Ruslan Salakhutdinov


2022

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FewNLU: Benchmarking State-of-the-Art Methods for Few-Shot Natural Language Understanding
Yanan Zheng | Jing Zhou | Yujie Qian | Ming Ding | Chonghua Liao | Li Jian | Ruslan Salakhutdinov | Jie Tang | Sebastian Ruder | Zhilin Yang
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

The few-shot natural language understanding (NLU) task has attracted much recent attention. However, prior methods have been evaluated under a disparate set of protocols, which hinders fair comparison and measuring the progress of the field. To address this issue, we introduce an evaluation framework that improves previous evaluation procedures in three key aspects, i.e., test performance, dev-test correlation, and stability. Under this new evaluation framework, we re-evaluate several state-of-the-art few-shot methods for NLU tasks. Our framework reveals new insights: (1) both the absolute performance and relative gap of the methods were not accurately estimated in prior literature; (2) no single method dominates most tasks with consistent performance; (3) improvements of some methods diminish with a larger pretrained model; and (4) gains from different methods are often complementary and the best combined model performs close to a strong fully-supervised baseline. We open-source our toolkit, FewNLU, that implements our evaluation framework along with a number of state-of-the-art methods.

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ConditionalQA: A Complex Reading Comprehension Dataset with Conditional Answers
Haitian Sun | William Cohen | Ruslan Salakhutdinov
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

We describe a Question Answering (QA) dataset that contains complex questions with conditional answers, i.e. the answers are only applicable when certain conditions apply. We call this dataset ConditionalQA. In addition to conditional answers, the dataset also features:(1) long context documents with information that is related in logically complex ways;(2) multi-hop questions that require compositional logical reasoning;(3) a combination of extractive questions, yes/no questions, questions with multiple answers, and not-answerable questions;(4) questions asked without knowing the answers.We show that ConditionalQA is challenging for many of the existing QA models, especially in selecting answer conditions. We believe that this dataset will motivate further research in answering complex questions over long documents.

2021

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Proceedings of the Third Workshop on Multimodal Artificial Intelligence
Amir Zadeh | Louis-Philippe Morency | Paul Pu Liang | Candace Ross | Ruslan Salakhutdinov | Soujanya Poria | Erik Cambria | Kelly Shi
Proceedings of the Third Workshop on Multimodal Artificial Intelligence

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Learning Language and Multimodal Privacy-Preserving Markers of Mood from Mobile Data
Paul Pu Liang | Terrance Liu | Anna Cai | Michal Muszynski | Ryo Ishii | Nick Allen | Randy Auerbach | David Brent | Ruslan Salakhutdinov | Louis-Philippe Morency
Proceedings of the 59th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 11th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Mental health conditions remain underdiagnosed even in countries with common access to advanced medical care. The ability to accurately and efficiently predict mood from easily collectible data has several important implications for the early detection, intervention, and treatment of mental health disorders. One promising data source to help monitor human behavior is daily smartphone usage. However, care must be taken to summarize behaviors without identifying the user through personal (e.g., personally identifiable information) or protected (e.g., race, gender) attributes. In this paper, we study behavioral markers of daily mood using a recent dataset of mobile behaviors from adolescent populations at high risk of suicidal behaviors. Using computational models, we find that language and multimodal representations of mobile typed text (spanning typed characters, words, keystroke timings, and app usage) are predictive of daily mood. However, we find that models trained to predict mood often also capture private user identities in their intermediate representations. To tackle this problem, we evaluate approaches that obfuscate user identity while remaining predictive. By combining multimodal representations with privacy-preserving learning, we are able to push forward the performance-privacy frontier.

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StylePTB: A Compositional Benchmark for Fine-grained Controllable Text Style Transfer
Yiwei Lyu | Paul Pu Liang | Hai Pham | Eduard Hovy | Barnabás Póczos | Ruslan Salakhutdinov | Louis-Philippe Morency
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Text style transfer aims to controllably generate text with targeted stylistic changes while maintaining core meaning from the source sentence constant. Many of the existing style transfer benchmarks primarily focus on individual high-level semantic changes (e.g. positive to negative), which enable controllability at a high level but do not offer fine-grained control involving sentence structure, emphasis, and content of the sentence. In this paper, we introduce a large-scale benchmark, StylePTB, with (1) paired sentences undergoing 21 fine-grained stylistic changes spanning atomic lexical, syntactic, semantic, and thematic transfers of text, as well as (2) compositions of multiple transfers which allow modeling of fine-grained stylistic changes as building blocks for more complex, high-level transfers. By benchmarking existing methods on StylePTB, we find that they struggle to model fine-grained changes and have an even more difficult time composing multiple styles. As a result, StylePTB brings novel challenges that we hope will encourage future research in controllable text style transfer, compositional models, and learning disentangled representations. Solving these challenges would present important steps towards controllable text generation.

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Case Study: Deontological Ethics in NLP
Shrimai Prabhumoye | Brendon Boldt | Ruslan Salakhutdinov | Alan W Black
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Recent work in natural language processing (NLP) has focused on ethical challenges such as understanding and mitigating bias in data and algorithms; identifying objectionable content like hate speech, stereotypes and offensive language; and building frameworks for better system design and data handling practices. However, there has been little discussion about the ethical foundations that underlie these efforts. In this work, we study one ethical theory, namely deontological ethics, from the perspective of NLP. In particular, we focus on the generalization principle and the respect for autonomy through informed consent. We provide four case studies to demonstrate how these principles can be used with NLP systems. We also recommend directions to avoid the ethical issues in these systems.

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Focused Attention Improves Document-Grounded Generation
Shrimai Prabhumoye | Kazuma Hashimoto | Yingbo Zhou | Alan W Black | Ruslan Salakhutdinov
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Document grounded generation is the task of using the information provided in a document to improve text generation. This work focuses on two different document grounded generation tasks: Wikipedia Update Generation task and Dialogue response generation. Our work introduces two novel adaptations of large scale pre-trained encoder-decoder models focusing on building context driven representation of the document and enabling specific attention to the information in the document. Additionally, we provide a stronger BART baseline for these tasks. Our proposed techniques outperform existing methods on both automated (at least 48% increase in BLEU-4 points) and human evaluation for closeness to reference and relevance to the document. Furthermore, we perform comprehensive manual inspection of the generated output and categorize errors to provide insights into future directions in modeling these tasks.

2020

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Exploring Controllable Text Generation Techniques
Shrimai Prabhumoye | Alan W Black | Ruslan Salakhutdinov
Proceedings of the 28th International Conference on Computational Linguistics

Neural controllable text generation is an important area gaining attention due to its plethora of applications. Although there is a large body of prior work in controllable text generation, there is no unifying theme. In this work, we provide a new schema of the pipeline of the generation process by classifying it into five modules. The control of attributes in the generation process requires modification of these modules. We present an overview of different techniques used to perform the modulation of these modules. We also provide an analysis on the advantages and disadvantages of these techniques. We further pave ways to develop new architectures based on the combination of the modules described in this paper.

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Multimodal Routing: Improving Local and Global Interpretability of Multimodal Language Analysis
Yao-Hung Hubert Tsai | Martin Ma | Muqiao Yang | Ruslan Salakhutdinov | Louis-Philippe Morency
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

The human language can be expressed through multiple sources of information known as modalities, including tones of voice, facial gestures, and spoken language. Recent multimodal learning with strong performances on human-centric tasks such as sentiment analysis and emotion recognition are often black-box, with very limited interpretability. In this paper we propose, which dynamically adjusts weights between input modalities and output representations differently for each input sample. Multimodal routing can identify relative importance of both individual modalities and cross-modality factors. Moreover, the weight assignment by routing allows us to interpret modality-prediction relationships not only globally (i.e. general trends over the whole dataset), but also locally for each single input sample, meanwhile keeping competitive performance compared to state-of-the-art methods.

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Politeness Transfer: A Tag and Generate Approach
Aman Madaan | Amrith Setlur | Tanmay Parekh | Barnabas Poczos | Graham Neubig | Yiming Yang | Ruslan Salakhutdinov | Alan W Black | Shrimai Prabhumoye
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

This paper introduces a new task of politeness transfer which involves converting non-polite sentences to polite sentences while preserving the meaning. We also provide a dataset of more than 1.39 instances automatically labeled for politeness to encourage benchmark evaluations on this new task. We design a tag and generate pipeline that identifies stylistic attributes and subsequently generates a sentence in the target style while preserving most of the source content. For politeness as well as five other transfer tasks, our model outperforms the state-of-the-art methods on automatic metrics for content preservation, with a comparable or better performance on style transfer accuracy. Additionally, our model surpasses existing methods on human evaluations for grammaticality, meaning preservation and transfer accuracy across all the six style transfer tasks. The data and code is located at https://github.com/tag-and-generate.

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Topological Sort for Sentence Ordering
Shrimai Prabhumoye | Ruslan Salakhutdinov | Alan W Black
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Sentence ordering is the task of arranging the sentences of a given text in the correct order. Recent work using deep neural networks for this task has framed it as a sequence prediction problem. In this paper, we propose a new framing of this task as a constraint solving problem and introduce a new technique to solve it. Additionally, we propose a human evaluation for this task. The results on both automatic and human metrics across four different datasets show that this new technique is better at capturing coherence in documents.

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Towards Debiasing Sentence Representations
Paul Pu Liang | Irene Mengze Li | Emily Zheng | Yao Chong Lim | Ruslan Salakhutdinov | Louis-Philippe Morency
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

As natural language processing methods are increasingly deployed in real-world scenarios such as healthcare, legal systems, and social science, it becomes necessary to recognize the role they potentially play in shaping social biases and stereotypes. Previous work has revealed the presence of social biases in widely used word embeddings involving gender, race, religion, and other social constructs. While some methods were proposed to debias these word-level embeddings, there is a need to perform debiasing at the sentence-level given the recent shift towards new contextualized sentence representations such as ELMo and BERT. In this paper, we investigate the presence of social biases in sentence-level representations and propose a new method, Sent-Debias, to reduce these biases. We show that Sent-Debias is effective in removing biases, and at the same time, preserves performance on sentence-level downstream tasks such as sentiment analysis, linguistic acceptability, and natural language understanding. We hope that our work will inspire future research on characterizing and removing social biases from widely adopted sentence representations for fairer NLP.

2019

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Learning Representations from Imperfect Time Series Data via Tensor Rank Regularization
Paul Pu Liang | Zhun Liu | Yao-Hung Hubert Tsai | Qibin Zhao | Ruslan Salakhutdinov | Louis-Philippe Morency
Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

There has been an increased interest in multimodal language processing including multimodal dialog, question answering, sentiment analysis, and speech recognition. However, naturally occurring multimodal data is often imperfect as a result of imperfect modalities, missing entries or noise corruption. To address these concerns, we present a regularization method based on tensor rank minimization. Our method is based on the observation that high-dimensional multimodal time series data often exhibit correlations across time and modalities which leads to low-rank tensor representations. However, the presence of noise or incomplete values breaks these correlations and results in tensor representations of higher rank. We design a model to learn such tensor representations and effectively regularize their rank. Experiments on multimodal language data show that our model achieves good results across various levels of imperfection.

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Transformer-XL: Attentive Language Models beyond a Fixed-Length Context
Zihang Dai | Zhilin Yang | Yiming Yang | Jaime Carbonell | Quoc Le | Ruslan Salakhutdinov
Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Transformers have a potential of learning longer-term dependency, but are limited by a fixed-length context in the setting of language modeling. We propose a novel neural architecture Transformer-XL that enables learning dependency beyond a fixed length without disrupting temporal coherence. It consists of a segment-level recurrence mechanism and a novel positional encoding scheme. Our method not only enables capturing longer-term dependency, but also resolves the context fragmentation problem. As a result, Transformer-XL learns dependency that is 80% longer than RNNs and 450% longer than vanilla Transformers, achieves better performance on both short and long sequences, and is up to 1,800+ times faster than vanilla Transformers during evaluation. Notably, we improve the state-of-the-art results of bpc/perplexity to 0.99 on enwiki8, 1.08 on text8, 18.3 on WikiText-103, 21.8 on One Billion Word, and 54.5 on Penn Treebank (without finetuning). When trained only on WikiText-103, Transformer-XL manages to generate reasonably coherent, novel text articles with thousands of tokens. Our code, pretrained models, and hyperparameters are available in both Tensorflow and PyTorch.

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Multimodal Transformer for Unaligned Multimodal Language Sequences
Yao-Hung Hubert Tsai | Shaojie Bai | Paul Pu Liang | J. Zico Kolter | Louis-Philippe Morency | Ruslan Salakhutdinov
Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Human language is often multimodal, which comprehends a mixture of natural language, facial gestures, and acoustic behaviors. However, two major challenges in modeling such multimodal human language time-series data exist: 1) inherent data non-alignment due to variable sampling rates for the sequences from each modality; and 2) long-range dependencies between elements across modalities. In this paper, we introduce the Multimodal Transformer (MulT) to generically address the above issues in an end-to-end manner without explicitly aligning the data. At the heart of our model is the directional pairwise crossmodal attention, which attends to interactions between multimodal sequences across distinct time steps and latently adapt streams from one modality to another. Comprehensive experiments on both aligned and non-aligned multimodal time-series show that our model outperforms state-of-the-art methods by a large margin. In addition, empirical analysis suggests that correlated crossmodal signals are able to be captured by the proposed crossmodal attention mechanism in MulT.

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Transformer Dissection: An Unified Understanding for Transformer’s Attention via the Lens of Kernel
Yao-Hung Hubert Tsai | Shaojie Bai | Makoto Yamada | Louis-Philippe Morency | Ruslan Salakhutdinov
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing and the 9th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (EMNLP-IJCNLP)

Transformer is a powerful architecture that achieves superior performance on various sequence learning tasks, including neural machine translation, language understanding, and sequence prediction. At the core of the Transformer is the attention mechanism, which concurrently processes all inputs in the streams. In this paper, we present a new formulation of attention via the lens of the kernel. To be more precise, we realize that the attention can be seen as applying kernel smoother over the inputs with the kernel scores being the similarities between inputs. This new formulation gives us a better way to understand individual components of the Transformer’s attention, such as the better way to integrate the positional embedding. Another important advantage of our kernel-based formulation is that it paves the way to a larger space of composing Transformer’s attention. As an example, we propose a new variant of Transformer’s attention which models the input as a product of symmetric kernels. This approach achieves competitive performance to the current state of the art model with less computation. In our experiments, we empirically study different kernel construction strategies on two widely used tasks: neural machine translation and sequence prediction.

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“My Way of Telling a Story”: Persona based Grounded Story Generation
Khyathi Chandu | Shrimai Prabhumoye | Ruslan Salakhutdinov | Alan W Black
Proceedings of the Second Workshop on Storytelling

Visual storytelling is the task of generating stories based on a sequence of images. Inspired by the recent works in neural generation focusing on controlling the form of text, this paper explores the idea of generating these stories in different personas. However, one of the main challenges of performing this task is the lack of a dataset of visual stories in different personas. Having said that, there are independent datasets for both visual storytelling and annotated sentences for various persona. In this paper we describe an approach to overcome this by getting labelled persona data from a different task and leveraging those annotations to perform persona based story generation. We inspect various ways of incorporating personality in both the encoder and the decoder representations to steer the generation in the target direction. To this end, we propose five models which are incremental extensions to the baseline model to perform the task at hand. In our experiments we use five different personas to guide the generation process. We find that the models based on our hypotheses perform better at capturing words while generating stories in the target persona.

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Strong and Simple Baselines for Multimodal Utterance Embeddings
Paul Pu Liang | Yao Chong Lim | Yao-Hung Hubert Tsai | Ruslan Salakhutdinov | Louis-Philippe Morency
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies, Volume 1 (Long and Short Papers)

Human language is a rich multimodal signal consisting of spoken words, facial expressions, body gestures, and vocal intonations. Learning representations for these spoken utterances is a complex research problem due to the presence of multiple heterogeneous sources of information. Recent advances in multimodal learning have followed the general trend of building more complex models that utilize various attention, memory and recurrent components. In this paper, we propose two simple but strong baselines to learn embeddings of multimodal utterances. The first baseline assumes a conditional factorization of the utterance into unimodal factors. Each unimodal factor is modeled using the simple form of a likelihood function obtained via a linear transformation of the embedding. We show that the optimal embedding can be derived in closed form by taking a weighted average of the unimodal features. In order to capture richer representations, our second baseline extends the first by factorizing into unimodal, bimodal, and trimodal factors, while retaining simplicity and efficiency during learning and inference. From a set of experiments across two tasks, we show strong performance on both supervised and semi-supervised multimodal prediction, as well as significant (10 times) speedups over neural models during inference. Overall, we believe that our strong baseline models offer new benchmarking options for future research in multimodal learning.

2018

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Investigating the Working of Text Classifiers
Devendra Sachan | Manzil Zaheer | Ruslan Salakhutdinov
Proceedings of the 27th International Conference on Computational Linguistics

Text classification is one of the most widely studied tasks in natural language processing. Motivated by the principle of compositionality, large multilayer neural network models have been employed for this task in an attempt to effectively utilize the constituent expressions. Almost all of the reported work train large networks using discriminative approaches, which come with a caveat of no proper capacity control, as they tend to latch on to any signal that may not generalize. Using various recent state-of-the-art approaches for text classification, we explore whether these models actually learn to compose the meaning of the sentences or still just focus on some keywords or lexicons for classifying the document. To test our hypothesis, we carefully construct datasets where the training and test splits have no direct overlap of such lexicons, but overall language structure would be similar. We study various text classifiers and observe that there is a big performance drop on these datasets. Finally, we show that even simple models with our proposed regularization techniques, which disincentivize focusing on key lexicons, can substantially improve classification accuracy.

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HotpotQA: A Dataset for Diverse, Explainable Multi-hop Question Answering
Zhilin Yang | Peng Qi | Saizheng Zhang | Yoshua Bengio | William Cohen | Ruslan Salakhutdinov | Christopher D. Manning
Proceedings of the 2018 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Existing question answering (QA) datasets fail to train QA systems to perform complex reasoning and provide explanations for answers. We introduce HotpotQA, a new dataset with 113k Wikipedia-based question-answer pairs with four key features: (1) the questions require finding and reasoning over multiple supporting documents to answer; (2) the questions are diverse and not constrained to any pre-existing knowledge bases or knowledge schemas; (3) we provide sentence-level supporting facts required for reasoning, allowing QA systems to reason with strong supervision and explain the predictions; (4) we offer a new type of factoid comparison questions to test QA systems’ ability to extract relevant facts and perform necessary comparison. We show that HotpotQA is challenging for the latest QA systems, and the supporting facts enable models to improve performance and make explainable predictions.

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Open Domain Question Answering Using Early Fusion of Knowledge Bases and Text
Haitian Sun | Bhuwan Dhingra | Manzil Zaheer | Kathryn Mazaitis | Ruslan Salakhutdinov | William Cohen
Proceedings of the 2018 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Open Domain Question Answering (QA) is evolving from complex pipelined systems to end-to-end deep neural networks. Specialized neural models have been developed for extracting answers from either text alone or Knowledge Bases (KBs) alone. In this paper we look at a more practical setting, namely QA over the combination of a KB and entity-linked text, which is appropriate when an incomplete KB is available with a large text corpus. Building on recent advances in graph representation learning we propose a novel model, GRAFT-Net, for extracting answers from a question-specific subgraph containing text and KB entities and relations. We construct a suite of benchmark tasks for this problem, varying the difficulty of questions, the amount of training data, and KB completeness. We show that GRAFT-Net is competitive with the state-of-the-art when tested using either KBs or text alone, and vastly outperforms existing methods in the combined setting.

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Neural Models for Reasoning over Multiple Mentions Using Coreference
Bhuwan Dhingra | Qiao Jin | Zhilin Yang | William Cohen | Ruslan Salakhutdinov
Proceedings of the 2018 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies, Volume 2 (Short Papers)

Many problems in NLP require aggregating information from multiple mentions of the same entity which may be far apart in the text. Existing Recurrent Neural Network (RNN) layers are biased towards short-term dependencies and hence not suited to such tasks. We present a recurrent layer which is instead biased towards coreferent dependencies. The layer uses coreference annotations extracted from an external system to connect entity mentions belonging to the same cluster. Incorporating this layer into a state-of-the-art reading comprehension model improves performance on three datasets – Wikihop, LAMBADA and the bAbi AI tasks – with large gains when training data is scarce.

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Style Transfer Through Back-Translation
Shrimai Prabhumoye | Yulia Tsvetkov | Ruslan Salakhutdinov | Alan W Black
Proceedings of the 56th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Style transfer is the task of rephrasing the text to contain specific stylistic properties without changing the intent or affect within the context. This paper introduces a new method for automatic style transfer. We first learn a latent representation of the input sentence which is grounded in a language translation model in order to better preserve the meaning of the sentence while reducing stylistic properties. Then adversarial generation techniques are used to make the output match the desired style. We evaluate this technique on three different style transformations: sentiment, gender and political slant. Compared to two state-of-the-art style transfer modeling techniques we show improvements both in automatic evaluation of style transfer and in manual evaluation of meaning preservation and fluency.

2017

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Semi-Supervised QA with Generative Domain-Adaptive Nets
Zhilin Yang | Junjie Hu | Ruslan Salakhutdinov | William Cohen
Proceedings of the 55th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

We study the problem of semi-supervised question answering—utilizing unlabeled text to boost the performance of question answering models. We propose a novel training framework, the Generative Domain-Adaptive Nets. In this framework, we train a generative model to generate questions based on the unlabeled text, and combine model-generated questions with human-generated questions for training question answering models. We develop novel domain adaptation algorithms, based on reinforcement learning, to alleviate the discrepancy between the model-generated data distribution and the human-generated data distribution. Experiments show that our proposed framework obtains substantial improvement from unlabeled text.

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Gated-Attention Readers for Text Comprehension
Bhuwan Dhingra | Hanxiao Liu | Zhilin Yang | William Cohen | Ruslan Salakhutdinov
Proceedings of the 55th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

In this paper we study the problem of answering cloze-style questions over documents. Our model, the Gated-Attention (GA) Reader, integrates a multi-hop architecture with a novel attention mechanism, which is based on multiplicative interactions between the query embedding and the intermediate states of a recurrent neural network document reader. This enables the reader to build query-specific representations of tokens in the document for accurate answer selection. The GA Reader obtains state-of-the-art results on three benchmarks for this task–the CNN & Daily Mail news stories and the Who Did What dataset. The effectiveness of multiplicative interaction is demonstrated by an ablation study, and by comparing to alternative compositional operators for implementing the gated-attention.

2016

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Deep Neural Networks with Massive Learned Knowledge
Zhiting Hu | Zichao Yang | Ruslan Salakhutdinov | Eric Xing
Proceedings of the 2016 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing