Table Question Answering (Table QA) systems have been shown to be highly accurate when trained and tested on open-domain datasets built on top of Wikipedia tables. However, it is not clear whether their performance remains the same when applied to domain-specific scientific and business documents, encountered in industrial settings, which exhibit some unique characteristics: (a) they contain tables with a much more complex layout than Wikipedia tables (including hierarchical row and column headers), (b) they contain domain-specific terms, and (c) they are typically not accompanied by domain-specific labeled data that can be used to train Table QA models.To understand the performance of Table QA approaches in this setting, we introduce AIT-QA; a domain-specific Table QA test dataset. While focusing on the airline industry, AIT-QA reflects the challenges that domain-specific documents pose to Table QA, outlined above. In this work, we describe the creation of the dataset and report zero-shot experimental results of three SOTA Table QA methods. The results clearly expose the limitations of current methods with a best accuracy of just 51.8%. We also present pragmatic table pre-processing steps to pivot and project complex tables into a layout suitable for the SOTA Table QA models. Finally, we provide data-driven insights on how different aspects of this setting (including hierarchical headers, domain-specific terminology, and paraphrasing) affect Table QA methods, in order to help the community develop improved methods for domain-specific Table QA.
Weakly-supervised table question-answering (TableQA) models have achieved state-of-art performance by using pre-trained BERT transformer to jointly encoding a question and a table to produce structured query for the question. However, in practical settings TableQA systems are deployed over table corpora having topic and word distributions quite distinct from BERT’s pretraining corpus. In this work we simulate the practical topic shift scenario by designing novel challenge benchmarks WikiSQL-TS and WikiTable-TS, consisting of train-dev-test splits in five distinct topic groups, based on the popular WikiSQL and WikiTable-Questions datasets. We empirically show that, despite pre-training on large open-domain text, performance of models degrades significantly when they are evaluated on unseen topics. In response, we propose T3QA (Topic Transferable Table Question Answering) a pragmatic adaptation framework for TableQA comprising of: (1) topic-specific vocabulary injection into BERT, (2) a novel text-to-text transformer generator (such as T5, GPT2) based natural language question generation pipeline focused on generating topic-specific training data, and (3) a logical form re-ranker. We show that T3QA provides a reasonably good baseline for our topic shift benchmarks. We believe our topic split benchmarks will lead to robust TableQA solutions that are better suited for practical deployment
We explore the impact of leveraging the relatedness of languages that belong to the same family in NLP models using multilingual fine-tuning. We hypothesize and validate that multilingual fine-tuning of pre-trained language models can yield better performance on downstream NLP applications, compared to models fine-tuned on individual languages. A first of its kind detailed study is presented to track performance change as languages are added to a base language in a graded and greedy (in the sense of best boost of performance) manner; which reveals that careful selection of subset of related languages can significantly improve performance than utilizing all related languages. The Indo-Aryan (IA) language family is chosen for the study, the exact languages being Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Marathi, Oriya, Punjabi and Urdu. The script barrier is crossed by simple rule-based transliteration of the text of all languages to Devanagari. Experiments are performed on mBERT, IndicBERT, MuRIL and two RoBERTa-based LMs, the last two being pre-trained by us. Low resource languages, such as Oriya and Punjabi, are found to be the largest beneficiaries of multilingual fine-tuning. Textual Entailment, Entity Classification, Section Title Prediction, tasks of IndicGLUE and POS tagging form our test bed. Compared to monolingual fine tuning we get relative performance improvement of up to 150% in the downstream tasks. The surprise take-away is that for any language there is a particular combination of other languages which yields the best performance, and any additional language is in fact detrimental.
Spoken language is different from the written language in its style and structure. Disfluencies that appear in transcriptions from speech recognition systems generally hamper the performance of downstream NLP tasks. Thus, a disfluency correction system that converts disfluent to fluent text is of great value. This paper introduces a disfluency correction model that translates disfluent to fluent text by drawing inspiration from recent encoder-decoder unsupervised style-transfer models for text. We also show considerable benefits in performance when utilizing a small sample of 500 parallel disfluent-fluent sentences in a semi-supervised way. Our unsupervised approach achieves a BLEU score of 79.39 on the Switchboard corpus test set, with further improvement to a BLEU score of 85.28 with semi-supervision. Both are comparable to two competitive fully-supervised models.
Transformer based architectures are recently used for the task of answering questions over tables. In order to improve the accuracy on this task, specialized pre-training techniques have been developed and applied on millions of open-domain web tables. In this paper, we propose two novel approaches demonstrating that one can achieve superior performance on table QA task without even using any of these specialized pre-training techniques. The first model, called RCI interaction, leverages a transformer based architecture that independently classifies rows and columns to identify relevant cells. While this model yields extremely high accuracy at finding cell values on recent benchmarks, a second model we propose, called RCI representation, provides a significant efficiency advantage for online QA systems over tables by materializing embeddings for existing tables. Experiments on recent benchmarks prove that the proposed methods can effectively locate cell values on tables (up to ~98% Hit@1 accuracy on WikiSQL lookup questions). Also, the interaction model outperforms the state-of-the-art transformer based approaches, pre-trained on very large table corpora (TAPAS and TaBERT), achieving ~3.4% and ~18.86% additional precision improvement on the standard WikiSQL benchmark.