Pinar Donmez


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Building Adaptive Acceptability Classifiers for Neural NLG
Soumya Batra | Shashank Jain | Peyman Heidari | Ankit Arun | Catharine Youngs | Xintong Li | Pinar Donmez | Shawn Mei | Shiunzu Kuo | Vikas Bhardwaj | Anuj Kumar | Michael White
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

We propose a novel framework to train models to classify acceptability of responses generated by natural language generation (NLG) models, improving upon existing sentence transformation and model-based approaches. An NLG response is considered acceptable if it is both semantically correct and grammatical. We don’t make use of any human references making the classifiers suitable for runtime deployment. Training data for the classifiers is obtained using a 2-stage approach of first generating synthetic data using a combination of existing and new model-based approaches followed by a novel validation framework to filter and sort the synthetic data into acceptable and unacceptable classes. Our 2-stage approach adapts to a wide range of data representations and does not require additional data beyond what the NLG models are trained on. It is also independent of the underlying NLG model architecture, and is able to generate more realistic samples close to the distribution of the NLG model-generated responses. We present results on 5 datasets (WebNLG, Cleaned E2E, ViGGO, Alarm, and Weather) with varying data representations. We compare our framework with existing techniques that involve synthetic data generation using simple sentence transformations and/or model-based techniques, and show that building acceptability classifiers using data that resembles the generation model outputs followed by a validation framework outperforms the existing techniques, achieving state-of-the-art results. We also show that our techniques can be used in few-shot settings using self-training.

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Getting to Production with Few-shot Natural Language Generation Models
Peyman Heidari | Arash Einolghozati | Shashank Jain | Soumya Batra | Lee Callender | Ankit Arun | Shawn Mei | Sonal Gupta | Pinar Donmez | Vikas Bhardwaj | Anuj Kumar | Michael White
Proceedings of the 22nd Annual Meeting of the Special Interest Group on Discourse and Dialogue

In this paper, we study the utilization of pre-trained language models to enable few-shotNatural Language Generation (NLG) in task-oriented dialog systems. We introduce a system consisting of iterative self-training and an extensible mini-template framework that textualizes the structured input data into semi-natural text to fully take advantage of pre-trained language models. We compare var-ious representations of NLG models’ input and output and show that transforming the input and output to be similar to what the language model has seen before during pre-training improves the model’s few-shot performance substantially. We show that neural mod-els can be trained with as few as 300 annotated examples while providing high fidelity, considerably lowering the resource requirements for standing up a new domain or language.This level of data efficiency removes the need for crowd-sourced data collection resulting in higher quality data annotated by expert linguists. In addition, model maintenance and debugging processes will improve in this few-shot setting. Finally, we explore distillation and using a caching system to satisfy latency requirements of real-world systems.


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Best Practices for Data-Efficient Modeling in NLG:How to Train Production-Ready Neural Models with Less Data
Ankit Arun | Soumya Batra | Vikas Bhardwaj | Ashwini Challa | Pinar Donmez | Peyman Heidari | Hakan Inan | Shashank Jain | Anuj Kumar | Shawn Mei | Karthik Mohan | Michael White
Proceedings of the 28th International Conference on Computational Linguistics: Industry Track

Natural language generation (NLG) is a critical component in conversational systems, owing to its role of formulating a correct and natural text response. Traditionally, NLG components have been deployed using template-based solutions. Although neural network solutions recently developed in the research community have been shown to provide several benefits, deployment of such model-based solutions has been challenging due to high latency, correctness issues, and high data needs. In this paper, we present approaches that have helped us deploy data-efficient neural solutions for NLG in conversational systems to production. We describe a family of sampling and modeling techniques to attain production quality with light-weight neural network models using only a fraction of the data that would be necessary otherwise, and show a thorough comparison between each. Our results show that domain complexity dictates the appropriate approach to achieve high data efficiency. Finally, we distill the lessons from our experimental findings into a list of best practices for production-level NLG model development, and present them in a brief runbook. Importantly, the end products of all of the techniques are small sequence-to-sequence models (~2Mb) that we can reliably deploy in production. These models achieve the same quality as large pretrained models (~1Gb) as judged by human raters.

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Improving Text-to-Text Pre-trained Models for the Graph-to-Text Task
Zixiaofan Yang | Arash Einolghozati | Hakan Inan | Keith Diedrick | Angela Fan | Pinar Donmez | Sonal Gupta
Proceedings of the 3rd International Workshop on Natural Language Generation from the Semantic Web (WebNLG+)

Converting a knowledge graph or sub-graph to natural text is useful when answering questions based on a knowledge base. High-capacity language models pre-trained on large-scale text corpora have recently been shown to be powerful when fine-tuned for the knowledge-graph-to-text (KG-to-text) task. In this paper, we propose two classes of methods to improve such pre-trained models for this task. First, we improve the structure awareness of the model by organizing the input as well as learning optimal ordering via multitask learning. Second, we bridge the domain gap between text-to-text and KG-to-text tasks via a second-phase KG-to-text pre-training on similar datasets and extra lexicalization supervision to make the input more similar to natural text. We demonstrate the efficacy of our methods on the popular WebNLG dataset. Our best model achieves an almost 3 point BLEU improvement on a strong baseline while lowering the relative slot-error-rate by around 35%. We also validate our results via human evaluation.