Niklas Stoehr


2023

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An Ordinal Latent Variable Model of Conflict Intensity
Niklas Stoehr | Lucas Torroba Hennigen | Josef Valvoda | Robert West | Ryan Cotterell | Aaron Schein
Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Measuring the intensity of events is crucial for monitoring and tracking armed conflict. Advances in automated event extraction have yielded massive data sets of “who did what to whom” micro-records that enable data-driven approaches to monitoring conflict. The Goldstein scale is a widely-used expert-based measure that scores events on a conflictual–cooperative scale. It is based only on the action category (“what”) and disregards the subject (“who”) and object (“to whom”) of an event, as well as contextual information, like associated casualty count, that should contribute to the perception of an event’s “intensity”. This paper takes a latent variable-based approach to measuring conflict intensity. We introduce a probabilistic generative model that assumes each observed event is associated with a latent intensity class. A novel aspect of this model is that it imposes an ordering on the classes, such that higher-valued classes denote higher levels of intensity. The ordinal nature of the latent variable is induced from naturally ordered aspects of the data (e.g., casualty counts) where higher values naturally indicate higher intensity. We evaluate the proposed model both intrinsically and extrinsically, showing that it obtains comparatively good held-out predictive performance.

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Generalizing Backpropagation for Gradient-Based Interpretability
Kevin Du | Lucas Torroba Hennigen | Niklas Stoehr | Alex Warstadt | Ryan Cotterell
Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Many popular feature-attribution methods for interpreting deep neural networks rely on computing the gradients of a model’s output with respect to its inputs. While these methods can indicate which input features may be important for the model’s prediction, they reveal little about the inner workings of the model itself. In this paper, we observe that the gradient computation of a model is a special case of a more general formulation using semirings. This observation allows us to generalize the backpropagation algorithm to efficiently compute other interpretable statistics about the gradient graph of a neural network, such as the highest-weighted path and entropy. We implement this generalized algorithm, evaluate it on synthetic datasets to better understand the statistics it computes, and apply it to study BERT’s behavior on the subject–verb number agreement task (SVA). With this method, we (a) validate that the amount of gradient flow through a component of a model reflects its importance to a prediction and (b) for SVA, identify which pathways of the self-attention mechanism are most important.

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Sentiment as an Ordinal Latent Variable
Niklas Stoehr | Ryan Cotterell | Aaron Schein
Proceedings of the 17th Conference of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Sentiment analysis has become a central tool in various disciplines outside of natural language processing. In particular in applied and domain-specific settings with strong requirements for interpretable methods, dictionary-based approaches are still a popular choice. However, existing dictionaries are often limited in coverage, static once annotation is completed and sentiment scales differ widely; some are discrete others continuous. We propose a Bayesian generative model that learns a composite sentiment dictionary as an interpolation between six existing dictionaries with different scales. We argue that sentiment is a latent concept with intrinsically ranking-based characteristics — the word “excellent” may be ranked more positive than “great” and “okay”, but it is hard to express how much more exactly. This prompts us to enforce an ordinal scale of ordered discrete sentiment values in our dictionary. We achieve this through an ordering transformation in the priors of our model. We evaluate the model intrinsically by imputing missing values in existing dictionaries. Moreover, we conduct extrinsic evaluations through sentiment classification tasks. Finally, we present two extension: first, we present a method to augment dictionary-based approaches with word embeddings to construct sentiment scales along new semantic axes. Second, we demonstrate a Latent Dirichlet Allocation-inspired variant of our model that learns document topics that are ordered by sentiment.

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Extracting Victim Counts from Text
Mian Zhong | Shehzaad Dhuliawala | Niklas Stoehr
Proceedings of the 17th Conference of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Decision-makers in the humanitarian sector rely on timely and exact information during crisis events. Knowing how many civilians were injured during an earthquake is vital to allocate aids properly. Information about such victim counts are however often only available within full-text event descriptions from newspapers and other reports. Extracting numbers from text is challenging: numbers have different formats and may require numeric reasoning. This renders purely tagging approaches insufficient. As a consequence, fine-grained counts of injured, displaced, or abused victims beyond fatalities are often not extracted and remain unseen. We cast victim count extraction as a question answering (QA) task with a regression or classification objective. We compare tagging approaches: regex, dependency parsing, semantic role labeling, and advanced text-to-text models. Beyond model accuracy, we analyze extraction reliability and robustness which are key for this sensitive task. In particular, we discuss model calibration and investigate out-of-distribution and few-shot performance. Ultimately, we make a comprehensive recommendation on which model to select for different desiderata and data domains. Our work is among the first to apply numeracy-focused large language models in a real-world use case with a positive impact.

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World Models for Math Story Problems
Andreas Opedal | Niklas Stoehr | Abulhair Saparov | Mrinmaya Sachan
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2023

Solving math story problems is a complex task for students and NLP models alike, requiring them to understand the world as described in the story and reason over it to compute an answer. Recent years have seen impressive performance on automatically solving these problems with large pre-trained language models and innovative techniques to prompt them. However, it remains unclear if these models possess accurate representations of mathematical concepts. This leads to lack of interpretability and trustworthiness which impedes their usefulness in various applications. In this paper, we consolidate previous work on categorizing and representing math story problems and develop MathWorld, which is a graph-based semantic formalism specific for the domain of math story problems. With MathWorld, we can assign world models to math story problems which represent the situations and actions introduced in the text and their mathematical relationships. We combine math story problems from several existing datasets and annotate a corpus of 1,019 problems and 3,204 logical forms with MathWorld. Using this data, we demonstrate the following use cases of MathWorld: (1) prompting language models with synthetically generated question-answer pairs to probe their reasoning and world modeling abilities, and (2) generating new problems by using the world models as a design space.

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Rethinking the Event Coding Pipeline with Prompt Entailment
Clément Lefebvre | Niklas Stoehr
Proceedings of the Sixth Fact Extraction and VERification Workshop (FEVER)

For monitoring crises, political events are extracted from the news. The large amount of unstructured full-text event descriptions makes a case-by-case analysis unmanageable, particularly for low-resource humanitarian aid organizations. This creates a demand to classify events into event types, a task referred to as event coding. Typically, domain experts craft an event type ontology, annotators label a large dataset and technical experts develop a supervised coding system. In this work, we propose PR-ENT, a new event coding approach that is more flexible and resource-efficient, while maintaining competitive accuracy: first, we extend an event description such as “Military injured two civilians” by a template, e.g. “People were [Z]” and prompt a pre-trained (cloze) language model to fill the slot Z. Second, we select suitable answer candidates Zstar = “injured”, “hurt”... by treating the event description as premise and the filled templates as hypothesis in a textual entailment task. In a final step, the selected answer candidate can be mapped to its corresponding event type. This allows domain experts to draft the codebook directly as labeled prompts and interpretable answer candidates. This human-in-the-loop process is guided by our codebook design tool. We show that our approach is robust through several checks: perturbing the event description and prompt template, restricting the vocabulary and removing contextual information.

2022

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UniMorph 4.0: Universal Morphology
Khuyagbaatar Batsuren | Omer Goldman | Salam Khalifa | Nizar Habash | Witold Kieraś | Gábor Bella | Brian Leonard | Garrett Nicolai | Kyle Gorman | Yustinus Ghanggo Ate | Maria Ryskina | Sabrina Mielke | Elena Budianskaya | Charbel El-Khaissi | Tiago Pimentel | Michael Gasser | William Abbott Lane | Mohit Raj | Matt Coler | Jaime Rafael Montoya Samame | Delio Siticonatzi Camaiteri | Esaú Zumaeta Rojas | Didier López Francis | Arturo Oncevay | Juan López Bautista | Gema Celeste Silva Villegas | Lucas Torroba Hennigen | Adam Ek | David Guriel | Peter Dirix | Jean-Philippe Bernardy | Andrey Scherbakov | Aziyana Bayyr-ool | Antonios Anastasopoulos | Roberto Zariquiey | Karina Sheifer | Sofya Ganieva | Hilaria Cruz | Ritván Karahóǧa | Stella Markantonatou | George Pavlidis | Matvey Plugaryov | Elena Klyachko | Ali Salehi | Candy Angulo | Jatayu Baxi | Andrew Krizhanovsky | Natalia Krizhanovskaya | Elizabeth Salesky | Clara Vania | Sardana Ivanova | Jennifer White | Rowan Hall Maudslay | Josef Valvoda | Ran Zmigrod | Paula Czarnowska | Irene Nikkarinen | Aelita Salchak | Brijesh Bhatt | Christopher Straughn | Zoey Liu | Jonathan North Washington | Yuval Pinter | Duygu Ataman | Marcin Wolinski | Totok Suhardijanto | Anna Yablonskaya | Niklas Stoehr | Hossep Dolatian | Zahroh Nuriah | Shyam Ratan | Francis M. Tyers | Edoardo M. Ponti | Grant Aiton | Aryaman Arora | Richard J. Hatcher | Ritesh Kumar | Jeremiah Young | Daria Rodionova | Anastasia Yemelina | Taras Andrushko | Igor Marchenko | Polina Mashkovtseva | Alexandra Serova | Emily Prud’hommeaux | Maria Nepomniashchaya | Fausto Giunchiglia | Eleanor Chodroff | Mans Hulden | Miikka Silfverberg | Arya D. McCarthy | David Yarowsky | Ryan Cotterell | Reut Tsarfaty | Ekaterina Vylomova
Proceedings of the Thirteenth Language Resources and Evaluation Conference

The Universal Morphology (UniMorph) project is a collaborative effort providing broad-coverage instantiated normalized morphological inflection tables for hundreds of diverse world languages. The project comprises two major thrusts: a language-independent feature schema for rich morphological annotation, and a type-level resource of annotated data in diverse languages realizing that schema. This paper presents the expansions and improvements on several fronts that were made in the last couple of years (since McCarthy et al. (2020)). Collaborative efforts by numerous linguists have added 66 new languages, including 24 endangered languages. We have implemented several improvements to the extraction pipeline to tackle some issues, e.g., missing gender and macrons information. We have amended the schema to use a hierarchical structure that is needed for morphological phenomena like multiple-argument agreement and case stacking, while adding some missing morphological features to make the schema more inclusive. In light of the last UniMorph release, we also augmented the database with morpheme segmentation for 16 languages. Lastly, this new release makes a push towards inclusion of derivational morphology in UniMorph by enriching the data and annotation schema with instances representing derivational processes from MorphyNet.

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Extended Multilingual Protest News Detection - Shared Task 1, CASE 2021 and 2022
Ali Hürriyetoğlu | Osman Mutlu | Fırat Duruşan | Onur Uca | Alaeddin Gürel | Benjamin J. Radford | Yaoyao Dai | Hansi Hettiarachchi | Niklas Stoehr | Tadashi Nomoto | Milena Slavcheva | Francielle Vargas | Aaqib Javid | Fatih Beyhan | Erdem Yörük
Proceedings of the 5th Workshop on Challenges and Applications of Automated Extraction of Socio-political Events from Text (CASE)

We report results of the CASE 2022 Shared Task 1 on Multilingual Protest Event Detection. This task is a continuation of CASE 2021 that consists of four subtasks that are i) document classification, ii) sentence classification, iii) event sentence coreference identification, and iv) event extraction. The CASE 2022 extension consists of expanding the test data with more data in previously available languages, namely, English, Hindi, Portuguese, and Spanish, and adding new test data in Mandarin, Turkish, and Urdu for Sub-task 1, document classification. The training data from CASE 2021 in English, Portuguese and Spanish were utilized. Therefore, predicting document labels in Hindi, Mandarin, Turkish, and Urdu occurs in a zero-shot setting. The CASE 2022 workshop accepts reports on systems developed for predicting test data of CASE 2021 as well. We observe that the best systems submitted by CASE 2022 participants achieve between 79.71 and 84.06 F1-macro for new languages in a zero-shot setting. The winning approaches are mainly ensembling models and merging data in multiple languages. The best two submissions on CASE 2021 data outperform submissions from last year for Subtask 1 and Subtask 2 in all languages. Only the following scenarios were not outperformed by new submissions on CASE 2021: Subtask 3 Portuguese & Subtask 4 English.

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The Architectural Bottleneck Principle
Tiago Pimentel | Josef Valvoda | Niklas Stoehr | Ryan Cotterell
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

In this paper, we seek to measure how much information a component in a neural network could extract from the representations fed into it. Our work stands in contrast to prior probing work, most of which investigates how much information a model's representations contain. This shift in perspective leads us to propose a new principle for probing, the architectural bottleneck principle: In order to estimate how much information a given component could extract, a probe should look exactly like the component. Relying on this principle, we estimate how much syntactic information is available to transformers through our attentional probe, a probe that exactly resembles a transformer's self-attention head. Experimentally, we find that, in three models (BERT, ALBERT, and RoBERTa), a sentence's syntax tree is mostly extractable by our probe, suggesting these models have access to syntactic information while composing their contextual representations. Whether this information is actually used by these models, however, remains an open question..

2021

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What About the Precedent: An Information-Theoretic Analysis of Common Law
Josef Valvoda | Tiago Pimentel | Niklas Stoehr | Ryan Cotterell | Simone Teufel
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

In common law, the outcome of a new case is determined mostly by precedent cases, rather than by existing statutes. However, how exactly does the precedent influence the outcome of a new case? Answering this question is crucial for guaranteeing fair and consistent judicial decision-making. We are the first to approach this question computationally by comparing two longstanding jurisprudential views; Halsbury’s, who believes that the arguments of the precedent are the main determinant of the outcome, and Goodhart’s, who believes that what matters most is the precedent’s facts. We base our study on the corpus of legal cases from the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), which allows us to access not only the case itself, but also cases cited in the judges’ arguments (i.e. the precedent cases). Taking an information-theoretic view, and modelling the question as a case out-come classification task, we find that the precedent’s arguments share 0.38 nats of information with the case’s outcome, whereas precedent’s facts only share 0.18 nats of information (i.e.,58% less); suggesting Halsbury’s view may be more accurate in this specific court. We found however in a qualitative analysis that there are specific statues where Goodhart’s view dominates, and present some evidence these are the ones where the legal concept at hand is less straightforward.

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Team “NoConflict” at CASE 2021 Task 1: Pretraining for Sentence-Level Protest Event Detection
Tiancheng Hu | Niklas Stoehr
Proceedings of the 4th Workshop on Challenges and Applications of Automated Extraction of Socio-political Events from Text (CASE 2021)

An ever-increasing amount of text, in the form of social media posts and news articles, gives rise to new challenges and opportunities for the automatic extraction of socio-political events. In this paper, we present our submission to the Shared Tasks on Socio-Political and Crisis Events Detection, Task 1, Multilingual Protest News Detection, Subtask 2, Event Sentence Classification, of CASE @ ACL-IJCNLP 2021. In our submission, we utilize the RoBERTa model with additional pretraining, and achieve the best F1 score of 0.8532 in event sentence classification in English and the second-best F1 score of 0.8700 in Portuguese via simple translation. We analyze the failure cases of our model. We also conduct an ablation study to show the effect of choosing the right pretrained language model, adding additional training data and data augmentation.

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Team “DaDeFrNi” at CASE 2021 Task 1: Document and Sentence Classification for Protest Event Detection
Francesco Re | Daniel Vegh | Dennis Atzenhofer | Niklas Stoehr
Proceedings of the 4th Workshop on Challenges and Applications of Automated Extraction of Socio-political Events from Text (CASE 2021)

This paper accompanies our top-performing submission to the CASE 2021 shared task, which is hosted at the workshop on Challenges and Applications of Automated Extraction of Socio-political Events from Text. Subtasks 1 and 2 of Task 1 concern the classification of newspaper articles and sentences into “conflict” versus “not conflict”-related in four different languages. Our model performs competitively in both subtasks (up to 0.8662 macro F1), obtaining the highest score of all contributions for subtask 1 on Hindi articles (0.7877 macro F1). We describe all experiments conducted with the XLM-RoBERTa (XLM-R) model and report results obtained in each binary classification task. We propose supplementing the original training data with additional data on political conflict events. In addition, we provide an analysis of unigram probability estimates and geospatial references contained within the original training corpus.

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Discovering Black Lives Matter Events in the United States: Shared Task 3, CASE 2021
Salvatore Giorgi | Vanni Zavarella | Hristo Tanev | Nicolas Stefanovitch | Sy Hwang | Hansi Hettiarachchi | Tharindu Ranasinghe | Vivek Kalyan | Paul Tan | Shaun Tan | Martin Andrews | Tiancheng Hu | Niklas Stoehr | Francesco Ignazio Re | Daniel Vegh | Dennis Atzenhofer | Brenda Curtis | Ali Hürriyetoğlu
Proceedings of the 4th Workshop on Challenges and Applications of Automated Extraction of Socio-political Events from Text (CASE 2021)

Evaluating the state-of-the-art event detection systems on determining spatio-temporal distribution of the events on the ground is performed unfrequently. But, the ability to both (1) extract events “in the wild” from text and (2) properly evaluate event detection systems has potential to support a wide variety of tasks such as monitoring the activity of socio-political movements, examining media coverage and public support of these movements, and informing policy decisions. Therefore, we study performance of the best event detection systems on detecting Black Lives Matter (BLM) events from tweets and news articles. The murder of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, at the hands of police officers received global attention throughout the second half of 2020. Protests against police violence emerged worldwide and the BLM movement, which was once mostly regulated to the United States, was now seeing activity globally. This shared task asks participants to identify BLM related events from large unstructured data sources, using systems pretrained to extract socio-political events from text. We evaluate several metrics, accessing each system’s ability to identify protest events both temporally and spatially. Results show that identifying daily protest counts is an easier task than classifying spatial and temporal protest trends simultaneously, with maximum performance of 0.745 and 0.210 (Pearson r), respectively. Additionally, all baselines and participant systems suffered from low recall, with a maximum recall of 5.08.

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Classifying Dyads for Militarized Conflict Analysis
Niklas Stoehr | Lucas Torroba Hennigen | Samin Ahbab | Robert West | Ryan Cotterell
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Understanding the origins of militarized conflict is a complex, yet important undertaking. Existing research seeks to build this understanding by considering bi-lateral relationships between entity pairs (dyadic causes) and multi-lateral relationships among multiple entities (systemic causes). The aim of this work is to compare these two causes in terms of how they correlate with conflict between two entities. We do this by devising a set of textual and graph-based features which represent each of the causes. The features are extracted from Wikipedia and modeled as a large graph. Nodes in this graph represent entities connected by labeled edges representing ally or enemy-relationships. This allows casting the problem as an edge classification task, which we term dyad classification. We propose and evaluate classifiers to determine if a particular pair of entities are allies or enemies. Our results suggest that our systemic features might be slightly better correlates of conflict. Further, we find that Wikipedia articles of allies are semantically more similar than enemies.

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SIGMORPHON 2021 Shared Task on Morphological Reinflection: Generalization Across Languages
Tiago Pimentel | Maria Ryskina | Sabrina J. Mielke | Shijie Wu | Eleanor Chodroff | Brian Leonard | Garrett Nicolai | Yustinus Ghanggo Ate | Salam Khalifa | Nizar Habash | Charbel El-Khaissi | Omer Goldman | Michael Gasser | William Lane | Matt Coler | Arturo Oncevay | Jaime Rafael Montoya Samame | Gema Celeste Silva Villegas | Adam Ek | Jean-Philippe Bernardy | Andrey Shcherbakov | Aziyana Bayyr-ool | Karina Sheifer | Sofya Ganieva | Matvey Plugaryov | Elena Klyachko | Ali Salehi | Andrew Krizhanovsky | Natalia Krizhanovsky | Clara Vania | Sardana Ivanova | Aelita Salchak | Christopher Straughn | Zoey Liu | Jonathan North Washington | Duygu Ataman | Witold Kieraś | Marcin Woliński | Totok Suhardijanto | Niklas Stoehr | Zahroh Nuriah | Shyam Ratan | Francis M. Tyers | Edoardo M. Ponti | Grant Aiton | Richard J. Hatcher | Emily Prud’hommeaux | Ritesh Kumar | Mans Hulden | Botond Barta | Dorina Lakatos | Gábor Szolnok | Judit Ács | Mohit Raj | David Yarowsky | Ryan Cotterell | Ben Ambridge | Ekaterina Vylomova
Proceedings of the 18th SIGMORPHON Workshop on Computational Research in Phonetics, Phonology, and Morphology

This year’s iteration of the SIGMORPHON Shared Task on morphological reinflection focuses on typological diversity and cross-lingual variation of morphosyntactic features. In terms of the task, we enrich UniMorph with new data for 32 languages from 13 language families, with most of them being under-resourced: Kunwinjku, Classical Syriac, Arabic (Modern Standard, Egyptian, Gulf), Hebrew, Amharic, Aymara, Magahi, Braj, Kurdish (Central, Northern, Southern), Polish, Karelian, Livvi, Ludic, Veps, Võro, Evenki, Xibe, Tuvan, Sakha, Turkish, Indonesian, Kodi, Seneca, Asháninka, Yanesha, Chukchi, Itelmen, Eibela. We evaluate six systems on the new data and conduct an extensive error analysis of the systems’ predictions. Transformer-based models generally demonstrate superior performance on the majority of languages, achieving >90% accuracy on 65% of them. The languages on which systems yielded low accuracy are mainly under-resourced, with a limited amount of data. Most errors made by the systems are due to allomorphy, honorificity, and form variation. In addition, we observe that systems especially struggle to inflect multiword lemmas. The systems also produce misspelled forms or end up in repetitive loops (e.g., RNN-based models). Finally, we report a large drop in systems’ performance on previously unseen lemmas.
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