Jialu Li


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CLEAR: Improving Vision-Language Navigation with Cross-Lingual, Environment-Agnostic Representations
Jialu Li | Hao Tan | Mohit Bansal
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: NAACL 2022

Vision-and-Language Navigation (VLN) tasks require an agent to navigate through the environment based on language instructions. In this paper, we aim to solve two key challenges in this task: utilizing multilingual instructions for improved instruction-path grounding and navigating through new environments that are unseen during training. To address these challenges, first, our agent learns a shared and visually-aligned cross-lingual language representation for the three languages (English, Hindi and Telugu) in the Room-Across-Room dataset. Our language representation learning is guided by text pairs that are aligned by visual information. Second, our agent learns an environment-agnostic visual representation by maximizing the similarity between semantically-aligned image pairs (with constraints on object-matching) from different environments. Our environment agnostic visual representation can mitigate the environment bias induced by low-level visual information. Empirically, on the Room-Across-Room dataset, we show that our multi-lingual agent gets large improvements in all metrics over the strong baseline model when generalizing to unseen environments with the cross-lingual language representation and the environment-agnostic visual representation. Furthermore, we show that our learned language and visual representations can be successfully transferred to the Room-to-Room and Cooperative Vision-and-Dialogue Navigation task, and present detailed qualitative and quantitative generalization and grounding analysis.


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Improving Cross-Modal Alignment in Vision Language Navigation via Syntactic Information
Jialu Li | Hao Tan | Mohit Bansal
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Vision language navigation is the task that requires an agent to navigate through a 3D environment based on natural language instructions. One key challenge in this task is to ground instructions with the current visual information that the agent perceives. Most of the existing work employs soft attention over individual words to locate the instruction required for the next action. However, different words have different functions in a sentence (e.g., modifiers convey attributes, verbs convey actions). Syntax information like dependencies and phrase structures can aid the agent to locate important parts of the instruction. Hence, in this paper, we propose a navigation agent that utilizes syntax information derived from a dependency tree to enhance alignment between the instruction and the current visual scenes. Empirically, our agent outperforms the baseline model that does not use syntax information on the Room-to-Room dataset, especially in the unseen environment. Besides, our agent achieves the new state-of-the-art on Room-Across-Room dataset, which contains instructions in 3 languages (English, Hindi, and Telugu). We also show that our agent is better at aligning instructions with the current visual information via qualitative visualizations.

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NDH-Full: Learning and Evaluating Navigational Agents on Full-Length Dialogue
Hyounghun Kim | Jialu Li | Mohit Bansal
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Communication between human and mobile agents is getting increasingly important as such agents are widely deployed in our daily lives. Vision-and-Dialogue Navigation is one of the tasks that evaluate the agent’s ability to interact with humans for assistance and navigate based on natural language responses. In this paper, we explore the Navigation from Dialogue History (NDH) task, which is based on the Cooperative Vision-and-Dialogue Navigation (CVDN) dataset, and present a state-of-the-art model which is built upon Vision-Language transformers. However, despite achieving competitive performance, we find that the agent in the NDH task is not evaluated appropriately by the primary metric – Goal Progress. By analyzing the performance mismatch between Goal Progress and other metrics (e.g., normalized Dynamic Time Warping) from our state-of-the-art model, we show that NDH’s sub-path based task setup (i.e., navigating partial trajectory based on its correspondent subset of the full dialogue) does not provide the agent with enough supervision signal towards the goal region. Therefore, we propose a new task setup called NDH-Full which takes the full dialogue and the whole navigation path as one instance. We present a strong baseline model and show initial results on this new task. We further describe several approaches that we try, in order to improve the model performance (based on curriculum learning, pre-training, and data-augmentation), suggesting potential useful training methods on this new NDH-Full task.


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Exploring the Role of Argument Structure in Online Debate Persuasion
Jialu Li | Esin Durmus | Claire Cardie
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

Online debate forums provide users a platform to express their opinions on controversial topics while being exposed to opinions from diverse set of viewpoints. Existing work in Natural Language Processing (NLP) has shown that linguistic features extracted from the debate text and features encoding the characteristics of the audience are both critical in persuasion studies. In this paper, we aim to further investigate the role of discourse structure of the arguments from online debates in their persuasiveness. In particular, we use the factor graph model to obtain features for the argument structure of debates from an online debating platform and incorporate these features to an LSTM-based model to predict the debater that makes the most convincing arguments. We find that incorporating argument structure features play an essential role in achieving the best predictive performance in assessing the persuasiveness of the arguments on online debates.