Maria Minakova


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Influence Scores at Scale for Efficient Language Data Sampling
Nikhil Anand | Joshua Tan | Maria Minakova
Proceedings of the 2023 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Modern ML systems ingest data aggregated from diverse sources, such as synthetic, human-annotated, and live customer traffic. Understanding which examples are important to the performance of a learning algorithm is crucial for efficient model training. Recently, a growing body of literature has given rise to various “influence scores,” which use training artifacts such as model confidence or checkpointed gradients to identify important subsets of data. However, these methods have primarily been developed in computer vision settings, and it remains unclear how well they generalize to language-based tasks using pretrained models. In this paper, we explore the applicability of influence scores in language classification tasks. We evaluate a diverse subset of these scores on the SNLI dataset by quantifying accuracy changes in response to pruning training data through random and influence-score-based sampling. We then stress-test one of the scores – “variance of gradients” (VoG) from Agarwal and Hooker (2022) – in an NLU model stack that was exposed to dynamic user speech patterns in a voice assistant type of setting. Our experiments demonstrate that in many cases, encoder-based language models can be fine-tuned on roughly 50% of the original data without degradation in performance metrics. Along the way, we summarize lessons learned from applying out-of-the-box implementations of influence scores, quantify the effects of noisy and class-imbalanced data, and offer recommendations on score-based sampling for better accuracy and training efficiency.

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Entity Contrastive Learning in a Large-Scale Virtual Assistant System
Jonathan Rubin | Jason Crowley | George Leung | Morteza Ziyadi | Maria Minakova
Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 5: Industry Track)

Conversational agents are typically made up of domain (DC) and intent classifiers (IC) that identify the general subject an utterance belongs to and the specific action a user wishes to achieve. In addition, named entity recognition (NER) performs per token labeling to identify specific entities of interest in a spoken utterance. We investigate improving joint IC and NER models using entity contrastive learning that attempts to cluster similar entities together in a learned representation space. We compare a full virtual assistant system trained using entity contrastive learning to a production baseline system that does not use contrastive learning. We present both offline results, using retrospective test sets, as well as live online results from an A/B test that compared the two systems. In both the offline and online settings, entity contrastive training improved overall performance against production baselines. Furthermore, we provide a detailed analysis of learned entity embeddings, including both qualitative analysis via dimensionality-reduced visualizations and quantitative analysis by computing alignment and uniformity metrics. We show that entity contrastive learning improves alignment metrics and produces well-formed embedding clusters in representation space.