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.
Fact checking at scale is difficult—while the number of active fact checking websites is growing, it remains too small for the needs of the contemporary media ecosystem. However, despite good intentions, contributions from volunteers are often error-prone, and thus in practice restricted to claim detection. We investigate how to increase the accuracy and efficiency of fact checking by providing information about the claim before performing the check, in the form of natural language briefs. We investigate passage-based briefs, containing a relevant passage from Wikipedia, entity-centric ones consisting of Wikipedia pages of mentioned entities, and Question-Answering Briefs, with questions decomposing the claim, and their answers. To produce QABriefs, we develop QABriefer, a model that generates a set of questions conditioned on the claim, searches the web for evidence, and generates answers. To train its components, we introduce QABriefDataset We show that fact checking with briefs — in particular QABriefs — increases the accuracy of crowdworkers by 10% while slightly decreasing the time taken. For volunteer (unpaid) fact checkers, QABriefs slightly increase accuracy and reduce the time required by around 20%.
Most work in machine reading focuses on question answering problems where the answer is directly expressed in the text to read. However, many real-world question answering problems require the reading of text not because it contains the literal answer, but because it contains a recipe to derive an answer together with the reader’s background knowledge. One example is the task of interpreting regulations to answer “Can I...?” or “Do I have to...?” questions such as “I am working in Canada. Do I have to carry on paying UK National Insurance?” after reading a UK government website about this topic. This task requires both the interpretation of rules and the application of background knowledge. It is further complicated due to the fact that, in practice, most questions are underspecified, and a human assistant will regularly have to ask clarification questions such as “How long have you been working abroad?” when the answer cannot be directly derived from the question and text. In this paper, we formalise this task and develop a crowd-sourcing strategy to collect 37k task instances based on real-world rules and crowd-generated questions and scenarios. We analyse the challenges of this task and assess its difficulty by evaluating the performance of rule-based and machine-learning baselines. We observe promising results when no background knowledge is necessary, and substantial room for improvement whenever background knowledge is needed.
In this paper, we introduce the task of targeted aspect-based sentiment analysis. The goal is to extract fine-grained information with respect to entities mentioned in user comments. This work extends both aspect-based sentiment analysis – that assumes a single entity per document — and targeted sentiment analysis — that assumes a single sentiment towards a target entity. In particular, we identify the sentiment towards each aspect of one or more entities. As a testbed for this task, we introduce the SentiHood dataset, extracted from a question answering (QA) platform where urban neighbourhoods are discussed by users. In this context units of text often mention several aspects of one or more neighbourhoods. This is the first time that a generic social media platform,i.e. QA, is used for fine-grained opinion mining. Text coming from QA platforms are far less constrained compared to text from review specific platforms which current datasets are based on. We develop several strong baselines, relying on logistic regression and state-of-the-art recurrent neural networks