Labiba Jahan


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Impacts of Low Socio-economic Status on Educational Outcomes: A Narrative Based Analysis
Motti Kelbessa | Ilyas Jamil | Labiba Jahan
Proceedings of the Second Workshop on NLP for Positive Impact (NLP4PI)

Socioeconomic status (SES) is a metric used to compare a person’s social standing based on their income, level of education, and occupation. Students from low SES backgrounds are those whose parents have low income and have limited access to the resources and opportunities they need to aid their success. Researchers have studied many issues and solutions for students with low SES, and there is a lot of research going on in many fields, especially in the social sciences. Computer science, however, has not yet as a field turned its considerable potential to addressing these inequalities. Utilizing Natural Language Processing (NLP) methods and technology, our work aims to address these disparities and ways to bridge the gap. We built a simple string matching algorithm including Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA) topic model and Open Information Extraction (open IE) to generate relational triples that are connected to the context of the students’ challenges, and the strategies they follow to overcome them. We manually collected 16 narratives about the experiences of low SES students in higher education from a publicly accessible internet forum (Reddit) and tested our model on them. We demonstrate that our strategy is effective (from 37.50% to 80%) in gathering contextual data about low SES students, in particular, about their difficulties while in a higher educational institution and how they improve their situation. A detailed error analysis suggests that increase of data, improvement of the LDA model, and quality of triples can help get better results from our model. For the advantage of other researchers, we make our code available.


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Inducing Stereotypical Character Roles from Plot Structure
Labiba Jahan | Rahul Mittal | Mark Finlayson
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Stereotypical character roles-also known as archetypes or dramatis personae-play an important function in narratives: they facilitate efficient communication with bundles of default characteristics and associations and ease understanding of those characters’ roles in the overall narrative. We present a fully unsupervised k-means clustering approach for learning stereotypical roles given only structural plot information. We demonstrate the technique on Vladimir Propp’s structural theory of Russian folktales (captured in the extended ProppLearner corpus, with 46 tales), showing that our approach can induce six out of seven of Propp’s dramatis personae with F1 measures of up to 0.70 (0.58 average), with an additional category for minor characters. We have explored various feature sets and variations of a cluster evaluation method. The best-performing feature set comprises plot functions, unigrams, tf-idf weights, and embeddings over coreference chain heads. Roles that are mentioned more often (Hero, Villain), or have clearly distinct plot patterns (Princess) are more strongly differentiated than less frequent or distinct roles (Dispatcher, Helper, Donor). Detailed error analysis suggests that the quality of the coreference chain and plot functions annotations are critical for this task. We provide all our data and code for reproducibility.


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A Straightforward Approach to Narratologically Grounded Character Identification
Labiba Jahan | Rahul Mittal | W. Victor Yarlott | Mark Finlayson
Proceedings of the 28th International Conference on Computational Linguistics

One of the most fundamental elements of narrative is character: if we are to understand a narrative, we must be able to identify the characters of that narrative. Therefore, character identification is a critical task in narrative natural language understanding. Most prior work has lacked a narratologically grounded definition of character, instead relying on simplified or implicit definitions that do not capture essential distinctions between characters and other referents in narratives. In prior work we proposed a preliminary definition of character that was based in clear narratological principles: a character is an animate entity that is important to the plot. Here we flesh out this concept, demonstrate that it can be reliably annotated (0.78 Cohen’s κ), and provide annotations of 170 narrative texts, drawn from 3 different corpora, containing 1,347 character co-reference chains and 21,999 non-character chains that include 3,937 animate chains. Furthermore, we have shown that a supervised classifier using a simple set of easily computable features can effectively identify these characters (overall F1 of 0.90). A detailed error analysis shows that character identification is first and foremost affected by co-reference quality, and further, that the shorter a chain is the harder it is to effectively identify as a character. We release our code and data for the benefit of other researchers


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Character Identification Refined: A Proposal
Labiba Jahan | Mark Finlayson
Proceedings of the First Workshop on Narrative Understanding

Characters are a key element of narrative and so character identification plays an important role in automatic narrative understanding. Unfortunately, most prior work that incorporates character identification is not built upon a clear, theoretically grounded concept of character. They either take character identification for granted (e.g., using simple heuristics on referring expressions), or rely on simplified definitions that do not capture important distinctions between characters and other referents in the story. Prior approaches have also been rather complicated, relying, for example, on predefined case bases or ontologies. In this paper we propose a narratologically grounded definition of character for discussion at the workshop, and also demonstrate a preliminary yet straightforward supervised machine learning model with a small set of features that performs well on two corpora. The most important of the two corpora is a set of 46 Russian folktales, on which the model achieves an F1 of 0.81. Error analysis suggests that features relevant to the plot will be necessary for further improvements in performance.


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A New Approach to Animacy Detection
Labiba Jahan | Geeticka Chauhan | Mark Finlayson
Proceedings of the 27th International Conference on Computational Linguistics

Animacy is a necessary property for a referent to be an agent, and thus animacy detection is useful for a variety of natural language processing tasks, including word sense disambiguation, co-reference resolution, semantic role labeling, and others. Prior work treated animacy as a word-level property, and has developed statistical classifiers to classify words as either animate or inanimate. We discuss why this approach to the problem is ill-posed, and present a new approach based on classifying the animacy of co-reference chains. We show that simple voting approaches to inferring the animacy of a chain from its constituent words perform relatively poorly, and then present a hybrid system merging supervised machine learning (ML) and a small number of hand-built rules to compute the animacy of referring expressions and co-reference chains. This method achieves state of the art performance. The supervised ML component leverages features such as word embeddings over referring expressions, parts of speech, and grammatical and semantic roles. The rules take into consideration parts of speech and the hypernymy structure encoded in WordNet. The system achieves an F1 of 0.88 for classifying the animacy of referring expressions, which is comparable to state of the art results for classifying the animacy of words, and achieves an F1 of 0.75 for classifying the animacy of coreference chains themselves. We release our training and test dataset, which includes 142 texts (all narratives) comprising 156,154 words, 34,698 referring expressions, and 10,941 co-reference chains. We test the method on a subset of the OntoNotes dataset, showing using manual sampling that animacy classification is 90% +/- 2% accurate for coreference chains, and 92% +/- 1% for referring expressions. The data also contains 46 folktales, which present an interesting challenge because they often involve characters who are members of traditionally inanimate classes (e.g., stoves that walk, trees that talk). We show that our system is able to detect the animacy of these unusual referents with an F1 of 0.95.