Nils Hammerla


2020

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Biomedical Concept Relatedness – A large EHR-based benchmark
Claudia Schulz | Josh Levy-Kramer | Camille Van Assel | Miklos Kepes | Nils Hammerla
Proceedings of the 28th International Conference on Computational Linguistics

A promising application of AI to healthcare is the retrieval of information from electronic health records (EHRs), e.g. to aid clinicians in finding relevant information for a consultation or to recruit suitable patients for a study. This requires search capabilities far beyond simple string matching, including the retrieval of concepts (diagnoses, symptoms, medications, etc.) related to the one in question. The suitability of AI methods for such applications is tested by predicting the relatedness of concepts with known relatedness scores. However, all existing biomedical concept relatedness datasets are notoriously small and consist of hand-picked concept pairs. We open-source a novel concept relatedness benchmark overcoming these issues: it is six times larger than existing datasets and concept pairs are chosen based on co-occurrence in EHRs, ensuring their relevance for the application of interest. We present an in-depth analysis of our new dataset and compare it to existing ones, highlighting that it is not only larger but also complements existing datasets in terms of the types of concepts included. Initial experiments with state-of-the-art embedding methods show that our dataset is a challenging new benchmark for testing concept relatedness models.

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Estimating Mutual Information Between Dense Word Embeddings
Vitalii Zhelezniak | Aleksandar Savkov | Nils Hammerla
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Word embedding-based similarity measures are currently among the top-performing methods on unsupervised semantic textual similarity (STS) tasks. Recent work has increasingly adopted a statistical view on these embeddings, with some of the top approaches being essentially various correlations (which include the famous cosine similarity). Another excellent candidate for a similarity measure is mutual information (MI), which can capture arbitrary dependencies between the variables and has a simple and intuitive expression. Unfortunately, its use in the context of dense word embeddings has so far been avoided due to difficulties with estimating MI for continuous data. In this work we go through a vast literature on estimating MI in such cases and single out the most promising methods, yielding a simple and elegant similarity measure for word embeddings. We show that mutual information is a viable alternative to correlations, gives an excellent signal that correlates well with human judgements of similarity and rivals existing state-of-the-art unsupervised methods.

2019

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Correlations between Word Vector Sets
Vitalii Zhelezniak | April Shen | Daniel Busbridge | Aleksandar Savkov | Nils Hammerla
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing and the 9th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (EMNLP-IJCNLP)

Similarity measures based purely on word embeddings are comfortably competing with much more sophisticated deep learning and expert-engineered systems on unsupervised semantic textual similarity (STS) tasks. In contrast to commonly used geometric approaches, we treat a single word embedding as e.g. 300 observations from a scalar random variable. Using this paradigm, we first illustrate that similarities derived from elementary pooling operations and classic correlation coefficients yield excellent results on standard STS benchmarks, outperforming many recently proposed methods while being much faster and trivial to implement. Next, we demonstrate how to avoid pooling operations altogether and compare sets of word embeddings directly via correlation operators between reproducing kernel Hilbert spaces. Just like cosine similarity is used to compare individual word vectors, we introduce a novel application of the centered kernel alignment (CKA) as a natural generalisation of squared cosine similarity for sets of word vectors. Likewise, CKA is very easy to implement and enjoys very strong empirical results.

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Multilingual Factor Analysis
Francisco Vargas | Kamen Brestnichki | Alex Papadopoulos Korfiatis | Nils Hammerla
Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

In this work we approach the task of learning multilingual word representations in an offline manner by fitting a generative latent variable model to a multilingual dictionary. We model equivalent words in different languages as different views of the same word generated by a common latent variable representing their latent lexical meaning. We explore the task of alignment by querying the fitted model for multilingual embeddings achieving competitive results across a variety of tasks. The proposed model is robust to noise in the embedding space making it a suitable method for distributed representations learned from noisy corpora.

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Correlation Coefficients and Semantic Textual Similarity
Vitalii Zhelezniak | Aleksandar Savkov | April Shen | Nils Hammerla
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies, Volume 1 (Long and Short Papers)

A large body of research into semantic textual similarity has focused on constructing state-of-the-art embeddings using sophisticated modelling, careful choice of learning signals and many clever tricks. By contrast, little attention has been devoted to similarity measures between these embeddings, with cosine similarity being used unquestionably in the majority of cases. In this work, we illustrate that for all common word vectors, cosine similarity is essentially equivalent to the Pearson correlation coefficient, which provides some justification for its use. We thoroughly characterise cases where Pearson correlation (and thus cosine similarity) is unfit as similarity measure. Importantly, we show that Pearson correlation is appropriate for some word vectors but not others. When it is not appropriate, we illustrate how common non-parametric rank correlation coefficients can be used instead to significantly improve performance. We support our analysis with a series of evaluations on word-level and sentence-level semantic textual similarity benchmarks. On the latter, we show that even the simplest averaged word vectors compared by rank correlation easily rival the strongest deep representations compared by cosine similarity.