Jiaoda Li


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A Transformer with Stack Attention
Jiaoda Li | Jennifer White | Mrinmaya Sachan | Ryan Cotterell
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: NAACL 2024

Natural languages are believed to be (mildly) context-sensitive. Despite underpinning remarkably capable large language models, transformers are unable to model many context-free language tasks. In an attempt to address this limitation in the modeling power of transformer-based language models, we propose augmenting them with a differentiable, stack-based attention mechanism. Our stack-basedattention mechanism can be incorporated into any transformer-based language model and adds a level of interpretability to the model. We show that the addition of our stack-based attention mechanism enables the transformer to model some, but not all, deterministic context-freelanguages.


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Towards a Mechanistic Interpretation of Multi-Step Reasoning Capabilities of Language Models
Yifan Hou | Jiaoda Li | Yu Fei | Alessandro Stolfo | Wangchunshu Zhou | Guangtao Zeng | Antoine Bosselut | Mrinmaya Sachan
Proceedings of the 2023 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Recent work has shown that language models (LMs) have strong multi-step (i.e., procedural) reasoning capabilities. However, it is unclear whether LMs perform these tasks by cheating with answers memorized from pretraining corpus, or, via a multi-step reasoning mechanism. In this paper, we try to answer this question by exploring a mechanistic interpretation of LMs for multi-step reasoning tasks. Concretely, we hypothesize that the LM implicitly embeds a reasoning tree resembling the correct reasoning process within it. We test this hypothesis by introducing a new probing approach (called MechanisticProbe) that recovers the reasoning tree from the model’s attention patterns. We use our probe to analyze two LMs: GPT-2 on a synthetic task (k-th smallest element), and LLaMA on two simple language-based reasoning tasks (ProofWriter & AI2 Reasoning Challenge). We show that MechanisticProbe is able to detect the information of the reasoning tree from the model’s attentions for most examples, suggesting that the LM indeed is going through a process of multi-step reasoning within its architecture in many cases.


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Probing via Prompting
Jiaoda Li | Ryan Cotterell | Mrinmaya Sachan
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Probing is a popular approach to understand what linguistic information is contained in the representations of pre-trained language models. However, the mechanism of selecting the probe model has recently been subject to intense debate, as it is not clear if the probes are merely extracting information or modelling the linguistic property themselves. To address this challenge, this paper introduces a novel model-free approach to probing via prompting, which formulates probing as a prompting task. We conduct experiments on five probing tasks and show that PP is comparable or better at extracting information than diagnostic probes while learning much less on its own. We further combine the probing via prompting approach with pruning to analyze where the model stores the linguistic information in its architecture. Finally, we apply the probing via prompting approach to examine the usefulness of a linguistic property for pre-training by removing the heads that are essential to it and evaluating the resulting model’s performance on language modeling.


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Vision Matters When It Should: Sanity Checking Multimodal Machine Translation Models
Jiaoda Li | Duygu Ataman | Rico Sennrich
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Multimodal machine translation (MMT) systems have been shown to outperform their text-only neural machine translation (NMT) counterparts when visual context is available. However, recent studies have also shown that the performance of MMT models is only marginally impacted when the associated image is replaced with an unrelated image or noise, which suggests that the visual context might not be exploited by the model at all. We hypothesize that this might be caused by the nature of the commonly used evaluation benchmark, also known as Multi30K, where the translations of image captions were prepared without actually showing the images to human translators. In this paper, we present a qualitative study that examines the role of datasets in stimulating the leverage of visual modality and we propose methods to highlight the importance of visual signals in the datasets which demonstrate improvements in reliance of models on the source images. Our findings suggest the research on effective MMT architectures is currently impaired by the lack of suitable datasets and careful consideration must be taken in creation of future MMT datasets, for which we also provide useful insights.

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Differentiable Subset Pruning of Transformer Heads
Jiaoda Li | Ryan Cotterell | Mrinmaya Sachan
Transactions of the Association for Computational Linguistics, Volume 9

Multi-head attention, a collection of several attention mechanisms that independently attend to different parts of the input, is the key ingredient in the Transformer. Recent work has shown, however, that a large proportion of the heads in a Transformer’s multi-head attention mechanism can be safely pruned away without significantly harming the performance of the model; such pruning leads to models that are noticeably smaller and faster in practice. Our work introduces a new head pruning technique that we term differentiable subset pruning. ntuitively, our method learns per- head importance variables and then enforces a user-specified hard constraint on the number of unpruned heads. he importance variables are learned via stochastic gradient descent. e conduct experiments on natural language inference and machine translation; we show that differentiable subset pruning performs comparably or better than previous works while offering precise control of the sparsity level.1