Liangming Pan


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KQA Pro: A Dataset with Explicit Compositional Programs for Complex Question Answering over Knowledge Base
Shulin Cao | Jiaxin Shi | Liangming Pan | Lunyiu Nie | Yutong Xiang | Lei Hou | Juanzi Li | Bin He | Hanwang Zhang
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Complex question answering over knowledge base (Complex KBQA) is challenging because it requires various compositional reasoning capabilities, such as multi-hop inference, attribute comparison, set operation, etc. Existing benchmarks have some shortcomings that limit the development of Complex KBQA: 1) they only provide QA pairs without explicit reasoning processes; 2) questions are poor in diversity or scale. To this end, we introduce KQA Pro, a dataset for Complex KBQA including around 120K diverse natural language questions. We introduce a compositional and interpretable programming language KoPL to represent the reasoning process of complex questions. For each question, we provide the corresponding KoPL program and SPARQL query, so that KQA Pro can serve for both KBQA and semantic parsing tasks. Experimental results show that state-of-the-art KBQA methods cannot achieve promising results on KQA Pro as on current datasets, which suggests that KQA Pro is challenging and Complex KBQA requires further research efforts. We also treat KQA Pro as a diagnostic dataset for testing multiple reasoning skills, conduct a thorough evaluation of existing models and discuss further directions for Complex KBQA. Our codes and datasets can be obtained from

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Interpreting the Robustness of Neural NLP Models to Textual Perturbations
Yunxiang Zhang | Liangming Pan | Samson Tan | Min-Yen Kan
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2022

Modern Natural Language Processing (NLP) models are known to be sensitive to input perturbations and their performance can decrease when applied to real-world, noisy data. However, it is still unclear why models are less robust to some perturbations than others. In this work, we test the hypothesis that the extent to which a model is affected by an unseen textual perturbation (robustness) can be explained by the learnability of the perturbation (defined as how well the model learns to identify the perturbation with a small amount of evidence). We further give a causal justification for the learnability metric. We conduct extensive experiments with four prominent NLP models — TextRNN, BERT, RoBERTa and XLNet — over eight types of textual perturbations on three datasets. We show that a model which is better at identifying a perturbation (higher learnability) becomes worse at ignoring such a perturbation at test time (lower robustness), providing empirical support for our hypothesis.

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Automatic True/False Question Generation for Educational Purpose
Bowei Zou | Pengfei Li | Liangming Pan | Ai Ti Aw
Proceedings of the 17th Workshop on Innovative Use of NLP for Building Educational Applications (BEA 2022)

In field of teaching, true/false questioning is an important educational method for assessing students’ general understanding of learning materials. Manually creating such questions requires extensive human effort and expert knowledge. Question Generation (QG) technique offers the possibility to automatically generate a large number of questions. However, there is limited work on automatic true/false question generation due to the lack of training data and difficulty finding question-worthy content. In this paper, we propose an unsupervised True/False Question Generation approach (TF-QG) that automatically generates true/false questions from a given passage for reading comprehension test. TF-QG consists of a template-based framework that aims to test the specific knowledge in the passage by leveraging various NLP techniques, and a generative framework to generate more flexible and complicated questions by using a novel masking-and-infilling strategy. Human evaluation shows that our approach can generate high-quality and valuable true/false questions. In addition, simulated testing on the generated questions challenges the state-of-the-art inference models from NLI, QA, and fact verification tasks.


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Unsupervised Multi-hop Question Answering by Question Generation
Liangming Pan | Wenhu Chen | Wenhan Xiong | Min-Yen Kan | William Yang Wang
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Obtaining training data for multi-hop question answering (QA) is time-consuming and resource-intensive. We explore the possibility to train a well-performed multi-hop QA model without referencing any human-labeled multi-hop question-answer pairs, i.e., unsupervised multi-hop QA. We propose MQA-QG, an unsupervised framework that can generate human-like multi-hop training data from both homogeneous and heterogeneous data sources. MQA-QG generates questions by first selecting/generating relevant information from each data source and then integrating the multiple information to form a multi-hop question. Using only generated training data, we can train a competent multi-hop QA which achieves 61% and 83% of the supervised learning performance for the HybridQA and the HotpotQA dataset, respectively. We also show that pretraining the QA system with the generated data would greatly reduce the demand for human-annotated training data. Our codes are publicly available at

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Zero-shot Fact Verification by Claim Generation
Liangming Pan | Wenhu Chen | Wenhan Xiong | Min-Yen Kan | William Yang Wang
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)

Neural models for automated fact verification have achieved promising results thanks to the availability of large, human-annotated datasets. However, for each new domain that requires fact verification, creating a dataset by manually writing claims and linking them to their supporting evidence is expensive. We develop QACG, a framework for training a robust fact verification model by using automatically generated claims that can be supported, refuted, or unverifiable from evidence from Wikipedia. QACG generates question-answer pairs from the evidence and then converts them into different types of claims. Experiments on the FEVER dataset show that our QACG framework significantly reduces the demand for human-annotated training data. In a zero-shot scenario, QACG improves a RoBERTa model’s F1 from 50% to 77%, equivalent in performance to 2K+ manually-curated examples. Our QACG code is publicly available.


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Expertise Style Transfer: A New Task Towards Better Communication between Experts and Laymen
Yixin Cao | Ruihao Shui | Liangming Pan | Min-Yen Kan | Zhiyuan Liu | Tat-Seng Chua
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

The curse of knowledge can impede communication between experts and laymen. We propose a new task of expertise style transfer and contribute a manually annotated dataset with the goal of alleviating such cognitive biases. Solving this task not only simplifies the professional language, but also improves the accuracy and expertise level of laymen descriptions using simple words. This is a challenging task, unaddressed in previous work, as it requires the models to have expert intelligence in order to modify text with a deep understanding of domain knowledge and structures. We establish the benchmark performance of five state-of-the-art models for style transfer and text simplification. The results demonstrate a significant gap between machine and human performance. We also discuss the challenges of automatic evaluation, to provide insights into future research directions. The dataset is publicly available at

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Semantic Graphs for Generating Deep Questions
Liangming Pan | Yuxi Xie | Yansong Feng | Tat-Seng Chua | Min-Yen Kan
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

This paper proposes the problem of Deep Question Generation (DQG), which aims to generate complex questions that require reasoning over multiple pieces of information about the input passage. In order to capture the global structure of the document and facilitate reasoning, we propose a novel framework that first constructs a semantic-level graph for the input document and then encodes the semantic graph by introducing an attention-based GGNN (Att-GGNN). Afterward, we fuse the document-level and graph-level representations to perform joint training of content selection and question decoding. On the HotpotQA deep-question centric dataset, our model greatly improves performance over questions requiring reasoning over multiple facts, leading to state-of-the-art performance. The code is publicly available at

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Exploring Question-Specific Rewards for Generating Deep Questions
Yuxi Xie | Liangming Pan | Dongzhe Wang | Min-Yen Kan | Yansong Feng
Proceedings of the 28th International Conference on Computational Linguistics

Recent question generation (QG) approaches often utilize the sequence-to-sequence framework (Seq2Seq) to optimize the log likelihood of ground-truth questions using teacher forcing. However, this training objective is inconsistent with actual question quality, which is often reflected by certain global properties such as whether the question can be answered by the document. As such, we directly optimize for QG-specific objectives via reinforcement learning to improve question quality. We design three different rewards that target to improve the fluency, relevance, and answerability of generated questions. We conduct both automatic and human evaluations in addition to thorough analysis to explore the effect of each QG-specific reward. We find that optimizing on question-specific rewards generally leads to better performance in automatic evaluation metrics. However, only the rewards that correlate well with human judgement (e.g., relevance) lead to real improvement in question quality. Optimizing for the others, especially answerability, introduces incorrect bias to the model, resulting in poorer question quality. The code is publicly available at

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Exploring and Evaluating Attributes, Values, and Structures for Entity Alignment
Zhiyuan Liu | Yixin Cao | Liangming Pan | Juanzi Li | Zhiyuan Liu | Tat-Seng Chua
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

Entity alignment (EA) aims at building a unified Knowledge Graph (KG) of rich content by linking the equivalent entities from various KGs. GNN-based EA methods present promising performance by modeling the KG structure defined by relation triples. However, attribute triples can also provide crucial alignment signal but have not been well explored yet. In this paper, we propose to utilize an attributed value encoder and partition the KG into subgraphs to model the various types of attribute triples efficiently. Besides, the performances of current EA methods are overestimated because of the name-bias of existing EA datasets. To make an objective evaluation, we propose a hard experimental setting where we select equivalent entity pairs with very different names as the test set. Under both the regular and hard settings, our method achieves significant improvements (5.10% on average Hits@1 in DBP15k) over 12 baselines in cross-lingual and monolingual datasets. Ablation studies on different subgraphs and a case study about attribute types further demonstrate the effectiveness of our method. Source code and data can be found at


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Course Concept Extraction in MOOCs via Embedding-Based Graph Propagation
Liangming Pan | Xiaochen Wang | Chengjiang Li | Juanzi Li | Jie Tang
Proceedings of the Eighth International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), offering a new way to study online, are revolutionizing education. One challenging issue in MOOCs is how to design effective and fine-grained course concepts such that students with different backgrounds can grasp the essence of the course. In this paper, we conduct a systematic investigation of the problem of course concept extraction for MOOCs. We propose to learn latent representations for candidate concepts via an embedding-based method. Moreover, we develop a graph-based propagation algorithm to rank the candidate concepts based on the learned representations. We evaluate the proposed method using different courses from XuetangX and Coursera. Experimental results show that our method significantly outperforms all the alternative methods (+0.013-0.318 in terms of R-precision; p<<0.01, t-test).

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Prerequisite Relation Learning for Concepts in MOOCs
Liangming Pan | Chengjiang Li | Juanzi Li | Jie Tang
Proceedings of the 55th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

What prerequisite knowledge should students achieve a level of mastery before moving forward to learn subsequent coursewares? We study the extent to which the prerequisite relation between knowledge concepts in Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) can be inferred automatically. In particular, what kinds of information can be leverage to uncover the potential prerequisite relation between knowledge concepts. We first propose a representation learning-based method for learning latent representations of course concepts, and then investigate how different features capture the prerequisite relations between concepts. Our experiments on three datasets form Coursera show that the proposed method achieves significant improvements (+5.9-48.0% by F1-score) comparing with existing methods.