Generic unstructured neural networks have been shown to struggle on out-of-distribution compositional generalization. Compositional data augmentation via example recombination has transferred some prior knowledge about compositionality to such black-box neural models for several semantic parsing tasks, but this often required task-specific engineering or provided limited gains. We present a more powerful data recombination method using a model called Compositional Structure Learner (CSL). CSL is a generative model with a quasi-synchronous context-free grammar backbone, which we induce from the training data. We sample recombined examples from CSL and add them to the fine-tuning data of a pre-trained sequence-to-sequence model (T5). This procedure effectively transfers most of CSL’s compositional bias to T5 for diagnostic tasks, and results in a model even stronger than a T5-CSL ensemble on two real world compositional generalization tasks. This results in new state-of-the-art performance for these challenging semantic parsing tasks requiring generalization to both natural language variation and novel compositions of elements.
A common recent approach to semantic parsing augments sequence-to-sequence models by retrieving and appending a set of training samples, called exemplars. The effectiveness of this recipe is limited by the ability to retrieve informative exemplars that help produce the correct parse, which is especially challenging in low-resource settings. Existing retrieval is commonly based on similarity of query and exemplar inputs. We propose GandR, a retrieval procedure that retrieves exemplars for which outputs are also similar. GandR first generates a preliminary prediction with input-based retrieval. Then, it retrieves exemplars with outputs similar to the preliminary prediction which are used to generate a final prediction. GandR sets the state of the art on multiple low-resource semantic parsing tasks.
Despite their strong performance on many tasks, pre-trained language models have been shown to struggle on out-of-distribution compositional generalization. Meanwhile, recent work has shown considerable improvements on many NLP tasks from model scaling. Can scaling up model size also improve compositional generalization in semantic parsing? We evaluate encoder-decoder models up to 11B parameters and decoder-only models up to 540B parameters, and compare model scaling curves for three different methods for applying a pre-trained language model to a new task: fine-tuning all parameters, prompt tuning, and in-context learning. We observe that fine-tuning generally has flat or negative scaling curves on out-of-distribution compositional generalization in semantic parsing evaluations. In-context learning has positive scaling curves, but is generally outperformed by much smaller fine-tuned models. Prompt-tuning can outperform fine-tuning, suggesting further potential improvements from scaling as it exhibits a more positive scaling curve. Additionally, we identify several error trends that vary with model scale. For example, larger models are generally better at modeling the syntax of the output space, but are also more prone to certain types of overfitting. Overall, our study highlights limitations of current techniques for effectively leveraging model scale for compositional generalization, while our analysis also suggests promising directions for future work.
We investigate ways to compose complex concepts in texts from primitive ones while grounding them in images. We propose Concept and Relation Graph (CRG), which builds on top of constituency analysis and consists of recursively combined concepts with predicate functions. Meanwhile, we propose a concept composition neural network called Composer to leverage the CRG for visually grounded concept learning. Specifically, we learn the grounding of both primitive and all composed concepts by aligning them to images and show that learning to compose leads to more robust grounding results, measured in text-to-image matching accuracy. Notably, our model can model grounded concepts forming at both the finer-grained sentence level and the coarser-grained intermediate level (or word-level). Composer leads to pronounced improvement in matching accuracy when the evaluation data has significant compound divergence from the training data.
We analyze the grounded SCAN (gSCAN) benchmark, which was recently proposed to study systematic generalization for grounded language understanding. First, we study which aspects of the original benchmark can be solved by commonly used methods in multi-modal research. We find that a general-purpose Transformer-based model with cross-modal attention achieves strong performance on a majority of the gSCAN splits, surprisingly outperforming more specialized approaches from prior work. Furthermore, our analysis suggests that many of the remaining errors reveal the same fundamental challenge in systematic generalization of linguistic constructs regardless of visual context. Second, inspired by this finding, we propose challenging new tasks for gSCAN by generating data to incorporate relations between objects in the visual environment. Finally, we find that current models are surprisingly data inefficient given the narrow scope of commands in gSCAN, suggesting another challenge for future work.