Real-world natural language processing (NLP) models need to be continually updated to fix the prediction errors in out-of-distribution (OOD) data streams while overcoming catastrophic forgetting. However, existing continual learning (CL) problem setups cannot cover such a realistic and complex scenario. In response to this, we propose a new CL problem formulation dubbed continual model refinement (CMR). Compared to prior CL settings, CMR is more practical and introduces unique challenges (boundary-agnostic and non-stationary distribution shift, diverse mixtures of multiple OOD data clusters, error-centric streams, etc.). We extend several existing CL approaches to the CMR setting and evaluate them extensively. For benchmarking and analysis, we propose a general sampling algorithm to obtain dynamic OOD data streams with controllable non-stationarity, as well as a suite of metrics measuring various aspects of online performance. Our experiments and detailed analysis reveal the promise and challenges of the CMR problem, supporting that studying CMR in dynamic OOD streams can benefit the longevity of deployed NLP models in production.
Recent parameter-efficient language model tuning (PELT) methods manage to match the performance of fine-tuning with much fewer trainable parameters and perform especially well when training data is limited. However, different PELT methods may perform rather differently on the same task, making it nontrivial to select the most appropriate method for a specific task, especially considering the fast-growing number of new PELT methods and tasks. In light of model diversity and the difficulty of model selection, we propose a unified framework, UniPELT, which incorporates different PELT methods as submodules and learns to activate the ones that best suit the current data or task setup via gating mechanism. On the GLUE benchmark, UniPELT consistently achieves 1 4% gains compared to the best individual PELT method that it incorporates and even outperforms fine-tuning under different setups. Moreover, UniPELT generally surpasses the upper bound that takes the best performance of all its submodules used individually on each task, indicating that a mixture of multiple PELT methods may be inherently more effective than single methods.
Natural language (NL) explanations of model predictions are gaining popularity as a means to understand and verify decisions made by large black-box pre-trained models, for tasks such as Question Answering (QA) and Fact Verification. Recently, pre-trained sequence to sequence (seq2seq) models have proven to be very effective in jointly making predictions, as well as generating NL explanations. However, these models have many shortcomings; they can fabricate explanations even for incorrect predictions, they are difficult to adapt to long input documents, and their training requires a large amount of labeled data. In this paper, we develop FiD-Ex, which addresses these shortcomings for seq2seq models by: 1) introducing sentence markers to eliminate explanation fabrication by encouraging extractive generation, 2) using the fusion-in-decoder architecture to handle long input contexts, and 3) intermediate fine-tuning on re-structured open domain QA datasets to improve few-shot performance. FiD-Ex significantly improves over prior work in terms of explanation metrics and task accuracy on five tasks from the ERASER explainability benchmark in both fully supervised and few-shot settings.