Muhammad Khalifa


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Few-shot Reranking for Multi-hop QA via Language Model Prompting
Muhammad Khalifa | Lajanugen Logeswaran | Moontae Lee | Honglak Lee | Lu Wang
Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

We study few-shot reranking for multi-hop QA (MQA) with open-domain questions. To alleviate the need for a large number of labeled question-document pairs for retriever training, we propose PromptRank, which relies on language model prompting for multi-hop path reranking. PromptRank first constructs an instruction-based prompt that includes a candidate document path and then computes the relevance score between a given question and the path based on the conditional likelihood of the question given the path prompt according to a language model. PromptRank yields strong retrieval performance on HotpotQA with only 128 training examples compared to state-of-the-art methods trained on thousands of examples — 73.6 recall@10 by PromptRank vs. 77.8 by PathRetriever and 77.5 by multi-hop dense retrieval.

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BOLT: Fast Energy-based Controlled Text Generation with Tunable Biases
Xin Liu | Muhammad Khalifa | Lu Wang
Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 2: Short Papers)

Energy-based models (EBMs) have gained popularity for controlled text generation due to their high applicability to a wide range of constraints. However, sampling from EBMs is non-trivial, as it often requires a large number of iterations to converge to plausible text, which slows down the decoding process and makes it less practical for real-world applications. In this work, we propose BOLT, which relies on tunable biases to directly adjust the language model’s output logits. Unlike prior work, BOLT maintains the generator’s autoregressive nature to assert a strong control on token-wise conditional dependencies and overall fluency, and thus converges faster. When compared with state-of-the-arts on controlled generation tasks using both soft constraints (e.g., sentiment control) and hard constraints (e.g., keyword-guided topic control), BOLT demonstrates significantly improved efficiency and fluency. On sentiment control, BOLT is 7x faster than competitive baselines, and more fluent in 74.4% of the evaluation samples according to human judges.

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Contrastive Training Improves Zero-Shot Classification of Semi-structured Documents
Muhammad Khalifa | Yogarshi Vyas | Shuai Wang | Graham Horwood | Sunil Mallya | Miguel Ballesteros
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2023

We investigate semi-structured document classification in a zero-shot setting. Classification of semi-structured documents is more challenging than that of standard unstructured documents, as positional, layout, and style information play a vital role in interpreting such documents. The standard classification setting where categories are fixed during both training and testing falls short in dynamic environments where new classification categories could potentially emerge. We focus exclusively on the zero-shot learning setting where inference is done on new unseen classes. To address this task, we propose a matching-based approach that relies on a pairwise contrastive objective for both pretraining and fine-tuning. Our results show a significant boost in Macro F1 from the proposed pretraining step and comparable performance of the contrastive fine-tuning to a standard prediction objective in both supervised and unsupervised zero-shot settings.

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GRACE: Discriminator-Guided Chain-of-Thought Reasoning
Muhammad Khalifa | Lajanugen Logeswaran | Moontae Lee | Honglak Lee | Lu Wang
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2023

In the context of multi-step reasoning, e.g., with chain-of-thought, language models (LMs) can easily assign a high likelihood to incorrect steps. As a result, decoding strategies that optimize for solution likelihood often yield incorrect solutions. To address this issue, we propose Guiding chain-of-thought ReAsoning with a CorrectnEss Discriminator (GRACE), a stepwise decoding approach that steers the decoding process towards producing correct reasoning steps. GRACE employs a discriminator trained with a contrastive loss over correct and incorrect steps, which is used during decoding to score next-step candidates based on their correctness. Importantly, GRACE only requires sampling from the LM, without the need for LM training or fine-tuning. Using models from FLAN-T5 and LLaMA families, we evaluate GRACE over four math and two symbolic reasoning tasks, where it exhibits substantial performance gains compared to greedy decoding, verifiers, and self-consistency in most settings. When further combined with self-consistency, GRACE outperforms all the baselines by sizeable margins. Human and LLM evaluations over GSM8K show that GRACE not only improves the final answer accuracy but also the correctness of the intermediate reasoning.

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Merging Generated and Retrieved Knowledge for Open-Domain QA
Yunxiang Zhang | Muhammad Khalifa | Lajanugen Logeswaran | Moontae Lee | Honglak Lee | Lu Wang
Proceedings of the 2023 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Open-domain question answering (QA) systems are often built with retrieval modules. However, retrieving passages from a given source is known to suffer from insufficient knowledge coverage. Alternatively, prompting large language models (LLMs) to generate contextual passages based on their parametric knowledge has been shown to improve QA performance. Yet, LLMs tend to “hallucinate” content that conflicts with the retrieved knowledge. Based on the intuition that answers supported by both sources are more likely to be correct, we propose COMBO, a Compatibility-Oriented knowledge Merging for Better Open-domain QA framework, to effectively leverage the two sources of information. Concretely, we match LLM-generated passages with retrieved counterparts into compatible pairs, based on discriminators trained with silver compatibility labels. Then a Fusion-in-Decoder-based reader model handles passage pairs to arrive at the final answer. Experiments show that COMBO outperforms competitive baselines on three out of four tested open-domain QA benchmarks. Further analysis reveals that our proposed framework demonstrates greater efficacy in scenarios with a higher degree of knowledge conflicts.


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Self-Training Pre-Trained Language Models for Zero- and Few-Shot Multi-Dialectal Arabic Sequence Labeling
Muhammad Khalifa | Muhammad Abdul-Mageed | Khaled Shaalan
Proceedings of the 16th Conference of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Main Volume

A sufficient amount of annotated data is usually required to fine-tune pre-trained language models for downstream tasks. Unfortunately, attaining labeled data can be costly, especially for multiple language varieties and dialects. We propose to self-train pre-trained language models in zero- and few-shot scenarios to improve performance on data-scarce varieties using only resources from data-rich ones. We demonstrate the utility of our approach in the context of Arabic sequence labeling by using a language model fine-tuned on Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) only to predict named entities (NE) and part-of-speech (POS) tags on several dialectal Arabic (DA) varieties. We show that self-training is indeed powerful, improving zero-shot MSA-to-DA transfer by as large as ˷10% F1 (NER) and 2% accuracy (POS tagging). We acquire even better performance in few-shot scenarios with limited amounts of labeled data. We conduct an ablation study and show that the performance boost observed directly results from training data augmentation possible with DA examples via self-training. This opens up opportunities for developing DA models exploiting only MSA resources. Our approach can also be extended to other languages and tasks.

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Extracting Synonyms from Bilingual Dictionaries
Mustafa Jarrar | Eman Naser | Muhammad Khalifa | Khaled Shaalan
Proceedings of the 11th Global Wordnet Conference

We present our progress in developing a novel algorithm to extract synonyms from bilingual dictionaries. Identification and usage of synonyms play a significant role in improving the performance of information access applications. The idea is to construct a translation graph from translation pairs, then to extract and consolidate cyclic paths to form bilingual sets of synonyms. The initial evaluation of this algorithm illustrates promising results in extracting Arabic-English bilingual synonyms. In the evaluation, we first converted the synsets in the Arabic WordNet into translation pairs (i.e., losing word-sense memberships). Next, we applied our algorithm to rebuild these synsets. We compared the original and extracted synsets obtaining an F-Measure of 82.3% and 82.1% for Arabic and English synsets extraction, respectively.

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A Bag of Tricks for Dialogue Summarization
Muhammad Khalifa | Miguel Ballesteros | Kathleen McKeown
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Dialogue summarization comes with its own peculiar challenges as opposed to news or scientific articles summarization. In this work, we explore four different challenges of the task: handling and differentiating parts of the dialogue belonging to multiple speakers, negation understanding, reasoning about the situation, and informal language understanding. Using a pretrained sequence-to-sequence language model, we explore speaker name substitution, negation scope highlighting, multi-task learning with relevant tasks, and pretraining on in-domain data. Our experiments show that our proposed techniques indeed improve summarization performance, outperforming strong baselines.