Sarthak Jain


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Combining Feature and Instance Attribution to Detect Artifacts
Pouya Pezeshkpour | Sarthak Jain | Sameer Singh | Byron Wallace
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2022

Training the deep neural networks that dominate NLP requires large datasets. These are often collected automatically or via crowdsourcing, and may exhibit systematic biases or annotation artifacts. By the latter we mean spurious correlations between inputs and outputs that do not represent a generally held causal relationship between features and classes; models that exploit such correlations may appear to perform a given task well, but fail on out of sample data. In this paper, we evaluate use of different attribution methods for aiding identification of training data artifacts. We propose new hybrid approaches that combine saliency maps (which highlight important input features) with instance attribution methods (which retrieve training samples influential to a given prediction). We show that this proposed training-feature attribution can be used to efficiently uncover artifacts in training data when a challenging validation set is available. We also carry out a small user study to evaluate whether these methods are useful to NLP researchers in practice, with promising results. We make code for all methods and experiments in this paper available.


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Modular Self-Supervision for Document-Level Relation Extraction
Sheng Zhang | Cliff Wong | Naoto Usuyama | Sarthak Jain | Tristan Naumann | Hoifung Poon
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Extracting relations across large text spans has been relatively underexplored in NLP, but it is particularly important for high-value domains such as biomedicine, where obtaining high recall of the latest findings is crucial for practical applications. Compared to conventional information extraction confined to short text spans, document-level relation extraction faces additional challenges in both inference and learning. Given longer text spans, state-of-the-art neural architectures are less effective and task-specific self-supervision such as distant supervision becomes very noisy. In this paper, we propose decomposing document-level relation extraction into relation detection and argument resolution, taking inspiration from Davidsonian semantics. This enables us to incorporate explicit discourse modeling and leverage modular self-supervision for each sub-problem, which is less noise-prone and can be further refined end-to-end via variational EM. We conduct a thorough evaluation in biomedical machine reading for precision oncology, where cross-paragraph relation mentions are prevalent. Our method outperforms prior state of the art, such as multi-scale learning and graph neural networks, by over 20 absolute F1 points. The gain is particularly pronounced among the most challenging relation instances whose arguments never co-occur in a paragraph.

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Does BERT Pretrained on Clinical Notes Reveal Sensitive Data?
Eric Lehman | Sarthak Jain | Karl Pichotta | Yoav Goldberg | Byron Wallace
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Large Transformers pretrained over clinical notes from Electronic Health Records (EHR) have afforded substantial gains in performance on predictive clinical tasks. The cost of training such models (and the necessity of data access to do so) coupled with their utility motivates parameter sharing, i.e., the release of pretrained models such as ClinicalBERT. While most efforts have used deidentified EHR, many researchers have access to large sets of sensitive, non-deidentified EHR with which they might train a BERT model (or similar). Would it be safe to release the weights of such a model if they did? In this work, we design a battery of approaches intended to recover Personal Health Information (PHI) from a trained BERT. Specifically, we attempt to recover patient names and conditions with which they are associated. We find that simple probing methods are not able to meaningfully extract sensitive information from BERT trained over the MIMIC-III corpus of EHR. However, more sophisticated “attacks” may succeed in doing so: To facilitate such research, we make our experimental setup and baseline probing models available at

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An Empirical Comparison of Instance Attribution Methods for NLP
Pouya Pezeshkpour | Sarthak Jain | Byron Wallace | Sameer Singh
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Widespread adoption of deep models has motivated a pressing need for approaches to interpret network outputs and to facilitate model debugging. Instance attribution methods constitute one means of accomplishing these goals by retrieving training instances that (may have) led to a particular prediction. Influence functions (IF; Koh and Liang 2017) provide machinery for doing this by quantifying the effect that perturbing individual train instances would have on a specific test prediction. However, even approximating the IF is computationally expensive, to the degree that may be prohibitive in many cases. Might simpler approaches (e.g., retrieving train examples most similar to a given test point) perform comparably? In this work, we evaluate the degree to which different potential instance attribution agree with respect to the importance of training samples. We find that simple retrieval methods yield training instances that differ from those identified via gradient-based methods (such as IFs), but that nonetheless exhibit desirable characteristics similar to more complex attribution methods. Code for all methods and experiments in this paper is available at:


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ERASER: A Benchmark to Evaluate Rationalized NLP Models
Jay DeYoung | Sarthak Jain | Nazneen Fatema Rajani | Eric Lehman | Caiming Xiong | Richard Socher | Byron C. Wallace
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

State-of-the-art models in NLP are now predominantly based on deep neural networks that are opaque in terms of how they come to make predictions. This limitation has increased interest in designing more interpretable deep models for NLP that reveal the ‘reasoning’ behind model outputs. But work in this direction has been conducted on different datasets and tasks with correspondingly unique aims and metrics; this makes it difficult to track progress. We propose the Evaluating Rationales And Simple English Reasoning (ERASER a benchmark to advance research on interpretable models in NLP. This benchmark comprises multiple datasets and tasks for which human annotations of “rationales” (supporting evidence) have been collected. We propose several metrics that aim to capture how well the rationales provided by models align with human rationales, and also how faithful these rationales are (i.e., the degree to which provided rationales influenced the corresponding predictions). Our hope is that releasing this benchmark facilitates progress on designing more interpretable NLP systems. The benchmark, code, and documentation are available at

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Learning to Faithfully Rationalize by Construction
Sarthak Jain | Sarah Wiegreffe | Yuval Pinter | Byron C. Wallace
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

In many settings it is important for one to be able to understand why a model made a particular prediction. In NLP this often entails extracting snippets of an input text ‘responsible for’ corresponding model output; when such a snippet comprises tokens that indeed informed the model’s prediction, it is a faithful explanation. In some settings, faithfulness may be critical to ensure transparency. Lei et al. (2016) proposed a model to produce faithful rationales for neural text classification by defining independent snippet extraction and prediction modules. However, the discrete selection over input tokens performed by this method complicates training, leading to high variance and requiring careful hyperparameter tuning. We propose a simpler variant of this approach that provides faithful explanations by construction. In our scheme, named FRESH, arbitrary feature importance scores (e.g., gradients from a trained model) are used to induce binary labels over token inputs, which an extractor can be trained to predict. An independent classifier module is then trained exclusively on snippets provided by the extractor; these snippets thus constitute faithful explanations, even if the classifier is arbitrarily complex. In both automatic and manual evaluations we find that variants of this simple framework yield predictive performance superior to ‘end-to-end’ approaches, while being more general and easier to train. Code is available at

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SciREX: A Challenge Dataset for Document-Level Information Extraction
Sarthak Jain | Madeleine van Zuylen | Hannaneh Hajishirzi | Iz Beltagy
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Extracting information from full documents is an important problem in many domains, but most previous work focus on identifying relationships within a sentence or a paragraph. It is challenging to create a large-scale information extraction (IE) dataset at the document level since it requires an understanding of the whole document to annotate entities and their document-level relationships that usually span beyond sentences or even sections. In this paper, we introduce SciREX, a document level IE dataset that encompasses multiple IE tasks, including salient entity identification and document level N-ary relation identification from scientific articles. We annotate our dataset by integrating automatic and human annotations, leveraging existing scientific knowledge resources. We develop a neural model as a strong baseline that extends previous state-of-the-art IE models to document-level IE. Analyzing the model performance shows a significant gap between human performance and current baselines, inviting the community to use our dataset as a challenge to develop document-level IE models. Our data and code are publicly available at .

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SUPP.AI: finding evidence for supplement-drug interactions
Lucy Wang | Oyvind Tafjord | Arman Cohan | Sarthak Jain | Sam Skjonsberg | Carissa Schoenick | Nick Botner | Waleed Ammar
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics: System Demonstrations

Dietary supplements are used by a large portion of the population, but information on their pharmacologic interactions is incomplete. To address this challenge, we present SUPP.AI, an application for browsing evidence of supplement-drug interactions (SDIs) extracted from the biomedical literature. We train a model to automatically extract supplement information and identify such interactions from the scientific literature. To address the lack of labeled data for SDI identification, we use labels of the closely related task of identifying drug-drug interactions (DDIs) for supervision. We fine-tune the contextualized word representations of the RoBERTa language model using labeled DDI data, and apply the fine-tuned model to identify supplement interactions. We extract 195k evidence sentences from 22M articles (P=0.82, R=0.58, F1=0.68) for 60k interactions. We create the SUPP.AI application for users to search evidence sentences extracted by our model. SUPP.AI is an attempt to close the information gap on dietary supplements by making up-to-date evidence on SDIs more discoverable for researchers, clinicians, and consumers. An informational video on how to use SUPP.AI is available at:


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An Analysis of Attention over Clinical Notes for Predictive Tasks
Sarthak Jain | Ramin Mohammadi | Byron C. Wallace
Proceedings of the 2nd Clinical Natural Language Processing Workshop

The shift to electronic medical records (EMRs) has engendered research into machine learning and natural language technologies to analyze patient records, and to predict from these clinical outcomes of interest. Two observations motivate our aims here. First, unstructured notes contained within EMR often contain key information, and hence should be exploited by models. Second, while strong predictive performance is important, interpretability of models is perhaps equally so for applications in this domain. Together, these points suggest that neural models for EMR may benefit from incorporation of attention over notes, which one may hope will both yield performance gains and afford transparency in predictions. In this work we perform experiments to explore this question using two EMR corpora and four different predictive tasks, that: (i) inclusion of attention mechanisms is critical for neural encoder modules that operate over notes fields in order to yield competitive performance, but, (ii) unfortunately, while these boost predictive performance, it is decidedly less clear whether they provide meaningful support for predictions.

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Attention is not Explanation
Sarthak Jain | Byron C. Wallace
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)

Attention mechanisms have seen wide adoption in neural NLP models. In addition to improving predictive performance, these are often touted as affording transparency: models equipped with attention provide a distribution over attended-to input units, and this is often presented (at least implicitly) as communicating the relative importance of inputs. However, it is unclear what relationship exists between attention weights and model outputs. In this work we perform extensive experiments across a variety of NLP tasks that aim to assess the degree to which attention weights provide meaningful “explanations” for predictions. We find that they largely do not. For example, learned attention weights are frequently uncorrelated with gradient-based measures of feature importance, and one can identify very different attention distributions that nonetheless yield equivalent predictions. Our findings show that standard attention modules do not provide meaningful explanations and should not be treated as though they do.


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Learning Disentangled Representations of Texts with Application to Biomedical Abstracts
Sarthak Jain | Edward Banner | Jan-Willem van de Meent | Iain J. Marshall | Byron C. Wallace
Proceedings of the 2018 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

We propose a method for learning disentangled representations of texts that code for distinct and complementary aspects, with the aim of affording efficient model transfer and interpretability. To induce disentangled embeddings, we propose an adversarial objective based on the (dis)similarity between triplets of documents with respect to specific aspects. Our motivating application is embedding biomedical abstracts describing clinical trials in a manner that disentangles the populations, interventions, and outcomes in a given trial. We show that our method learns representations that encode these clinically salient aspects, and that these can be effectively used to perform aspect-specific retrieval. We demonstrate that the approach generalizes beyond our motivating application in experiments on two multi-aspect review corpora.


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Question Answering over Knowledge Base using Factual Memory Networks
Sarthak Jain
Proceedings of the NAACL Student Research Workshop


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Cross Lingual Sentiment Analysis using Modified BRAE
Sarthak Jain | Shashank Batra
Proceedings of the 2015 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing