Karthik Sankaranarayanan


2022

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AIT-QA: Question Answering Dataset over Complex Tables in the Airline Industry
Yannis Katsis | Saneem Chemmengath | Vishwajeet Kumar | Samarth Bharadwaj | Mustafa Canim | Michael Glass | Alfio Gliozzo | Feifei Pan | Jaydeep Sen | Karthik Sankaranarayanan | Soumen Chakrabarti
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies: Industry Track

Table Question Answering (Table QA) systems have been shown to be highly accurate when trained and tested on open-domain datasets built on top of Wikipedia tables. However, it is not clear whether their performance remains the same when applied to domain-specific scientific and business documents, encountered in industrial settings, which exhibit some unique characteristics: (a) they contain tables with a much more complex layout than Wikipedia tables (including hierarchical row and column headers), (b) they contain domain-specific terms, and (c) they are typically not accompanied by domain-specific labeled data that can be used to train Table QA models.To understand the performance of Table QA approaches in this setting, we introduce AIT-QA; a domain-specific Table QA test dataset. While focusing on the airline industry, AIT-QA reflects the challenges that domain-specific documents pose to Table QA, outlined above. In this work, we describe the creation of the dataset and report zero-shot experimental results of three SOTA Table QA methods. The results clearly expose the limitations of current methods with a best accuracy of just 51.8%. We also present pragmatic table pre-processing steps to pivot and project complex tables into a layout suitable for the SOTA Table QA models. Finally, we provide data-driven insights on how different aspects of this setting (including hierarchical headers, domain-specific terminology, and paraphrasing) affect Table QA methods, in order to help the community develop improved methods for domain-specific Table QA.

2021

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Topic Transferable Table Question Answering
Saneem Chemmengath | Vishwajeet Kumar | Samarth Bharadwaj | Jaydeep Sen | Mustafa Canim | Soumen Chakrabarti | Alfio Gliozzo | Karthik Sankaranarayanan
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Weakly-supervised table question-answering (TableQA) models have achieved state-of-art performance by using pre-trained BERT transformer to jointly encoding a question and a table to produce structured query for the question. However, in practical settings TableQA systems are deployed over table corpora having topic and word distributions quite distinct from BERT’s pretraining corpus. In this work we simulate the practical topic shift scenario by designing novel challenge benchmarks WikiSQL-TS and WikiTable-TS, consisting of train-dev-test splits in five distinct topic groups, based on the popular WikiSQL and WikiTable-Questions datasets. We empirically show that, despite pre-training on large open-domain text, performance of models degrades significantly when they are evaluated on unseen topics. In response, we propose T3QA (Topic Transferable Table Question Answering) a pragmatic adaptation framework for TableQA comprising of: (1) topic-specific vocabulary injection into BERT, (2) a novel text-to-text transformer generator (such as T5, GPT2) based natural language question generation pipeline focused on generating topic-specific training data, and (3) a logical form re-ranker. We show that T3QA provides a reasonably good baseline for our topic shift benchmarks. We believe our topic split benchmarks will lead to robust TableQA solutions that are better suited for practical deployment

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Role of Language Relatedness in Multilingual Fine-tuning of Language Models: A Case Study in Indo-Aryan Languages
Tejas Dhamecha | Rudra Murthy | Samarth Bharadwaj | Karthik Sankaranarayanan | Pushpak Bhattacharyya
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

We explore the impact of leveraging the relatedness of languages that belong to the same family in NLP models using multilingual fine-tuning. We hypothesize and validate that multilingual fine-tuning of pre-trained language models can yield better performance on downstream NLP applications, compared to models fine-tuned on individual languages. A first of its kind detailed study is presented to track performance change as languages are added to a base language in a graded and greedy (in the sense of best boost of performance) manner; which reveals that careful selection of subset of related languages can significantly improve performance than utilizing all related languages. The Indo-Aryan (IA) language family is chosen for the study, the exact languages being Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Marathi, Oriya, Punjabi and Urdu. The script barrier is crossed by simple rule-based transliteration of the text of all languages to Devanagari. Experiments are performed on mBERT, IndicBERT, MuRIL and two RoBERTa-based LMs, the last two being pre-trained by us. Low resource languages, such as Oriya and Punjabi, are found to be the largest beneficiaries of multilingual fine-tuning. Textual Entailment, Entity Classification, Section Title Prediction, tasks of IndicGLUE and POS tagging form our test bed. Compared to monolingual fine tuning we get relative performance improvement of up to 150% in the downstream tasks. The surprise take-away is that for any language there is a particular combination of other languages which yields the best performance, and any additional language is in fact detrimental.

2020

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Schema Aware Semantic Reasoning for Interpreting Natural Language Queries in Enterprise Settings
Jaydeep Sen | Tanaya Babtiwale | Kanishk Saxena | Yash Butala | Sumit Bhatia | Karthik Sankaranarayanan
Proceedings of the 28th International Conference on Computational Linguistics

Natural Language Query interfaces allow the end-users to access the desired information without the need to know any specialized query language, data storage, or schema details. Even with the recent advances in NLP research space, the state-of-the-art QA systems fall short of understanding implicit intents of real-world Business Intelligence (BI) queries in enterprise systems, since Natural Language Understanding still remains an AI-hard problem. We posit that deploying ontology reasoning over domain semantics can help in achieving better natural language understanding for QA systems. In this paper, we specifically focus on building a Schema Aware Semantic Reasoning Framework that translates natural language interpretation as a sequence of solvable tasks by an ontology reasoner. We apply our framework on top of an ontology based, state-of-the-art natural language question-answering system ATHENA, and experiment with 4 benchmarks focused on BI queries. Our experimental numbers empirically show that the Schema Aware Semantic Reasoning indeed helps in achieving significantly better results for handling BI queries with an average accuracy improvement of ~30%

2019

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Unsupervised Neural Text Simplification
Sai Surya | Abhijit Mishra | Anirban Laha | Parag Jain | Karthik Sankaranarayanan
Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

The paper presents a first attempt towards unsupervised neural text simplification that relies only on unlabeled text corpora. The core framework is composed of a shared encoder and a pair of attentional-decoders, crucially assisted by discrimination-based losses and denoising. The framework is trained using unlabeled text collected from en-Wikipedia dump. Our analysis (both quantitative and qualitative involving human evaluators) on public test data shows that the proposed model can perform text-simplification at both lexical and syntactic levels, competitive to existing supervised methods. It also outperforms viable unsupervised baselines. Adding a few labeled pairs helps improve the performance further.

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Unified Semantic Parsing with Weak Supervision
Priyanka Agrawal | Ayushi Dalmia | Parag Jain | Abhishek Bansal | Ashish Mittal | Karthik Sankaranarayanan
Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Semantic parsing over multiple knowledge bases enables a parser to exploit structural similarities of programs across the multiple domains. However, the fundamental challenge lies in obtaining high-quality annotations of (utterance, program) pairs across various domains needed for training such models. To overcome this, we propose a novel framework to build a unified multi-domain enabled semantic parser trained only with weak supervision (denotations). Weakly supervised training is particularly arduous as the program search space grows exponentially in a multi-domain setting. To solve this, we incorporate a multi-policy distillation mechanism in which we first train domain-specific semantic parsers (teachers) using weak supervision in the absence of the ground truth programs, followed by training a single unified parser (student) from the domain specific policies obtained from these teachers. The resultant semantic parser is not only compact but also generalizes better, and generates more accurate programs. It further does not require the user to provide a domain label while querying. On the standard Overnight dataset (containing multiple domains), we demonstrate that the proposed model improves performance by 20% in terms of denotation accuracy in comparison to baseline techniques.

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Storytelling from Structured Data and Knowledge Graphs : An NLG Perspective
Abhijit Mishra | Anirban Laha | Karthik Sankaranarayanan | Parag Jain | Saravanan Krishnan
Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Tutorial Abstracts

In this tutorial, we wish to cover the foundational, methodological, and system development aspects of translating structured data (such as data in tabular form) and knowledge bases (such as knowledge graphs) into natural language. The attendees of the tutorial will be able to take away from this tutorial, (1) the basic ideas around how modern NLP and NLG techniques could be applied to describe and summarize textual data in format that is non-linguistic in nature or has some structure, and (2) a few interesting open-ended questions, which could lead to significant research contributions in future. The tutorial aims to convey challenges and nuances in structured data translation, data representation techniques, and domain adaptable solutions for translation of the data into natural language form. Various solutions, starting from traditional rule based/heuristic driven and modern data-driven and ultra-modern deep-neural style architectures will be discussed, followed by a brief discussion on evaluation and quality estimation. A significant portion of the tutorial will be dedicated towards unsupervised, scalable, and adaptable solutions, given that systems for such an important task will never naturally enjoy sustainable large scale domain independent labeled (parallel) data.

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Scalable Micro-planned Generation of Discourse from Structured Data
Anirban Laha | Parag Jain | Abhijit Mishra | Karthik Sankaranarayanan
Computational Linguistics, Volume 45, Issue 4 - December 2019

We present a framework for generating natural language description from structured data such as tables; the problem comes under the category of data-to-text natural language generation (NLG). Modern data-to-text NLG systems typically use end-to-end statistical and neural architectures that learn from a limited amount of task-specific labeled data, and therefore exhibit limited scalability, domain-adaptability, and interpretability. Unlike these systems, ours is a modular, pipeline-based approach, and does not require task-specific parallel data. Rather, it relies on monolingual corpora and basic off-the-shelf NLP tools. This makes our system more scalable and easily adaptable to newer domains.Our system utilizes a three-staged pipeline that: (i) converts entries in the structured data to canonical form, (ii) generates simple sentences for each atomic entry in the canonicalized representation, and (iii) combines the sentences to produce a coherent, fluent, and adequate paragraph description through sentence compounding and co-reference replacement modules. Experiments on a benchmark mixed-domain data set curated for paragraph description from tables reveals the superiority of our system over existing data-to-text approaches. We also demonstrate the robustness of our system in accepting other popular data sets covering diverse data types such as knowledge graphs and key-value maps.

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A Modular Architecture for Unsupervised Sarcasm Generation
Abhijit Mishra | Tarun Tater | Karthik Sankaranarayanan
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing and the 9th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (EMNLP-IJCNLP)

In this paper, we propose a novel framework for sarcasm generation; the system takes a literal negative opinion as input and translates it into a sarcastic version. Our framework does not require any paired data for training. Sarcasm emanates from context-incongruity which becomes apparent as the sentence unfolds. Our framework introduces incongruity into the literal input version through modules that: (a) filter factual content from the input opinion, (b) retrieve incongruous phrases related to the filtered facts and (c) synthesize sarcastic text from the incongruous filtered and incongruous phrases. The framework employs reinforced neural sequence to sequence learning and information retrieval and is trained only using unlabeled non-sarcastic and sarcastic opinions. Since no labeled dataset exists for such a task, for evaluation, we manually prepare a benchmark dataset containing literal opinions and their sarcastic paraphrases. Qualitative and quantitative performance analyses on the data reveal our system’s superiority over baselines built using known unsupervised statistical and neural machine translation and style transfer techniques.

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Complex Program Induction for Querying Knowledge Bases in the Absence of Gold Programs
Amrita Saha | Ghulam Ahmed Ansari | Abhishek Laddha | Karthik Sankaranarayanan | Soumen Chakrabarti
Transactions of the Association for Computational Linguistics, Volume 7

Recent years have seen increasingly complex question-answering on knowledge bases (KBQA) involving logical, quantitative, and comparative reasoning over KB subgraphs. Neural Program Induction (NPI) is a pragmatic approach toward modularizing the reasoning process by translating a complex natural language query into a multi-step executable program. While NPI has been commonly trained with the ‘‘gold’’ program or its sketch, for realistic KBQA applications such gold programs are expensive to obtain. There, practically only natural language queries and the corresponding answers can be provided for training. The resulting combinatorial explosion in program space, along with extremely sparse rewards, makes NPI for KBQA ambitious and challenging. We present Complex Imperative Program Induction from Terminal Rewards (CIPITR), an advanced neural programmer that mitigates reward sparsity with auxiliary rewards, and restricts the program space to semantically correct programs using high-level constraints, KB schema, and inferred answer type. CIPITR solves complex KBQA considerably more accurately than key-value memory networks and neural symbolic machines (NSM). For moderately complex queries requiring 2- to 5-step programs, CIPITR scores at least 3× higher F1 than the competing systems. On one of the hardest class of programs (comparative reasoning) with 5–10 steps, CIPITR outperforms NSM by a factor of 89 and memory networks by 9 times.

2018

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Generating Descriptions from Structured Data Using a Bifocal Attention Mechanism and Gated Orthogonalization
Preksha Nema | Shreyas Shetty | Parag Jain | Anirban Laha | Karthik Sankaranarayanan | Mitesh M. Khapra
Proceedings of the 2018 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies, Volume 1 (Long Papers)

In this work, we focus on the task of generating natural language descriptions from a structured table of facts containing fields (such as nationality, occupation, etc) and values (such as Indian, actor, director, etc). One simple choice is to treat the table as a sequence of fields and values and then use a standard seq2seq model for this task. However, such a model is too generic and does not exploit task specific characteristics. For example, while generating descriptions from a table, a human would attend to information at two levels: (i) the fields (macro level) and (ii) the values within the field (micro level). Further, a human would continue attending to a field for a few timesteps till all the information from that field has been rendered and then never return back to this field (because there is nothing left to say about it). To capture this behavior we use (i) a fused bifocal attention mechanism which exploits and combines this micro and macro level information and (ii) a gated orthogonalization mechanism which tries to ensure that a field is remembered for a few time steps and then forgotten. We experiment with a recently released dataset which contains fact tables about people and their corresponding one line biographical descriptions in English. In addition, we also introduce two similar datasets for French and German. Our experiments show that the proposed model gives 21% relative improvement over a recently proposed state of the art method and 10% relative improvement over basic seq2seq models. The code and the datasets developed as a part of this work are publicly available on https://github.com/PrekshaNema25/StructuredData_To_Descriptions

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A Mixed Hierarchical Attention Based Encoder-Decoder Approach for Standard Table Summarization
Parag Jain | Anirban Laha | Karthik Sankaranarayanan | Preksha Nema | Mitesh M. Khapra | Shreyas Shetty
Proceedings of the 2018 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies, Volume 2 (Short Papers)

Structured data summarization involves generation of natural language summaries from structured input data. In this work, we consider summarizing structured data occurring in the form of tables as they are prevalent across a wide variety of domains. We formulate the standard table summarization problem, which deals with tables conforming to a single predefined schema. To this end, we propose a mixed hierarchical attention based encoder-decoder model which is able to leverage the structure in addition to the content of the tables. Our experiments on the publicly available weathergov dataset show around 18 BLEU (around 30%) improvement over the current state-of-the-art.

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DuoRC: Towards Complex Language Understanding with Paraphrased Reading Comprehension
Amrita Saha | Rahul Aralikatte | Mitesh M. Khapra | Karthik Sankaranarayanan
Proceedings of the 56th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

We propose DuoRC, a novel dataset for Reading Comprehension (RC) that motivates several new challenges for neural approaches in language understanding beyond those offered by existing RC datasets. DuoRC contains 186,089 unique question-answer pairs created from a collection of 7680 pairs of movie plots where each pair in the collection reflects two versions of the same movie - one from Wikipedia and the other from IMDb - written by two different authors. We asked crowdsourced workers to create questions from one version of the plot and a different set of workers to extract or synthesize answers from the other version. This unique characteristic of DuoRC where questions and answers are created from different versions of a document narrating the same underlying story, ensures by design, that there is very little lexical overlap between the questions created from one version and the segments containing the answer in the other version. Further, since the two versions have different levels of plot detail, narration style, vocabulary, etc., answering questions from the second version requires deeper language understanding and incorporating external background knowledge. Additionally, the narrative style of passages arising from movie plots (as opposed to typical descriptive passages in existing datasets) exhibits the need to perform complex reasoning over events across multiple sentences. Indeed, we observe that state-of-the-art neural RC models which have achieved near human performance on the SQuAD dataset, even when coupled with traditional NLP techniques to address the challenges presented in DuoRC exhibit very poor performance (F1 score of 37.42% on DuoRC v/s 86% on SQuAD dataset). This opens up several interesting research avenues wherein DuoRC could complement other RC datasets to explore novel neural approaches for studying language understanding.