Reid Pryzant


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Proceedings of the First Workshop on Causal Inference and NLP
Amir Feder | Katherine Keith | Emaad Manzoor | Reid Pryzant | Dhanya Sridhar | Zach Wood-Doughty | Jacob Eisenstein | Justin Grimmer | Roi Reichart | Molly Roberts | Uri Shalit | Brandon Stewart | Victor Veitch | Diyi Yang
Proceedings of the First Workshop on Causal Inference and NLP

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Causal Effects of Linguistic Properties
Reid Pryzant | Dallas Card | Dan Jurafsky | Victor Veitch | Dhanya Sridhar
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

We consider the problem of using observational data to estimate the causal effects of linguistic properties. For example, does writing a complaint politely lead to a faster response time? How much will a positive product review increase sales? This paper addresses two technical challenges related to the problem before developing a practical method. First, we formalize the causal quantity of interest as the effect of a writer’s intent, and establish the assumptions necessary to identify this from observational data. Second, in practice, we only have access to noisy proxies for the linguistic properties of interest—e.g., predictions from classifiers and lexicons. We propose an estimator for this setting and prove that its bias is bounded when we perform an adjustment for the text. Based on these results, we introduce TextCause, an algorithm for estimating causal effects of linguistic properties. The method leverages (1) distant supervision to improve the quality of noisy proxies, and (2) a pre-trained language model (BERT) to adjust for the text. We show that the proposed method outperforms related approaches when estimating the effect of Amazon review sentiment on semi-simulated sales figures. Finally, we present an applied case study investigating the effects of complaint politeness on bureaucratic response times.


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JESC: Japanese-English Subtitle Corpus
Reid Pryzant | Youngjoo Chung | Dan Jurafsky | Denny Britz
Proceedings of the Eleventh International Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation (LREC 2018)

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Interpretable Neural Architectures for Attributing an Ad’s Performance to its Writing Style
Reid Pryzant | Sugato Basu | Kazoo Sone
Proceedings of the 2018 EMNLP Workshop BlackboxNLP: Analyzing and Interpreting Neural Networks for NLP

How much does “free shipping!” help an advertisement’s ability to persuade? This paper presents two methods for performance attribution: finding the degree to which an outcome can be attributed to parts of a text while controlling for potential confounders. Both algorithms are based on interpreting the behaviors and parameters of trained neural networks. One method uses a CNN to encode the text, an adversarial objective function to control for confounders, and projects its weights onto its activations to interpret the importance of each phrase towards each output class. The other method leverages residualization to control for confounds and performs interpretation by aggregating over learned word vectors. We demonstrate these algorithms’ efficacy on 118,000 internet search advertisements and outcomes, finding language indicative of high and low click through rate (CTR) regardless of who the ad is by or what it is for. Our results suggest the proposed algorithms are high performance and data efficient, able to glean actionable insights from fewer than 10,000 data points. We find that quick, easy, and authoritative language is associated with success, while lackluster embellishment is related to failure. These findings agree with the advertising industry’s emperical wisdom, automatically revealing insights which previously required manual A/B testing to discover.

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Deconfounded Lexicon Induction for Interpretable Social Science
Reid Pryzant | Kelly Shen | Dan Jurafsky | Stefan Wagner
Proceedings of the 2018 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies, Volume 1 (Long Papers)

NLP algorithms are increasingly used in computational social science to take linguistic observations and predict outcomes like human preferences or actions. Making these social models transparent and interpretable often requires identifying features in the input that predict outcomes while also controlling for potential confounds. We formalize this need as a new task: inducing a lexicon that is predictive of a set of target variables yet uncorrelated to a set of confounding variables. We introduce two deep learning algorithms for the task. The first uses a bifurcated architecture to separate the explanatory power of the text and confounds. The second uses an adversarial discriminator to force confound-invariant text encodings. Both elicit lexicons from learned weights and attentional scores. We use them to induce lexicons that are predictive of timely responses to consumer complaints (controlling for product), enrollment from course descriptions (controlling for subject), and sales from product descriptions (controlling for seller). In each domain our algorithms pick words that are associated with narrative persuasion; more predictive and less confound-related than those of standard feature weighting and lexicon induction techniques like regression and log odds.


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Effective Domain Mixing for Neural Machine Translation
Denny Britz | Quoc Le | Reid Pryzant
Proceedings of the Second Conference on Machine Translation