Heather Lent


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Ancestor-to-Creole Transfer is Not a Walk in the Park
Heather Lent | Emanuele Bugliarello | Anders Søgaard
Proceedings of the Third Workshop on Insights from Negative Results in NLP

We aim to learn language models for Creole languages for which large volumes of data are not readily available, and therefore explore the potential transfer from ancestor languages (the ‘Ancestry Transfer Hypothesis’). We find that standard transfer methods do not facilitate ancestry transfer. Surprisingly, different from other non-Creole languages, a very distinct two-phase pattern emerges for Creoles: As our training losses plateau, and language models begin to overfit on their source languages, perplexity on the Creoles drop. We explore if this compression phase can lead to practically useful language models (the ‘Ancestry Bottleneck Hypothesis’), but also falsify this. Moreover, we show that Creoles even exhibit this two-phase pattern even when training on random, unrelated languages. Thus Creoles seem to be typological outliers and we speculate whether there is a link between the two observations.

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Challenges and Strategies in Cross-Cultural NLP
Daniel Hershcovich | Stella Frank | Heather Lent | Miryam de Lhoneux | Mostafa Abdou | Stephanie Brandl | Emanuele Bugliarello | Laura Cabello Piqueras | Ilias Chalkidis | Ruixiang Cui | Constanza Fierro | Katerina Margatina | Phillip Rust | Anders Søgaard
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Various efforts in the Natural Language Processing (NLP) community have been made to accommodate linguistic diversity and serve speakers of many different languages. However, it is important to acknowledge that speakers and the content they produce and require, vary not just by language, but also by culture. Although language and culture are tightly linked, there are important differences. Analogous to cross-lingual and multilingual NLP, cross-cultural and multicultural NLP considers these differences in order to better serve users of NLP systems. We propose a principled framework to frame these efforts, and survey existing and potential strategies.


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Testing Cross-Database Semantic Parsers With Canonical Utterances
Heather Lent | Semih Yavuz | Tao Yu | Tong Niu | Yingbo Zhou | Dragomir Radev | Xi Victoria Lin
Proceedings of the 2nd Workshop on Evaluation and Comparison of NLP Systems

The benchmark performance of cross-database semantic parsing has climbed steadily in recent years, catalyzed by the wide adoption of pre-trained language models. Yet existing work have shown that state-of-the-art cross-database semantic parsers struggle to generalize to novel user utterances, databases and query structures. To obtain transparent details on the strengths and limitation of these models, we propose a diagnostic testing approach based on controlled synthesis of canonical natural language and SQL pairs. Inspired by the CheckList, we characterize a set of essential capabilities for cross-database semantic parsing models, and detailed the method for synthesizing the corresponding test data. We evaluated a variety of high performing models using the proposed approach, and identified several non-obvious weaknesses across models (e.g. unable to correctly select many columns). Our dataset and code are released as a test suite at http://github.com/hclent/BehaviorCheckingSemPar.

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On Language Models for Creoles
Heather Lent | Emanuele Bugliarello | Miryam de Lhoneux | Chen Qiu | Anders Søgaard
Proceedings of the 25th Conference on Computational Natural Language Learning

Creole languages such as Nigerian Pidgin English and Haitian Creole are under-resourced and largely ignored in the NLP literature. Creoles typically result from the fusion of a foreign language with multiple local languages, and what grammatical and lexical features are transferred to the creole is a complex process. While creoles are generally stable, the prominence of some features may be much stronger with certain demographics or in some linguistic situations. This paper makes several contributions: We collect existing corpora and release models for Haitian Creole, Nigerian Pidgin English, and Singaporean Colloquial English. We evaluate these models on intrinsic and extrinsic tasks. Motivated by the above literature, we compare standard language models with distributionally robust ones and find that, somewhat surprisingly, the standard language models are superior to the distributionally robust ones. We investigate whether this is an effect of over-parameterization or relative distributional stability, and find that the difference persists in the absence of over-parameterization, and that drift is limited, confirming the relative stability of creole languages.

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Common Sense Bias in Semantic Role Labeling
Heather Lent | Anders Søgaard
Proceedings of the Seventh Workshop on Noisy User-generated Text (W-NUT 2021)

Large-scale language models such as ELMo and BERT have pushed the horizon of what is possible in semantic role labeling (SRL), solving the out-of-vocabulary problem and enabling end-to-end systems, but they have also introduced significant biases. We evaluate three SRL parsers on very simple transitive sentences with verbs usually associated with animate subjects and objects, such as, “Mary babysat Tom”: a state-of-the-art parser based on BERT, an older parser based on GloVe, and an even older parser from before the days of word embeddings. When arguments are word forms predominantly used as person names, aligning with common sense expectations of animacy, the BERT-based parser is unsurprisingly superior; yet, with abstract or random nouns, the opposite picture emerges. We refer to this as “common sense bias” and present a challenge dataset for evaluating the extent to which parsers are sensitive to such a bias. Our code and challenge dataset are available here: github.com/coastalcph/comte


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Eidos, INDRA, & Delphi: From Free Text to Executable Causal Models
Rebecca Sharp | Adarsh Pyarelal | Benjamin Gyori | Keith Alcock | Egoitz Laparra | Marco A. Valenzuela-Escárcega | Ajay Nagesh | Vikas Yadav | John Bachman | Zheng Tang | Heather Lent | Fan Luo | Mithun Paul | Steven Bethard | Kobus Barnard | Clayton Morrison | Mihai Surdeanu
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Demonstrations)

Building causal models of complicated phenomena such as food insecurity is currently a slow and labor-intensive manual process. In this paper, we introduce an approach that builds executable probabilistic models from raw, free text. The proposed approach is implemented through three systems: Eidos, INDRA, and Delphi. Eidos is an open-domain machine reading system designed to extract causal relations from natural language. It is rule-based, allowing for rapid domain transfer, customizability, and interpretability. INDRA aggregates multiple sources of causal information and performs assembly to create a coherent knowledge base and assess its reliability. This assembled knowledge serves as the starting point for modeling. Delphi is a modeling framework that assembles quantified causal fragments and their contexts into executable probabilistic models that respect the semantics of the original text, and can be used to support decision making.

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Rewarding Coreference Resolvers for Being Consistent with World Knowledge
Rahul Aralikatte | Heather Lent | Ana Valeria Gonzalez | Daniel Herschcovich | Chen Qiu | Anders Sandholm | Michael Ringaard | Anders Søgaard
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing and the 9th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (EMNLP-IJCNLP)

Unresolved coreference is a bottleneck for relation extraction, and high-quality coreference resolvers may produce an output that makes it a lot easier to extract knowledge triples. We show how to improve coreference resolvers by forwarding their input to a relation extraction system and reward the resolvers for producing triples that are found in knowledge bases. Since relation extraction systems can rely on different forms of supervision and be biased in different ways, we obtain the best performance, improving over the state of the art, using multi-task reinforcement learning.