Malihe Alikhani


2022

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The Change that Matters in Discourse Parsing: Estimating the Impact of Domain Shift on Parser Error
Katherine Atwell | Anthony Sicilia | Seong Jae Hwang | Malihe Alikhani
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2022

Discourse analysis allows us to attain inferences of a text document that extend beyond the sentence-level. The current performance of discourse models is very low on texts outside of the training distribution’s coverage, diminishing the practical utility of existing models. There is need for a measure that can inform us to what extent our model generalizes from the training to the test sample when these samples may be drawn from distinct distributions. While this can be estimated via distribution shift, we argue that this does not directly correlate with change in the observed error of a classifier (i.e. error-gap). Thus, we propose to use a statistic from the theoretical domain adaptation literature which can be directly tied to error-gap. We study the bias of this statistic as an estimator of error-gap both theoretically and through a large-scale empirical study of over 2400 experiments on 6 discourse datasets from domains including, but not limited to: news, biomedical texts, TED talks, Reddit posts, and fiction. Our results not only motivate our proposal and help us to understand its limitations, but also provide insight on the properties of discourse models and datasets which improve performance in domain adaptation. For instance, we find that non-news datasets are slightly easier to transfer to than news datasets when the training and test sets are very different. Our code and an associated Python package are available to allow practitioners to make more informed model and dataset choices.

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Modeling Intensification for Sign Language Generation: A Computational Approach
Mert Inan | Yang Zhong | Sabit Hassan | Lorna Quandt | Malihe Alikhani
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2022

End-to-end sign language generation models do not accurately represent the prosody in sign language. A lack of temporal and spatial variations leads to poor-quality generated presentations that confuse human interpreters. In this paper, we aim to improve the prosody in generated sign languages by modeling intensification in a data-driven manner. We present different strategies grounded in linguistics of sign language that inform how intensity modifiers can be represented in gloss annotations. To employ our strategies, we first annotate a subset of the benchmark PHOENIX-14T, a German Sign Language dataset, with different levels of intensification. We then use a supervised intensity tagger to extend the annotated dataset and obtain labels for the remaining portion of it. This enhanced dataset is then used to train state-of-the-art transformer models for sign language generation. We find that our efforts in intensification modeling yield better results when evaluated with automatic metrics. Human evaluation also indicates a higher preference of the videos generated using our model.

2021

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Proceedings of the 1st Workshop on Document-grounded Dialogue and Conversational Question Answering (DialDoc 2021)
Song Feng | Siva Reddy | Malihe Alikhani | He He | Yangfeng Ji | Mohit Iyyer | Zhou Yu
Proceedings of the 1st Workshop on Document-grounded Dialogue and Conversational Question Answering (DialDoc 2021)

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Proceedings of Second International Combined Workshop on Spatial Language Understanding and Grounded Communication for Robotics
Malihe Alikhani | Valts Blukis | Parisa Kordjamshidi | Aishwarya Padmakumar | Hao Tan
Proceedings of Second International Combined Workshop on Spatial Language Understanding and Grounded Communication for Robotics

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Examining Covert Gender Bias: A Case Study in Turkish and English Machine Translation Models
Chloe Ciora | Nur Iren | Malihe Alikhani
Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Natural Language Generation

As Machine Translation (MT) has become increasingly more powerful, accessible, and widespread, the potential for the perpetuation of bias has grown alongside its advances. While overt indicators of bias have been studied in machine translation, we argue that covert biases expose a problem that is further entrenched. Through the use of the gender-neutral language Turkish and the gendered language English, we examine cases of both overt and covert gender bias in MT models. Specifically, we introduce a method to investigate asymmetrical gender markings. We also assess bias in the attribution of personhood and examine occupational and personality stereotypes through overt bias indicators in MT models. Our work explores a deeper layer of bias in MT models and demonstrates the continued need for language-specific, interdisciplinary methodology in MT model development.

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Where Are We in Discourse Relation Recognition?
Katherine Atwell | Junyi Jessy Li | Malihe Alikhani
Proceedings of the 22nd Annual Meeting of the Special Interest Group on Discourse and Dialogue

Discourse parsers recognize the intentional and inferential relationships that organize extended texts. They have had a great influence on a variety of NLP tasks as well as theoretical studies in linguistics and cognitive science. However it is often difficult to achieve good results from current discourse models, largely due to the difficulty of the task, particularly recognizing implicit discourse relations. Recent developments in transformer-based models have shown great promise on these analyses, but challenges still remain. We present a position paper which provides a systematic analysis of the state of the art discourse parsers. We aim to examine the performance of current discourse parsing models via gradual domain shift: within the corpus, on in-domain texts, and on out-of-domain texts, and discuss the differences between the transformer-based models and the previous models in predicting different types of implicit relations both inter- and intra-sentential. We conclude by describing several shortcomings of the existing models and a discussion of how future work should approach this problem.

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Signed Coreference Resolution
Kayo Yin | Kenneth DeHaan | Malihe Alikhani
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Coreference resolution is key to many natural language processing tasks and yet has been relatively unexplored in Sign Language Processing. In signed languages, space is primarily used to establish reference. Solving coreference resolution for signed languages would not only enable higher-level Sign Language Processing systems, but also enhance our understanding of language in different modalities and of situated references, which are key problems in studying grounded language. In this paper, we: (1) introduce Signed Coreference Resolution (SCR), a new challenge for coreference modeling and Sign Language Processing; (2) collect an annotated corpus of German Sign Language with gold labels for coreference together with an annotation software for the task; (3) explore features of hand gesture, iconicity, and spatial situated properties and move forward to propose a set of linguistically informed heuristics and unsupervised models for the task; (4) put forward several proposals about ways to address the complexities of this challenge effectively.

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ParsiNLU: A Suite of Language Understanding Challenges for Persian
Daniel Khashabi | Arman Cohan | Siamak Shakeri | Pedram Hosseini | Pouya Pezeshkpour | Malihe Alikhani | Moin Aminnaseri | Marzieh Bitaab | Faeze Brahman | Sarik Ghazarian | Mozhdeh Gheini | Arman Kabiri | Rabeeh Karimi Mahabagdi | Omid Memarrast | Ahmadreza Mosallanezhad | Erfan Noury | Shahab Raji | Mohammad Sadegh Rasooli | Sepideh Sadeghi | Erfan Sadeqi Azer | Niloofar Safi Samghabadi | Mahsa Shafaei | Saber Sheybani | Ali Tazarv | Yadollah Yaghoobzadeh
Transactions of the Association for Computational Linguistics, Volume 9

Abstract Despite the progress made in recent years in addressing natural language understanding (NLU) challenges, the majority of this progress remains to be concentrated on resource-rich languages like English. This work focuses on Persian language, one of the widely spoken languages in the world, and yet there are few NLU datasets available for this language. The availability of high-quality evaluation datasets is a necessity for reliable assessment of the progress on different NLU tasks and domains. We introduce ParsiNLU, the first benchmark in Persian language that includes a range of language understanding tasks—reading comprehension, textual entailment, and so on. These datasets are collected in a multitude of ways, often involving manual annotations by native speakers. This results in over 14.5k new instances across 6 distinct NLU tasks. Additionally, we present the first results on state-of-the-art monolingual and multilingual pre-trained language models on this benchmark and compare them with human performance, which provides valuable insights into our ability to tackle natural language understanding challenges in Persian. We hope ParsiNLU fosters further research and advances in Persian language understanding.1

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Entheos: A Multimodal Dataset for Studying Enthusiasm
Carla Viegas | Malihe Alikhani
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL-IJCNLP 2021

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COSMic: A Coherence-Aware Generation Metric for Image Descriptions
Mert Inan | Piyush Sharma | Baber Khalid | Radu Soricut | Matthew Stone | Malihe Alikhani
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2021

Developers of text generation models rely on automated evaluation metrics as a stand-in for slow and expensive manual evaluations. However, image captioning metrics have struggled to give accurate learned estimates of the semantic and pragmatic success of output text. We address this weakness by introducing the first discourse-aware learned generation metric for evaluating image descriptions. Our approach is inspired by computational theories of discourse for capturing information goals using coherence. We present a dataset of image–description pairs annotated with coherence relations. We then train a coherence-aware metric on a subset of the Conceptual Captions dataset and measure its effectiveness—its ability to predict human ratings of output captions—on a test set composed of out-of-domain images. We demonstrate a higher Kendall Correlation Coefficient for our proposed metric with the human judgments for the results of a number of state-of-the-art coherence-aware caption generation models when compared to several other metrics including recently proposed learned metrics such as BLEURT and BERTScore.

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Including Signed Languages in Natural Language Processing
Kayo Yin | Amit Moryossef | Julie Hochgesang | Yoav Goldberg | Malihe Alikhani
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)

Signed languages are the primary means of communication for many deaf and hard of hearing individuals. Since signed languages exhibit all the fundamental linguistic properties of natural language, we believe that tools and theories of Natural Language Processing (NLP) are crucial towards its modeling. However, existing research in Sign Language Processing (SLP) seldom attempt to explore and leverage the linguistic organization of signed languages. This position paper calls on the NLP community to include signed languages as a research area with high social and scientific impact. We first discuss the linguistic properties of signed languages to consider during their modeling. Then, we review the limitations of current SLP models and identify the open challenges to extend NLP to signed languages. Finally, we urge (1) the adoption of an efficient tokenization method; (2) the development of linguistically-informed models; (3) the collection of real-world signed language data; (4) the inclusion of local signed language communities as an active and leading voice in the direction of research.

2020

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Combining Cognitive Modeling and Reinforcement Learning for Clarification in Dialogue
Baber Khalid | Malihe Alikhani | Matthew Stone
Proceedings of the 28th International Conference on Computational Linguistics

In many domains, dialogue systems need to work collaboratively with users to successfully reconstruct the meaning the user had in mind. In this paper, we show how cognitive models of users’ communicative strategies can be leveraged in a reinforcement learning approach to dialogue planning to enable interactive systems to give targeted, effective feedback about the system’s understanding. We describe a prototype system that collaborates on reference tasks that distinguish arbitrarily varying color patches from similar distractors, and use experiments with crowd workers and analyses of our learned policies to document that our approach leads to context-sensitive clarification strategies that focus on key missing information, elicit correct answers that the system understands, and contribute to increasing dialogue success.

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Aspectuality Across Genre: A Distributional Semantics Approach
Thomas Kober | Malihe Alikhani | Matthew Stone | Mark Steedman
Proceedings of the 28th International Conference on Computational Linguistics

The interpretation of the lexical aspect of verbs in English plays a crucial role in tasks such as recognizing textual entailment and learning discourse-level inferences. We show that two elementary dimensions of aspectual class, states vs. events, and telic vs. atelic events, can be modelled effectively with distributional semantics. We find that a verb’s local context is most indicative of its aspectual class, and we demonstrate that closed class words tend to be stronger discriminating contexts than content words. Our approach outperforms previous work on three datasets. Further, we present a new dataset of human-human conversations annotated with lexical aspects and present experiments that show the correlation of telicity with genre and discourse goals.

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Cross-modal Coherence Modeling for Caption Generation
Malihe Alikhani | Piyush Sharma | Shengjie Li | Radu Soricut | Matthew Stone
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

We use coherence relations inspired by computational models of discourse to study the information needs and goals of image captioning. Using an annotation protocol specifically devised for capturing image–caption coherence relations, we annotate 10,000 instances from publicly-available image–caption pairs. We introduce a new task for learning inferences in imagery and text, coherence relation prediction, and show that these coherence annotations can be exploited to learn relation classifiers as an intermediary step, and also train coherence-aware, controllable image captioning models. The results show a dramatic improvement in the consistency and quality of the generated captions with respect to information needs specified via coherence relations.

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Achieving Common Ground in Multi-modal Dialogue
Malihe Alikhani | Matthew Stone
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Tutorial Abstracts

All communication aims at achieving common ground (grounding): interlocutors can work together effectively only with mutual beliefs about what the state of the world is, about what their goals are, and about how they plan to make their goals a reality. Computational dialogue research offers some classic results on grouding, which unfortunately offer scant guidance to the design of grounding modules and behaviors in cutting-edge systems. In this tutorial, we focus on three main topic areas: 1) grounding in human-human communication; 2) grounding in dialogue systems; and 3) grounding in multi-modal interactive systems, including image-oriented conversations and human-robot interactions. We highlight a number of achievements of recent computational research in coordinating complex content, show how these results lead to rich and challenging opportunities for doing grounding in more flexible and powerful ways, and canvass relevant insights from the literature on human–human conversation. We expect that the tutorial will be of interest to researchers in dialogue systems, computational semantics and cognitive modeling, and hope that it will catalyze research and system building that more directly explores the creative, strategic ways conversational agents might be able to seek and offer evidence about their understanding of their interlocutors.

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Proceedings of the Third International Workshop on Spatial Language Understanding
Parisa Kordjamshidi | Archna Bhatia | Malihe Alikhani | Jason Baldridge | Mohit Bansal | Marie-Francine Moens
Proceedings of the Third International Workshop on Spatial Language Understanding

2019

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“Caption” as a Coherence Relation: Evidence and Implications
Malihe Alikhani | Matthew Stone
Proceedings of the Second Workshop on Shortcomings in Vision and Language

We study verbs in image–text corpora, contrasting caption corpora, where texts are explicitly written to characterize image content, with depiction corpora, where texts and images may stand in more general relations. Captions show a distinctively limited distribution of verbs, with strong preferences for specific tense, aspect, lexical aspect, and semantic field. These limitations, which appear in data elicited by a range of methods, restrict the utility of caption corpora to inform image retrieval, multimodal document generation, and perceptually-grounded semantic models. We suggest that these limitations reflect the discourse constraints in play when subjects write texts to accompany imagery, so we argue that future development of image–text corpora should work to increase the diversity of event descriptions, while looking explicitly at the different ways text and imagery can be coherently related.

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CITE: A Corpus of Image-Text Discourse Relations
Malihe Alikhani | Sreyasi Nag Chowdhury | Gerard de Melo | Matthew Stone
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies, Volume 1 (Long and Short Papers)

This paper presents a novel crowd-sourced resource for multimodal discourse: our resource characterizes inferences in image-text contexts in the domain of cooking recipes in the form of coherence relations. Like previous corpora annotating discourse structure between text arguments, such as the Penn Discourse Treebank, our new corpus aids in establishing a better understanding of natural communication and common-sense reasoning, while our findings have implications for a wide range of applications, such as understanding and generation of multimodal documents.

2018

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Arrows are the Verbs of Diagrams
Malihe Alikhani | Matthew Stone
Proceedings of the 27th International Conference on Computational Linguistics

Arrows are a key ingredient of schematic pictorial communication. This paper investigates the interpretation of arrows through linguistic, crowdsourcing and machine-learning methodology. Our work establishes a novel analogy between arrows and verbs: we advocate representing arrows in terms of qualitatively different structural and semantic frames, and resolving frames to specific interpretations using shallow world knowledge.