Nitish Joshi


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Measuring Inductive Biases of In-Context Learning with Underspecified Demonstrations
Chenglei Si | Dan Friedman | Nitish Joshi | Shi Feng | Danqi Chen | He He
Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

In-context learning (ICL) is an important paradigm for adapting large language models (LLMs) to new tasks, but the generalization behavior of ICL remains poorly understood. We investigate the inductive biases of ICL from the perspective of feature bias: which feature ICL is more likely to use given a set of underspecified demonstrations in which two features are equally predictive of the labels. First, we characterize the feature biases of GPT-3 models by constructing underspecified demonstrations from a range of NLP datasets and feature combinations. We find that LLMs exhibit clear feature biases—for example, demonstrating a strong bias to predict labels according to sentiment rather than shallow lexical features, like punctuation. Second, we evaluate the effect of different interventions that are designed to impose an inductive bias in favor of a particular feature, such as adding a natural language instruction or using semantically relevant label words. We find that, while many interventions can influence the learner to prefer a particular feature, it can be difficult to overcome strong prior biases. Overall, our results provide a broader picture of the types of features that ICL may be more likely to exploit and how to impose inductive biases that are better aligned with the intended task.


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Are All Spurious Features in Natural Language Alike? An Analysis through a Causal Lens
Nitish Joshi | Xiang Pan | He He
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

The term ‘spurious correlations’ has been used in NLP to informally denote any undesirable feature-label correlations. However, a correlation can be undesirable because (i) the feature is irrelevant to the label (e.g. punctuation in a review), or (ii) the feature’s effect on the label depends on the context (e.g. negation words in a review), which is ubiquitous in language tasks. In case (i), we want the model to be invariant to the feature, which is neither necessary nor sufficient for prediction. But in case (ii), even an ideal model (e.g. humans) must rely on the feature, since it is necessary (but not sufficient) for prediction. Therefore, a more fine-grained treatment of spurious features is needed to specify the desired model behavior. We formalize this distinction using a causal model and probabilities of necessity and sufficiency, which delineates the causal relations between a feature and a label. We then show that this distinction helps explain results of existing debiasing methods on different spurious features, and demystifies surprising results such as the encoding of spurious features in model representations after debiasing.

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QuALITY: Question Answering with Long Input Texts, Yes!
Richard Yuanzhe Pang | Alicia Parrish | Nitish Joshi | Nikita Nangia | Jason Phang | Angelica Chen | Vishakh Padmakumar | Johnny Ma | Jana Thompson | He He | Samuel Bowman
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

To enable building and testing models on long-document comprehension, we introduce QuALITY, a multiple-choice QA dataset with context passages in English that have an average length of about 5,000 tokens, much longer than typical current models can process. Unlike in prior work with passages, our questions are written and validated by contributors who have read the entire passage, rather than relying on summaries or excerpts. In addition, only half of the questions are answerable by annotators working under tight time constraints, indicating that skimming and simple search are not enough to consistently perform well. Our baseline models perform poorly on this task (55.4%) and significantly lag behind human performance (93.5%).

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An Investigation of the (In)effectiveness of Counterfactually Augmented Data
Nitish Joshi | He He
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

While pretrained language models achieve excellent performance on natural language understanding benchmarks, they tend to rely on spurious correlations and generalize poorly to out-of-distribution (OOD) data. Recent work has explored using counterfactually-augmented data (CAD)—data generated by minimally perturbing examples to flip the ground-truth label—to identify robust features that are invariant under distribution shift. However, empirical results using CAD during training for OOD generalization have been mixed. To explain this discrepancy, through a toy theoretical example and empirical analysis on two crowdsourced CAD datasets, we show that: (a) while features perturbed in CAD are indeed robust features, it may prevent the model from learning unperturbed robust features; and (b) CAD may exacerbate existing spurious correlations in the data. Our results thus show that the lack of perturbation diversity limits CAD’s effectiveness on OOD generalization, calling for innovative crowdsourcing procedures to elicit diverse perturbation of examples.


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Explore, Propose, and Assemble: An Interpretable Model for Multi-Hop Reading Comprehension
Yichen Jiang | Nitish Joshi | Yen-Chun Chen | Mohit Bansal
Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Multi-hop reading comprehension requires the model to explore and connect relevant information from multiple sentences/documents in order to answer the question about the context. To achieve this, we propose an interpretable 3-module system called Explore-Propose-Assemble reader (EPAr). First, the Document Explorer iteratively selects relevant documents and represents divergent reasoning chains in a tree structure so as to allow assimilating information from all chains. The Answer Proposer then proposes an answer from every root-to-leaf path in the reasoning tree. Finally, the Evidence Assembler extracts a key sentence containing the proposed answer from every path and combines them to predict the final answer. Intuitively, EPAr approximates the coarse-to-fine-grained comprehension behavior of human readers when facing multiple long documents. We jointly optimize our 3 modules by minimizing the sum of losses from each stage conditioned on the previous stage’s output. On two multi-hop reading comprehension datasets WikiHop and MedHop, our EPAr model achieves significant improvements over the baseline and competitive results compared to the state-of-the-art model. We also present multiple reasoning-chain-recovery tests and ablation studies to demonstrate our system’s ability to perform interpretable and accurate reasoning.

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Cross-Lingual Training for Automatic Question Generation
Vishwajeet Kumar | Nitish Joshi | Arijit Mukherjee | Ganesh Ramakrishnan | Preethi Jyothi
Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Automatic question generation (QG) is a challenging problem in natural language understanding. QG systems are typically built assuming access to a large number of training instances where each instance is a question and its corresponding answer. For a new language, such training instances are hard to obtain making the QG problem even more challenging. Using this as our motivation, we study the reuse of an available large QG dataset in a secondary language (e.g. English) to learn a QG model for a primary language (e.g. Hindi) of interest. For the primary language, we assume access to a large amount of monolingual text but only a small QG dataset. We propose a cross-lingual QG model which uses the following training regime: (i) Unsupervised pretraining of language models in both primary and secondary languages and (ii) joint supervised training for QG in both languages. We demonstrate the efficacy of our proposed approach using two different primary languages, Hindi and Chinese. Our proposed framework clearly outperforms a number of baseline models, including a fully-supervised transformer-based model trained on the QG datasets in the primary language. We also create and release a new question answering dataset for Hindi consisting of 6555 sentences.