Kawin Ethayarajh


2022

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The Authenticity Gap in Human Evaluation
Kawin Ethayarajh | Dan Jurafsky
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Human ratings are the gold standard in NLG evaluation. The standard protocol is to collect ratings of generated text, average across annotators, and rank NLG systems by their average scores. However, little consideration has been given as to whether this approach faithfully captures human preferences. Analyzing this standard protocol through the lens of utility theory in economics, we identify the implicit assumptions it makes about annotators. These assumptions are often violated in practice, in which case annotator ratings cease to reflect their preferences. The most egregious violations come from using Likert scales, which provably reverse the direction of the true preference in certain cases. We suggest improvements to the standard protocol to make it more theoretically sound, but even in its improved form, it cannot be used to evaluate open-ended tasks like story generation. For the latter, we propose a new human evaluation protocol called system-level probabilistic assessment (SPA). When human evaluation of stories is done with SPA, we can recover the ordering of GPT-3 models by size, with statistically significant results. However, when human evaluation is done with the standard protocol, less than half of the expected preferences can be recovered (e.g., there is no significant difference between curie and davinci, despite using a highly powered test).

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Problems with Cosine as a Measure of Embedding Similarity for High Frequency Words
Kaitlyn Zhou | Kawin Ethayarajh | Dallas Card | Dan Jurafsky
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 2: Short Papers)

Cosine similarity of contextual embeddings is used in many NLP tasks (e.g., QA, IR, MT) and metrics (e.g., BERTScore). Here, we uncover systematic ways in which word similarities estimated by cosine over BERT embeddings are understated and trace this effect to training data frequency. We find that relative to human judgements, cosine similarity underestimates the similarity of frequent words with other instances of the same word or other words across contexts, even after controlling for polysemy and other factors. We conjecture that this underestimation of similarity for high frequency words is due to differences in the representational geometry of high and low frequency words and provide a formal argument for the two-dimensional case.

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Richer Countries and Richer Representations
Kaitlyn Zhou | Kawin Ethayarajh | Dan Jurafsky
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2022

We examine whether some countries are more richly represented in embedding space than others. We find that countries whose names occur with low frequency in training corpora are more likely to be tokenized into subwords, are less semantically distinct in embedding space, and are less likely to be correctly predicted: e.g., Ghana (the correct answer and in-vocabulary) is not predicted for, “The country producing the most cocoa is [MASK].”. Although these performance discrepancies and representational harms are due to frequency, we find that frequency is highly correlated with a country’s GDP; thus perpetuating historic power and wealth inequalities. We analyze the effectiveness of mitigation strategies; recommend that researchers report training word frequencies; and recommend future work for the community to define and design representational guarantees.

2021

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Conditional probing: measuring usable information beyond a baseline
John Hewitt | Kawin Ethayarajh | Percy Liang | Christopher Manning
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Probing experiments investigate the extent to which neural representations make properties—like part-of-speech—predictable. One suggests that a representation encodes a property if probing that representation produces higher accuracy than probing a baseline representation like non-contextual word embeddings. Instead of using baselines as a point of comparison, we’re interested in measuring information that is contained in the representation but not in the baseline. For example, current methods can detect when a representation is more useful than the word identity (a baseline) for predicting part-of-speech; however, they cannot detect when the representation is predictive of just the aspects of part-of-speech not explainable by the word identity. In this work, we extend a theory of usable information called V-information and propose conditional probing, which explicitly conditions on the information in the baseline. In a case study, we find that after conditioning on non-contextual word embeddings, properties like part-of-speech are accessible at deeper layers of a network than previously thought.

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Attention Flows are Shapley Value Explanations
Kawin Ethayarajh | Dan Jurafsky
Proceedings of the 59th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 11th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (Volume 2: Short Papers)

Shapley Values, a solution to the credit assignment problem in cooperative game theory, are a popular type of explanation in machine learning, having been used to explain the importance of features, embeddings, and even neurons. In NLP, however, leave-one-out and attention-based explanations still predominate. Can we draw a connection between these different methods? We formally prove that — save for the degenerate case — attention weights and leave-one-out values cannot be Shapley Values. Attention flow is a post-processed variant of attention weights obtained by running the max-flow algorithm on the attention graph. Perhaps surprisingly, we prove that attention flows are indeed Shapley Values, at least at the layerwise level. Given the many desirable theoretical qualities of Shapley Values — which has driven their adoption among the ML community — we argue that NLP practitioners should, when possible, adopt attention flow explanations alongside more traditional ones.

2020

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Is Your Classifier Actually Biased? Measuring Fairness under Uncertainty with Bernstein Bounds
Kawin Ethayarajh
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Most NLP datasets are not annotated with protected attributes such as gender, making it difficult to measure classification bias using standard measures of fairness (e.g., equal opportunity). However, manually annotating a large dataset with a protected attribute is slow and expensive. Instead of annotating all the examples, can we annotate a subset of them and use that sample to estimate the bias? While it is possible to do so, the smaller this annotated sample is, the less certain we are that the estimate is close to the true bias. In this work, we propose using Bernstein bounds to represent this uncertainty about the bias estimate as a confidence interval. We provide empirical evidence that a 95% confidence interval derived this way consistently bounds the true bias. In quantifying this uncertainty, our method, which we call Bernstein-bounded unfairness, helps prevent classifiers from being deemed biased or unbiased when there is insufficient evidence to make either claim. Our findings suggest that the datasets currently used to measure specific biases are too small to conclusively identify bias except in the most egregious cases. For example, consider a co-reference resolution system that is 5% more accurate on gender-stereotypical sentences – to claim it is biased with 95% confidence, we need a bias-specific dataset that is 3.8 times larger than WinoBias, the largest available.

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BLEU Neighbors: A Reference-less Approach to Automatic Evaluation
Kawin Ethayarajh | Dorsa Sadigh
Proceedings of the First Workshop on Evaluation and Comparison of NLP Systems

Evaluation is a bottleneck in the development of natural language generation (NLG) models. Automatic metrics such as BLEU rely on references, but for tasks such as open-ended generation, there are no references to draw upon. Although language diversity can be estimated using statistical measures such as perplexity, measuring language quality requires human evaluation. However, because human evaluation at scale is slow and expensive, it is used sparingly; it cannot be used to rapidly iterate on NLG models, in the way BLEU is used for machine translation. To this end, we propose BLEU Neighbors, a nearest neighbors model for estimating language quality by using the BLEU score as a kernel function. On existing datasets for chitchat dialogue and open-ended sentence generation, we find that – on average – the quality estimation from a BLEU Neighbors model has a lower mean squared error and higher Spearman correlation with the ground truth than individual human annotators. Despite its simplicity, BLEU Neighbors even outperforms state-of-the-art models on automatically grading essays, including models that have access to a gold-standard reference essay.

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Utility is in the Eye of the User: A Critique of NLP Leaderboards
Kawin Ethayarajh | Dan Jurafsky
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

Benchmarks such as GLUE have helped drive advances in NLP by incentivizing the creation of more accurate models. While this leaderboard paradigm has been remarkably successful, a historical focus on performance-based evaluation has been at the expense of other qualities that the NLP community values in models, such as compactness, fairness, and energy efficiency. In this opinion paper, we study the divergence between what is incentivized by leaderboards and what is useful in practice through the lens of microeconomic theory. We frame both the leaderboard and NLP practitioners as consumers and the benefit they get from a model as its utility to them. With this framing, we formalize how leaderboards – in their current form – can be poor proxies for the NLP community at large. For example, a highly inefficient model would provide less utility to practitioners but not to a leaderboard, since it is a cost that only the former must bear. To allow practitioners to better estimate a model’s utility to them, we advocate for more transparency on leaderboards, such as the reporting of statistics that are of practical concern (e.g., model size, energy efficiency, and inference latency).

2019

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How Contextual are Contextualized Word Representations? Comparing the Geometry of BERT, ELMo, and GPT-2 Embeddings
Kawin Ethayarajh
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing and the 9th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (EMNLP-IJCNLP)

Replacing static word embeddings with contextualized word representations has yielded significant improvements on many NLP tasks. However, just how contextual are the contextualized representations produced by models such as ELMo and BERT? Are there infinitely many context-specific representations for each word, or are words essentially assigned one of a finite number of word-sense representations? For one, we find that the contextualized representations of all words are not isotropic in any layer of the contextualizing model. While representations of the same word in different contexts still have a greater cosine similarity than those of two different words, this self-similarity is much lower in upper layers. This suggests that upper layers of contextualizing models produce more context-specific representations, much like how upper layers of LSTMs produce more task-specific representations. In all layers of ELMo, BERT, and GPT-2, on average, less than 5% of the variance in a word’s contextualized representations can be explained by a static embedding for that word, providing some justification for the success of contextualized representations.

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Rotate King to get Queen: Word Relationships as Orthogonal Transformations in Embedding Space
Kawin Ethayarajh
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing and the 9th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (EMNLP-IJCNLP)

A notable property of word embeddings is that word relationships can exist as linear substructures in the embedding space. For example, ‘gender’ corresponds to v_woman - v_man and v_queen - v_king. This, in turn, allows word analogies to be solved arithmetically: v_king - v_man + v_woman = v_queen. This property is notable because it suggests that models trained on word embeddings can easily learn such relationships as geometric translations. However, there is no evidence that models exclusively represent relationships in this manner. We document an alternative way in which downstream models might learn these relationships: orthogonal and linear transformations. For example, given a translation vector for ‘gender’, we can find an orthogonal matrix R, representing a rotation and reflection, such that R(v_king) = v_queen and R(v_man) = v_woman. Analogical reasoning using orthogonal transformations is almost as accurate as using vector arithmetic; using linear transformations is more accurate than both. Our findings suggest that these transformations can be as good a representation of word relationships as translation vectors.

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Understanding Undesirable Word Embedding Associations
Kawin Ethayarajh | David Duvenaud | Graeme Hirst
Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Word embeddings are often criticized for capturing undesirable word associations such as gender stereotypes. However, methods for measuring and removing such biases remain poorly understood. We show that for any embedding model that implicitly does matrix factorization, debiasing vectors post hoc using subspace projection (Bolukbasi et al., 2016) is, under certain conditions, equivalent to training on an unbiased corpus. We also prove that WEAT, the most common association test for word embeddings, systematically overestimates bias. Given that the subspace projection method is provably effective, we use it to derive a new measure of association called the relational inner product association (RIPA). Experiments with RIPA reveal that, on average, skipgram with negative sampling (SGNS) does not make most words any more gendered than they are in the training corpus. However, for gender-stereotyped words, SGNS actually amplifies the gender association in the corpus.

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Towards Understanding Linear Word Analogies
Kawin Ethayarajh | David Duvenaud | Graeme Hirst
Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

A surprising property of word vectors is that word analogies can often be solved with vector arithmetic. However, it is unclear why arithmetic operators correspond to non-linear embedding models such as skip-gram with negative sampling (SGNS). We provide a formal explanation of this phenomenon without making the strong assumptions that past theories have made about the vector space and word distribution. Our theory has several implications. Past work has conjectured that linear substructures exist in vector spaces because relations can be represented as ratios; we prove that this holds for SGNS. We provide novel justification for the addition of SGNS word vectors by showing that it automatically down-weights the more frequent word, as weighting schemes do ad hoc. Lastly, we offer an information theoretic interpretation of Euclidean distance in vector spaces, justifying its use in capturing word dissimilarity.

2018

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Unsupervised Random Walk Sentence Embeddings: A Strong but Simple Baseline
Kawin Ethayarajh
Proceedings of the Third Workshop on Representation Learning for NLP

Using a random walk model of text generation, Arora et al. (2017) proposed a strong baseline for computing sentence embeddings: take a weighted average of word embeddings and modify with SVD. This simple method even outperforms far more complex approaches such as LSTMs on textual similarity tasks. In this paper, we first show that word vector length has a confounding effect on the probability of a sentence being generated in Arora et al.’s model. We propose a random walk model that is robust to this confound, where the probability of word generation is inversely related to the angular distance between the word and sentence embeddings. Our approach beats Arora et al.’s by up to 44.4% on textual similarity tasks and is competitive with state-of-the-art methods. Unlike Arora et al.’s method, ours requires no hyperparameter tuning, which means it can be used when there is no labelled data.