Sameen Maruf


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Turning Flowchart into Dialog: Augmenting Flowchart-grounded Troubleshooting Dialogs via Synthetic Data Generation
Haolan Zhan | Sameen Maruf | Lizhen Qu | Yufei Wang | Ingrid Zukerman | Gholamreza Haffari
Proceedings of the 21st Annual Workshop of the Australasian Language Technology Association

Flowchart-grounded troubleshooting dialogue (FTD) systems, which follow the instructions of a flowchart to diagnose users’ problems in specific domains (e.g., vehicle, laptop), have been gaining research interest in recent years. However, collecting sufficient dialogues that are naturally grounded on flowcharts is costly, thus FTD systems are impeded by scarce training data. To mitigate the data sparsity issue, we propose a plan-based synthetic data generation (PlanSDG) approach that generates diverse synthetic dialog data at scale by transforming concise flowchart into dialogues. Specifically, its generative model employs a variational-base framework with a hierarchical planning strategy that includes global and local latent planning variables. Experiments on the FloDial dataset show that synthetic dialogue produced by PlanSDG improves the performance of downstream tasks, including flowchart path retrieval and response generation, in particular on the Out-of-Flowchart settings. In addition, further analysis demonstrate the quality of synthetic data generated by PlanSDG in paths that are covered by current sample dialogues and paths that are not covered.


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Explaining Decision-Tree Predictions by Addressing Potential Conflicts between Predictions and Plausible Expectations
Sameen Maruf | Ingrid Zukerman | Ehud Reiter | Gholamreza Haffari
Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Natural Language Generation

We offer an approach to explain Decision Tree (DT) predictions by addressing potential conflicts between aspects of these predictions and plausible expectations licensed by background information. We define four types of conflicts, operationalize their identification, and specify explanatory schemas that address them. Our human evaluation focused on the effect of explanations on users’ understanding of a DT’s reasoning and their willingness to act on its predictions. The results show that (1) explanations that address potential conflicts are considered at least as good as baseline explanations that just follow a DT path; and (2) the conflict-based explanations are deemed especially valuable when users’ expectations disagree with the DT’s predictions.

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Lifelong Explainer for Lifelong Learners
Xuelin Situ | Sameen Maruf | Ingrid Zukerman | Cecile Paris | Gholamreza Haffari
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Lifelong Learning (LL) black-box models are dynamic in that they keep learning from new tasks and constantly update their parameters. Owing to the need to utilize information from previously seen tasks, and capture commonalities in potentially diverse data, it is hard for automatic explanation methods to explain the outcomes of these models. In addition, existing explanation methods, e.g., LIME, which are computationally expensive when explaining a static black-box model, are even more inefficient in the LL setting. In this paper, we propose a novel Lifelong Explanation (LLE) approach that continuously trains a student explainer under the supervision of a teacher – an arbitrary explanation algorithm – on different tasks undertaken in LL. We also leverage the Experience Replay (ER) mechanism to prevent catastrophic forgetting in the student explainer. Our experiments comparing LLE to three baselines on text classification tasks show that LLE can enhance the stability of the explanations for all seen tasks and maintain the same level of faithfulness to the black-box model as the teacher, while being up to 10ˆ2 times faster at test time. Our ablation study shows that the ER mechanism in our LLE approach enhances the learning capabilities of the student explainer. Our code is available at

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Learning to Explain: Generating Stable Explanations Fast
Xuelin Situ | Ingrid Zukerman | Cecile Paris | Sameen Maruf | Gholamreza Haffari
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)

The importance of explaining the outcome of a machine learning model, especially a black-box model, is widely acknowledged. Recent approaches explain an outcome by identifying the contributions of input features to this outcome. In environments involving large black-box models or complex inputs, this leads to computationally demanding algorithms. Further, these algorithms often suffer from low stability, with explanations varying significantly across similar examples. In this paper, we propose a Learning to Explain (L2E) approach that learns the behaviour of an underlying explanation algorithm simultaneously from all training examples. Once the explanation algorithm is distilled into an explainer network, it can be used to explain new instances. Our experiments on three classification tasks, which compare our approach to six explanation algorithms, show that L2E is between 5 and 7.5×10ˆ4 times faster than these algorithms, while generating more stable explanations, and having comparable faithfulness to the black-box model.


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Contextual Neural Machine Translation Improves Translation of Cataphoric Pronouns
KayYen Wong | Sameen Maruf | Gholamreza Haffari
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

The advent of context-aware NMT has resulted in promising improvements in the overall translation quality and specifically in the translation of discourse phenomena such as pronouns. Previous works have mainly focused on the use of past sentences as context with a focus on anaphora translation. In this work, we investigate the effect of future sentences as context by comparing the performance of a contextual NMT model trained with the future context to the one trained with the past context. Our experiments and evaluation, using generic and pronoun-focused automatic metrics, show that the use of future context not only achieves significant improvements over the context-agnostic Transformer, but also demonstrates comparable and in some cases improved performance over its counterpart trained on past context. We also perform an evaluation on a targeted cataphora test suite and report significant gains over the context-agnostic Transformer in terms of BLEU.

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Findings of the WMT 2020 Shared Task on Chat Translation
M. Amin Farajian | António V. Lopes | André F. T. Martins | Sameen Maruf | Gholamreza Haffari
Proceedings of the Fifth Conference on Machine Translation

We report the results of the first edition of the WMT shared task on chat translation. The task consisted of translating bilingual conversational text, in particular customer support chats for the English-German language pair (English agent, German customer). This task varies from the other translation shared tasks, i.e. news and biomedical, mainly due to the fact that the conversations are bilingual, less planned, more informal, and often ungrammatical. Furthermore, such conversations are usually characterized by shorter and simpler sentences and contain more pronouns. We received 14 submissions from 6 participating teams, all of them covering both directions, i.e. En->De for agent utterances and De->En for customer messages. We used automatic metrics (BLEU and TER) for evaluating the translations of both agent and customer messages and human document-level direct assessments (DDA) to evaluate the agent translations.


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Monash University’s Submissions to the WNGT 2019 Document Translation Task
Sameen Maruf | Gholamreza Haffari
Proceedings of the 3rd Workshop on Neural Generation and Translation

We describe the work of Monash University for the shared task of Rotowire document translation organised by the 3rd Workshop on Neural Generation and Translation (WNGT 2019). We submitted systems for both directions of the English-German language pair. Our main focus is on employing an established document-level neural machine translation model for this task. We achieve a BLEU score of 39.83 (41.46 BLEU per WNGT evaluation) for En-De and 45.06 (47.39 BLEU per WNGT evaluation) for De-En translation directions on the Rotowire test set. All experiments conducted in the process are also described.

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Selective Attention for Context-aware Neural Machine Translation
Sameen Maruf | André F. T. Martins | Gholamreza Haffari
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)

Despite the progress made in sentence-level NMT, current systems still fall short at achieving fluent, good quality translation for a full document. Recent works in context-aware NMT consider only a few previous sentences as context and may not scale to entire documents. To this end, we propose a novel and scalable top-down approach to hierarchical attention for context-aware NMT which uses sparse attention to selectively focus on relevant sentences in the document context and then attends to key words in those sentences. We also propose single-level attention approaches based on sentence or word-level information in the context. The document-level context representation, produced from these attention modules, is integrated into the encoder or decoder of the Transformer model depending on whether we use monolingual or bilingual context. Our experiments and evaluation on English-German datasets in different document MT settings show that our selective attention approach not only significantly outperforms context-agnostic baselines but also surpasses context-aware baselines in most cases.


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Document Context Neural Machine Translation with Memory Networks
Sameen Maruf | Gholamreza Haffari
Proceedings of the 56th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

We present a document-level neural machine translation model which takes both source and target document context into account using memory networks. We model the problem as a structured prediction problem with interdependencies among the observed and hidden variables, i.e., the source sentences and their unobserved target translations in the document. The resulting structured prediction problem is tackled with a neural translation model equipped with two memory components, one each for the source and target side, to capture the documental interdependencies. We train the model end-to-end, and propose an iterative decoding algorithm based on block coordinate descent. Experimental results of English translations from French, German, and Estonian documents show that our model is effective in exploiting both source and target document context, and statistically significantly outperforms the previous work in terms of BLEU and METEOR.

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Contextual Neural Model for Translating Bilingual Multi-Speaker Conversations
Sameen Maruf | André F. T. Martins | Gholamreza Haffari
Proceedings of the Third Conference on Machine Translation: Research Papers

Recent works in neural machine translation have begun to explore document translation. However, translating online multi-speaker conversations is still an open problem. In this work, we propose the task of translating Bilingual Multi-Speaker Conversations, and explore neural architectures which exploit both source and target-side conversation histories for this task. To initiate an evaluation for this task, we introduce datasets extracted from Europarl v7 and OpenSubtitles2016. Our experiments on four language-pairs confirm the significance of leveraging conversation history, both in terms of BLEU and manual evaluation.