Hongxia Jin


2021

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Data Augmentation for Voice-Assistant NLU using BERT-based Interchangeable Rephrase
Akhila Yerukola | Mason Bretan | Hongxia Jin
Proceedings of the 16th Conference of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Main Volume

We introduce a data augmentation technique based on byte pair encoding and a BERT-like self-attention model to boost performance on spoken language understanding tasks. We compare and evaluate this method with a range of augmentation techniques encompassing generative models such as VAEs and performance-boosting techniques such as synonym replacement and back-translation. We show our method performs strongly on domain and intent classification tasks for a voice assistant and in a user-study focused on utterance naturalness and semantic similarity.

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Hyperparameter-free Continuous Learning for Domain Classification in Natural Language Understanding
Ting Hua | Yilin Shen | Changsheng Zhao | Yen-Chang Hsu | Hongxia Jin
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Domain classification is the fundamental task in natural language understanding (NLU), which often requires fast accommodation to new emerging domains. This constraint makes it impossible to retrain all previous domains, even if they are accessible to the new model. Most existing continual learning approaches suffer from low accuracy and performance fluctuation, especially when the distributions of old and new data are significantly different. In fact, the key real-world problem is not the absence of old data, but the inefficiency to retrain the model with the whole old dataset. Is it potential to utilize some old data to yield high accuracy and maintain stable performance, while at the same time, without introducing extra hyperparameters? In this paper, we proposed a hyperparameter-free continual learning model for text data that can stably produce high performance under various environments. Specifically, we utilize Fisher information to select exemplars that can “record” key information of the original model. Also, a novel scheme called dynamical weight consolidation is proposed to enable hyperparameter-free learning during the retrain process. Extensive experiments demonstrate baselines provide fluctuated performance which makes them useless in practice. On the contrary, our proposed model significantly and consistently outperforms the best state-of-the-art method by up to 20% in average accuracy, and each of its component contributes effectively to overall performance.

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Enhancing the generalization for Intent Classification and Out-of-Domain Detection in SLU
Yilin Shen | Yen-Chang Hsu | Avik Ray | Hongxia Jin
Proceedings of the 59th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 11th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Intent classification is a major task in spoken language understanding (SLU). Since most models are built with pre-collected in-domain (IND) training utterances, their ability to detect unsupported out-of-domain (OOD) utterances has a critical effect in practical use. Recent works have shown that using extra data and labels can improve the OOD detection performance, yet it could be costly to collect such data. This paper proposes to train a model with only IND data while supporting both IND intent classification and OOD detection. Our method designs a novel domain-regularized module (DRM) to reduce the overconfident phenomenon of a vanilla classifier, achieving a better generalization in both cases. Besides, DRM can be used as a drop-in replacement for the last layer in any neural network-based intent classifier, providing a low-cost strategy for a significant improvement. The evaluation on four datasets shows that our method built on BERT and RoBERTa models achieves state-of-the-art performance against existing approaches and the strong baselines we created for the comparisons.

2020

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Generating Dialogue Responses from a Semantic Latent Space
Wei-Jen Ko | Avik Ray | Yilin Shen | Hongxia Jin
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

Existing open-domain dialogue generation models are usually trained to mimic the gold response in the training set using cross-entropy loss on the vocabulary. However, a good response does not need to resemble the gold response, since there are multiple possible responses to a given prompt. In this work, we hypothesize that the current models are unable to integrate information from multiple semantically similar valid responses of a prompt, resulting in the generation of generic and uninformative responses. To address this issue, we propose an alternative to the end-to-end classification on vocabulary. We learn the pair relationship between the prompts and responses as a regression task on a latent space instead. In our novel dialog generation model, the representations of semantically related sentences are close to each other on the latent space. Human evaluation showed that learning the task on a continuous space can generate responses that are both relevant and informative.

2019

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A Progressive Model to Enable Continual Learning for Semantic Slot Filling
Yilin Shen | Xiangyu Zeng | Hongxia Jin
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing and the 9th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (EMNLP-IJCNLP)

Semantic slot filling is one of the major tasks in spoken language understanding (SLU). After a slot filling model is trained on precollected data, it is crucial to continually improve the model after deployment to learn users’ new expressions. As the data amount grows, it becomes infeasible to either store such huge data and repeatedly retrain the model on all data or fine tune the model only on new data without forgetting old expressions. In this paper, we introduce a novel progressive slot filling model, ProgModel. ProgModel consists of a novel context gate that transfers previously learned knowledge to a small size expanded component; and meanwhile enables this new component to be fast trained to learn from new data. As such, ProgModel learns the new knowledge by only using new data at each time and meanwhile preserves the previously learned expressions. Our experiments show that ProgModel needs much less training time and smaller model size to outperform various model fine tuning competitors by up to 4.24% and 3.03% on two benchmark datasets.

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Fast Domain Adaptation of Semantic Parsers via Paraphrase Attention
Avik Ray | Yilin Shen | Hongxia Jin
Proceedings of the 2nd Workshop on Deep Learning Approaches for Low-Resource NLP (DeepLo 2019)

Semantic parsers are used to convert user’s natural language commands to executable logical form in intelligent personal agents. Labeled datasets required to train such parsers are expensive to collect, and are never comprehensive. As a result, for effective post-deployment domain adaptation and personalization, semantic parsers are continuously retrained to learn new user vocabulary and paraphrase variety. However, state-of-the art attention based neural parsers are slow to retrain which inhibits real time domain adaptation. Secondly, these parsers do not leverage numerous paraphrases already present in the training dataset. Designing parsers which can simultaneously maintain high accuracy and fast retraining time is challenging. In this paper, we present novel paraphrase attention based sequence-to-sequence/tree parsers which support fast near real time retraining. In addition, our parsers often boost accuracy by jointly modeling the semantic dependencies of paraphrases. We evaluate our model on benchmark datasets to demonstrate upto 9X speedup in retraining time compared to existing parsers, as well as achieving state-of-the-art accuracy.

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SkillBot: Towards Automatic Skill Development via User Demonstration
Yilin Shen | Avik Ray | Hongxia Jin | Sandeep Nama
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Demonstrations)

We present SkillBot that takes the first step to enable end users to teach new skills in personal assistants (PA). Unlike existing PA products that need software developers to build new skills via IDE tools, an end user can use SkillBot to build new skills just by naturally demonstrating the task on device screen. SkillBot automatically develops a natural language understanding (NLU) engine and implements the action without the need of coding. On both benchmark and in-house datasets, we validate the competitive performance of SkillBot automatically built NLU. We also observe that it only takes a few minutes for an end user to build a new skill using SkillBot.

2018

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A New Concept of Deep Reinforcement Learning based Augmented General Tagging System
Yu Wang | Abhishek Patel | Hongxia Jin
Proceedings of the 27th International Conference on Computational Linguistics

In this paper, a new deep reinforcement learning based augmented general tagging system is proposed. The new system contains two parts: a deep neural network (DNN) based sequence labeling model and a deep reinforcement learning (DRL) based augmented tagger. The augmented tagger helps improve system performance by modeling the data with minority tags. The new system is evaluated on SLU and NLU sequence labeling tasks using ATIS and CoNLL-2003 benchmark datasets, to demonstrate the new system’s outstanding performance on general tagging tasks. Evaluated by F1 scores, it shows that the new system outperforms the current state-of-the-art model on ATIS dataset by 1.9% and that on CoNLL-2003 dataset by 1.4%.

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A Bi-Model Based RNN Semantic Frame Parsing Model for Intent Detection and Slot Filling
Yu Wang | Yilin Shen | Hongxia Jin
Proceedings of the 2018 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies, Volume 2 (Short Papers)

Intent detection and slot filling are two main tasks for building a spoken language understanding(SLU) system. Multiple deep learning based models have demonstrated good results on these tasks . The most effective algorithms are based on the structures of sequence to sequence models (or “encoder-decoder” models), and generate the intents and semantic tags either using separate models. Most of the previous studies, however, either treat the intent detection and slot filling as two separate parallel tasks, or use a sequence to sequence model to generate both semantic tags and intent. None of the approaches consider the cross-impact between the intent detection task and the slot filling task. In this paper, new Bi-model based RNN semantic frame parsing network structures are designed to perform the intent detection and slot filling tasks jointly, by considering their cross-impact to each other using two correlated bidirectional LSTMs (BLSTM). Our Bi-model structure with a decoder achieves state-of-art result on the benchmark ATIS data, with about 0.5% intent accuracy improvement and 0.9 % slot filling improvement.

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CRUISE: Cold-Start New Skill Development via Iterative Utterance Generation
Yilin Shen | Avik Ray | Abhishek Patel | Hongxia Jin
Proceedings of ACL 2018, System Demonstrations

We present a system, CRUISE, that guides ordinary software developers to build a high quality natural language understanding (NLU) engine from scratch. This is the fundamental step of building a new skill in personal assistants. Unlike existing solutions that require either developers or crowdsourcing to manually generate and annotate a large number of utterances, we design a hybrid rule-based and data-driven approach with the capability to iteratively generate more and more utterances. Our system only requires light human workload to iteratively prune incorrect utterances. CRUISE outputs a well trained NLU engine and a large scale annotated utterance corpus that third parties can use to develop their custom skills. Using both benchmark dataset and custom datasets we collected in real-world settings, we validate the high quality of CRUISE generated utterances via both competitive NLU performance and human evaluation. We also show the largely reduced human workload in terms of both cognitive load and human pruning time consumption.

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A Neural Transition-based Model for Nested Mention Recognition
Bailin Wang | Wei Lu | Yu Wang | Hongxia Jin
Proceedings of the 2018 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

It is common that entity mentions can contain other mentions recursively. This paper introduces a scalable transition-based method to model the nested structure of mentions. We first map a sentence with nested mentions to a designated forest where each mention corresponds to a constituent of the forest. Our shift-reduce based system then learns to construct the forest structure in a bottom-up manner through an action sequence whose maximal length is guaranteed to be three times of the sentence length. Based on Stack-LSTM which is employed to efficiently and effectively represent the states of the system in a continuous space, our system is further incorporated with a character-based component to capture letter-level patterns. Our model gets the state-of-the-art performances in ACE datasets, showing its effectiveness in detecting nested mentions.