Qinyuan Ye


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Sparse Distillation: Speeding Up Text Classification by Using Bigger Student Models
Qinyuan Ye | Madian Khabsa | Mike Lewis | Sinong Wang | Xiang Ren | Aaron Jaech
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Distilling state-of-the-art transformer models into lightweight student models is an effective way to reduce computation cost at inference time. The student models are typically compact transformers with fewer parameters, while expensive operations such as self-attention persist. Therefore, the improved inference speed may still be unsatisfactory for real-time or high-volume use cases. In this paper, we aim to further push the limit of inference speed by distilling teacher models into bigger, sparser student models – bigger in that they scale up to billions of parameters; sparser in that most of the model parameters are n-gram embeddings. Our experiments on six single-sentence text classification tasks show that these student models retain 97% of the RoBERTa-Large teacher performance on average, and meanwhile achieve up to 600x speed-up on both GPUs and CPUs at inference time. Further investigation reveals that our pipeline is also helpful for sentence-pair classification tasks, and in domain generalization settings.


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Learning to Generate Task-Specific Adapters from Task Description
Qinyuan Ye | Xiang Ren
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)

Pre-trained text-to-text transformers such as BART have achieved impressive performance across a range of NLP tasks. Recent study further shows that they can learn to generalize to novel tasks, by including task descriptions as part of the source sequence and training the model with (source, target) examples. At test time, these fine-tuned models can make inferences on new tasks using the new task descriptions as part of the input. However, this approach has potential limitations, as the model learns to solve individual (source, target) examples (i.e., at the instance level), instead of learning to solve tasks by taking all examples within a task as a whole (i.e., at the task level). To this end, we introduce Hypter, a framework that improves text-to-text transformer’s generalization ability to unseen tasks by training a hypernetwork to generate task-specific, light-weight adapters from task descriptions. Experiments on ZEST dataset and a synthetic SQuAD dataset demonstrate that Hypter improves upon fine-tuning baselines. Notably, when using BART-Large as the main network, Hypter brings 11.3% comparative improvement on ZEST dataset.

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CrossFit: A Few-shot Learning Challenge for Cross-task Generalization in NLP
Qinyuan Ye | Bill Yuchen Lin | Xiang Ren
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Humans can learn a new language task efficiently with only few examples, by leveraging their knowledge obtained when learning prior tasks. In this paper, we explore whether and how such cross-task generalization ability can be acquired, and further applied to build better few-shot learners across diverse NLP tasks. We introduce CrossFit, a problem setup for studying cross-task generalization ability, which standardizes seen/unseen task partitions, data access during different learning stages, and the evaluation protocols. To instantiate different seen/unseen task partitions in CrossFit and facilitate in-depth analysis, we present the NLP Few-shot Gym, a repository of 160 diverse few-shot NLP tasks created from open-access NLP datasets and converted to a unified text-to-text format. Our analysis reveals that the few-shot learning ability on unseen tasks can be improved via an upstream learning stage using a set of seen tasks. We also observe that the selection of upstream learning tasks can significantly influence few-shot performance on unseen tasks, asking further analysis on task similarity and transferability.

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On the Influence of Masking Policies in Intermediate Pre-training
Qinyuan Ye | Belinda Z. Li | Sinong Wang | Benjamin Bolte | Hao Ma | Wen-tau Yih | Xiang Ren | Madian Khabsa
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Current NLP models are predominantly trained through a two-stage “pre-train then fine-tune” pipeline. Prior work has shown that inserting an intermediate pre-training stage, using heuristic masking policies for masked language modeling (MLM), can significantly improve final performance. However, it is still unclear (1) in what cases such intermediate pre-training is helpful, (2) whether hand-crafted heuristic objectives are optimal for a given task, and (3) whether a masking policy designed for one task is generalizable beyond that task. In this paper, we perform a large-scale empirical study to investigate the effect of various masking policies in intermediate pre-training with nine selected tasks across three categories. Crucially, we introduce methods to automate the discovery of optimal masking policies via direct supervision or meta-learning. We conclude that the success of intermediate pre-training is dependent on appropriate pre-train corpus, selection of output format (i.e., masked spans or full sentence), and clear understanding of the role that MLM plays for the downstream task. In addition, we find our learned masking policies outperform the heuristic of masking named entities on TriviaQA, and policies learned from one task can positively transfer to other tasks in certain cases, inviting future research in this direction.


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LEAN-LIFE: A Label-Efficient Annotation Framework Towards Learning from Explanation
Dong-Ho Lee | Rahul Khanna | Bill Yuchen Lin | Seyeon Lee | Qinyuan Ye | Elizabeth Boschee | Leonardo Neves | Xiang Ren
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics: System Demonstrations

Successfully training a deep neural network demands a huge corpus of labeled data. However, each label only provides limited information to learn from, and collecting the requisite number of labels involves massive human effort. In this work, we introduce LEAN-LIFE, a web-based, Label-Efficient AnnotatioN framework for sequence labeling and classification tasks, with an easy-to-use UI that not only allows an annotator to provide the needed labels for a task but also enables LearnIng From Explanations for each labeling decision. Such explanations enable us to generate useful additional labeled data from unlabeled instances, bolstering the pool of available training data. On three popular NLP tasks (named entity recognition, relation extraction, sentiment analysis), we find that using this enhanced supervision allows our models to surpass competitive baseline F1 scores by more than 5-10 percentage points, while using 2X times fewer labeled instances. Our framework is the first to utilize this enhanced supervision technique and does so for three important tasks – thus providing improved annotation recommendations to users and an ability to build datasets of (data, label, explanation) triples instead of the regular (data, label) pair.

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Teaching Machine Comprehension with Compositional Explanations
Qinyuan Ye | Xiao Huang | Elizabeth Boschee | Xiang Ren
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2020

Advances in machine reading comprehension (MRC) rely heavily on the collection of large scale human-annotated examples in the form of (question, paragraph, answer) triples. In contrast, humans are typically able to generalize with only a few examples, relying on deeper underlying world knowledge, linguistic sophistication, and/or simply superior deductive powers. In this paper, we focus on “teaching” machines reading comprehension, using a small number of semi-structured explanations that explicitly inform machines why answer spans are correct. We extract structured variables and rules from explanations and compose neural module teachers that annotate instances for training downstream MRC models. We use learnable neural modules and soft logic to handle linguistic variation and overcome sparse coverage; the modules are jointly optimized with the MRC model to improve final performance. On the SQuAD dataset, our proposed method achieves 70.14% F1 score with supervision from 26 explanations, comparable to plain supervised learning using 1,100 labeled instances, yielding a 12x speed up.


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Looking Beyond Label Noise: Shifted Label Distribution Matters in Distantly Supervised Relation Extraction
Qinyuan Ye | Liyuan Liu | Maosen Zhang | Xiang Ren
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing and the 9th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (EMNLP-IJCNLP)

In recent years there is a surge of interest in applying distant supervision (DS) to automatically generate training data for relation extraction (RE). In this paper, we study the problem what limits the performance of DS-trained neural models, conduct thorough analyses, and identify a factor that can influence the performance greatly, shifted label distribution. Specifically, we found this problem commonly exists in real-world DS datasets, and without special handing, typical DS-RE models cannot automatically adapt to this shift, thus achieving deteriorated performance. To further validate our intuition, we develop a simple yet effective adaptation method for DS-trained models, bias adjustment, which updates models learned over the source domain (i.e., DS training set) with a label distribution estimated on the target domain (i.e., test set). Experiments demonstrate that bias adjustment achieves consistent performance gains on DS-trained models, especially on neural models, with an up to 23% relative F1 improvement, which verifies our assumptions. Our code and data can be found at https://github.com/INK-USC/shifted-label-distribution.