Jiazhan Feng


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FAA: Fine-grained Attention Alignment for Cascade Document Ranking
Zhen Li | Chongyang Tao | Jiazhan Feng | Tao Shen | Dongyan Zhao | Xiubo Geng | Daxin Jiang
Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Document ranking aims at sorting a collection of documents with their relevance to a query. Contemporary methods explore more efficient transformers or divide long documents into passages to handle the long input. However, intensive query-irrelevant content may lead to harmful distraction and high query latency. Some recent works further propose cascade document ranking models that extract relevant passages with an efficient selector before ranking, however, their selection and ranking modules are almost independently optimized and deployed, leading to selecting error reinforcement and sub-optimal performance. In fact, the document ranker can provide fine-grained supervision to make the selector more generalizable and compatible, and the selector built upon a different structure can offer a distinct perspective to assist in document ranking. Inspired by this, we propose a fine-grained attention alignment approach to jointly optimize a cascade document ranking model. Specifically, we utilize the attention activations over the passages from the ranker as fine-grained attention feedback to optimize the selector. Meanwhile, we fuse the relevance scores from the passage selector into the ranker to assist in calculating the cooperative matching representation. Experiments on MS MARCO and TREC DL demonstrate the effectiveness of our method.

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CORE: Cooperative Training of Retriever-Reranker for Effective Dialogue Response Selection
Chongyang Tao | Jiazhan Feng | Tao Shen | Chang Liu | Juntao Li | Xiubo Geng | Daxin Jiang
Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Establishing retrieval-based dialogue systems that can select appropriate responses from the pre-built index has gained increasing attention. Recent common practice is to construct a two-stage pipeline with a fast retriever (e.g., bi-encoder) for first-stage recall followed by a smart response reranker (e.g., cross-encoder) for precise ranking. However, existing studies either optimize the retriever and reranker in independent ways, or distill the knowledge from a pre-trained reranker into the retriever in an asynchronous way, leading to sub-optimal performance of both modules. Thus, an open question remains about how to train them for a better combination of the best of both worlds. To this end, we present a cooperative training of the response retriever and the reranker whose parameters are dynamically optimized by the ground-truth labels as well as list-wise supervision signals from each other. As a result, the two modules can learn from each other and evolve together throughout the training. Experimental results on two benchmarks demonstrate the superiority of our method.

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MMDialog: A Large-scale Multi-turn Dialogue Dataset Towards Multi-modal Open-domain Conversation
Jiazhan Feng | Qingfeng Sun | Can Xu | Pu Zhao | Yaming Yang | Chongyang Tao | Dongyan Zhao | Qingwei Lin
Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Responding with multi-modal content has been recognized as an essential capability for an intelligent conversational agent. In this paper, we introduce the MMDialog dataset to facilitate multi-modal conversation better. MMDialog is composed of a curated set of 1.08 million real-world dialogues with 1.53 million unique images across 4,184 topics. MMDialog has two main and unique advantages. First, it is the largest multi-modal conversation dataset by the number of dialogues by 88x. Second, it contains massive topics to generalize the open domain. To build an engaging dialogue system with this dataset, we propose and normalize two response prediction tasks based on retrieval and generative scenarios. In addition, we build two baselines for the above tasks with state-of-the-art techniques and report their experimental performance. We also propose a novel evaluation metric MM-Relevance to measure the multi-modal responses. Our dataset is available in https://github.com/victorsungo/MMDialog.

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Attend, Select and Eliminate: Accelerating Multi-turn Response Selection with Dual-attention-based Content Elimination
Jianxin Liang | Chang Liu | Chongyang Tao | Jiazhan Feng | Dongyan Zhao
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2023

Although the incorporation of pre-trained language models (PLMs) significantly pushes the research frontier of multi-turn response selection, it brings a new issue of heavy computation costs. To alleviate this problem and make the PLM-based response selection model both effective and efficient, we propose an inference framework together with a post-training strategy that builds upon any pre-trained transformer-based response selection models to accelerate inference by progressively selecting and eliminating unimportant content under the guidance of context-response dual-attention. Specifically, at each transformer layer, we first identify the importance of each word based on context-to-response and response-to-context attention, then select a number of unimportant words to be eliminated following a retention configuration derived from evolutionary search while passing the rest of the representations into deeper layers. To mitigate the training-inference gap posed by content elimination, we introduce a post-training strategy where we use knowledge distillation to force the model with progressively eliminated content to mimic the predictions of the original model with no content elimination. Experiments on three benchmarks indicate that our method can effectively speeds-up SOTA models without much performance degradation and shows a better trade-off between speed and performance than previous methods.

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Length-Adaptive Distillation: Customizing Small Language Model for Dynamic Token Pruning
Chang Liu | Chongyang Tao | Jianxin Liang | Jiazhan Feng | Tao Shen | Quzhe Huang | Dongyan Zhao
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2023

Pre-trained language models greatly improve the performance of various tasks but at a cost of high computation overhead. To facilitate practical applications, there are mainly two lines of research to accelerate model inference: model compression and dynamic computation (e.g., dynamic token pruning). Existing works either adopt these methods individually or simply apply dynamic computation approaches upon a compressed small language model. We argue that they are sub-optimal since the two approaches are separately designed so the compressed model may not be tailored for dynamic computation. To tackle this problem and make compressed small language models faster, we propose Length-Adaptive Distillation, a two-stage knowledge distillation framework that aims to produce a customized small language model for dynamic token pruning. In the general distillation stage, we enforce the student to mimic and reconstruct the teacher’s output based on the dynamically pruned representations. Then in the task-specific distillation stage, the student is further accustomed to token pruning while absorbing the task-specific knowledge. Experimental results on GLUE benchmark demonstrate that our method can make the small language model more customized for dynamic token pruning and achieve better speed-performance trade-off.


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Rethinking Task-Specific Knowledge Distillation: Contextualized Corpus as Better Textbook
Chang Liu | Chongyang Tao | Jianxin Liang | Tao Shen | Jiazhan Feng | Quzhe Huang | Dongyan Zhao
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Knowledge distillation has been proven effective when customizing small language models for specific tasks. Here, a corpus as ‘textbook’ plays an indispensable role, only through which the teacher can teach the student. Prevailing methods adopt a two-stage distillation paradigm: general distillation first with task-agnostic general corpus and task-specific distillation next with augmented task-specific corpus. We argue that such a paradigm may not be optimal. In general distillation, it’s extravagant to let the diverse but desultory general knowledge overwhelms the limited model capacity of the student. While in task-specific distillation, the task corpus is usually limited and narrow, preventing the student from learning enough knowledge. To mitigate the issues in the two gapped corpora, we present a better textbook for the student to learn: contextualized corpus that contextualizes task corpus with large-scale general corpus through relevance-based text retrieval. Experimental results on GLUE benchmark demonstrate that contextualized corpus is the better textbook compared with jointly using general corpus and augmented task-specific corpus. Surprisingly, it enables task-specific distillation from scratch without general distillation while maintaining comparable performance, making it more flexible to customize the student model with desired model size under various computation constraints.

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Reciprocal Learning of Knowledge Retriever and Response Ranker for Knowledge-Grounded Conversations
Jiazhan Feng | Chongyang Tao | Zhen Li | Chang Liu | Tao Shen | Dongyan Zhao
Proceedings of the 29th International Conference on Computational Linguistics

Grounding dialogue agents with knowledge documents has sparked increased attention in both academia and industry. Recently, a growing body of work is trying to build retrieval-based knowledge-grounded dialogue systems. While promising, these approaches require collecting pairs of dialogue context and the corresponding ground-truth knowledge sentences that contain the information regarding the dialogue context. Unfortunately, hand-labeling data to that end is time-consuming, and many datasets and applications lack such knowledge annotations. In this paper, we propose a reciprocal learning approach to jointly optimize a knowledge retriever and a response ranker for knowledge-grounded response retrieval without ground-truth knowledge labels. Specifically, the knowledge retriever uses the feedback from the response ranker as pseudo supervised signals of knowledge retrieval for updating its parameters, while the response ranker also receives the top-ranked knowledge sentences from knowledge retriever for optimization. Evaluation results on two public benchmarks show that our model can significantly outperform previous state-of-the-art methods.

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Multi-Granularity Structural Knowledge Distillation for Language Model Compression
Chang Liu | Chongyang Tao | Jiazhan Feng | Dongyan Zhao
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Transferring the knowledge to a small model through distillation has raised great interest in recent years. Prevailing methods transfer the knowledge derived from mono-granularity language units (e.g., token-level or sample-level), which is not enough to represent the rich semantics of a text and may lose some vital knowledge. Besides, these methods form the knowledge as individual representations or their simple dependencies, neglecting abundant structural relations among intermediate representations. To overcome the problems, we present a novel knowledge distillation framework that gathers intermediate representations from multiple semantic granularities (e.g., tokens, spans and samples) and forms the knowledge as more sophisticated structural relations specified as the pair-wise interactions and the triplet-wise geometric angles based on multi-granularity representations. Moreover, we propose distilling the well-organized multi-granularity structural knowledge to the student hierarchically across layers. Experimental results on GLUE benchmark demonstrate that our method outperforms advanced distillation methods.

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How to Represent Context Better? An Empirical Study on Context Modeling for Multi-turn Response Selection
Jiazhan Feng | Chongyang Tao | Chang Liu | Rui Yan | Dongyan Zhao
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2022

Building retrieval-based dialogue models that can predict appropriate responses based on the understanding of multi-turn context messages is a challenging problem. Early models usually concatenate all utterances or independently encode each dialogue turn, which may lead to an inadequate understanding of dialogue status. Although a few researchers have noticed the importance of context modeling in multi-turn response prediction, there is no systematic comparison to analyze how to model context effectively and no framework to unify those methods. In this paper, instead of configuring new architectures, we investigate how to improve existing models with a better context modeling method. Specifically, we heuristically summarize three categories of turn-aware context modeling strategies which model the context messages from the perspective of sequential relationship, local relationship, and query-aware manner respectively. A Turn-Aware Context Modeling (TACM) layer is explored to flexibly adapt and unify these context modeling strategies to several advanced response selection models. Evaluation results on three public data sets indicate that employing each individual context modeling strategy or multiple strategies can consistently improve the performance of existing models.


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A Pre-training Strategy for Zero-Resource Response Selection in Knowledge-Grounded Conversations
Chongyang Tao | Changyu Chen | Jiazhan Feng | Ji-Rong Wen | Rui Yan
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)

Recently, many studies are emerging towards building a retrieval-based dialogue system that is able to effectively leverage background knowledge (e.g., documents) when conversing with humans. However, it is non-trivial to collect large-scale dialogues that are naturally grounded on the background documents, which hinders the effective and adequate training of knowledge selection and response matching. To overcome the challenge, we consider decomposing the training of the knowledge-grounded response selection into three tasks including: 1) query-passage matching task; 2) query-dialogue history matching task; 3) multi-turn response matching task, and joint learning all these tasks in a unified pre-trained language model. The former two tasks could help the model in knowledge selection and comprehension, while the last task is designed for matching the proper response with the given query and background knowledge (dialogue history). By this means, the model can be learned to select relevant knowledge and distinguish proper response, with the help of ad-hoc retrieval corpora and a large number of ungrounded multi-turn dialogues. Experimental results on two benchmarks of knowledge-grounded response selection indicate that our model can achieve comparable performance with several existing methods that rely on crowd-sourced data for training.


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Learning a Matching Model with Co-teaching for Multi-turn Response Selection in Retrieval-based Dialogue Systems
Jiazhan Feng | Chongyang Tao | Wei Wu | Yansong Feng | Dongyan Zhao | Rui Yan
Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

We study learning of a matching model for response selection in retrieval-based dialogue systems. The problem is equally important with designing the architecture of a model, but is less explored in existing literature. To learn a robust matching model from noisy training data, we propose a general co-teaching framework with three specific teaching strategies that cover both teaching with loss functions and teaching with data curriculum. Under the framework, we simultaneously learn two matching models with independent training sets. In each iteration, one model transfers the knowledge learned from its training set to the other model, and at the same time receives the guide from the other model on how to overcome noise in training. Through being both a teacher and a student, the two models learn from each other and get improved together. Evaluation results on two public data sets indicate that the proposed learning approach can generally and significantly improve the performance of existing matching models.