Mustafa Canim


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AIT-QA: Question Answering Dataset over Complex Tables in the Airline Industry
Yannis Katsis | Saneem Chemmengath | Vishwajeet Kumar | Samarth Bharadwaj | Mustafa Canim | Michael Glass | Alfio Gliozzo | Feifei Pan | Jaydeep Sen | Karthik Sankaranarayanan | Soumen Chakrabarti
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies: Industry Track

Table Question Answering (Table QA) systems have been shown to be highly accurate when trained and tested on open-domain datasets built on top of Wikipedia tables. However, it is not clear whether their performance remains the same when applied to domain-specific scientific and business documents, encountered in industrial settings, which exhibit some unique characteristics: (a) they contain tables with a much more complex layout than Wikipedia tables (including hierarchical row and column headers), (b) they contain domain-specific terms, and (c) they are typically not accompanied by domain-specific labeled data that can be used to train Table QA models.To understand the performance of Table QA approaches in this setting, we introduce AIT-QA; a domain-specific Table QA test dataset. While focusing on the airline industry, AIT-QA reflects the challenges that domain-specific documents pose to Table QA, outlined above. In this work, we describe the creation of the dataset and report zero-shot experimental results of three SOTA Table QA methods. The results clearly expose the limitations of current methods with a best accuracy of just 51.8%. We also present pragmatic table pre-processing steps to pivot and project complex tables into a layout suitable for the SOTA Table QA models. Finally, we provide data-driven insights on how different aspects of this setting (including hierarchical headers, domain-specific terminology, and paraphrasing) affect Table QA methods, in order to help the community develop improved methods for domain-specific Table QA.


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Topic Transferable Table Question Answering
Saneem Chemmengath | Vishwajeet Kumar | Samarth Bharadwaj | Jaydeep Sen | Mustafa Canim | Soumen Chakrabarti | Alfio Gliozzo | Karthik Sankaranarayanan
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Weakly-supervised table question-answering (TableQA) models have achieved state-of-art performance by using pre-trained BERT transformer to jointly encoding a question and a table to produce structured query for the question. However, in practical settings TableQA systems are deployed over table corpora having topic and word distributions quite distinct from BERT’s pretraining corpus. In this work we simulate the practical topic shift scenario by designing novel challenge benchmarks WikiSQL-TS and WikiTable-TS, consisting of train-dev-test splits in five distinct topic groups, based on the popular WikiSQL and WikiTable-Questions datasets. We empirically show that, despite pre-training on large open-domain text, performance of models degrades significantly when they are evaluated on unseen topics. In response, we propose T3QA (Topic Transferable Table Question Answering) a pragmatic adaptation framework for TableQA comprising of: (1) topic-specific vocabulary injection into BERT, (2) a novel text-to-text transformer generator (such as T5, GPT2) based natural language question generation pipeline focused on generating topic-specific training data, and (3) a logical form re-ranker. We show that T3QA provides a reasonably good baseline for our topic shift benchmarks. We believe our topic split benchmarks will lead to robust TableQA solutions that are better suited for practical deployment

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CLTR: An End-to-End, Transformer-Based System for Cell-Level Table Retrieval and Table Question Answering
Feifei Pan | Mustafa Canim | Michael Glass | Alfio Gliozzo | Peter Fox
Proceedings of the 59th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 11th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing: System Demonstrations

We present the first end-to-end, transformer-based table question answering (QA) system that takes natural language questions and massive table corpora as inputs to retrieve the most relevant tables and locate the correct table cells to answer the question. Our system, CLTR, extends the current state-of-the-art QA over tables model to build an end-to-end table QA architecture. This system has successfully tackled many real-world table QA problems with a simple, unified pipeline. Our proposed system can also generate a heatmap of candidate columns and rows over complex tables and allow users to quickly identify the correct cells to answer questions. In addition, we introduce two new open domain benchmarks, E2E_WTQ and E2E_GNQ, consisting of 2,005 natural language questions over 76,242 tables. The benchmarks are designed to validate CLTR as well as accommodate future table retrieval and end-to-end table QA research and experiments. Our experiments demonstrate that our system is the current state-of-the-art model on the table retrieval task and produces promising results for end-to-end table QA.

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Capturing Row and Column Semantics in Transformer Based Question Answering over Tables
Michael Glass | Mustafa Canim | Alfio Gliozzo | Saneem Chemmengath | Vishwajeet Kumar | Rishav Chakravarti | Avi Sil | Feifei Pan | Samarth Bharadwaj | Nicolas Rodolfo Fauceglia
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Transformer based architectures are recently used for the task of answering questions over tables. In order to improve the accuracy on this task, specialized pre-training techniques have been developed and applied on millions of open-domain web tables. In this paper, we propose two novel approaches demonstrating that one can achieve superior performance on table QA task without even using any of these specialized pre-training techniques. The first model, called RCI interaction, leverages a transformer based architecture that independently classifies rows and columns to identify relevant cells. While this model yields extremely high accuracy at finding cell values on recent benchmarks, a second model we propose, called RCI representation, provides a significant efficiency advantage for online QA systems over tables by materializing embeddings for existing tables. Experiments on recent benchmarks prove that the proposed methods can effectively locate cell values on tables (up to ~98% Hit@1 accuracy on WikiSQL lookup questions). Also, the interaction model outperforms the state-of-the-art transformer based approaches, pre-trained on very large table corpora (TAPAS and TaBERT), achieving ~3.4% and ~18.86% additional precision improvement on the standard WikiSQL benchmark.