Majid Yazdani


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RQUGE: Reference-Free Metric for Evaluating Question Generation by Answering the Question
Alireza Mohammadshahi | Thomas Scialom | Majid Yazdani | Pouya Yanki | Angela Fan | James Henderson | Marzieh Saeidi
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2023

Existing metrics for evaluating the quality of automatically generated questions such as BLEU, ROUGE, BERTScore, and BLEURT compare the reference and predicted questions, providing a high score when there is a considerable lexical overlap or semantic similarity between the candidate and the reference questions. This approach has two major shortcomings. First, we need expensive human-provided reference questions. Second, it penalises valid questions that may not have high lexical or semantic similarity to the reference questions. In this paper, we propose a new metric, RQUGE, based on the answerability of the candidate question given the context. The metric consists of a question-answering and a span scorer modules, using pre-trained models from existing literature, thus it can be used without any further training. We demonstrate that RQUGE has a higher correlation with human judgment without relying on the reference question. Additionally, RQUGE is shown to be more robust to several adversarial corruptions. Furthermore, we illustrate that we can significantly improve the performance of QA models on out-of-domain datasets by fine-tuning on synthetic data generated by a question generation model and reranked by RQUGE.


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Prompt-free and Efficient Few-shot Learning with Language Models
Rabeeh Karimi Mahabadi | Luke Zettlemoyer | James Henderson | Lambert Mathias | Marzieh Saeidi | Veselin Stoyanov | Majid Yazdani
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Current methods for few-shot fine-tuning of pretrained masked language models (PLMs) require carefully engineered prompts and verbalizers for each new task to convert examples into a cloze-format that the PLM can score. In this work, we propose Perfect, a simple and efficient method for few-shot fine-tuning of PLMs without relying on any such handcrafting, which is highly effective given as few as 32 data points. Perfect makes two key design choices: First, we show that manually engineered task prompts can be replaced with task-specific adapters that enable sample-efficient fine-tuning and reduce memory and storage costs by roughly factors of 5 and 100, respectively. Second, instead of using handcrafted verbalizers, we learn new multi-token label embeddings during fine-tuning, which are not tied to the model vocabulary and which allow us to avoid complex auto-regressive decoding. These embeddings are not only learnable from limited data but also enable nearly 100x faster training and inference. Experiments on a wide range of few shot NLP tasks demonstrate that Perfect, while being simple and efficient, also outperforms existing state-of-the-art few-shot learning methods. Our code is publicly available at

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Open Vocabulary Extreme Classification Using Generative Models
Daniel Simig | Fabio Petroni | Pouya Yanki | Kashyap Popat | Christina Du | Sebastian Riedel | Majid Yazdani
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2022

The extreme multi-label classification (XMC) task aims at tagging content with a subset of labels from an extremely large label set. The label vocabulary is typically defined in advance by domain experts and assumed to capture all necessary tags. However in real world scenarios this label set, although large, is often incomplete and experts frequently need to refine it. To develop systems that simplify this process, we introduce the task of open vocabulary XMC (OXMC): given a piece of content, predict a set of labels, some of which may be outside of the known tag set. Hence, in addition to not having training data for some labels–as is the case in zero-shot classification–models need to invent some labels on-thefly. We propose GROOV, a fine-tuned seq2seq model for OXMC that generates the set of labels as a flat sequence and is trained using a novel loss independent of predicted label order. We show the efficacy of the approach, experimenting with popular XMC datasets for which GROOV is able to predict meaningful labels outside the given vocabulary while performing on par with state-of-the-art solutions for known labels.


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KILT: a Benchmark for Knowledge Intensive Language Tasks
Fabio Petroni | Aleksandra Piktus | Angela Fan | Patrick Lewis | Majid Yazdani | Nicola De Cao | James Thorne | Yacine Jernite | Vladimir Karpukhin | Jean Maillard | Vassilis Plachouras | Tim Rocktäschel | Sebastian Riedel
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Challenging problems such as open-domain question answering, fact checking, slot filling and entity linking require access to large, external knowledge sources. While some models do well on individual tasks, developing general models is difficult as each task might require computationally expensive indexing of custom knowledge sources, in addition to dedicated infrastructure. To catalyze research on models that condition on specific information in large textual resources, we present a benchmark for knowledge-intensive language tasks (KILT). All tasks in KILT are grounded in the same snapshot of Wikipedia, reducing engineering turnaround through the re-use of components, as well as accelerating research into task-agnostic memory architectures. We test both task-specific and general baselines, evaluating downstream performance in addition to the ability of the models to provide provenance. We find that a shared dense vector index coupled with a seq2seq model is a strong baseline, outperforming more tailor-made approaches for fact checking, open-domain question answering and dialogue, and yielding competitive results on entity linking and slot filling, by generating disambiguated text. KILT data and code are available at

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Cross-Policy Compliance Detection via Question Answering
Marzieh Saeidi | Majid Yazdani | Andreas Vlachos
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Policy compliance detection is the task of ensuring that a scenario conforms to a policy (e.g. a claim is valid according to government rules or a post in an online platform conforms to community guidelines). This task has been previously instantiated as a form of textual entailment, which results in poor accuracy due to the complexity of the policies. In this paper we propose to address policy compliance detection via decomposing it into question answering, where questions check whether the conditions stated in the policy apply to the scenario, and an expression tree combines the answers to obtain the label. Despite the initial upfront annotation cost, we demonstrate that this approach results in better accuracy, especially in the cross-policy setup where the policies during testing are unseen in training. In addition, it allows us to use existing question answering models pre-trained on existing large datasets. Finally, it explicitly identifies the information missing from a scenario in case policy compliance cannot be determined. We conduct our experiments using a recent dataset consisting of government policies, which we augment with expert annotations and find that the cost of annotating question answering decomposition is largely offset by improved inter-annotator agreement and speed.

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Database reasoning over text
James Thorne | Majid Yazdani | Marzieh Saeidi | Fabrizio Silvestri | Sebastian Riedel | Alon Halevy
Proceedings of the 59th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 11th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Neural models have shown impressive performance gains in answering queries from natural language text. However, existing works are unable to support database queries, such as “List/Count all female athletes who were born in 20th century”, which require reasoning over sets of relevant facts with operations such as join, filtering and aggregation. We show that while state-of-the-art transformer models perform very well for small databases, they exhibit limitations in processing noisy data, numerical operations, and queries that aggregate facts. We propose a modular architecture to answer these database-style queries over multiple spans from text and aggregating these at scale. We evaluate the architecture using WikiNLDB, a novel dataset for exploring such queries. Our architecture scales to databases containing thousands of facts whereas contemporary models are limited by how many facts can be encoded. In direct comparison on small databases, our approach increases overall answer accuracy from 85% to 90%. On larger databases, our approach retains its accuracy whereas transformer baselines could not encode the context.


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Incremental Recurrent Neural Network Dependency Parser with Search-based Discriminative Training
Majid Yazdani | James Henderson
Proceedings of the Nineteenth Conference on Computational Natural Language Learning

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A Model of Zero-Shot Learning of Spoken Language Understanding
Majid Yazdani | James Henderson
Proceedings of the 2015 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

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Learning Semantic Composition to Detect Non-compositionality of Multiword Expressions
Majid Yazdani | Meghdad Farahmand | James Henderson
Proceedings of the 2015 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing


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The PARLANCE mobile application for interactive search in English and Mandarin
Helen Hastie | Marie-Aude Aufaure | Panos Alexopoulos | Hugues Bouchard | Catherine Breslin | Heriberto Cuayáhuitl | Nina Dethlefs | Milica Gašić | James Henderson | Oliver Lemon | Xingkun Liu | Peter Mika | Nesrine Ben Mustapha | Tim Potter | Verena Rieser | Blaise Thomson | Pirros Tsiakoulis | Yves Vanrompay | Boris Villazon-Terrazas | Majid Yazdani | Steve Young | Yanchao Yu
Proceedings of the 15th Annual Meeting of the Special Interest Group on Discourse and Dialogue (SIGDIAL)


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Using a Wikipedia-based Semantic Relatedness Measure for Document Clustering
Majid Yazdani | Andrei Popescu-Belis
Proceedings of TextGraphs-6: Graph-based Methods for Natural Language Processing

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A Just-in-Time Document Retrieval System for Dialogues or Monologues
Andrei Popescu-Belis | Majid Yazdani | Alexandre Nanchen | Philip N. Garner
Proceedings of the SIGDIAL 2011 Conference

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A Speech-based Just-in-Time Retrieval System using Semantic Search
Andrei Popescu-Belis | Majid Yazdani | Alexandre Nanchen | Philip N. Garner
Proceedings of the ACL-HLT 2011 System Demonstrations