Nick McKenna


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Modality and Negation in Event Extraction
Sander Bijl de Vroe | Liane Guillou | Miloš Stanojević | Nick McKenna | Mark Steedman
Proceedings of the 4th Workshop on Challenges and Applications of Automated Extraction of Socio-political Events from Text (CASE 2021)

Language provides speakers with a rich system of modality for expressing thoughts about events, without being committed to their actual occurrence. Modality is commonly used in the political news domain, where both actual and possible courses of events are discussed. NLP systems struggle with these semantic phenomena, often incorrectly extracting events which did not happen, which can lead to issues in downstream applications. We present an open-domain, lexicon-based event extraction system that captures various types of modality. This information is valuable for Question Answering, Knowledge Graph construction and Fact-checking tasks, and our evaluation shows that the system is sufficiently strong to be used in downstream applications.

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Multivalent Entailment Graphs for Question Answering
Nick McKenna | Liane Guillou | Mohammad Javad Hosseini | Sander Bijl de Vroe | Mark Johnson | Mark Steedman
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Drawing inferences between open-domain natural language predicates is a necessity for true language understanding. There has been much progress in unsupervised learning of entailment graphs for this purpose. We make three contributions: (1) we reinterpret the Distributional Inclusion Hypothesis to model entailment between predicates of different valencies, like DEFEAT(Biden, Trump) entails WIN(Biden); (2) we actualize this theory by learning unsupervised Multivalent Entailment Graphs of open-domain predicates; and (3) we demonstrate the capabilities of these graphs on a novel question answering task. We show that directional entailment is more helpful for inference than non-directional similarity on questions of fine-grained semantics. We also show that drawing on evidence across valencies answers more questions than by using only the same valency evidence.


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Learning Negation Scope from Syntactic Structure
Nick McKenna | Mark Steedman
Proceedings of the Ninth Joint Conference on Lexical and Computational Semantics

We present a semi-supervised model which learns the semantics of negation purely through analysis of syntactic structure. Linguistic theory posits that the semantics of negation can be understood purely syntactically, though recent research relies on combining a variety of features including part-of-speech tags, word embeddings, and semantic representations to achieve high task performance. Our simplified model returns to syntactic theory and achieves state-of-the-art performance on the task of Negation Scope Detection while demonstrating the tight relationship between the syntax and semantics of negation.