Jianshu Chen


2022

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Improving Machine Reading Comprehension with Contextualized Commonsense Knowledge
Kai Sun | Dian Yu | Jianshu Chen | Dong Yu | Claire Cardie
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

To perform well on a machine reading comprehension (MRC) task, machine readers usually require commonsense knowledge that is not explicitly mentioned in the given documents. This paper aims to extract a new kind of structured knowledge from scripts and use it to improve MRC. We focus on scripts as they contain rich verbal and nonverbal messages, and two relevant messages originally conveyed by different modalities during a short time period may serve as arguments of a piece of commonsense knowledge as they function together in daily communications. To save human efforts to name relations, we propose to represent relations implicitly by situating such an argument pair in a context and call it contextualized knowledge. To use the extracted knowledge to improve MRC, we compare several fine-tuning strategies to use the weakly-labeled MRC data constructed based on contextualized knowledge and further design a teacher-student paradigm with multiple teachers to facilitate the transfer of knowledge in weakly-labeled MRC data. Experimental results show that our paradigm outperforms other methods that use weakly-labeled data and improves a state-of-the-art baseline by 4.3% in accuracy on a Chinese multiple-choice MRC dataset C3, wherein most of the questions require unstated prior knowledge. We also seek to transfer the knowledge to other tasks by simply adapting the resulting student reader, yielding a 2.9% improvement in F1 on a relation extraction dataset DialogRE, demonstrating the potential usefulness of the knowledge for non-MRC tasks that require document comprehension.

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Learning-by-Narrating: Narrative Pre-Training for Zero-Shot Dialogue Comprehension
Chao Zhao | Wenlin Yao | Dian Yu | Kaiqiang Song | Dong Yu | Jianshu Chen
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 2: Short Papers)

Comprehending a dialogue requires a model to capture diverse kinds of key information in the utterances, which are either scattered around or implicitly implied in different turns of conversations. Therefore, dialogue comprehension requires diverse capabilities such as paraphrasing, summarizing, and commonsense reasoning. Towards the objective of pre-training a zero-shot dialogue comprehension model, we develop a novel narrative-guided pre-training strategy that learns by narrating the key information from a dialogue input. However, the dialogue-narrative parallel corpus for such a pre-training strategy is currently unavailable. For this reason, we first construct a dialogue-narrative parallel corpus by automatically aligning movie subtitles and their synopses. We then pre-train a BART model on the data and evaluate its performance on four dialogue-based tasks that require comprehension. Experimental results show that our model not only achieves superior zero-shot performance but also exhibits stronger fine-grained dialogue comprehension capabilities. The data and code are available at https://github.com/zhaochaocs/Diana.

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C-MORE: Pretraining to Answer Open-Domain Questions by Consulting Millions of References
Xiang Yue | Xiaoman Pan | Wenlin Yao | Dian Yu | Dong Yu | Jianshu Chen
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 2: Short Papers)

We consider the problem of pretraining a two-stage open-domain question answering (QA) system (retriever + reader) with strong transfer capabilities. The key challenge is how to construct a large amount of high-quality question-answer-context triplets without task-specific annotations. Specifically, the triplets should align well with downstream tasks by: (i) covering a wide range of domains (for open-domain applications), (ii) linking a question to its semantically relevant context with supporting evidence (for training the retriever), and (iii) identifying the correct answer in the context (for training the reader). Previous pretraining approaches generally fall short of one or more of these requirements. In this work, we automatically construct a large-scale corpus that meets all three criteria by consulting millions of references cited within Wikipedia. The well-aligned pretraining signals benefit both the retriever and the reader significantly. Our pretrained retriever leads to 2%-10% absolute gains in top-20 accuracy. And with our pretrained reader, the entire system improves by up to 4% in exact match.

2021

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Connect-the-Dots: Bridging Semantics between Words and Definitions via Aligning Word Sense Inventories
Wenlin Yao | Xiaoman Pan | Lifeng Jin | Jianshu Chen | Dian Yu | Dong Yu
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Word Sense Disambiguation (WSD) aims to automatically identify the exact meaning of one word according to its context. Existing supervised models struggle to make correct predictions on rare word senses due to limited training data and can only select the best definition sentence from one predefined word sense inventory (e.g., WordNet). To address the data sparsity problem and generalize the model to be independent of one predefined inventory, we propose a gloss alignment algorithm that can align definition sentences (glosses) with the same meaning from different sense inventories to collect rich lexical knowledge. We then train a model to identify semantic equivalence between a target word in context and one of its glosses using these aligned inventories, which exhibits strong transfer capability to many WSD tasks. Experiments on benchmark datasets show that the proposed method improves predictions on both frequent and rare word senses, outperforming prior work by 1.2% on the All-Words WSD Task and 4.3% on the Low-Shot WSD Task. Evaluation on WiC Task also indicates that our method can better capture word meanings in context.

2020

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ZPR2: Joint Zero Pronoun Recovery and Resolution using Multi-Task Learning and BERT
Linfeng Song | Kun Xu | Yue Zhang | Jianshu Chen | Dong Yu
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Zero pronoun recovery and resolution aim at recovering the dropped pronoun and pointing out its anaphoric mentions, respectively. We propose to better explore their interaction by solving both tasks together, while the previous work treats them separately. For zero pronoun resolution, we study this task in a more realistic setting, where no parsing trees or only automatic trees are available, while most previous work assumes gold trees. Experiments on two benchmarks show that joint modeling significantly outperforms our baseline that already beats the previous state of the arts.

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Recurrent Chunking Mechanisms for Long-Text Machine Reading Comprehension
Hongyu Gong | Yelong Shen | Dian Yu | Jianshu Chen | Dong Yu
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

In this paper, we study machine reading comprehension (MRC) on long texts: where a model takes as inputs a lengthy document and a query, extracts a text span from the document as an answer. State-of-the-art models (e.g., BERT) tend to use a stack of transformer layers that are pre-trained from a large number of unlabeled language corpora to encode the joint contextual information of query and document. However, these transformer models can only take as input a fixed-length (e.g., 512) text. To deal with even longer text inputs, previous approaches usually chunk them into equally-spaced segments and predict answers based on each segment independently without considering the information from other segments. As a result, they may form segments that fail to cover complete answers or retain insufficient contexts around the correct answer required for question answering. Moreover, they are less capable of answering questions that need cross-segment information. We propose to let a model learn to chunk in a more flexible way via reinforcement learning: a model can decide the next segment that it wants to process in either direction. We also apply recurrent mechanisms to enable information to flow across segments. Experiments on three MRC tasks – CoQA, QuAC, and TriviaQA – demonstrate the effectiveness of our proposed recurrent chunking mechanisms: we can obtain segments that are more likely to contain complete answers and at the same time provide sufficient contexts around the ground truth answers for better predictions.

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Logical Natural Language Generation from Open-Domain Tables
Wenhu Chen | Jianshu Chen | Yu Su | Zhiyu Chen | William Yang Wang
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Neural natural language generation (NLG) models have recently shown remarkable progress in fluency and coherence. However, existing studies on neural NLG are primarily focused on surface-level realizations with limited emphasis on logical inference, an important aspect of human thinking and language. In this paper, we suggest a new NLG task where a model is tasked with generating natural language statements that can be logically entailed by the facts in an open-domain semi-structured table. To facilitate the study of the proposed logical NLG problem, we use the existing TabFact dataset~(CITATION) featured with a wide range of logical/symbolic inferences as our testbed, and propose new automatic metrics to evaluate the fidelity of generation models w.r.t. logical inference. The new task poses challenges to the existing monotonic generation frameworks due to the mismatch between sequence order and logical order. In our experiments, we comprehensively survey different generation architectures (LSTM, Transformer, Pre-Trained LM) trained with different algorithms (RL, Adversarial Training, Coarse-to-Fine) on the dataset and made following observations: 1) Pre-Trained LM can significantly boost both the fluency and logical fidelity metrics, 2) RL and Adversarial Training are trading fluency for fidelity, 3) Coarse-to-Fine generation can help partially alleviate the fidelity issue while maintaining high language fluency. The code and data are available at https://github.com/wenhuchen/LogicNLG.

2019

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DREAM: A Challenge Data Set and Models for Dialogue-Based Reading Comprehension
Kai Sun | Dian Yu | Jianshu Chen | Dong Yu | Yejin Choi | Claire Cardie
Transactions of the Association for Computational Linguistics, Volume 7

We present DREAM, the first dialogue-based multiple-choice reading comprehension data set. Collected from English as a Foreign Language examinations designed by human experts to evaluate the comprehension level of Chinese learners of English, our data set contains 10,197 multiple-choice questions for 6,444 dialogues. In contrast to existing reading comprehension data sets, DREAM is the first to focus on in-depth multi-turn multi-party dialogue understanding. DREAM is likely to present significant challenges for existing reading comprehension systems: 84% of answers are non-extractive, 85% of questions require reasoning beyond a single sentence, and 34% of questions also involve commonsense knowledge. We apply several popular neural reading comprehension models that primarily exploit surface information within the text and find them to, at best, just barely outperform a rule-based approach. We next investigate the effects of incorporating dialogue structure and different kinds of general world knowledge into both rule-based and (neural and non-neural) machine learning-based reading comprehension models. Experimental results on the DREAM data set show the effectiveness of dialogue structure and general world knowledge. DREAM is available at https://dataset.org/dream/.

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Improving Pre-Trained Multilingual Model with Vocabulary Expansion
Hai Wang | Dian Yu | Kai Sun | Jianshu Chen | Dong Yu
Proceedings of the 23rd Conference on Computational Natural Language Learning (CoNLL)

Recently, pre-trained language models have achieved remarkable success in a broad range of natural language processing tasks. However, in multilingual setting, it is extremely resource-consuming to pre-train a deep language model over large-scale corpora for each language. Instead of exhaustively pre-training monolingual language models independently, an alternative solution is to pre-train a powerful multilingual deep language model over large-scale corpora in hundreds of languages. However, the vocabulary size for each language in such a model is relatively small, especially for low-resource languages. This limitation inevitably hinders the performance of these multilingual models on tasks such as sequence labeling, wherein in-depth token-level or sentence-level understanding is essential. In this paper, inspired by previous methods designed for monolingual settings, we investigate two approaches (i.e., joint mapping and mixture mapping) based on a pre-trained multilingual model BERT for addressing the out-of-vocabulary (OOV) problem on a variety of tasks, including part-of-speech tagging, named entity recognition, machine translation quality estimation, and machine reading comprehension. Experimental results show that using mixture mapping is more promising. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first work that attempts to address and discuss the OOV issue in multilingual settings.

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Evidence Sentence Extraction for Machine Reading Comprehension
Hai Wang | Dian Yu | Kai Sun | Jianshu Chen | Dong Yu | David McAllester | Dan Roth
Proceedings of the 23rd Conference on Computational Natural Language Learning (CoNLL)

Remarkable success has been achieved in the last few years on some limited machine reading comprehension (MRC) tasks. However, it is still difficult to interpret the predictions of existing MRC models. In this paper, we focus on extracting evidence sentences that can explain or support the answers of multiple-choice MRC tasks, where the majority of answer options cannot be directly extracted from reference documents. Due to the lack of ground truth evidence sentence labels in most cases, we apply distant supervision to generate imperfect labels and then use them to train an evidence sentence extractor. To denoise the noisy labels, we apply a recently proposed deep probabilistic logic learning framework to incorporate both sentence-level and cross-sentence linguistic indicators for indirect supervision. We feed the extracted evidence sentences into existing MRC models and evaluate the end-to-end performance on three challenging multiple-choice MRC datasets: MultiRC, RACE, and DREAM, achieving comparable or better performance than the same models that take as input the full reference document. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first work extracting evidence sentences for multiple-choice MRC.

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Improving Question Answering with External Knowledge
Xiaoman Pan | Kai Sun | Dian Yu | Jianshu Chen | Heng Ji | Claire Cardie | Dong Yu
Proceedings of the 2nd Workshop on Machine Reading for Question Answering

We focus on multiple-choice question answering (QA) tasks in subject areas such as science, where we require both broad background knowledge and the facts from the given subject-area reference corpus. In this work, we explore simple yet effective methods for exploiting two sources of external knowledge for subject-area QA. The first enriches the original subject-area reference corpus with relevant text snippets extracted from an open-domain resource (i.e., Wikipedia) that cover potentially ambiguous concepts in the question and answer options. As in other QA research, the second method simply increases the amount of training data by appending additional in-domain subject-area instances. Experiments on three challenging multiple-choice science QA tasks (i.e., ARC-Easy, ARC-Challenge, and OpenBookQA) demonstrate the effectiveness of our methods: in comparison to the previous state-of-the-art, we obtain absolute gains in accuracy of up to 8.1%, 13.0%, and 12.8%, respectively. While we observe consistent gains when we introduce knowledge from Wikipedia, we find that employing additional QA training instances is not uniformly helpful: performance degrades when the added instances exhibit a higher level of difficulty than the original training data. As one of the first studies on exploiting unstructured external knowledge for subject-area QA, we hope our methods, observations, and discussion of the exposed limitations may shed light on further developments in the area.

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Semantically Conditioned Dialog Response Generation via Hierarchical Disentangled Self-Attention
Wenhu Chen | Jianshu Chen | Pengda Qin | Xifeng Yan | William Yang Wang
Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Semantically controlled neural response generation on limited-domain has achieved great performance. However, moving towards multi-domain large-scale scenarios are shown to be difficult because the possible combinations of semantic inputs grow exponentially with the number of domains. To alleviate such scalability issue, we exploit the structure of dialog acts to build a multi-layer hierarchical graph, where each act is represented as a root-to-leaf route on the graph. Then, we incorporate such graph structure prior as an inductive bias to build a hierarchical disentangled self-attention network, where we disentangle attention heads to model designated nodes on the dialog act graph. By activating different (disentangled) heads at each layer, combinatorially many dialog act semantics can be modeled to control the neural response generation. On the large-scale Multi-Domain-WOZ dataset, our model can yield a significant improvement over the baselines on various automatic and human evaluation metrics.

2018

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XL-NBT: A Cross-lingual Neural Belief Tracking Framework
Wenhu Chen | Jianshu Chen | Yu Su | Xin Wang | Dong Yu | Xifeng Yan | William Yang Wang
Proceedings of the 2018 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Task-oriented dialog systems are becoming pervasive, and many companies heavily rely on them to complement human agents for customer service in call centers. With globalization, the need for providing cross-lingual customer support becomes more urgent than ever. However, cross-lingual support poses great challenges—it requires a large amount of additional annotated data from native speakers. In order to bypass the expensive human annotation and achieve the first step towards the ultimate goal of building a universal dialog system, we set out to build a cross-lingual state tracking framework. Specifically, we assume that there exists a source language with dialog belief tracking annotations while the target languages have no annotated dialog data of any form. Then, we pre-train a state tracker for the source language as a teacher, which is able to exploit easy-to-access parallel data. We then distill and transfer its own knowledge to the student state tracker in target languages. We specifically discuss two types of common parallel resources: bilingual corpus and bilingual dictionary, and design different transfer learning strategies accordingly. Experimentally, we successfully use English state tracker as the teacher to transfer its knowledge to both Italian and German trackers and achieve promising results.

2016

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Deep Reinforcement Learning with a Combinatorial Action Space for Predicting Popular Reddit Threads
Ji He | Mari Ostendorf | Xiaodong He | Jianshu Chen | Jianfeng Gao | Lihong Li | Li Deng
Proceedings of the 2016 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

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Deep Reinforcement Learning with a Natural Language Action Space
Ji He | Jianshu Chen | Xiaodong He | Jianfeng Gao | Lihong Li | Li Deng | Mari Ostendorf
Proceedings of the 54th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)