Joshua Maynez


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Benchmarking Large Language Model Capabilities for Conditional Generation
Joshua Maynez | Priyanka Agrawal | Sebastian Gehrmann
Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Pre-trained large language models (PLMs) underly most new developments in natural language processing. They have shifted the field from application-specific model pipelines to a single model that is adapted to a wide range of tasks. Autoregressive PLMs like GPT-3 or PaLM and associated techniques like fewshot learning, have additionally shifted the output modality to generation instead of classification or regression. Despite their ubiquitous use, the generation quality of language models is rarely evaluated when these models are introduced. Additionally, it is unclear how existing generation tasks–while they can be used to compare systems at a high level–relate to the real world use cases for which people have been adopting them. In this work, we discuss how to adapt existing application-specific generation benchmarks to PLMs and provide an in-depth, empirical study of the limitations and capabilities of PLMs in natural language generation tasks along dimensions such as scale, architecture, input and output language. Our results show that PLMs differ in their applicability to different data regimes and their generalization to multiple languages. They further inform practitioners as to which PLMs to use for a given generation task setup. We share best practices to be taken into consideration when benchmarking generation capabilities during the development of upcoming PLMs.

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Multilingual Summarization with Factual Consistency Evaluation
Roee Aharoni | Shashi Narayan | Joshua Maynez | Jonathan Herzig | Elizabeth Clark | Mirella Lapata
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2023

Abstractive summarization has enjoyed renewed interest in recent years, thanks to pre-trained language models and the availability of large-scale datasets. Despite promising results, current models still suffer from generating factually inconsistent summaries, reducing their utility for real-world application. Several recent efforts attempt to address this by devising models that automatically detect factual inconsistencies in machine generated summaries. However, they focus exclusively on English, a language with abundant resources. In this work, we leverage factual consistency evaluation models to improve multilingual summarization. We explore two intuitive approaches to mitigate hallucinations based on the signal provided by a multilingual NLI model, namely data filtering and controlled generation. Experimental results in the 45 languages from the XLSum dataset show gains over strong baselines in both automatic and human evaluation. We release models and human judgements of summaries to foster progress towards more factually consistent multilingual summarization.

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OpineSum: Entailment-based self-training for abstractive opinion summarization
Annie Louis | Joshua Maynez
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2023

A typical product or place often has hundreds of reviews, and summarization of these texts is an important and challenging problem. Recent progress on abstractive summarization in domains such as news has been driven by supervised systems trained on hundreds of thousands of news articles paired with human-written summaries. However for opinion texts, such large scale datasets are rarely available. Unsupervised methods, self-training, and few-shot learning approaches bridge that gap. In this work, we present a novel self-training approach, OpineSum for abstractive opinion summarization. The self-training summaries in this approach are built automatically using a novel application of textual entailment and capture the consensus of opinions across the various reviews for an item. This method can be used to obtain silver-standard summaries on a large scale and train both unsupervised and few-shot abstractive summarization systems. OpineSum outperforms strong peer systems in both settings.

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On Uncertainty Calibration and Selective Generation in Probabilistic Neural Summarization: A Benchmark Study
Polina Zablotskaia | Du Phan | Joshua Maynez | Shashi Narayan | Jie Ren | Jeremiah Liu
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2023

Modern deep models for summarization attains impressive benchmark performance, but they are prone to generating miscalibrated predictive uncertainty. This means that they assign high confidence to low-quality predictions, leading to compromised reliability and trustworthiness in real-world applications. Probabilistic deep learning methods are common solutions to the miscalibration problem. However, their relative effectiveness in complex autoregressive summarization tasks are not well-understood. In this work, we thoroughly investigate different state-of-the-art probabilistic methods’ effectiveness in improving the uncertainty quality of the neural summarization models, across three large-scale benchmarks with varying difficulty using our newly introduced evaluation protocol. We show that the probabilistic methods consistently improve the model’s generation and uncertainty quality, leading to improved selective generation performance (i.e., abstaining from low-quality summaries) in practice. We also reveal notable failure patterns of probabilistic methods widely-adopted in NLP community (e.g., Deep Ensemble and Monte Carlo Dropout), cautioning the importance of choosing appropriate method for the data setting.

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SEAHORSE: A Multilingual, Multifaceted Dataset for Summarization Evaluation
Elizabeth Clark | Shruti Rijhwani | Sebastian Gehrmann | Joshua Maynez | Roee Aharoni | Vitaly Nikolaev | Thibault Sellam | Aditya Siddhant | Dipanjan Das | Ankur Parikh
Proceedings of the 2023 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Reliable automatic evaluation of summarization systems is challenging due to the multifaceted and subjective nature of the task. This is especially the case for languages other than English, where human evaluations are scarce. In this work, we introduce SEAHORSE, a dataset for multilingual, multifaceted summarization evaluation. SEAHORSE consists of 96K summaries with human ratings along 6 dimensions of text quality: comprehensibility, repetition, grammar, attribution, main ideas, and conciseness, covering 6 languages, 9 systems, and 4 datasets. As a result of its size and scope, SEAHORSE can serve both as a benchmark to evaluate learnt metrics, as well as a large-scale resource for training such metrics. We show that metrics trained with SEAHORSE achieve strong performance on the out-of-domain meta-evaluation benchmarks TRUE (Honovich et al., 2022) and mFACE (Aharoni et al., 2022). We make the SEAHORSE dataset and metrics publicly available for future research on multilingual and multifaceted summarization evaluation.

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Conditional Generation with a Question-Answering Blueprint
Shashi Narayan | Joshua Maynez | Reinald Kim Amplayo | Kuzman Ganchev | Annie Louis | Fantine Huot | Anders Sandholm | Dipanjan Das | Mirella Lapata
Transactions of the Association for Computational Linguistics, Volume 11

The ability to convey relevant and faithful information is critical for many tasks in conditional generation and yet remains elusive for neural seq-to-seq models whose outputs often reveal hallucinations and fail to correctly cover important details. In this work, we advocate planning as a useful intermediate representation for rendering conditional generation less opaque and more grounded. We propose a new conceptualization of text plans as a sequence of question-answer (QA) pairs and enhance existing datasets (e.g., for summarization) with a QA blueprint operating as a proxy for content selection (i.e., what to say) and planning (i.e., in what order). We obtain blueprints automatically by exploiting state-of-the-art question generation technology and convert input-output pairs into input-blueprint-output tuples. We develop Transformer-based models, each varying in how they incorporate the blueprint in the generated output (e.g., as a global plan or iteratively). Evaluation across metrics and datasets demonstrates that blueprint models are more factual than alternatives which do not resort to planning and allow tighter control of the generation output.

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Text-Blueprint: An Interactive Platform for Plan-based Conditional Generation
Fantine Huot | Joshua Maynez | Shashi Narayan | Reinald Kim Amplayo | Kuzman Ganchev | Annie Priyadarshini Louis | Anders Sandholm | Dipanjan Das | Mirella Lapata
Proceedings of the 17th Conference of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: System Demonstrations

While conditional generation models can now generate natural language well enough to create fluent text, it is still difficult to control the generation process, leading to irrelevant, repetitive, and hallucinated content. Recent work shows that planning can be a useful intermediate step to render conditional generation less opaque and more grounded. We present a web browser-based demonstration for query-focused summarization that uses a sequence of question-answer pairs, as a blueprint plan for guiding text generation (i.e., what to say and in what order). We illustrate how users may interact with the generated text and associated plan visualizations, e.g., by editing and modifying the plan in order to improve or control the generated output.A short video demonstrating our system is available at


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A Well-Composed Text is Half Done! Composition Sampling for Diverse Conditional Generation
Shashi Narayan | Gonçalo Simões | Yao Zhao | Joshua Maynez | Dipanjan Das | Michael Collins | Mirella Lapata
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

We propose Composition Sampling, a simple but effective method to generate diverse outputs for conditional generation of higher quality compared to previous stochastic decoding strategies. It builds on recently proposed plan-based neural generation models (FROST, Narayan et al, 2021) that are trained to first create a composition of the output and then generate by conditioning on it and the input. Our approach avoids text degeneration by first sampling a composition in the form of an entity chain and then using beam search to generate the best possible text grounded to this entity chain. Experiments on summarization (CNN/DailyMail and XSum) and question generation (SQuAD), using existing and newly proposed automaticmetrics together with human-based evaluation, demonstrate that Composition Sampling is currently the best available decoding strategy for generating diverse meaningful outputs.

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GEMv2: Multilingual NLG Benchmarking in a Single Line of Code
Sebastian Gehrmann | Abhik Bhattacharjee | Abinaya Mahendiran | Alex Wang | Alexandros Papangelis | Aman Madaan | Angelina Mcmillan-major | Anna Shvets | Ashish Upadhyay | Bernd Bohnet | Bingsheng Yao | Bryan Wilie | Chandra Bhagavatula | Chaobin You | Craig Thomson | Cristina Garbacea | Dakuo Wang | Daniel Deutsch | Deyi Xiong | Di Jin | Dimitra Gkatzia | Dragomir Radev | Elizabeth Clark | Esin Durmus | Faisal Ladhak | Filip Ginter | Genta Indra Winata | Hendrik Strobelt | Hiroaki Hayashi | Jekaterina Novikova | Jenna Kanerva | Jenny Chim | Jiawei Zhou | Jordan Clive | Joshua Maynez | João Sedoc | Juraj Juraska | Kaustubh Dhole | Khyathi Raghavi Chandu | Laura Perez Beltrachini | Leonardo F . R. Ribeiro | Lewis Tunstall | Li Zhang | Mahim Pushkarna | Mathias Creutz | Michael White | Mihir Sanjay Kale | Moussa Kamal Eddine | Nico Daheim | Nishant Subramani | Ondrej Dusek | Paul Pu Liang | Pawan Sasanka Ammanamanchi | Qi Zhu | Ratish Puduppully | Reno Kriz | Rifat Shahriyar | Ronald Cardenas | Saad Mahamood | Salomey Osei | Samuel Cahyawijaya | Sanja Štajner | Sebastien Montella | Shailza Jolly | Simon Mille | Tahmid Hasan | Tianhao Shen | Tosin Adewumi | Vikas Raunak | Vipul Raheja | Vitaly Nikolaev | Vivian Tsai | Yacine Jernite | Ying Xu | Yisi Sang | Yixin Liu | Yufang Hou
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing: System Demonstrations

Evaluations in machine learning rarely use the latest metrics, datasets, or human evaluation in favor of remaining compatible with prior work. The compatibility, often facilitated through leaderboards, thus leads to outdated but standardized evaluation practices. We pose that the standardization is taking place in the wrong spot. Evaluation infrastructure should enable researchers to use the latest methods and what should be standardized instead is how to incorporate these new evaluation advances. We introduce GEMv2, the new version of the Generation, Evaluation, and Metrics Benchmark which uses a modular infrastructure for dataset, model, and metric developers to benefit from each other’s work. GEMv2 supports 40 documented datasets in 51 languages, ongoing online evaluation for all datasets, and our interactive tools make it easier to add new datasets to the living benchmark.

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Data Augmentation for Low-Resource Dialogue Summarization
Yongtai Liu | Joshua Maynez | Gonçalo Simões | Shashi Narayan
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: NAACL 2022

We present DADS, a novel Data Augmentation technique for low-resource Dialogue Summarization. Our method generates synthetic examples by replacing sections of text from both the input dialogue and summary while preserving the augmented summary to correspond to a viable summary for the augmented dialogue. We utilize pretrained language models that produce highly likely dialogue alternatives while still being free to generate diverse alternatives. We applied our data augmentation method to the SAMSum dataset in low resource scenarios, mimicking real world problems such as chat, thread, and meeting summarization where large scale supervised datasets with human-written summaries are scarce. Through both automatic and human evaluations, we show that DADS shows strong improvements for low resource scenarios while generating topically diverse summaries without introducing additional hallucinations to the summaries.


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Focus Attention: Promoting Faithfulness and Diversity in Summarization
Rahul Aralikatte | Shashi Narayan | Joshua Maynez | Sascha Rothe | Ryan McDonald
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)

Professional summaries are written with document-level information, such as the theme of the document, in mind. This is in contrast with most seq2seq decoders which simultaneously learn to focus on salient content, while deciding what to generate, at each decoding step. With the motivation to narrow this gap, we introduce Focus Attention Mechanism, a simple yet effective method to encourage decoders to proactively generate tokens that are similar or topical to the input document. Further, we propose a Focus Sampling method to enable generation of diverse summaries, an area currently understudied in summarization. When evaluated on the BBC extreme summarization task, two state-of-the-art models augmented with Focus Attention generate summaries that are closer to the target and more faithful to their input documents, outperforming their vanilla counterparts on ROUGE and multiple faithfulness measures. We also empirically demonstrate that Focus Sampling is more effective in generating diverse and faithful summaries than top-k or nucleus sampling-based decoding methods.

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A Thorough Evaluation of Task-Specific Pretraining for Summarization
Sascha Rothe | Joshua Maynez | Shashi Narayan
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Task-agnostic pretraining objectives like masked language models or corrupted span prediction are applicable to a wide range of NLP downstream tasks (Raffel et al.,2019), but are outperformed by task-specific pretraining objectives like predicting extracted gap sentences on summarization (Zhang et al.,2020). We compare three summarization specific pretraining objectives with the task agnostic corrupted span prediction pretraining in controlled study. We also extend our study to a low resource and zero shot setup, to understand how many training examples are needed in order to ablate the task-specific pretraining without quality loss. Our results show that task-agnostic pretraining is sufficient for most cases which hopefully reduces the need for costly task-specific pretraining. We also report new state-of-the-art number for two summarization task using a T5 model with 11 billion parameters and an optimal beam search length penalty.

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Planning with Learned Entity Prompts for Abstractive Summarization
Shashi Narayan | Yao Zhao | Joshua Maynez | Gonçalo Simões | Vitaly Nikolaev | Ryan McDonald
Transactions of the Association for Computational Linguistics, Volume 9

We introduce a simple but flexible mechanism to learn an intermediate plan to ground the generation of abstractive summaries. Specifically, we prepend (or prompt) target summaries with entity chains—ordered sequences of entities mentioned in the summary. Transformer-based sequence-to-sequence models are then trained to generate the entity chain and then continue generating the summary conditioned on the entity chain and the input. We experimented with both pretraining and finetuning with this content planning objective. When evaluated on CNN/DailyMail, XSum, SAMSum, and BillSum, we demonstrate empirically that the grounded generation with the planning objective improves entity specificity and planning in summaries for all datasets, and achieves state-of-the-art performance on XSum and SAMSum in terms of rouge. Moreover, we demonstrate empirically that planning with entity chains provides a mechanism to control hallucinations in abstractive summaries. By prompting the decoder with a modified content plan that drops hallucinated entities, we outperform state-of-the-art approaches for faithfulness when evaluated automatically and by humans.


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Stepwise Extractive Summarization and Planning with Structured Transformers
Shashi Narayan | Joshua Maynez | Jakub Adamek | Daniele Pighin | Blaz Bratanic | Ryan McDonald
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

We propose encoder-centric stepwise models for extractive summarization using structured transformers – HiBERT and Extended Transformers. We enable stepwise summarization by injecting the previously generated summary into the structured transformer as an auxiliary sub-structure. Our models are not only efficient in modeling the structure of long inputs, but they also do not rely on task-specific redundancy-aware modeling, making them a general purpose extractive content planner for different tasks. When evaluated on CNN/DailyMail extractive summarization, stepwise models achieve state-of-the-art performance in terms of Rouge without any redundancy aware modeling or sentence filtering. This also holds true for Rotowire table-to-text generation, where our models surpass previously reported metrics for content selection, planning and ordering, highlighting the strength of stepwise modeling. Amongst the two structured transformers we test, stepwise Extended Transformers provides the best performance across both datasets and sets a new standard for these challenges.

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On Faithfulness and Factuality in Abstractive Summarization
Joshua Maynez | Shashi Narayan | Bernd Bohnet | Ryan McDonald
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

It is well known that the standard likelihood training and approximate decoding objectives in neural text generation models lead to less human-like responses for open-ended tasks such as language modeling and story generation. In this paper we have analyzed limitations of these models for abstractive document summarization and found that these models are highly prone to hallucinate content that is unfaithful to the input document. We conducted a large scale human evaluation of several neural abstractive summarization systems to better understand the types of hallucinations they produce. Our human annotators found substantial amounts of hallucinated content in all model generated summaries. However, our analysis does show that pretrained models are better summarizers not only in terms of raw metrics, i.e., ROUGE, but also in generating faithful and factual summaries as evaluated by humans. Furthermore, we show that textual entailment measures better correlate with faithfulness than standard metrics, potentially leading the way to automatic evaluation metrics as well as training and decoding criteria.


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Morphosyntactic Tagging with a Meta-BiLSTM Model over Context Sensitive Token Encodings
Bernd Bohnet | Ryan McDonald | Gonçalo Simões | Daniel Andor | Emily Pitler | Joshua Maynez
Proceedings of the 56th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

The rise of neural networks, and particularly recurrent neural networks, has produced significant advances in part-of-speech tagging accuracy. One characteristic common among these models is the presence of rich initial word encodings. These encodings typically are composed of a recurrent character-based representation with dynamically and pre-trained word embeddings. However, these encodings do not consider a context wider than a single word and it is only through subsequent recurrent layers that word or sub-word information interacts. In this paper, we investigate models that use recurrent neural networks with sentence-level context for initial character and word-based representations. In particular we show that optimal results are obtained by integrating these context sensitive representations through synchronized training with a meta-model that learns to combine their states.