Julian Risch


2022

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Pseudo-Labels Are All You Need
Bogdan Kostić | Mathis Lucka | Julian Risch
Proceedings of the GermEval 2022 Workshop on Text Complexity Assessment of German Text

Automatically estimating the complexity of texts for readers has a variety of applications, such as recommending texts with an appropriate complexity level to language learners or supporting the evaluation of text simplification approaches. In this paper, we present our submission to the Text Complexity DE Challenge 2022, a regression task where the goal is to predict the complexity of a German sentence for German learners at level B. Our approach relies on more than 220,000 pseudolabels created from the German Wikipedia and other corpora to train Transformer-based models, and refrains from any feature engineering or any additional, labeled data. We find that the pseudo-label-based approach gives impressive results yet requires little to no adjustment to the specific task and therefore could be easily adapted to other domains and tasks.

2021

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GermanQuAD and GermanDPR: Improving Non-English Question Answering and Passage Retrieval
Timo Möller | Julian Risch | Malte Pietsch
Proceedings of the 3rd Workshop on Machine Reading for Question Answering

A major challenge of research on non-English machine reading for question answering (QA) is the lack of annotated datasets. In this paper, we present GermanQuAD, a dataset of 13,722 extractive question/answer pairs. To improve the reproducibility of the dataset creation approach and foster QA research on other languages, we summarize lessons learned and evaluate reformulation of question/answer pairs as a way to speed up the annotation process. An extractive QA model trained on GermanQuAD significantly outperforms multilingual models and also shows that machine-translated training data cannot fully substitute hand-annotated training data in the target language. Finally, we demonstrate the wide range of applications of GermanQuAD by adapting it to GermanDPR, a training dataset for dense passage retrieval (DPR), and train and evaluate one of the first non-English DPR models.

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Multi-modal Retrieval of Tables and Texts Using Tri-encoder Models
Bogdan Kostić | Julian Risch | Timo Möller
Proceedings of the 3rd Workshop on Machine Reading for Question Answering

Open-domain extractive question answering works well on textual data by first retrieving candidate texts and then extracting the answer from those candidates. However, some questions cannot be answered by text alone but require information stored in tables. In this paper, we present an approach for retrieving both texts and tables relevant to a question by jointly encoding texts, tables and questions into a single vector space. To this end, we create a new multi-modal dataset based on text and table datasets from related work and compare the retrieval performance of different encoding schemata. We find that dense vector embeddings of transformer models outperform sparse embeddings on four out of six evaluation datasets. Comparing different dense embedding models, tri-encoders with one encoder for each question, text and table increase retrieval performance compared to bi-encoders with one encoder for the question and one for both text and tables. We release the newly created multi-modal dataset to the community so that it can be used for training and evaluation.

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Semantic Answer Similarity for Evaluating Question Answering Models
Julian Risch | Timo Möller | Julian Gutsch | Malte Pietsch
Proceedings of the 3rd Workshop on Machine Reading for Question Answering

The evaluation of question answering models compares ground-truth annotations with model predictions. However, as of today, this comparison is mostly lexical-based and therefore misses out on answers that have no lexical overlap but are still semantically similar, thus treating correct answers as false. This underestimation of the true performance of models hinders user acceptance in applications and complicates a fair comparison of different models. Therefore, there is a need for an evaluation metric that is based on semantics instead of pure string similarity. In this short paper, we present SAS, a cross-encoder-based metric for the estimation of semantic answer similarity, and compare it to seven existing metrics. To this end, we create an English and a German three-way annotated evaluation dataset containing pairs of answers along with human judgment of their semantic similarity, which we release along with an implementation of the SAS metric and the experiments. We find that semantic similarity metrics based on recent transformer models correlate much better with human judgment than traditional lexical similarity metrics on our two newly created datasets and one dataset from related work.

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Data Integration for Toxic Comment Classification: Making More Than 40 Datasets Easily Accessible in One Unified Format
Julian Risch | Philipp Schmidt | Ralf Krestel
Proceedings of the 5th Workshop on Online Abuse and Harms (WOAH 2021)

With the rise of research on toxic comment classification, more and more annotated datasets have been released. The wide variety of the task (different languages, different labeling processes and schemes) has led to a large amount of heterogeneous datasets that can be used for training and testing very specific settings. Despite recent efforts to create web pages that provide an overview, most publications still use only a single dataset. They are not stored in one central database, they come in many different data formats and it is difficult to interpret their class labels and how to reuse these labels in other projects. To overcome these issues, we present a collection of more than thirty datasets in the form of a software tool that automatizes downloading and processing of the data and presents them in a unified data format that also offers a mapping of compatible class labels. Another advantage of that tool is that it gives an overview of properties of available datasets, such as different languages, platforms, and class labels to make it easier to select suitable training and test data.

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Proceedings of the GermEval 2021 Shared Task on the Identification of Toxic, Engaging, and Fact-Claiming Comments
Julian Risch | Anke Stoll | Lena Wilms | Michael Wiegand
Proceedings of the GermEval 2021 Shared Task on the Identification of Toxic, Engaging, and Fact-Claiming Comments

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Overview of the GermEval 2021 Shared Task on the Identification of Toxic, Engaging, and Fact-Claiming Comments
Julian Risch | Anke Stoll | Lena Wilms | Michael Wiegand
Proceedings of the GermEval 2021 Shared Task on the Identification of Toxic, Engaging, and Fact-Claiming Comments

We present the GermEval 2021 shared task on the identification of toxic, engaging, and fact-claiming comments. This shared task comprises three binary classification subtasks with the goal to identify: toxic comments, engaging comments, and comments that include indications of a need for fact-checking, here referred to as fact-claiming comments. Building on the two previous GermEval shared tasks on the identification of offensive language in 2018 and 2019, we extend this year’s task definition to meet the demand of moderators and community managers to also highlight comments that foster respectful communication, encourage in-depth discussions, and check facts that lines of arguments rely on. The dataset comprises 4,188 posts extracted from the Facebook page of a German political talk show of a national public television broadcaster. A theoretical framework and additional reliability tests during the data annotation process ensure particularly high data quality. The shared task had 15 participating teams submitting 31 runs for the subtask on toxic comments, 25 runs for the subtask on engaging comments, and 31 for the subtask on fact-claiming comments. The shared task website can be found at https://germeval2021toxic.github.io/SharedTask/.

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Multifaceted Domain-Specific Document Embeddings
Julian Risch | Philipp Hager | Ralf Krestel
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies: Demonstrations

Current document embeddings require large training corpora but fail to learn high-quality representations when confronted with a small number of domain-specific documents and rare terms. Further, they transform each document into a single embedding vector, making it hard to capture different notions of document similarity or explain why two documents are considered similar. In this work, we propose our Faceted Domain Encoder, a novel approach to learn multifaceted embeddings for domain-specific documents. It is based on a Siamese neural network architecture and leverages knowledge graphs to further enhance the embeddings even if only a few training samples are available. The model identifies different types of domain knowledge and encodes them into separate dimensions of the embedding, thereby enabling multiple ways of finding and comparing related documents in the vector space. We evaluate our approach on two benchmark datasets and find that it achieves the same embedding quality as state-of-the-art models while requiring only a tiny fraction of their training data. An interactive demo, our source code, and the evaluation datasets are available online: https://hpi.de/naumann/s/multifaceted-embeddings and a screencast is available on YouTube: https://youtu.be/HHcsX2clEwg

2020

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Bagging BERT Models for Robust Aggression Identification
Julian Risch | Ralf Krestel
Proceedings of the Second Workshop on Trolling, Aggression and Cyberbullying

Modern transformer-based models with hundreds of millions of parameters, such as BERT, achieve impressive results at text classification tasks. This also holds for aggression identification and offensive language detection, where deep learning approaches consistently outperform less complex models, such as decision trees. While the complex models fit training data well (low bias), they also come with an unwanted high variance. Especially when fine-tuning them on small datasets, the classification performance varies significantly for slightly different training data. To overcome the high variance and provide more robust predictions, we propose an ensemble of multiple fine-tuned BERT models based on bootstrap aggregating (bagging). In this paper, we describe such an ensemble system and present our submission to the shared tasks on aggression identification 2020 (team name: Julian). Our submission is the best-performing system for five out of six subtasks. For example, we achieve a weighted F1-score of 80.3% for task A on the test dataset of English social media posts. In our experiments, we compare different model configurations and vary the number of models used in the ensemble. We find that the F1-score drastically increases when ensembling up to 15 models, but the returns diminish for more models.

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Offensive Language Detection Explained
Julian Risch | Robin Ruff | Ralf Krestel
Proceedings of the Second Workshop on Trolling, Aggression and Cyberbullying

Many online discussion platforms use a content moderation process, where human moderators check user comments for offensive language and other rule violations. It is the moderator’s decision which comments to remove from the platform because of violations and which ones to keep. Research so far focused on automating this decision process in the form of supervised machine learning for a classification task. However, even with machine-learned models achieving better classification accuracy than human experts, there is still a reason why human moderators are preferred. In contrast to black-box models, such as neural networks, humans can give explanations for their decision to remove a comment. For example, they can point out which phrase in the comment is offensive or what subtype of offensiveness applies. In this paper, we analyze and compare four explanation methods for different offensive language classifiers: an interpretable machine learning model (naive Bayes), a model-agnostic explanation method (LIME), a model-based explanation method (LRP), and a self-explanatory model (LSTM with an attention mechanism). We evaluate these approaches with regard to their explanatory power and their ability to point out which words are most relevant for a classifier’s decision. We find that the more complex models achieve better classification accuracy while also providing better explanations than the simpler models.

2018

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Aggression Identification Using Deep Learning and Data Augmentation
Julian Risch | Ralf Krestel
Proceedings of the First Workshop on Trolling, Aggression and Cyberbullying (TRAC-2018)

Social media platforms allow users to share and discuss their opinions online. However, a minority of user posts is aggressive, thereby hinders respectful discussion, and — at an extreme level — is liable to prosecution. The automatic identification of such harmful posts is important, because it can support the costly manual moderation of online discussions. Further, the automation allows unprecedented analyses of discussion datasets that contain millions of posts. This system description paper presents our submission to the First Shared Task on Aggression Identification. We propose to augment the provided dataset to increase the number of labeled comments from 15,000 to 60,000. Thereby, we introduce linguistic variety into the dataset. As a consequence of the larger amount of training data, we are able to train a special deep neural net, which generalizes especially well to unseen data. To further boost the performance, we combine this neural net with three logistic regression classifiers trained on character and word n-grams, and hand-picked syntactic features. This ensemble is more robust than the individual single models. Our team named “Julian” achieves an F1-score of 60% on both English datasets, 63% on the Hindi Facebook dataset, and 38% on the Hindi Twitter dataset.

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Delete or not Delete? Semi-Automatic Comment Moderation for the Newsroom
Julian Risch | Ralf Krestel
Proceedings of the First Workshop on Trolling, Aggression and Cyberbullying (TRAC-2018)

Comment sections of online news providers have enabled millions to share and discuss their opinions on news topics. Today, moderators ensure respectful and informative discussions by deleting not only insults, defamation, and hate speech, but also unverifiable facts. This process has to be transparent and comprehensive in order to keep the community engaged. Further, news providers have to make sure to not give the impression of censorship or dissemination of fake news. Yet manual moderation is very expensive and becomes more and more unfeasible with the increasing amount of comments. Hence, we propose a semi-automatic, holistic approach, which includes comment features but also their context, such as information about users and articles. For evaluation, we present experiments on a novel corpus of 3 million news comments annotated by a team of professional moderators.

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Challenges for Toxic Comment Classification: An In-Depth Error Analysis
Betty van Aken | Julian Risch | Ralf Krestel | Alexander Löser
Proceedings of the 2nd Workshop on Abusive Language Online (ALW2)

Toxic comment classification has become an active research field with many recently proposed approaches. However, while these approaches address some of the task’s challenges others still remain unsolved and directions for further research are needed. To this end, we compare different deep learning and shallow approaches on a new, large comment dataset and propose an ensemble that outperforms all individual models. Further, we validate our findings on a second dataset. The results of the ensemble enable us to perform an extensive error analysis, which reveals open challenges for state-of-the-art methods and directions towards pending future research. These challenges include missing paradigmatic context and inconsistent dataset labels.

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Prediction for the Newsroom: Which Articles Will Get the Most Comments?
Carl Ambroselli | Julian Risch | Ralf Krestel | Andreas Loos
Proceedings of the 2018 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies, Volume 3 (Industry Papers)

The overwhelming success of the Web and mobile technologies has enabled millions to share their opinions publicly at any time. But the same success also endangers this freedom of speech due to closing down of participatory sites misused by individuals or interest groups. We propose to support manual moderation by proactively drawing the attention of our moderators to article discussions that most likely need their intervention. To this end, we predict which articles will receive a high number of comments. In contrast to existing work, we enrich the article with metadata, extract semantic and linguistic features, and exploit annotated data from a foreign language corpus. Our logistic regression model improves F1-scores by over 80% in comparison to state-of-the-art approaches.