linguistic Code-switching (CS) is still an understudied phenomenon in natural language processing. The NLP community has mostly focused on monolingual and multi-lingual scenarios, but little attention has been given to CS in particular. This is partly because of the lack of resources and annotated data, despite its increasing occurrence in social media platforms. In this paper, we aim at adapting monolingual models to code-switched text in various tasks. Specifically, we transfer English knowledge from a pre-trained ELMo model to different code-switched language pairs (i.e., Nepali-English, Spanish-English, and Hindi-English) using the task of language identification. Our method, CS-ELMo, is an extension of ELMo with a simple yet effective position-aware attention mechanism inside its character convolutions. We show the effectiveness of this transfer learning step by outperforming multilingual BERT and homologous CS-unaware ELMo models and establishing a new state of the art in CS tasks, such as NER and POS tagging. Our technique can be expanded to more English-paired code-switched languages, providing more resources to the CS community.


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Multimodal and Multi-view Models for Emotion Recognition
Gustavo Aguilar | Viktor Rozgic | Weiran Wang | Chao Wang
Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Studies on emotion recognition (ER) show that combining lexical and acoustic information results in more robust and accurate models. The majority of the studies focus on settings where both modalities are available in training and evaluation. However, in practice, this is not always the case; getting ASR output may represent a bottleneck in a deployment pipeline due to computational complexity or privacy-related constraints. To address this challenge, we study the problem of efficiently combining acoustic and lexical modalities during training while still providing a deployable acoustic model that does not require lexical inputs. We first experiment with multimodal models and two attention mechanisms to assess the extent of the benefits that lexical information can provide. Then, we frame the task as a multi-view learning problem to induce semantic information from a multimodal model into our acoustic-only network using a contrastive loss function. Our multimodal model outperforms the previous state of the art on the USC-IEMOCAP dataset reported on lexical and acoustic information. Additionally, our multi-view-trained acoustic network significantly surpasses models that have been exclusively trained with acoustic features.


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Modeling Noisiness to Recognize Named Entities using Multitask Neural Networks on Social Media
Gustavo Aguilar | Adrian Pastor López-Monroy | Fabio González | Thamar Solorio
Proceedings of the 2018 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies, Volume 1 (Long Papers)

Recognizing named entities in a document is a key task in many NLP applications. Although current state-of-the-art approaches to this task reach a high performance on clean text (e.g. newswire genres), those algorithms dramatically degrade when they are moved to noisy environments such as social media domains. We present two systems that address the challenges of processing social media data using character-level phonetics and phonology, word embeddings, and Part-of-Speech tags as features. The first model is a multitask end-to-end Bidirectional Long Short-Term Memory (BLSTM)-Conditional Random Field (CRF) network whose output layer contains two CRF classifiers. The second model uses a multitask BLSTM network as feature extractor that transfers the learning to a CRF classifier for the final prediction. Our systems outperform the current F1 scores of the state of the art on the Workshop on Noisy User-generated Text 2017 dataset by 2.45% and 3.69%, establishing a more suitable approach for social media environments.

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Proceedings of the Third Workshop on Computational Approaches to Linguistic Code-Switching
Gustavo Aguilar | Fahad AlGhamdi | Victor Soto | Thamar Solorio | Mona Diab | Julia Hirschberg
Proceedings of the Third Workshop on Computational Approaches to Linguistic Code-Switching

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Named Entity Recognition on Code-Switched Data: Overview of the CALCS 2018 Shared Task
Gustavo Aguilar | Fahad AlGhamdi | Victor Soto | Mona Diab | Julia Hirschberg | Thamar Solorio
Proceedings of the Third Workshop on Computational Approaches to Linguistic Code-Switching

In the third shared task of the Computational Approaches to Linguistic Code-Switching (CALCS) workshop, we focus on Named Entity Recognition (NER) on code-switched social-media data. We divide the shared task into two competitions based on the English-Spanish (ENG-SPA) and Modern Standard Arabic-Egyptian (MSA-EGY) language pairs. We use Twitter data and 9 entity types to establish a new dataset for code-switched NER benchmarks. In addition to the CS phenomenon, the diversity of the entities and the social media challenges make the task considerably hard to process. As a result, the best scores of the competitions are 63.76% and 71.61% for ENG-SPA and MSA-EGY, respectively. We present the scores of 9 participants and discuss the most common challenges among submissions.


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A Multi-task Approach for Named Entity Recognition in Social Media Data
Gustavo Aguilar | Suraj Maharjan | Adrian Pastor López-Monroy | Thamar Solorio
Proceedings of the 3rd Workshop on Noisy User-generated Text

Named Entity Recognition for social media data is challenging because of its inherent noisiness. In addition to improper grammatical structures, it contains spelling inconsistencies and numerous informal abbreviations. We propose a novel multi-task approach by employing a more general secondary task of Named Entity (NE) segmentation together with the primary task of fine-grained NE categorization. The multi-task neural network architecture learns higher order feature representations from word and character sequences along with basic Part-of-Speech tags and gazetteer information. This neural network acts as a feature extractor to feed a Conditional Random Fields classifier. We were able to obtain the first position in the 3rd Workshop on Noisy User-generated Text (WNUT-2017) with a 41.86% entity F1-score and a 40.24% surface F1-score.