While recent work on multilingual language models has demonstrated their capacity for cross-lingual zero-shot transfer on downstream tasks, there is a lack of consensus in the community as to what shared properties between languages enable such transfer. Analyses involving pairs of natural languages are often inconclusive and contradictory since languages simultaneously differ in many linguistic aspects. In this paper, we perform a large-scale empirical study to isolate the effects of various linguistic properties by measuring zero-shot transfer between four diverse natural languages and their counterparts constructed by modifying aspects such as the script, word order, and syntax. Among other things, our experiments show that the absence of sub-word overlap significantly affects zero-shot transfer when languages differ in their word order, and there is a strong correlation between transfer performance and word embedding alignment between languages (e.g., 𝜌s=0.94 on the task of NLI). Our results call for focus in multilingual models on explicitly improving word embedding alignment between languages rather than relying on its implicit emergence.
A growing line of work has investigated the development of neural NLP models that can produce rationales–subsets of input that can explain their model predictions. In this paper, we ask whether such rationale models can provide robustness to adversarial attacks in addition to their interpretable nature. Since these models need to first generate rationales (“rationalizer”) before making predictions (“predictor”), they have the potential to ignore noise or adversarially added text by simply masking it out of the generated rationale. To this end, we systematically generate various types of ‘AddText’ attacks for both token and sentence-level rationalization tasks and perform an extensive empirical evaluation of state-of-the-art rationale models across five different tasks. Our experiments reveal that the rationale models promise to improve robustness over AddText attacks while they struggle in certain scenarios–when the rationalizer is sensitive to position bias or lexical choices of attack text. Further, leveraging human rationale as supervision does not always translate to better performance. Our study is a first step towards exploring the interplay between interpretability and robustness in the rationalize-then-predict framework.
We introduce CARETS, a systematic test suite to measure consistency and robustness of modern VQA models through a series of six fine-grained capability tests. In contrast to existing VQA test sets, CARETS features balanced question generation to create pairs of instances to test models, with each pair focusing on a specific capability such as rephrasing, logical symmetry or image obfuscation. We evaluate six modern VQA systems on CARETS and identify several actionable weaknesses in model comprehension, especially with concepts such as negation, disjunction, or hypernym invariance. Interestingly, even the most sophisticated models are sensitive to aspects such as swapping the order of terms in a conjunction or varying the number of answer choices mentioned in the question. We release CARETS to be used as an extensible tool for evaluating multi-modal model robustness.
In this paper, we explore the ability to model and infer personality types of opponents, predict their responses, and use this information to adapt a dialog agent’s high-level strategy in negotiation tasks. Inspired by the idea of incorporating a theory of mind (ToM) into machines, we introduce a probabilistic formulation to encapsulate the opponent’s personality type during both learning and inference. We test our approach on the CraigslistBargain dataset (He et al. 2018) and show that our method using ToM inference achieves a 20% higher dialog agreement rate compared to baselines on a mixed population of opponents. We also demonstrate that our model displays diverse negotiation behavior with different types of opponents.
Despite their impressive performance in NLP, self-attention networks were recently proved to be limited for processing formal languages with hierarchical structure, such as Dyck-k, the language consisting of well-nested parentheses of k types. This suggested that natural language can be approximated well with models that are too weak for formal languages, or that the role of hierarchy and recursion in natural language might be limited. We qualify this implication by proving that self-attention networks can process Dyck-(k, D), the subset of Dyck-k with depth bounded by D, which arguably better captures the bounded hierarchical structure of natural language. Specifically, we construct a hard-attention network with D+1 layers and O(log k) memory size (per token per layer) that recognizes Dyck-(k, D), and a soft-attention network with two layers and O(log k) memory size that generates Dyck-(k, D). Experiments show that self-attention networks trained on Dyck-(k, D) generalize to longer inputs with near-perfect accuracy, and also verify the theoretical memory advantage of self-attention networks over recurrent networks.
Text-based games simulate worlds and interact with players using natural language. Recent work has used them as a testbed for autonomous language-understanding agents, with the motivation being that understanding the meanings of words or semantics is a key component of how humans understand, reason, and act in these worlds. However, it remains unclear to what extent artificial agents utilize semantic understanding of the text. To this end, we perform experiments to systematically reduce the amount of semantic information available to a learning agent. Surprisingly, we find that an agent is capable of achieving high scores even in the complete absence of language semantics, indicating that the currently popular experimental setup and models may be poorly designed to understand and leverage game texts. To remedy this deficiency, we propose an inverse dynamics decoder to regularize the representation space and encourage exploration, which shows improved performance on several games including Zork I. We discuss the implications of our findings for designing future agents with stronger semantic understanding.
Recent work has demonstrated the vulnerability of modern text classifiers to universal adversarial attacks, which are input-agnostic sequences of words added to text processed by classifiers. Despite being successful, the word sequences produced in such attacks are often ungrammatical and can be easily distinguished from natural text. We develop adversarial attacks that appear closer to natural English phrases and yet confuse classification systems when added to benign inputs. We leverage an adversarially regularized autoencoder (ARAE) to generate triggers and propose a gradient-based search that aims to maximize the downstream classifier’s prediction loss. Our attacks effectively reduce model accuracy on classification tasks while being less identifiable than prior models as per automatic detection metrics and human-subject studies. Our aim is to demonstrate that adversarial attacks can be made harder to detect than previously thought and to enable the development of appropriate defenses.
Learning representations of spatial references in natural language is a key challenge in tasks like autonomous navigation and robotic manipulation. Recent work has investigated various neural architectures for learning multi-modal representations for spatial concepts. However, the lack of explicit reasoning over entities makes such approaches vulnerable to noise in input text or state observations. In this paper, we develop effective models for understanding spatial references in text that are robust and interpretable, without sacrificing performance. We design a text-conditioned relation network whose parameters are dynamically computed with a cross-modal attention module to capture fine-grained spatial relations between entities. This design choice provides interpretability of learned intermediate outputs. Experiments across three tasks demonstrate that our model achieves superior performance, with a 17% improvement in predicting goal locations and a 15% improvement in robustness compared to state-of-the-art systems.
In this paper, we propose a simple and effective technique to allow for efficient self-supervised learning with bi-directional Transformers. Our approach is motivated by recent studies demonstrating that self-attention patterns in trained models contain a majority of non-linguistic regularities. We propose a computationally efficient auxiliary loss function to guide attention heads to conform to such patterns. Our method is agnostic to the actual pre-training objective and results in faster convergence of models as well as better performance on downstream tasks compared to the baselines, achieving state of the art results in low-resource settings. Surprisingly, we also find that linguistic properties of attention heads are not necessarily correlated with language modeling performance.
Text-based games present a unique challenge for autonomous agents to operate in natural language and handle enormous action spaces. In this paper, we propose the Contextual Action Language Model (CALM) to generate a compact set of action candidates at each game state. Our key insight is to train language models on human gameplay, where people demonstrate linguistic priors and a general game sense for promising actions conditioned on game history. We combine CALM with a reinforcement learning agent which re-ranks the generated action candidates to maximize in-game rewards. We evaluate our approach using the Jericho benchmark, on games unseen by CALM during training. Our method obtains a 69% relative improvement in average game score over the previous state-of-the-art model. Surprisingly, on half of these games, CALM is competitive with or better than other models that have access to ground truth admissible actions. Code and data are available at https://github.com/princeton-nlp/calm-textgame.
The interpretation of spatial references is highly contextual, requiring joint inference over both language and the environment. We consider the task of spatial reasoning in a simulated environment, where an agent can act and receive rewards. The proposed model learns a representation of the world steered by instruction text. This design allows for precise alignment of local neighborhoods with corresponding verbalizations, while also handling global references in the instructions. We train our model with reinforcement learning using a variant of generalized value iteration. The model outperforms state-of-the-art approaches on several metrics, yielding a 45% reduction in goal localization error.
This paper focuses on unsupervised modeling of morphological families, collectively comprising a forest over the language vocabulary. This formulation enables us to capture edge-wise properties reflecting single-step morphological derivations, along with global distributional properties of the entire forest. These global properties constrain the size of the affix set and encourage formation of tight morphological families. The resulting objective is solved using Integer Linear Programming (ILP) paired with contrastive estimation. We train the model by alternating between optimizing the local log-linear model and the global ILP objective. We evaluate our system on three tasks: root detection, clustering of morphological families, and segmentation. Our experiments demonstrate that our model yields consistent gains in all three tasks compared with the best published results.
Most state-of-the-art systems today produce morphological analysis based only on orthographic patterns. In contrast, we propose a model for unsupervised morphological analysis that integrates orthographic and semantic views of words. We model word formation in terms of morphological chains, from base words to the observed words, breaking the chains into parent-child relations. We use log-linear models with morpheme and word-level features to predict possible parents, including their modifications, for each word. The limited set of candidate parents for each word render contrastive estimation feasible. Our model consistently matches or outperforms five state-of-the-art systems on Arabic, English and Turkish.