Nazneen Rajani


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BOOKSUM: A Collection of Datasets for Long-form Narrative Summarization
Wojciech Kryscinski | Nazneen Rajani | Divyansh Agarwal | Caiming Xiong | Dragomir Radev
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2022

The majority of existing text summarization datasets include short-form source documents that lack long-range causal and temporal dependencies, and often contain strong layout and stylistic biases. While relevant, such datasets will offer limited challenges for future text summarization systems. We address these issues by introducing BOOKSUM, a collection of datasets for long-form narrative summarization. Our dataset covers documents from the literature domain, such as novels, plays and stories, and includes highly abstractive, human written summaries on three levels of granularity of increasing difficulty: paragraph-, chapter-, and book-level. The domain and structure of our dataset poses a unique set of challenges for summarization systems, which include: processing very long documents, non-trivial causal and temporal dependencies, and rich discourse structures. To facilitate future work, we trained and evaluated multiple extractive and abstractive summarization models as baselines for our dataset.

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HydraSum: Disentangling Style Features in Text Summarization with Multi-Decoder Models
Tanya Goyal | Nazneen Rajani | Wenhao Liu | Wojciech Kryscinski
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Summarization systems make numerous “decisions” about summary properties during inference, e.g. degree of copying, specificity and length of outputs, etc. However, these are implicitly encoded within model parameters and specific styles cannot be enforced. To address this, we introduce HydraSum, a new summarization architecture that extends the single decoder framework of current models to a mixture-of-experts version with multiple decoders. We show that HydraSum’s multiple decoders automatically learn contrasting summary styles when trained under the standard training objective without any extra supervision. Through experiments on three summarization datasets (CNN, Newsroom and XSum), we show that HydraSum provides a simple mechanism to obtain stylistically-diverse summaries by sampling from either individual decoders or their mixtures, outperforming baseline models. Finally, we demonstrate that a small modification to the gating strategy during training can enforce an even stricter style partitioning, e.g. high- vs low-abstractiveness or high- vs low-specificity, allowing users to sample from a larger area in the generation space and vary summary styles along multiple dimensions.

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Are Hard Examples also Harder to Explain? A Study with Human and Model-Generated Explanations
Swarnadeep Saha | Peter Hase | Nazneen Rajani | Mohit Bansal
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Recent work on explainable NLP has shown that few-shot prompting can enable large pre-trained language models (LLMs) to generate grammatical and factual natural language explanations for data labels. In this work, we study the connection between explainability and sample hardness by investigating the following research question – “Are LLMs and humans equally good at explaining data labels for both easy and hard samples?” We answer this question by first collecting human-written explanations in the form of generalizable commonsense rules on the task of Winograd Schema Challenge (Winogrande dataset). We compare these explanations with those generated by GPT-3 while varying the hardness of the test samples as well as the in-context samples. We observe that (1) GPT-3 explanations are as grammatical as human explanations regardless of the hardness of the test samples, (2) for easy examples, GPT-3 generates highly supportive explanations but human explanations are more generalizable, and (3) for hard examples, human explanations are significantly better than GPT-3 explanations both in terms of label-supportiveness and generalizability judgements. We also find that hardness of the in-context examples impacts the quality of GPT-3 explanations. Finally, we show that the supportiveness and generalizability aspects of human explanations are also impacted by sample hardness, although by a much smaller margin than models.

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Conformal Predictor for Improving Zero-Shot Text Classification Efficiency
Prafulla Kumar Choubey | Yu Bai | Chien-Sheng Wu | Wenhao Liu | Nazneen Rajani
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Pre-trained language models (PLMs) have been shown effective for zero-shot (0shot) text classification. 0shot models based on natural language inference (NLI) and next sentence prediction (NSP) employ cross-encoder architecture and infer by making a forward pass through the model for each label-text pair separately. This increases the computational cost to make inferences linearly in the number of labels. In this work, we improve the efficiency of such cross-encoder-based 0shot models by restricting the number of likely labels using another fast base classifier-based conformal predictor (CP) calibrated on samples labeled by the 0shot model. Since a CP generates prediction sets with coverage guarantees, it reduces the number of target labels without excluding the most probable label based on the 0shot model. We experiment with three intent and two topic classification datasets. With a suitable CP for each dataset, we reduce the average inference time for NLI- and NSP-based models by 25.6% and 22.2% respectively, without dropping performance below the predefined error rate of 1%.

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CTRLsum: Towards Generic Controllable Text Summarization
Junxian He | Wojciech Kryscinski | Bryan McCann | Nazneen Rajani | Caiming Xiong
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Current summarization systems yield generic summaries that are disconnected from users’ preferences and expectations. To address this limitation, we present CTRLsum, a generic framework to control generated summaries through a set of keywords. During training keywords are extracted automatically without requiring additional human annotations. At test time CTRLsum features a control function to map control signal to keywords; through engineering the control function, the same trained model is able to be applied to control summaries on various dimensions, while neither affecting the model training process nor the pretrained models. We additionally explore the combination of keywords and text prompts for more control tasks. Experiments demonstrate the effectiveness of CTRLsum on three domains of summarization datasets and five control tasks: (1) entity-centric and (2) length-controllable summarization, (3) contribution summarization on scientific papers, (4) invention purpose summarization on patent filings, and (5) question-guided summarization on news articles. Moreover, when used in a standard, unconstrained summarization setting, CTRLsum is comparable or better than strong pretrained systems.

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Evaluate & Evaluation on the Hub: Better Best Practices for Data and Model Measurements
Leandro Von Werra | Lewis Tunstall | Abhishek Thakur | Sasha Luccioni | Tristan Thrush | Aleksandra Piktus | Felix Marty | Nazneen Rajani | Victor Mustar | Helen Ngo
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing: System Demonstrations

Evaluation is a key part of machine learning (ML), yet there is a lack of support and tooling to enable its informed and systematic practice. We introduce Evaluate and Evaluation on the Hub—a set of tools to facilitate the evaluation of models and datasets in ML. Evaluate is a library to support best practices for measurements, metrics, and comparisons of data and models. Its goal is to support reproducibility of evaluation, centralize and document the evaluation process, and broaden evaluation to cover more facets of model performance. It includes over 50 efficient canonical implementations for a variety of domains and scenarios, interactive documentation, and the ability to easily share implementations and outcomes. The library is available at In addition, we introduce Evaluation on the Hub, a platform that enables the large-scale evaluation of over 75,000 models and 11,000 datasets on the Hugging Face Hub, for free, at the click of a button. Evaluation on the Hub is available at

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SEAL: Interactive Tool for Systematic Error Analysis and Labeling
Nazneen Rajani | Weixin Liang | Lingjiao Chen | Margaret Mitchell | James Zou
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing: System Demonstrations

With the advent of Transformers, large language models (LLMs) have saturated well-known NLP benchmarks and leaderboards with high aggregate performance. However, many times these models systematically fail on tail data or rare groups not obvious in aggregate evaluation. Identifying such problematic data groups is even more challenging when there are no explicit labels (e.g., ethnicity, gender, etc.) and further compounded for NLP datasets due to the lack of visual features to characterize failure modes (e.g., Asian males, animals indoors, waterbirds on land etc.). This paper introduces an interactive Systematic Error Analysis and Labeling (SEAL) tool that uses a two-step approach to first identify high-error slices of data and then, in the second step, introduce methods to give human-understandable semantics to those underperforming slices. We explore a variety of methods for coming up with coherent semantics for the error groups using language models for semantic labeling and a text-to-image model for generating visual features.SEAL is available at


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FastIF: Scalable Influence Functions for Efficient Model Interpretation and Debugging
Han Guo | Nazneen Rajani | Peter Hase | Mohit Bansal | Caiming Xiong
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Influence functions approximate the “influences” of training data-points for test predictions and have a wide variety of applications. Despite the popularity, their computational cost does not scale well with model and training data size. We present FastIF, a set of simple modifications to influence functions that significantly improves their run-time. We use k-Nearest Neighbors (kNN) to narrow the search space down to a subset of good candidate data points, identify the configurations that best balance the speed-quality trade-off in estimating the inverse Hessian-vector product, and introduce a fast parallel variant. Our proposed method achieves about 80X speedup while being highly correlated with the original influence values. With the availability of the fast influence functions, we demonstrate their usefulness in four applications. First, we examine whether influential data-points can “explain” test time behavior using the framework of simulatability. Second, we visualize the influence interactions between training and test data-points. Third, we show that we can correct model errors by additional fine-tuning on certain influential data-points, improving the accuracy of a trained MultiNLI model by 2.5% on the HANS dataset. Finally, we experiment with a similar setup but fine-tuning on datapoints not seen during training, improving the model accuracy by 2.8% and 1.7% on HANS and ANLI datasets respectively. Overall, our fast influence functions can be efficiently applied to large models and datasets, and our experiments demonstrate the potential of influence functions in model interpretation and correcting model errors.

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Knowledge-Enriched Natural Language Generation
Wenhao Yu | Meng Jiang | Zhiting Hu | Qingyun Wang | Heng Ji | Nazneen Rajani
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing: Tutorial Abstracts

Knowledge-enriched text generation poses unique challenges in modeling and learning, driving active research in several core directions, ranging from integrated modeling of neural representations and symbolic information in the sequential/hierarchical/graphical structures, learning without direct supervisions due to the cost of structured annotation, efficient optimization and inference with massive and global constraints, to language grounding on multiple modalities, and generative reasoning with implicit commonsense knowledge and background knowledge. In this tutorial we will present a roadmap to line up the state-of-the-art methods to tackle these challenges on this cutting-edge problem. We will dive deep into various technical components: how to represent knowledge, how to feed knowledge into a generation model, how to evaluate generation results, and what are the remaining challenges?

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Char2Subword: Extending the Subword Embedding Space Using Robust Character Compositionality
Gustavo Aguilar | Bryan McCann | Tong Niu | Nazneen Rajani | Nitish Shirish Keskar | Thamar Solorio
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2021

Byte-pair encoding (BPE) is a ubiquitous algorithm in the subword tokenization process of language models as it provides multiple benefits. However, this process is solely based on pre-training data statistics, making it hard for the tokenizer to handle infrequent spellings. On the other hand, though robust to misspellings, pure character-level models often lead to unreasonably long sequences and make it harder for the model to learn meaningful words. To alleviate these challenges, we propose a character-based subword module (char2subword) that learns the subword embedding table in pre-trained models like BERT. Our char2subword module builds representations from characters out of the subword vocabulary, and it can be used as a drop-in replacement of the subword embedding table. The module is robust to character-level alterations such as misspellings, word inflection, casing, and punctuation. We integrate it further with BERT through pre-training while keeping BERT transformer parameters fixed–and thus, providing a practical method. Finally, we show that incorporating our module to mBERT significantly improves the performance on the social media linguistic code-switching evaluation (LinCE) benchmark.

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Stage-wise Fine-tuning for Graph-to-Text Generation
Qingyun Wang | Semih Yavuz | Xi Victoria Lin | Heng Ji | Nazneen Rajani
Proceedings of the 59th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 11th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing: Student Research Workshop

Graph-to-text generation has benefited from pre-trained language models (PLMs) in achieving better performance than structured graph encoders. However, they fail to fully utilize the structure information of the input graph. In this paper, we aim to further improve the performance of the pre-trained language model by proposing a structured graph-to-text model with a two-step fine-tuning mechanism which first fine-tunes model on Wikipedia before adapting to the graph-to-text generation. In addition to using the traditional token and position embeddings to encode the knowledge graph (KG), we propose a novel tree-level embedding method to capture the inter-dependency structures of the input graph. This new approach has significantly improved the performance of all text generation metrics for the English WebNLG 2017 dataset.

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SummVis: Interactive Visual Analysis of Models, Data, and Evaluation for Text Summarization
Jesse Vig | Wojciech Kryscinski | Karan Goel | Nazneen Rajani
Proceedings of the 59th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 11th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing: System Demonstrations

Novel neural architectures, training strategies, and the availability of large-scale corpora haven been the driving force behind recent progress in abstractive text summarization. However, due to the black-box nature of neural models, uninformative evaluation metrics, and scarce tooling for model and data analysis the true performance and failure modes of summarization models remain largely unknown. To address this limitation, we introduce SummVis, an open-source tool for visualizing abstractive summaries that enables fine-grained analysis of the models, data, and evaluation metrics associated with text summarization. Through its lexical and semantic visualizations, the tools offers an easy entry point for in-depth model prediction exploration across important dimensions such as factual consistency or abstractiveness. The tool together with several pre-computed model outputs is available at