Ori Ram


2023

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What Are You Token About? Dense Retrieval as Distributions Over the Vocabulary
Ori Ram | Liat Bezalel | Adi Zicher | Yonatan Belinkov | Jonathan Berant | Amir Globerson
Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Dual encoders are now the dominant architecture for dense retrieval. Yet, we have little understanding of how they represent text, and why this leads to good performance. In this work, we shed light on this question via distributions over the vocabulary. We propose to interpret the vector representations produced by dual encoders by projecting them into the model’s vocabulary space. We show that the resulting projections contain rich semantic information, and draw connection between them and sparse retrieval. We find that this view can offer an explanation for some of the failure cases of dense retrievers. For example, we observe that the inability of models to handle tail entities is correlated with a tendency of the token distributions to forget some of the tokens of those entities. We leverage this insight and propose a simple way to enrich query and passage representations with lexical information at inference time, and show that this significantly improves performance compared to the original model in zero-shot settings, and specifically on the BEIR benchmark.

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Parallel Context Windows for Large Language Models
Nir Ratner | Yoav Levine | Yonatan Belinkov | Ori Ram | Inbal Magar | Omri Abend | Ehud Karpas | Amnon Shashua | Kevin Leyton-Brown | Yoav Shoham
Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

When applied to processing long text, Large Language Models (LLMs) are limited by their context window. Existing efforts to address this limitation involve training specialized architectures, and cannot be easily applied to off- the-shelf LLMs. We present Parallel Context Windows (PCW), a method that alleviates the context window restriction for any off-the-shelf LLM without further training. The key to the approach is to carve a long context into chunks (“windows”), restrict the attention mechanism to apply only within each window, and re-use the positional embeddings across the windows. Our main results test the PCW approach on in-context learning with models that range in size between 750 million and 178 billion parameters, and show substantial improvements for tasks with diverse input and output spaces. We show additional benefits in other settings where long context windows may be beneficial: multi-hop questions and retrieval-augmented question answering with multiple retrieved documents. Our results highlight Parallel Context Windows as a promising method for applying off-the-shelf LLMs in a range of settings that require long text sequences. We make our code publicly available at https://github.com/ai21labs/parallel-context-windows.

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In-Context Retrieval-Augmented Language Models
Ori Ram | Yoav Levine | Itay Dalmedigos | Dor Muhlgay | Amnon Shashua | Kevin Leyton-Brown | Yoav Shoham
Transactions of the Association for Computational Linguistics, Volume 11

Retrieval-Augmented Language Modeling (RALM) methods, which condition a language model (LM) on relevant documents from a grounding corpus during generation, were shown to significantly improve language modeling performance. In addition, they can mitigate the problem of factually inaccurate text generation and provide natural source attribution mechanism. Existing RALM approaches focus on modifying the LM architecture in order to facilitate the incorporation of external information, significantly complicating deployment. This paper considers a simple alternative, which we dub In-Context RALM: leaving the LM architecture unchanged and prepending grounding documents to the input, without any further training of the LM. We show that In-Context RALM that builds on off-the-shelf general purpose retrievers provides surprisingly large LM gains across model sizes and diverse corpora. We also demonstrate that the document retrieval and ranking mechanism can be specialized to the RALM setting to further boost performance. We conclude that In-Context RALM has considerable potential to increase the prevalence of LM grounding, particularly in settings where a pretrained LM must be used without modification or even via API access.1

2022

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Transformer Language Models without Positional Encodings Still Learn Positional Information
Adi Haviv | Ori Ram | Ofir Press | Peter Izsak | Omer Levy
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2022

Causal transformer language models (LMs), such as GPT-3, typically require some form of positional encoding, such as positional embeddings. However, we show that LMs without any explicit positional encoding are still competitive with standard models and that this phenomenon is robust across different datasets, model sizes, and sequence lengths. Probing experiments reveal that such models acquire an implicit notion of absolute positions throughout the network, effectively compensating for the missing information. We conjecture that causal attention enables the model to infer the number of predecessors that each token can attend to, thereby approximating its absolute position. Our findings indicate that causal LMs might derive positional awareness not only from the explicit positioning mechanism but also from the effects of the causal mask.

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Learning to Retrieve Passages without Supervision
Ori Ram | Gal Shachaf | Omer Levy | Jonathan Berant | Amir Globerson
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Dense retrievers for open-domain question answering (ODQA) have been shown to achieve impressive performance by training on large datasets of question-passage pairs. In this work we ask whether this dependence on labeled data can be reduced via unsupervised pretraining that is geared towards ODQA. We show this is in fact possible, via a novel pretraining scheme designed for retrieval. Our “recurring span retrieval” approach uses recurring spans across passages in a document to create pseudo examples for contrastive learning. Our pretraining scheme directly controls for term overlap across pseudo queries and relevant passages, thus allowing to model both lexical and semantic relations between them. The resulting model, named Spider, performs surprisingly well without any labeled training examples on a wide range of ODQA datasets. Specifically, it significantly outperforms all other pretrained baselines in a zero-shot setting, and is competitive with BM25, a strong sparse baseline. Moreover, a hybrid retriever over Spider and BM25 improves over both, and is often competitive with DPR models, which are trained on tens of thousands of examples. Last, notable gains are observed when using Spider as an initialization for supervised training.

2021

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Few-Shot Question Answering by Pretraining Span Selection
Ori Ram | Yuval Kirstain | Jonathan Berant | Amir Globerson | Omer Levy
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)

In several question answering benchmarks, pretrained models have reached human parity through fine-tuning on an order of 100,000 annotated questions and answers. We explore the more realistic few-shot setting, where only a few hundred training examples are available, and observe that standard models perform poorly, highlighting the discrepancy between current pretraining objectives and question answering. We propose a new pretraining scheme tailored for question answering: recurring span selection. Given a passage with multiple sets of recurring spans, we mask in each set all recurring spans but one, and ask the model to select the correct span in the passage for each masked span. Masked spans are replaced with a special token, viewed as a question representation, that is later used during fine-tuning to select the answer span. The resulting model obtains surprisingly good results on multiple benchmarks (e.g., 72.7 F1 on SQuAD with only 128 training examples), while maintaining competitive performance in the high-resource setting.

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Coreference Resolution without Span Representations
Yuval Kirstain | Ori Ram | Omer Levy
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)

The introduction of pretrained language models has reduced many complex task-specific NLP models to simple lightweight layers. An exception to this trend is coreference resolution, where a sophisticated task-specific model is appended to a pretrained transformer encoder. While highly effective, the model has a very large memory footprint – primarily due to dynamically-constructed span and span-pair representations – which hinders the processing of complete documents and the ability to train on multiple instances in a single batch. We introduce a lightweight end-to-end coreference model that removes the dependency on span representations, handcrafted features, and heuristics. Our model performs competitively with the current standard model, while being simpler and more efficient.

2020

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SenseBERT: Driving Some Sense into BERT
Yoav Levine | Barak Lenz | Or Dagan | Ori Ram | Dan Padnos | Or Sharir | Shai Shalev-Shwartz | Amnon Shashua | Yoav Shoham
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

The ability to learn from large unlabeled corpora has allowed neural language models to advance the frontier in natural language understanding. However, existing self-supervision techniques operate at the word form level, which serves as a surrogate for the underlying semantic content. This paper proposes a method to employ weak-supervision directly at the word sense level. Our model, named SenseBERT, is pre-trained to predict not only the masked words but also their WordNet supersenses. Accordingly, we attain a lexical-semantic level language model, without the use of human annotation. SenseBERT achieves significantly improved lexical understanding, as we demonstrate by experimenting on SemEval Word Sense Disambiguation, and by attaining a state of the art result on the ‘Word in Context’ task.

2019

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Cross-Lingual Alignment of Contextual Word Embeddings, with Applications to Zero-shot Dependency Parsing
Tal Schuster | Ori Ram | Regina Barzilay | Amir Globerson
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)

We introduce a novel method for multilingual transfer that utilizes deep contextual embeddings, pretrained in an unsupervised fashion. While contextual embeddings have been shown to yield richer representations of meaning compared to their static counterparts, aligning them poses a challenge due to their dynamic nature. To this end, we construct context-independent variants of the original monolingual spaces and utilize their mapping to derive an alignment for the context-dependent spaces. This mapping readily supports processing of a target language, improving transfer by context-aware embeddings. Our experimental results demonstrate the effectiveness of this approach for zero-shot and few-shot learning of dependency parsing. Specifically, our method consistently outperforms the previous state-of-the-art on 6 tested languages, yielding an improvement of 6.8 LAS points on average.