Orion Weller


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When to Use Multi-Task Learning vs Intermediate Fine-Tuning for Pre-Trained Encoder Transfer Learning
Orion Weller | Kevin Seppi | Matt Gardner
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 2: Short Papers)

Transfer learning (TL) in natural language processing (NLP) has seen a surge of interest in recent years, as pre-trained models have shown an impressive ability to transfer to novel tasks. Three main strategies have emerged for making use of multiple supervised datasets during fine-tuning: training on an intermediate task before training on the target task (STILTs), using multi-task learning (MTL) to train jointly on a supplementary task and the target task (pairwise MTL), or simply using MTL to train jointly on all available datasets (MTL-ALL). In this work, we compare all three TL methods in a comprehensive analysis on the GLUE dataset suite. We find that there is a simple heuristic for when to use one of these techniques over the other: pairwise MTL is better than STILTs when the target task has fewer instances than the supporting task and vice versa. We show that this holds true in more than 92% of applicable cases on the GLUE dataset and validate this hypothesis with experiments varying dataset size. The simplicity and effectiveness of this heuristic is surprising and warrants additional exploration by the TL community. Furthermore, we find that MTL-ALL is worse than the pairwise methods in almost every case. We hope this study will aid others as they choose between TL methods for NLP tasks.

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Pretrained Models for Multilingual Federated Learning
Orion Weller | Marc Marone | Vladimir Braverman | Dawn Lawrie | Benjamin Van Durme
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Since the advent of Federated Learning (FL), research has applied these methods to natural language processing (NLP) tasks. Despite a plethora of papers in FL for NLP, no previous works have studied how multilingual text impacts FL algorithms. Furthermore, multilingual text provides an interesting avenue to examine the impact of non-IID text (e.g. different languages) on FL in naturally occurring data. We explore three multilingual language tasks, language modeling, machine translation, and text classification using differing federated and non-federated learning algorithms. Our results show that using pretrained models reduces the negative effects of FL, helping them to perform near or better than centralized (no privacy) learning, even when using non-IID partitioning.

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End-to-End Speech Translation for Code Switched Speech
Orion Weller | Matthias Sperber | Telmo Pires | Hendra Setiawan | Christian Gollan | Dominic Telaar | Matthias Paulik
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2022

Code switching (CS) refers to the phenomenon of interchangeably using words and phrases from different languages. CS can pose significant accuracy challenges to NLP, due to the often monolingual nature of the underlying systems. In this work, we focus on CS in the context of English/Spanish conversations for the task of speech translation (ST), generating and evaluating both transcript and translation. To evaluate model performance on this task, we create a novel ST corpus derived from existing public data sets. We explore various ST architectures across two dimensions: cascaded (transcribe then translate) vs end-to-end (jointly transcribe and translate) and unidirectional (source -> target) vs bidirectional (source <-> target). We show that our ST architectures, and especially our bidirectional end-to-end architecture, perform well on CS speech, even when no CS training data is used.


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Streaming Models for Joint Speech Recognition and Translation
Orion Weller | Matthias Sperber | Christian Gollan | Joris Kluivers
Proceedings of the 16th Conference of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Main Volume

Using end-to-end models for speech translation (ST) has increasingly been the focus of the ST community. These models condense the previously cascaded systems by directly converting sound waves into translated text. However, cascaded models have the advantage of including automatic speech recognition output, useful for a variety of practical ST systems that often display transcripts to the user alongside the translations. To bridge this gap, recent work has shown initial progress into the feasibility for end-to-end models to produce both of these outputs. However, all previous work has only looked at this problem from the consecutive perspective, leaving uncertainty on whether these approaches are effective in the more challenging streaming setting. We develop an end-to-end streaming ST model based on a re-translation approach and compare against standard cascading approaches. We also introduce a novel inference method for the joint case, interleaving both transcript and translation in generation and removing the need to use separate decoders. Our evaluation across a range of metrics capturing accuracy, latency, and consistency shows that our end-to-end models are statistically similar to cascading models, while having half the number of parameters. We also find that both systems provide strong translation quality at low latency, keeping 99% of consecutive quality at a lag of just under a second.

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Exploring the Relationship Between Algorithm Performance, Vocabulary, and Run-Time in Text Classification
Wilson Fearn | Orion Weller | Kevin Seppi
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Text classification is a significant branch of natural language processing, and has many applications including document classification and sentiment analysis. Unsurprisingly, those who do text classification are concerned with the run-time of their algorithms, many of which depend on the size of the corpus’ vocabulary due to their bag-of-words representation. Although many studies have examined the effect of preprocessing techniques on vocabulary size and accuracy, none have examined how these methods affect a model’s run-time. To fill this gap, we provide a comprehensive study that examines how preprocessing techniques affect the vocabulary size, model performance, and model run-time, evaluating ten techniques over four models and two datasets. We show that some individual methods can reduce run-time with no loss of accuracy, while some combinations of methods can trade 2-5% of the accuracy for up to a 65% reduction of run-time. Furthermore, some combinations of preprocessing techniques can even provide a 15% reduction in run-time while simultaneously improving model accuracy.


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Learning from Task Descriptions
Orion Weller | Nicholas Lourie | Matt Gardner | Matthew E. Peters
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

Typically, machine learning systems solve new tasks by training on thousands of examples. In contrast, humans can solve new tasks by reading some instructions, with perhaps an example or two. To take a step toward closing this gap, we introduce a framework for developing NLP systems that solve new tasks after reading their descriptions, synthesizing prior work in this area. We instantiate this frame- work with a new English language dataset, ZEST, structured for task-oriented evaluation on unseen tasks. Formulating task descriptions as questions, we ensure each is general enough to apply to many possible inputs, thus comprehensively evaluating a model’s ability to solve each task. Moreover, the dataset’s structure tests specific types of systematic generalization. We find that the state-of-the-art T5 model achieves a score of 12% on ZEST, leaving a significant challenge for NLP researchers.

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The rJokes Dataset: a Large Scale Humor Collection
Orion Weller | Kevin Seppi
Proceedings of the Twelfth Language Resources and Evaluation Conference

Humor is a complicated language phenomenon that depends upon many factors, including topic, date, and recipient. Because of this variation, it can be hard to determine what exactly makes a joke humorous, leading to difficulties in joke identification and related tasks. Furthermore, current humor datasets are lacking in both joke variety and size, with almost all current datasets having less than 100k jokes. In order to alleviate this issue we compile a collection of over 550,000 jokes posted over an 11 year period on the Reddit r/Jokes subreddit (an online forum), providing a large scale humor dataset that can easily be used for a myriad of tasks. This dataset also provides quantitative metrics for the level of humor in each joke, as determined by subreddit user feedback. We explore this dataset through the years, examining basic statistics, most mentioned entities, and sentiment proportions. We also introduce this dataset as a task for future work, where models learn to predict the level of humor in a joke. On that task we provide strong state-of-the-art baseline models and show room for future improvement. We hope that this dataset will not only help those researching computational humor, but also help social scientists who seek to understand popular culture through humor.

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You Don’t Have Time to Read This: An Exploration of Document Reading Time Prediction
Orion Weller | Jordan Hildebrandt | Ilya Reznik | Christopher Challis | E. Shannon Tass | Quinn Snell | Kevin Seppi
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Predicting reading time has been a subject of much previous work, focusing on how different words affect human processing, measured by reading time. However, previous work has dealt with a limited number of participants as well as word level only predictions (i.e. predicting the time to read a single word). We seek to extend these works by examining whether or not document level predictions are effective, given additional information such as subject matter, font characteristics, and readability metrics. We perform a novel experiment to examine how different features of text contribute to the time it takes to read, distributing and collecting data from over a thousand participants. We then employ a large number of machine learning methods to predict a user’s reading time. We find that despite extensive research showing that word level reading time can be most effectively predicted by neural networks, larger scale text can be easily and most accurately predicted by one factor, the number of words.

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Can Humor Prediction Datasets be used for Humor Generation? Humorous Headline Generation via Style Transfer
Orion Weller | Nancy Fulda | Kevin Seppi
Proceedings of the Second Workshop on Figurative Language Processing

Understanding and identifying humor has been increasingly popular, as seen by the number of datasets created to study humor. However, one area of humor research, humor generation, has remained a difficult task, with machine generated jokes failing to match human-created humor. As many humor prediction datasets claim to aid in generative tasks, we examine whether these claims are true. We focus our experiments on the most popular dataset, included in the 2020 SemEval’s Task 7, and teach our model to take normal text and “translate” it into humorous text. We evaluate our model compared to humorous human generated headlines, finding that our model is preferred equally in A/B testing with the human edited versions, a strong success for humor generation, and is preferred over an intelligent random baseline 72% of the time. We also show that our model is assumed to be human written comparable with that of the human edited headlines and is significantly better than random, indicating that this dataset does indeed provide potential for future humor generation systems.


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Humor Detection: A Transformer Gets the Last Laugh
Orion Weller | Kevin Seppi
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing and the 9th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (EMNLP-IJCNLP)

Much previous work has been done in attempting to identify humor in text. In this paper we extend that capability by proposing a new task: assessing whether or not a joke is humorous. We present a novel way of approaching this problem by building a model that learns to identify humorous jokes based on ratings gleaned from Reddit pages, consisting of almost 16,000 labeled instances. Using these ratings to determine the level of humor, we then employ a Transformer architecture for its advantages in learning from sentence context. We demonstrate the effectiveness of this approach and show results that are comparable to human performance. We further demonstrate our model’s increased capabilities on humor identification problems, such as the previously created datasets for short jokes and puns. These experiments show that this method outperforms all previous work done on these tasks, with an F-measure of 93.1% for the Puns dataset and 98.6% on the Short Jokes dataset.