Nikolaos Aletras


2022

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Combining Humor and Sarcasm for Improving Political Parody Detection
Xiao Ao | Danae Sanchez Villegas | Daniel Preotiuc-Pietro | Nikolaos Aletras
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Parody is a figurative device used for mimicking entities for comedic or critical purposes. Parody is intentionally humorous and often involves sarcasm. This paper explores jointly modelling these figurative tropes with the goal of improving performance of political parody detection in tweets. To this end, we present a multi-encoder model that combines three parallel encoders to enrich parody-specific representations with humor and sarcasm information. Experiments on a publicly available data set of political parody tweets demonstrate that our approach outperforms previous state-of-the-art methods.

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Automatic Identification and Classification of Bragging in Social Media
Mali Jin | Daniel Preotiuc-Pietro | A. Seza Doğruöz | Nikolaos Aletras
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Bragging is a speech act employed with the goal of constructing a favorable self-image through positive statements about oneself. It is widespread in daily communication and especially popular in social media, where users aim to build a positive image of their persona directly or indirectly. In this paper, we present the first large scale study of bragging in computational linguistics, building on previous research in linguistics and pragmatics. To facilitate this, we introduce a new publicly available data set of tweets annotated for bragging and their types. We empirically evaluate different transformer-based models injected with linguistic information in (a) binary bragging classification, i.e., if tweets contain bragging statements or not; and (b) multi-class bragging type prediction including not bragging. Our results show that our models can predict bragging with macro F1 up to 72.42 and 35.95 in the binary and multi-class classification tasks respectively. Finally, we present an extensive linguistic and error analysis of bragging prediction to guide future research on this topic.

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LexGLUE: A Benchmark Dataset for Legal Language Understanding in English
Ilias Chalkidis | Abhik Jana | Dirk Hartung | Michael Bommarito | Ion Androutsopoulos | Daniel Katz | Nikolaos Aletras
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Laws and their interpretations, legal arguments and agreements are typically expressed in writing, leading to the production of vast corpora of legal text. Their analysis, which is at the center of legal practice, becomes increasingly elaborate as these collections grow in size. Natural language understanding (NLU) technologies can be a valuable tool to support legal practitioners in these endeavors. Their usefulness, however, largely depends on whether current state-of-the-art models can generalize across various tasks in the legal domain. To answer this currently open question, we introduce the Legal General Language Understanding Evaluation (LexGLUE) benchmark, a collection of datasets for evaluating model performance across a diverse set of legal NLU tasks in a standardized way. We also provide an evaluation and analysis of several generic and legal-oriented models demonstrating that the latter consistently offer performance improvements across multiple tasks.

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An Empirical Study on Explanations in Out-of-Domain Settings
George Chrysostomou | Nikolaos Aletras
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Recent work in Natural Language Processing has focused on developing approaches that extract faithful explanations, either via identifying the most important tokens in the input (i.e. post-hoc explanations) or by designing inherently faithful models that first select the most important tokens and then use them to predict the correct label (i.e. select-then-predict models). Currently, these approaches are largely evaluated on in-domain settings. Yet, little is known about how post-hoc explanations and inherently faithful models perform in out-of-domain settings. In this paper, we conduct an extensive empirical study that examines: (1) the out-of-domain faithfulness of post-hoc explanations, generated by five feature attribution methods; and (2) the out-of-domain performance of two inherently faithful models over six datasets. Contrary to our expectations, results show that in many cases out-of-domain post-hoc explanation faithfulness measured by sufficiency and comprehensiveness is higher compared to in-domain. We find this misleading and suggest using a random baseline as a yardstick for evaluating post-hoc explanation faithfulness. Our findings also show that select-then predict models demonstrate comparable predictive performance in out-of-domain settings to full-text trained models.

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How does the pre-training objective affect what large language models learn about linguistic properties?
Ahmed Alajrami | Nikolaos Aletras
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 2: Short Papers)

Several pre-training objectives, such as masked language modeling (MLM), have been proposed to pre-train language models (e.g. BERT) with the aim of learning better language representations. However, to the best of our knowledge, no previous work so far has investigated how different pre-training objectives affect what BERT learns about linguistics properties. We hypothesize that linguistically motivated objectives such as MLM should help BERT to acquire better linguistic knowledge compared to other non-linguistically motivated objectives that are not intuitive or hard for humans to guess the association between the input and the label to be predicted. To this end, we pre-train BERT with two linguistically motivated objectives and three non-linguistically motivated ones. We then probe for linguistic characteristics encoded in the representation of the resulting models. We find strong evidence that there are only small differences in probing performance between the representations learned by the two different types of objectives. These surprising results question the dominant narrative of linguistically informed pre-training.

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On the Importance of Effectively Adapting Pretrained Language Models for Active Learning
Katerina Margatina | Loic Barrault | Nikolaos Aletras
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 2: Short Papers)

Recent active learning (AL) approaches in Natural Language Processing (NLP) proposed using off-the-shelf pretrained language models (LMs). In this paper, we argue that these LMs are not adapted effectively to the downstream task during AL and we explore ways to address this issue. We suggest to first adapt the pretrained LM to the target task by continuing training with all the available unlabeled data and then use it for AL. We also propose a simple yet effective fine-tuning method to ensure that the adapted LM is properly trained in both low and high resource scenarios during AL. Our experiments demonstrate that our approach provides substantial data efficiency improvements compared to the standard fine-tuning approach, suggesting that a poor training strategy can be catastrophic for AL.

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Dynamically Refined Regularization for Improving Cross-corpora Hate Speech Detection
Tulika Bose | Nikolaos Aletras | Irina Illina | Dominique Fohr
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2022

Hate speech classifiers exhibit substantial performance degradation when evaluated on datasets different from the source. This is due to learning spurious correlations between words that are not necessarily relevant to hateful language, and hate speech labels from the training corpus. Previous work has attempted to mitigate this problem by regularizing specific terms from pre-defined static dictionaries. While this has been demonstrated to improve the generalizability of classifiers, the coverage of such methods is limited and the dictionaries require regular manual updates from human experts. In this paper, we propose to automatically identify and reduce spurious correlations using attribution methods with dynamic refinement of the list of terms that need to be regularized during training. Our approach is flexible and improves the cross-corpora performance over previous work independently and in combination with pre-defined dictionaries.

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Translation Error Detection as Rationale Extraction
Marina Fomicheva | Lucia Specia | Nikolaos Aletras
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2022

Recent Quality Estimation (QE) models based on multilingual pre-trained representations have achieved very competitive results in predicting the overall quality of translated sentences. However, detecting specifically which translated words are incorrect is a more challenging task, especially when dealing with limited amounts of training data. We hypothesize that, not unlike humans, successful QE models rely on translation errors to predict overall sentence quality. By exploring a set of feature attribution methods that assign relevance scores to the inputs to explain model predictions, we study the behaviour of state-of-the-art sentence-level QE models and show that explanations (i.e. rationales) extracted from these models can indeed be used to detect translation errors. We therefore (i) introduce a novel semi-supervised method for word-level QE; and (ii) propose to use the QE task as a new benchmark for evaluating the plausibility of feature attribution, i.e. how interpretable model explanations are to humans.

2021

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Improving the Faithfulness of Attention-based Explanations with Task-specific Information for Text Classification
George Chrysostomou | Nikolaos Aletras
Proceedings of the 59th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 11th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Neural network architectures in natural language processing often use attention mechanisms to produce probability distributions over input token representations. Attention has empirically been demonstrated to improve performance in various tasks, while its weights have been extensively used as explanations for model predictions. Recent studies (Jain and Wallace, 2019; Serrano and Smith, 2019; Wiegreffe and Pinter, 2019) have showed that it cannot generally be considered as a faithful explanation (Jacovi and Goldberg, 2020) across encoders and tasks. In this paper, we seek to improve the faithfulness of attention-based explanations for text classification. We achieve this by proposing a new family of Task-Scaling (TaSc) mechanisms that learn task-specific non-contextualised information to scale the original attention weights. Evaluation tests for explanation faithfulness, show that the three proposed variants of TaSc improve attention-based explanations across two attention mechanisms, five encoders and five text classification datasets without sacrificing predictive performance. Finally, we demonstrate that TaSc consistently provides more faithful attention-based explanations compared to three widely-used interpretability techniques.

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In Factuality: Efficient Integration of Relevant Facts for Visual Question Answering
Peter Vickers | Nikolaos Aletras | Emilio Monti | Loïc Barrault
Proceedings of the 59th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 11th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (Volume 2: Short Papers)

Visual Question Answering (VQA) methods aim at leveraging visual input to answer questions that may require complex reasoning over entities. Current models are trained on labelled data that may be insufficient to learn complex knowledge representations. In this paper, we propose a new method to enhance the reasoning capabilities of a multi-modal pretrained model (Vision+Language BERT) by integrating facts extracted from an external knowledge base. Evaluation on the KVQA dataset benchmark demonstrates that our method outperforms competitive baselines by 19%, achieving new state-of-the-art results. We also perform an extensive analysis highlighting the limitations of our best performing model through an ablation study.

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On the Ethical Limits of Natural Language Processing on Legal Text
Dimitrios Tsarapatsanis | Nikolaos Aletras
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL-IJCNLP 2021

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Analyzing Online Political Advertisements
Danae Sánchez Villegas | Saeid Mokaram | Nikolaos Aletras
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL-IJCNLP 2021

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Knowledge Distillation for Quality Estimation
Amit Gajbhiye | Marina Fomicheva | Fernando Alva-Manchego | Frédéric Blain | Abiola Obamuyide | Nikolaos Aletras | Lucia Specia
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL-IJCNLP 2021

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Paragraph-level Rationale Extraction through Regularization: A case study on European Court of Human Rights Cases
Ilias Chalkidis | Manos Fergadiotis | Dimitrios Tsarapatsanis | Nikolaos Aletras | Ion Androutsopoulos | Prodromos Malakasiotis
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Interpretability or explainability is an emerging research field in NLP. From a user-centric point of view, the goal is to build models that provide proper justification for their decisions, similar to those of humans, by requiring the models to satisfy additional constraints. To this end, we introduce a new application on legal text where, contrary to mainstream literature targeting word-level rationales, we conceive rationales as selected paragraphs in multi-paragraph structured court cases. We also release a new dataset comprising European Court of Human Rights cases, including annotations for paragraph-level rationales. We use this dataset to study the effect of already proposed rationale constraints, i.e., sparsity, continuity, and comprehensiveness, formulated as regularizers. Our findings indicate that some of these constraints are not beneficial in paragraph-level rationale extraction, while others need re-formulation to better handle the multi-label nature of the task we consider. We also introduce a new constraint, singularity, which further improves the quality of rationales, even compared with noisy rationale supervision. Experimental results indicate that the newly introduced task is very challenging and there is a large scope for further research.

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Modeling the Severity of Complaints in Social Media
Mali Jin | Nikolaos Aletras
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

The speech act of complaining is used by humans to communicate a negative mismatch between reality and expectations as a reaction to an unfavorable situation. Linguistic theory of pragmatics categorizes complaints into various severity levels based on the face-threat that the complainer is willing to undertake. This is particularly useful for understanding the intent of complainers and how humans develop suitable apology strategies. In this paper, we study the severity level of complaints for the first time in computational linguistics. To facilitate this, we enrich a publicly available data set of complaints with four severity categories and train different transformer-based networks combined with linguistic information achieving 55.7 macro F1. We also jointly model binary complaint classification and complaint severity in a multi-task setting achieving new state-of-the-art results on binary complaint detection reaching up to 88.2 macro F1. Finally, we present a qualitative analysis of the behavior of our models in predicting complaint severity levels.

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Proceedings of the Natural Legal Language Processing Workshop 2021
Nikolaos Aletras | Ion Androutsopoulos | Leslie Barrett | Catalina Goanta | Daniel Preotiuc-Pietro
Proceedings of the Natural Legal Language Processing Workshop 2021

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Active Learning by Acquiring Contrastive Examples
Katerina Margatina | Giorgos Vernikos | Loïc Barrault | Nikolaos Aletras
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Common acquisition functions for active learning use either uncertainty or diversity sampling, aiming to select difficult and diverse data points from the pool of unlabeled data, respectively. In this work, leveraging the best of both worlds, we propose an acquisition function that opts for selecting contrastive examples, i.e. data points that are similar in the model feature space and yet the model outputs maximally different predictive likelihoods. We compare our approach, CAL (Contrastive Active Learning), with a diverse set of acquisition functions in four natural language understanding tasks and seven datasets. Our experiments show that CAL performs consistently better or equal than the best performing baseline across all tasks, on both in-domain and out-of-domain data. We also conduct an extensive ablation study of our method and we further analyze all actively acquired datasets showing that CAL achieves a better trade-off between uncertainty and diversity compared to other strategies.

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Frustratingly Simple Pretraining Alternatives to Masked Language Modeling
Atsuki Yamaguchi | George Chrysostomou | Katerina Margatina | Nikolaos Aletras
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Masked language modeling (MLM), a self-supervised pretraining objective, is widely used in natural language processing for learning text representations. MLM trains a model to predict a random sample of input tokens that have been replaced by a [MASK] placeholder in a multi-class setting over the entire vocabulary. When pretraining, it is common to use alongside MLM other auxiliary objectives on the token or sequence level to improve downstream performance (e.g. next sentence prediction). However, no previous work so far has attempted in examining whether other simpler linguistically intuitive or not objectives can be used standalone as main pretraining objectives. In this paper, we explore five simple pretraining objectives based on token-level classification tasks as replacements of MLM. Empirical results on GLUE and SQUAD show that our proposed methods achieve comparable or better performance to MLM using a BERT-BASE architecture. We further validate our methods using smaller models, showing that pretraining a model with 41% of the BERT-BASE’s parameters, BERT-MEDIUM results in only a 1% drop in GLUE scores with our best objective.

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Point-of-Interest Type Prediction using Text and Images
Danae Sánchez Villegas | Nikolaos Aletras
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Point-of-interest (POI) type prediction is the task of inferring the type of a place from where a social media post was shared. Inferring a POI’s type is useful for studies in computational social science including sociolinguistics, geosemiotics, and cultural geography, and has applications in geosocial networking technologies such as recommendation and visualization systems. Prior efforts in POI type prediction focus solely on text, without taking visual information into account. However in reality, the variety of modalities, as well as their semiotic relationships with one another, shape communication and interactions in social media. This paper presents a study on POI type prediction using multimodal information from text and images available at posting time. For that purpose, we enrich a currently available data set for POI type prediction with the images that accompany the text messages. Our proposed method extracts relevant information from each modality to effectively capture interactions between text and image achieving a macro F1 of 47.21 across 8 categories significantly outperforming the state-of-the-art method for POI type prediction based on text-only methods. Finally, we provide a detailed analysis to shed light on cross-modal interactions and the limitations of our best performing model.

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Enjoy the Salience: Towards Better Transformer-based Faithful Explanations with Word Salience
George Chrysostomou | Nikolaos Aletras
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Pretrained transformer-based models such as BERT have demonstrated state-of-the-art predictive performance when adapted into a range of natural language processing tasks. An open problem is how to improve the faithfulness of explanations (rationales) for the predictions of these models. In this paper, we hypothesize that salient information extracted a priori from the training data can complement the task-specific information learned by the model during fine-tuning on a downstream task. In this way, we aim to help BERT not to forget assigning importance to informative input tokens when making predictions by proposing SaLoss; an auxiliary loss function for guiding the multi-head attention mechanism during training to be close to salient information extracted a priori using TextRank. Experiments for explanation faithfulness across five datasets, show that models trained with SaLoss consistently provide more faithful explanations across four different feature attribution methods compared to vanilla BERT. Using the rationales extracted from vanilla BERT and SaLoss models to train inherently faithful classifiers, we further show that the latter result in higher predictive performance in downstream tasks.

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An Empirical Study on Leveraging Position Embeddings for Target-oriented Opinion Words Extraction
Samuel Mensah | Kai Sun | Nikolaos Aletras
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Target-oriented opinion words extraction (TOWE) (Fan et al., 2019b) is a new subtask of target-oriented sentiment analysis that aims to extract opinion words for a given aspect in text. Current state-of-the-art methods leverage position embeddings to capture the relative position of a word to the target. However, the performance of these methods depends on the ability to incorporate this information into word representations. In this paper, we explore a variety of text encoders based on pretrained word embeddings or language models that leverage part-of-speech and position embeddings, aiming to examine the actual contribution of each component in TOWE. We also adapt a graph convolutional network (GCN) to enhance word representations by incorporating syntactic information. Our experimental results demonstrate that BiLSTM-based models can effectively encode position information into word representations while using a GCN only achieves marginal gains. Interestingly, our simple methods outperform several state-of-the-art complex neural structures.

2020

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An Empirical Study on Large-Scale Multi-Label Text Classification Including Few and Zero-Shot Labels
Ilias Chalkidis | Manos Fergadiotis | Sotiris Kotitsas | Prodromos Malakasiotis | Nikolaos Aletras | Ion Androutsopoulos
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

Large-scale Multi-label Text Classification (LMTC) has a wide range of Natural Language Processing (NLP) applications and presents interesting challenges. First, not all labels are well represented in the training set, due to the very large label set and the skewed label distributions of datasets. Also, label hierarchies and differences in human labelling guidelines may affect graph-aware annotation proximity. Finally, the label hierarchies are periodically updated, requiring LMTC models capable of zero-shot generalization. Current state-of-the-art LMTC models employ Label-Wise Attention Networks (LWANs), which (1) typically treat LMTC as flat multi-label classification; (2) may use the label hierarchy to improve zero-shot learning, although this practice is vastly understudied; and (3) have not been combined with pre-trained Transformers (e.g. BERT), which have led to state-of-the-art results in several NLP benchmarks. Here, for the first time, we empirically evaluate a battery of LMTC methods from vanilla LWANs to hierarchical classification approaches and transfer learning, on frequent, few, and zero-shot learning on three datasets from different domains. We show that hierarchical methods based on Probabilistic Label Trees (PLTs) outperform LWANs. Furthermore, we show that Transformer-based approaches outperform the state-of-the-art in two of the datasets, and we propose a new state-of-the-art method which combines BERT with LWAN. Finally, we propose new models that leverage the label hierarchy to improve few and zero-shot learning, considering on each dataset a graph-aware annotation proximity measure that we introduce.

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Complaint Identification in Social Media with Transformer Networks
Mali Jin | Nikolaos Aletras
Proceedings of the 28th International Conference on Computational Linguistics

Complaining is a speech act extensively used by humans to communicate a negative inconsistency between reality and expectations. Previous work on automatically identifying complaints in social media has focused on using feature-based and task-specific neural network models. Adapting state-of-the-art pre-trained neural language models and their combinations with other linguistic information from topics or sentiment for complaint prediction has yet to be explored. In this paper, we evaluate a battery of neural models underpinned by transformer networks which we subsequently combine with linguistic information. Experiments on a publicly available data set of complaints demonstrate that our models outperform previous state-of-the-art methods by a large margin achieving a macro F1 up to 87.

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Analyzing Political Parody in Social Media
Antonis Maronikolakis | Danae Sánchez Villegas | Daniel Preotiuc-Pietro | Nikolaos Aletras
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Parody is a figurative device used to imitate an entity for comedic or critical purposes and represents a widespread phenomenon in social media through many popular parody accounts. In this paper, we present the first computational study of parody. We introduce a new publicly available data set of tweets from real politicians and their corresponding parody accounts. We run a battery of supervised machine learning models for automatically detecting parody tweets with an emphasis on robustness by testing on tweets from accounts unseen in training, across different genders and across countries. Our results show that political parody tweets can be predicted with an accuracy up to 90%. Finally, we identify the markers of parody through a linguistic analysis. Beyond research in linguistics and political communication, accurately and automatically detecting parody is important to improving fact checking for journalists and analytics such as sentiment analysis through filtering out parodical utterances.

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Unsupervised Quality Estimation for Neural Machine Translation
Marina Fomicheva | Shuo Sun | Lisa Yankovskaya | Frédéric Blain | Francisco Guzmán | Mark Fishel | Nikolaos Aletras | Vishrav Chaudhary | Lucia Specia
Transactions of the Association for Computational Linguistics, Volume 8

Quality Estimation (QE) is an important component in making Machine Translation (MT) useful in real-world applications, as it is aimed to inform the user on the quality of the MT output at test time. Existing approaches require large amounts of expert annotated data, computation, and time for training. As an alternative, we devise an unsupervised approach to QE where no training or access to additional resources besides the MT system itself is required. Different from most of the current work that treats the MT system as a black box, we explore useful information that can be extracted from the MT system as a by-product of translation. By utilizing methods for uncertainty quantification, we achieve very good correlation with human judgments of quality, rivaling state-of-the-art supervised QE models. To evaluate our approach we collect the first dataset that enables work on both black-box and glass-box approaches to QE.

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Quality In, Quality Out: Learning from Actual Mistakes
Frederic Blain | Nikolaos Aletras | Lucia Specia
Proceedings of the 22nd Annual Conference of the European Association for Machine Translation

Approaches to Quality Estimation (QE) of machine translation have shown promising results at predicting quality scores for translated sentences. However, QE models are often trained on noisy approximations of quality annotations derived from the proportion of post-edited words in translated sentences instead of direct human annotations of translation errors. The latter is a more reliable ground-truth but more expensive to obtain. In this paper, we present the first attempt to model the task of predicting the proportion of actual translation errors in a sentence while minimising the need for direct human annotation. For that purpose, we use transfer-learning to leverage large scale noisy annotations and small sets of high-fidelity human annotated translation errors to train QE models. Experiments on four language pairs and translations obtained by statistical and neural models show consistent gains over strong baselines.

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Point-of-Interest Type Inference from Social Media Text
Danae Sánchez Villegas | Daniel Preotiuc-Pietro | Nikolaos Aletras
Proceedings of the 1st Conference of the Asia-Pacific Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 10th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing

Physical places help shape how we perceive the experiences we have there. We study the relationship between social media text and the type of the place from where it was posted, whether a park, restaurant, or someplace else. To facilitate this, we introduce a novel data set of ~200,000 English tweets published from 2,761 different points-of-interest in the U.S., enriched with place type information. We train classifiers to predict the type of the location a tweet was sent from that reach a macro F1 of 43.67 across eight classes and uncover the linguistic markers associated with each type of place. The ability to predict semantic place information from a tweet has applications in recommendation systems, personalization services and cultural geography.

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LEGAL-BERT: The Muppets straight out of Law School
Ilias Chalkidis | Manos Fergadiotis | Prodromos Malakasiotis | Nikolaos Aletras | Ion Androutsopoulos
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2020

BERT has achieved impressive performance in several NLP tasks. However, there has been limited investigation on its adaptation guidelines in specialised domains. Here we focus on the legal domain, where we explore several approaches for applying BERT models to downstream legal tasks, evaluating on multiple datasets. Our findings indicate that the previous guidelines for pre-training and fine-tuning, often blindly followed, do not always generalize well in the legal domain. Thus we propose a systematic investigation of the available strategies when applying BERT in specialised domains. These are: (a) use the original BERT out of the box, (b) adapt BERT by additional pre-training on domain-specific corpora, and (c) pre-train BERT from scratch on domain-specific corpora. We also propose a broader hyper-parameter search space when fine-tuning for downstream tasks and we release LEGAL-BERT, a family of BERT models intended to assist legal NLP research, computational law, and legal technology applications.

2019

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Journalist-in-the-Loop: Continuous Learning as a Service for Rumour Analysis
Twin Karmakharm | Nikolaos Aletras | Kalina Bontcheva
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing and the 9th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (EMNLP-IJCNLP): System Demonstrations

Automatically identifying rumours in social media and assessing their veracity is an important task with downstream applications in journalism. A significant challenge is how to keep rumour analysis tools up-to-date as new information becomes available for particular rumours that spread in a social network. This paper presents a novel open-source web-based rumour analysis tool that can continuous learn from journalists. The system features a rumour annotation service that allows journalists to easily provide feedback for a given social media post through a web-based interface. The feedback allows the system to improve an underlying state-of-the-art neural network-based rumour classification model. The system can be easily integrated as a service into existing tools and platforms used by journalists using a REST API.

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Re-Ranking Words to Improve Interpretability of Automatically Generated Topics
Areej Alokaili | Nikolaos Aletras | Mark Stevenson
Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Computational Semantics - Long Papers

Topics models, such as LDA, are widely used in Natural Language Processing. Making their output interpretable is an important area of research with applications to areas such as the enhancement of exploratory search interfaces and the development of interpretable machine learning models. Conventionally, topics are represented by their n most probable words, however, these representations are often difficult for humans to interpret. This paper explores the re-ranking of topic words to generate more interpretable topic representations. A range of approaches are compared and evaluated in two experiments. The first uses crowdworkers to associate topics represented by different word rankings with related documents. The second experiment is an automatic approach based on a document retrieval task applied on multiple domains. Results in both experiments demonstrate that re-ranking words improves topic interpretability and that the most effective re-ranking schemes were those which combine information about the importance of words both within topics and their relative frequency in the entire corpus. In addition, close correlation between the results of the two evaluation approaches suggests that the automatic method proposed here could be used to evaluate re-ranking methods without the need for human judgements.

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Proceedings of the Natural Legal Language Processing Workshop 2019
Nikolaos Aletras | Elliott Ash | Leslie Barrett | Daniel Chen | Adam Meyers | Daniel Preotiuc-Pietro | David Rosenberg | Amanda Stent
Proceedings of the Natural Legal Language Processing Workshop 2019

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Extreme Multi-Label Legal Text Classification: A Case Study in EU Legislation
Ilias Chalkidis | Emmanouil Fergadiotis | Prodromos Malakasiotis | Nikolaos Aletras | Ion Androutsopoulos
Proceedings of the Natural Legal Language Processing Workshop 2019

We consider the task of Extreme Multi-Label Text Classification (XMTC) in the legal domain. We release a new dataset of 57k legislative documents from EURLEX, the European Union’s public document database, annotated with concepts from EUROVOC, a multidisciplinary thesaurus. The dataset is substantially larger than previous EURLEX datasets and suitable for XMTC, few-shot and zero-shot learning. Experimenting with several neural classifiers, we show that BIGRUs with self-attention outperform the current multi-label state-of-the-art methods, which employ label-wise attention. Replacing CNNs with BIGRUs in label-wise attention networks leads to the best overall performance.

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Neural Legal Judgment Prediction in English
Ilias Chalkidis | Ion Androutsopoulos | Nikolaos Aletras
Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Legal judgment prediction is the task of automatically predicting the outcome of a court case, given a text describing the case’s facts. Previous work on using neural models for this task has focused on Chinese; only feature-based models (e.g., using bags of words and topics) have been considered in English. We release a new English legal judgment prediction dataset, containing cases from the European Court of Human Rights. We evaluate a broad variety of neural models on the new dataset, establishing strong baselines that surpass previous feature-based models in three tasks: (1) binary violation classification; (2) multi-label classification; (3) case importance prediction. We also explore if models are biased towards demographic information via data anonymization. As a side-product, we propose a hierarchical version of BERT, which bypasses BERT’s length limitation.

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Automatically Identifying Complaints in Social Media
Daniel Preoţiuc-Pietro | Mihaela Gaman | Nikolaos Aletras
Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Complaining is a basic speech act regularly used in human and computer mediated communication to express a negative mismatch between reality and expectations in a particular situation. Automatically identifying complaints in social media is of utmost importance for organizations or brands to improve the customer experience or in developing dialogue systems for handling and responding to complaints. In this paper, we introduce the first systematic analysis of complaints in computational linguistics. We collect a new annotated data set of written complaints expressed on Twitter. We present an extensive linguistic analysis of complaining as a speech act in social media and train strong feature-based and neural models of complaints across nine domains achieving a predictive performance of up to 79 F1 using distant supervision.

2017

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Multimodal Topic Labelling
Ionut Sorodoc | Jey Han Lau | Nikolaos Aletras | Timothy Baldwin
Proceedings of the 15th Conference of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Volume 2, Short Papers

Topics generated by topic models are typically presented as a list of topic terms. Automatic topic labelling is the task of generating a succinct label that summarises the theme or subject of a topic, with the intention of reducing the cognitive load of end-users when interpreting these topics. Traditionally, topic label systems focus on a single label modality, e.g. textual labels. In this work we propose a multimodal approach to topic labelling using a simple feedforward neural network. Given a topic and a candidate image or textual label, our method automatically generates a rating for the label, relative to the topic. Experiments show that this multimodal approach outperforms single-modality topic labelling systems.

2015

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A Hybrid Distributional and Knowledge-based Model of Lexical Semantics
Nikolaos Aletras | Mark Stevenson
Proceedings of the Fourth Joint Conference on Lexical and Computational Semantics

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An analysis of the user occupational class through Twitter content
Daniel Preoţiuc-Pietro | Vasileios Lampos | Nikolaos Aletras
Proceedings of the 53rd Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 7th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (Volume 1: Long Papers)

2014

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Labelling Topics using Unsupervised Graph-based Methods
Nikolaos Aletras | Mark Stevenson
Proceedings of the 52nd Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 2: Short Papers)

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Predicting and Characterising User Impact on Twitter
Vasileios Lampos | Nikolaos Aletras | Daniel Preoţiuc-Pietro | Trevor Cohn
Proceedings of the 14th Conference of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics

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Measuring the Similarity between Automatically Generated Topics
Nikolaos Aletras | Mark Stevenson
Proceedings of the 14th Conference of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics, volume 2: Short Papers

2013

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Representing Topics Using Images
Nikolaos Aletras | Mark Stevenson
Proceedings of the 2013 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

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Evaluating Topic Coherence Using Distributional Semantics
Nikolaos Aletras | Mark Stevenson
Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Computational Semantics (IWCS 2013) – Long Papers

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PATHS: A System for Accessing Cultural Heritage Collections
Eneko Agirre | Nikolaos Aletras | Paul Clough | Samuel Fernando | Paula Goodale | Mark Hall | Aitor Soroa | Mark Stevenson
Proceedings of the 51st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics: System Demonstrations

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UBC_UOS-TYPED: Regression for typed-similarity
Eneko Agirre | Nikolaos Aletras | Aitor Gonzalez-Agirre | German Rigau | Mark Stevenson
Second Joint Conference on Lexical and Computational Semantics (*SEM), Volume 1: Proceedings of the Main Conference and the Shared Task: Semantic Textual Similarity

2012

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Computing Similarity between Cultural Heritage Items using Multimodal Features
Nikolaos Aletras | Mark Stevenson
Proceedings of the 6th Workshop on Language Technology for Cultural Heritage, Social Sciences, and Humanities