Jason Lee


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LFTK: Handcrafted Features in Computational Linguistics
Bruce W. Lee | Jason Lee
Proceedings of the 18th Workshop on Innovative Use of NLP for Building Educational Applications (BEA 2023)

Past research has identified a rich set of handcrafted linguistic features that can potentially assist various tasks. However, their extensive number makes it difficult to effectively select and utilize existing handcrafted features. Coupled with the problem of inconsistent implementation across research works, there has been no categorization scheme or generally-accepted feature names. This creates unwanted confusion. Also, no actively-maintained open-source library extracts a wide variety of handcrafted features. The current handcrafted feature extraction practices have several inefficiencies, and a researcher often has to build such an extraction system from the ground up. We collect and categorize more than 220 popular handcrafted features grounded on past literature. Then, we conduct a correlation analysis study on several task-specific datasets and report the potential use cases of each feature. Lastly, we devise a multilingual handcrafted linguistic feature extraction system in a systematically expandable manner. We open-source our system to give the community a rich set of pre-implemented handcrafted features.

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Prompt-based Learning for Text Readability Assessment
Bruce W. Lee | Jason Lee
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EACL 2023

We propose the novel adaptation of a pre-trained seq2seq model for readability assessment. We prove that a seq2seq model - T5 or BART - can be adapted to discern which text is more difficult from two given texts (pairwise). As an exploratory study to prompt-learn a neural network for text readability in a text-to-text manner, we report useful tips for future work in seq2seq training and ranking-based approach to readability assessment. Specifically, we test nine input-output formats/prefixes and show that they can significantly influence the final model performance. Also, we argue that the combination of text-to-text training and pairwise ranking setup 1) enables leveraging multiple parallel text simplification data for teaching readability and 2) trains a neural model for the general concept of readability (therefore, better cross-domain generalization). At last, we report a 99.6% pairwise classification accuracy on Newsela and a 98.7% for OneStopEnglish, through a joint training approach. Our code is available at github.com/brucewlee/prompt-learning-readability.

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A Side-by-side Comparison of Transformers for Implicit Discourse Relation Classification
Bruce W. Lee | Bongseok Yang | Jason Lee
Proceedings of the 4th Workshop on Computational Approaches to Discourse (CODI 2023)

Though discourse parsing can help multiple NLP fields, there has been no wide language model search done on implicit discourse relation classification. This hinders researchers from fully utilizing public-available models in discourse analysis. This work is a straightforward, fine-tuned discourse performance comparison of 7 pre-trained language models. We use PDTB-3, a popular discourse relation annotated dataset. Through our model search, we raise SOTA to 0.671 ACC and obtain novel observations. Some are contrary to what has been reported before (Shi and Demberg, 2019b), that sentence-level pre-training objectives (NSP, SBO, SOP) generally fail to produce the best-performing model for implicit discourse relation classification. Counterintuitively, similar-sized PLMs with MLM and full attention led to better performance. Our code is publicly released.


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Pushing on Text Readability Assessment: A Transformer Meets Handcrafted Linguistic Features
Bruce W. Lee | Yoo Sung Jang | Jason Lee
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

We report two essential improvements in readability assessment: 1. three novel features in advanced semantics and 2. the timely evidence that traditional ML models (e.g. Random Forest, using handcrafted features) can combine with transformers (e.g. RoBERTa) to augment model performance. First, we explore suitable transformers and traditional ML models. Then, we extract 255 handcrafted linguistic features using self-developed extraction software. Finally, we assemble those to create several hybrid models, achieving state-of-the-art (SOTA) accuracy on popular datasets in readability assessment. The use of handcrafted features help model performance on smaller datasets. Notably, our RoBERTA-RF-T1 hybrid achieves the near-perfect classification accuracy of 99%, a 20.3% increase from the previous SOTA.


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Iterative Refinement in the Continuous Space for Non-Autoregressive Neural Machine Translation
Jason Lee | Raphael Shu | Kyunghyun Cho
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

We propose an efficient inference procedure for non-autoregressive machine translation that iteratively refines translation purely in the continuous space. Given a continuous latent variable model for machine translation (Shu et al., 2020), we train an inference network to approximate the gradient of the marginal log probability of the target sentence, using the latent variable instead. This allows us to use gradient-based optimization to find the target sentence at inference time that approximately maximizes its marginal probability. As each refinement step only involves computation in the latent space of low dimensionality (we use 8 in our experiments), we avoid computational overhead incurred by existing non-autoregressive inference procedures that often refine in token space. We compare our approach to a recently proposed EM-like inference procedure (Shu et al., 2020) that optimizes in a hybrid space, consisting of both discrete and continuous variables. We evaluate our approach on WMT’14 En→De, WMT’16 Ro→En and IWSLT’16 De→En, and observe two advantages over the EM-like inference: (1) it is computationally efficient, i.e. each refinement step is twice as fast, and (2) it is more effective, resulting in higher marginal probabilities and BLEU scores with the same number of refinement steps. On WMT’14 En→De, for instance, our approach is able to decode 6.2 times faster than the autoregressive model with minimal degradation to translation quality (0.9 BLEU).

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LXPER Index 2.0: Improving Text Readability Assessment Model for L2 English Students in Korea
Bruce W. Lee | Jason Lee
Proceedings of the 6th Workshop on Natural Language Processing Techniques for Educational Applications

Developing a text readability assessment model specifically for texts in a foreign English Language Training (ELT) curriculum has never had much attention in the field of Natural Language Processing. Hence, most developed models show extremely low accuracy for L2 English texts, up to the point where not many even serve as a fair comparison. In this paper, we investigate a text readability assessment model for L2 English learners in Korea. In accordance, we improve and expand the Text Corpus of the Korean ELT curriculum (CoKEC-text). Each text is labeled with its target grade level. We train our model with CoKEC-text and significantly improve the accuracy of readability assessment for texts in the Korean ELT curriculum.

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On the Discrepancy between Density Estimation and Sequence Generation
Jason Lee | Dustin Tran | Orhan Firat | Kyunghyun Cho
Proceedings of the Fourth Workshop on Structured Prediction for NLP

Many sequence-to-sequence generation tasks, including machine translation and text-to-speech, can be posed as estimating the density of the output y given the input x: p(y|x). Given this interpretation, it is natural to evaluate sequence-to-sequence models using conditional log-likelihood on a test set. However, the goal of sequence-to-sequence generation (or structured prediction) is to find the best output yˆ given an input x, and each task has its own downstream metric R that scores a model output by comparing against a set of references y*: R(yˆ, y* | x). While we hope that a model that excels in density estimation also performs well on the downstream metric, the exact correlation has not been studied for sequence generation tasks. In this paper, by comparing several density estimators on five machine translation tasks, we find that the correlation between rankings of models based on log-likelihood and BLEU varies significantly depending on the range of the model families being compared. First, log-likelihood is highly correlated with BLEU when we consider models within the same family (e.g. autoregressive models, or latent variable models with the same parameterization of the prior). However, we observe no correlation between rankings of models across different families: (1) among non-autoregressive latent variable models, a flexible prior distribution is better at density estimation but gives worse generation quality than a simple prior, and (2) autoregressive models offer the best translation performance overall, while latent variable models with a normalizing flow prior give the highest held-out log-likelihood across all datasets. Therefore, we recommend using a simple prior for the latent variable non-autoregressive model when fast generation speed is desired.


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Countering Language Drift via Visual Grounding
Jason Lee | Kyunghyun Cho | Douwe Kiela
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing and the 9th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (EMNLP-IJCNLP)

Emergent multi-agent communication protocols are very different from natural language and not easily interpretable by humans. We find that agents that were initially pretrained to produce natural language can also experience detrimental language drift: when a non-linguistic reward is used in a goal-based task, e.g. some scalar success metric, the communication protocol may easily and radically diverge from natural language. We recast translation as a multi-agent communication game and examine auxiliary training constraints for their effectiveness in mitigating language drift. We show that a combination of syntactic (language model likelihood) and semantic (visual grounding) constraints gives the best communication performance, allowing pre-trained agents to retain English syntax while learning to accurately convey the intended meaning.


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Deterministic Non-Autoregressive Neural Sequence Modeling by Iterative Refinement
Jason Lee | Elman Mansimov | Kyunghyun Cho
Proceedings of the 2018 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

We propose a conditional non-autoregressive neural sequence model based on iterative refinement. The proposed model is designed based on the principles of latent variable models and denoising autoencoders, and is generally applicable to any sequence generation task. We extensively evaluate the proposed model on machine translation (En-De and En-Ro) and image caption generation, and observe that it significantly speeds up decoding while maintaining the generation quality comparable to the autoregressive counterpart.


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Fully Character-Level Neural Machine Translation without Explicit Segmentation
Jason Lee | Kyunghyun Cho | Thomas Hofmann
Transactions of the Association for Computational Linguistics, Volume 5

Most existing machine translation systems operate at the level of words, relying on explicit segmentation to extract tokens. We introduce a neural machine translation (NMT) model that maps a source character sequence to a target character sequence without any segmentation. We employ a character-level convolutional network with max-pooling at the encoder to reduce the length of source representation, allowing the model to be trained at a speed comparable to subword-level models while capturing local regularities. Our character-to-character model outperforms a recently proposed baseline with a subword-level encoder on WMT’15 DE-EN and CS-EN, and gives comparable performance on FI-EN and RU-EN. We then demonstrate that it is possible to share a single character-level encoder across multiple languages by training a model on a many-to-one translation task. In this multilingual setting, the character-level encoder significantly outperforms the subword-level encoder on all the language pairs. We observe that on CS-EN, FI-EN and RU-EN, the quality of the multilingual character-level translation even surpasses the models specifically trained on that language pair alone, both in terms of the BLEU score and human judgment.