Robert Wolfe


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Contrastive Visual Semantic Pretraining Magnifies the Semantics of Natural Language Representations
Robert Wolfe | Aylin Caliskan
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

We examine the effects of contrastive visual semantic pretraining by comparing the geometry and semantic properties of contextualized English language representations formed by GPT-2 and CLIP, a zero-shot multimodal image classifier which adapts the GPT-2 architecture to encode image captions. We find that contrastive visual semantic pretraining significantly mitigates the anisotropy found in contextualized word embeddings from GPT-2, such that the intra-layer self-similarity (mean pairwise cosine similarity) of CLIP word embeddings is under .25 in all layers, compared to greater than .95 in the top layer of GPT-2. CLIP word embeddings outperform GPT-2 on word-level semantic intrinsic evaluation tasks, and achieve a new corpus-based state of the art for the RG65 evaluation, at .88. CLIP also forms fine-grained semantic representations of sentences, and obtains Spearman’s 𝜌 = .73 on the SemEval-2017 Semantic Textual Similarity Benchmark with no fine-tuning, compared to no greater than 𝜌 = .45 in any layer of GPT-2. Finally, intra-layer self-similarity of CLIP sentence embeddings decreases as the layer index increases, finishing at .25 in the top layer, while the self-similarity of GPT-2 sentence embeddings formed using the EOS token increases layer-over-layer and never falls below .97. Our results indicate that high anisotropy is not an inevitable consequence of contextualization, and that visual semantic pretraining is beneficial not only for ordering visual representations, but also for encoding useful semantic representations of language, both on the word level and the sentence level.


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Low Frequency Names Exhibit Bias and Overfitting in Contextualizing Language Models
Robert Wolfe | Aylin Caliskan
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

We use a dataset of U.S. first names with labels based on predominant gender and racial group to examine the effect of training corpus frequency on tokenization, contextualization, similarity to initial representation, and bias in BERT, GPT-2, T5, and XLNet. We show that predominantly female and non-white names are less frequent in the training corpora of these four language models. We find that infrequent names are more self-similar across contexts, with Spearman’s rho between frequency and self-similarity as low as -.763. Infrequent names are also less similar to initial representation, with Spearman’s rho between frequency and linear centered kernel alignment (CKA) similarity to initial representation as high as .702. Moreover, we find Spearman’s rho between racial bias and name frequency in BERT of .492, indicating that lower-frequency minority group names are more associated with unpleasantness. Representations of infrequent names undergo more processing, but are more self-similar, indicating that models rely on less context-informed representations of uncommon and minority names which are overfit to a lower number of observed contexts.