Philipp Sadler


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Yes, this Way! Learning to Ground Referring Expressions into Actions with Intra-episodic Feedback from Supportive Teachers
Philipp Sadler | Sherzod Hakimov | David Schlangen
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2023

The ability to pick up on language signals in an ongoing interaction is crucial for future machine learning models to collaborate and interact with humans naturally. In this paper, we present an initial study that evaluates intra-episodic feedback given in a collaborative setting. We use a referential language game as a controllable example of a task-oriented collaborative joint activity. A teacher utters a referring expression generated by a well-known symbolic algorithm (the “Incremental Algorithm”) as an initial instruction and then monitors the follower’s actions to possibly intervene with intra-episodic feedback (which does not explicitly have to be requested). We frame this task as a reinforcement learning problem with sparse rewards and learn a follower policy for a heuristic teacher. Our results show that intra-episodic feedback allows the follower to generalize on aspects of scene complexity and performs better than providing only the initial statement.

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clembench: Using Game Play to Evaluate Chat-Optimized Language Models as Conversational Agents
Kranti Chalamalasetti | Jana Götze | Sherzod Hakimov | Brielen Madureira | Philipp Sadler | David Schlangen
Proceedings of the 2023 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Recent work has proposed a methodology for the systematic evaluation of “Situated Language Understanding Agents” — agents that operate in rich linguistic and non-linguistic contexts — through testing them in carefully constructed interactive settings. Other recent work has argued that Large Language Models (LLMs), if suitably set up, can be understood as (simulators of) such agents. A connection suggests itself, which this paper explores: Can LLMs be evaluated meaningfully by exposing them to constrained game-like settings that are built to challenge specific capabilities? As a proof of concept, this paper investigates five interaction settings, showing that current chat-optimised LLMs are, to an extent, capable of following game-play instructions. Both this capability and the quality of the game play, measured by how well the objectives of the different games are met, follows the development cycle, with newer models generally performing better. The metrics even for the comparatively simple example games are far from being saturated, suggesting that the proposed instrument will remain to have diagnostic value.

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Pento-DIARef: A Diagnostic Dataset for Learning the Incremental Algorithm for Referring Expression Generation from Examples
Philipp Sadler | David Schlangen
Proceedings of the 17th Conference of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics

NLP tasks are typically defined extensionally through datasets containing example instantiations (e.g., pairs of image _i_ and text _t_), but motivated intensionally through capabilities invoked in verbal descriptions of the task (e.g., “_t_ is a description of _i_, for which the content of _i_ needs to be recognised and understood”).We present Pento-DIARef, a diagnostic dataset in a visual domain of puzzle pieces where referring expressions are generated by a well-known symbolic algorithm (the “Incremental Algorithm”),which itself is motivated by appeal to a hypothesised capability (eliminating distractors through application of Gricean maxims). Our question then is whether the extensional description (the dataset) is sufficient for a neural model to pick up the underlying regularity and exhibit this capability given the simple task definition of producing expressions from visual inputs. We find that a model supported by a vision detection step and a targeted data generation scheme achieves an almost perfect BLEU@1 score and sentence accuracy, whereas simpler baselines do not.


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Generating Landmark-based Manipulation Instructions from Image Pairs
Sina Zarrieß | Henrik Voigt | David Schlangen | Philipp Sadler
Proceedings of the 15th International Conference on Natural Language Generation


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From “Before” to “After”: Generating Natural Language Instructions from Image Pairs in a Simple Visual Domain
Robin Rojowiec | Jana Götze | Philipp Sadler | Henrik Voigt | Sina Zarrieß | David Schlangen
Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Natural Language Generation

While certain types of instructions can be com-pactly expressed via images, there are situations where one might want to verbalise them, for example when directing someone. We investigate the task of Instruction Generation from Before/After Image Pairs which is to derive from images an instruction for effecting the implied change. For this, we make use of prior work on instruction following in a visual environment. We take an existing dataset, the BLOCKS data collected by Bisk et al. (2016) and investigate whether it is suitable for training an instruction generator as well. We find that it is, and investigate several simple baselines, taking these from the related task of image captioning. Through a series of experiments that simplify the task (by making image processing easier or completely side-stepping it; and by creating template-based targeted instructions), we investigate areas for improvement. We find that captioning models get some way towards solving the task, but have some difficulty with it, and future improvements must lie in the way the change is detected in the instruction.


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Can Neural Image Captioning be Controlled via Forced Attention?
Philipp Sadler | Tatjana Scheffler | David Schlangen
Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Natural Language Generation

Learned dynamic weighting of the conditioning signal (attention) has been shown to improve neural language generation in a variety of settings. The weights applied when generating a particular output sequence have also been viewed as providing a potentially explanatory insight in the internal workings of the generator. In this paper, we reverse the direction of this connection and ask whether through the control of the attention of the model we can control its output. Specifically, we take a standard neural image captioning model that uses attention, and fix the attention to predetermined areas in the image. We evaluate whether the resulting output is more likely to mention the class of the object in that area than the normally generated caption. We introduce three effective methods to control the attention and find that these are producing expected results in up to 27.43% of the cases.