Maury Courtland


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Error-Sensitive Evaluation for Ordinal Target Variables
David Chen | Maury Courtland | Adam Faulkner | Aysu Ezen-Can
Proceedings of the 2nd Workshop on Evaluation and Comparison of NLP Systems

Product reviews and satisfaction surveys seek customer feedback in the form of ranked scales. In these settings, widely used evaluation metrics including F1 and accuracy ignore the rank in the responses (e.g., ‘very likely’ is closer to ‘likely’ than ‘not at all’). In this paper, we hypothesize that the order of class values is important for evaluating classifiers on ordinal target variables and should not be disregarded. To test this hypothesis, we compared Multi-class Classification (MC) and Ordinal Regression (OR) by applying OR and MC to benchmark tasks involving ordinal target variables using the same underlying model architecture. Experimental results show that while MC outperformed OR for some datasets in accuracy and F1, OR is significantly better than MC for minimizing the error between prediction and target for all benchmarks, as revealed by error-sensitive metrics, e.g. mean-squared error (MSE) and Spearman correlation. Our findings motivate the need to establish consistent, error-sensitive metrics for evaluating benchmarks with ordinal target variables, and we hope that it stimulates interest in exploring alternative losses for ordinal problems.


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Efficient Automatic Punctuation Restoration Using Bidirectional Transformers with Robust Inference
Maury Courtland | Adam Faulkner | Gayle McElvain
Proceedings of the 17th International Conference on Spoken Language Translation

Though people rarely speak in complete sentences, punctuation confers many benefits to the readers of transcribed speech. Unfortunately, most ASR systems do not produce punctuated output. To address this, we propose a solution for automatic punctuation that is both cost efficient and easy to train. Our solution benefits from the recent trend in fine-tuning transformer-based language models. We also modify the typical framing of this task by predicting punctuation for sequences rather than individual tokens, which makes for more efficient training and inference. Finally, we find that aggregating predictions across multiple context windows improves accuracy even further. Our best model achieves a new state of the art on benchmark data (TED Talks) with a combined F1 of 83.9, representing a 48.7% relative improvement (15.3 absolute) over the previous state of the art.


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Modeling performance differences on cognitive tests using LSTMs and skip-thought vectors trained on reported media consumption.
Maury Courtland | Aida Davani | Melissa Reyes | Leigh Yeh | Jun Leung | Brendan Kennedy | Morteza Dehghani | Jason Zevin
Proceedings of the Third Workshop on Natural Language Processing and Computational Social Science

Cognitive tests have traditionally resorted to standardizing testing materials in the name of equality and because of the onerous nature of creating test items. This approach ignores participants’ diverse language experiences that potentially significantly affect testing outcomes. Here, we seek to explain our prior finding of significant performance differences on two cognitive tests (reading span and SPiN) between clusters of participants based on their media consumption. Here, we model the language contained in these media sources using an LSTM trained on corpora of each cluster’s media sources to predict target words. We also model semantic similarity of test items with each cluster’s corpus using skip-thought vectors. We find robust, significant correlations between performance on the SPiN test and the LSTMs and skip-thought models we present here, but not the reading span test.