Shaoliang Nie


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MUSTIE: Multimodal Structural Transformer for Web Information Extraction
Qifan Wang | Jingang Wang | Xiaojun Quan | Fuli Feng | Zenglin Xu | Shaoliang Nie | Sinong Wang | Madian Khabsa | Hamed Firooz | Dongfang Liu
Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

The task of web information extraction is to extract target fields of an object from web pages, such as extracting the name, genre and actor from a movie page. Recent sequential modeling approaches have achieved state-of-the-art results on web information extraction. However, most of these methods only focus on extracting information from textual sources while ignoring the rich information from other modalities such as image and web layout. In this work, we propose a novel MUltimodal Structural Transformer (MUST) that incorporates multiple modalities for web information extraction. Concretely, we develop a structural encoder that jointly encodes the multimodal information based on the HTML structure of the web layout, where high-level DOM nodes, and low-level text and image tokens are introduced to represent the entire page. Structural attention patterns are designed to learn effective cross-modal embeddings for all DOM nodes and low-level tokens. An extensive set of experiments are conducted on WebSRC and Common Crawl benchmarks. Experimental results demonstrate the superior performance of MUST over several state-of-the-art baselines.

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Are Machine Rationales (Not) Useful to Humans? Measuring and Improving Human Utility of Free-text Rationales
Brihi Joshi | Ziyi Liu | Sahana Ramnath | Aaron Chan | Zhewei Tong | Shaoliang Nie | Qifan Wang | Yejin Choi | Xiang Ren
Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Among the remarkable emergent capabilities of large language models (LMs) is free-text rationalization; beyond certain scale, large LMs are capable of generating seemingly useful rationalizations, which in turn, can dramatically enhance their performances on leaderboards. This phenomenon raises a question: can machine generated rationales also be useful for humans, especially when lay humans try to answer questions based on those machine rationales? We observe that human utility of existing rationales is far from satisfactory and expensive to estimate with human studies. Existing metrics like task performance of the LM generating the rationales or similarity between generated and gold rationales are not good indicators of their human utility. While we observe that certain properties of rationales like conciseness and novelty are correlated with their human utility, estimating them without human involvement is challenging. We show that, by estimating a rationale’s helpfulness in answering similar unseen instances, we can measure its human utility to a better extent. We also translate this finding into an automated score, Gen-U, that we propose, which can help improve LMs’ ability to generate rationales with better human utility, while maintaining most of its task performance. Lastly, we release all code and collected data with this project.

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Generating Hashtags for Short-form Videos with Guided Signals
Tiezheng Yu | Hanchao Yu | Davis Liang | Yuning Mao | Shaoliang Nie | Po-Yao Huang | Madian Khabsa | Pascale Fung | Yi-Chia Wang
Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Short-form video hashtag recommendation (SVHR) aims to recommend hashtags to content creators from videos and corresponding descriptions. Most prior studies regard SVHR as a classification or ranking problem and select hashtags from a set of limited candidates. However, in reality, users can create new hashtags, and trending hashtags change rapidly over time on social media. Both of these properties cannot be easily modeled with classification approaches. To bridge this gap, we formulate SVHR as a generation task that better represents how hashtags are created naturally. Additionally, we propose the Guided Generative Model (GGM) where we augment the input features by retrieving relevant hashtags from a large-scale hashtag pool as extra guidance signals. Experimental results on two short-form video datasets show that our generative models outperform strong classification baselines, and the guidance signals further boost the performance by 8.11 and 2.17 absolute ROUGE-1 scores on average, respectively. We also perform extensive analyses including human evaluation, demonstrating that our generative model can create meaningful and relevant novel hashtags while achieving state-of-the-art performance on known hashtags


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UNIREX: A Unified Learning Framework for Language Model Rationale Extraction
Aaron Chan | Maziar Sanjabi | Lambert Mathias | Liang Tan | Shaoliang Nie | Xiaochang Peng | Xiang Ren | Hamed Firooz
Proceedings of BigScience Episode #5 -- Workshop on Challenges & Perspectives in Creating Large Language Models

An extractive rationale explains a language model’s (LM’s) prediction on a given task instance by highlighting the text inputs that most influenced the prediction. Ideally, rationale extraction should be faithful (reflective of LM’s actual behavior) and plausible (convincing to humans), without compromising the LM’s (i.e., task model’s) task performance. Although attribution algorithms and select-predict pipelines are commonly used in rationale extraction, they both rely on certain heuristics that hinder them from satisfying all three desiderata. In light of this, we propose UNIREX, a flexible learning framework which generalizes rationale extractor optimization as follows: (1) specify architecture for a learned rationale extractor; (2) select explainability objectives (i.e., faithfulness and plausibility criteria); and (3) jointly the train task model and rationale extractor on the task using selected objectives. UNIREX enables replacing prior works’ heuristic design choices with a generic learned rationale extractor in (1) and optimizing it for all three desiderata in (2)-(3). To facilitate comparison between methods w.r.t. multiple desiderata, we introduce the Normalized Relative Gain (NRG) metric. Across five English text classification datasets, our best UNIREX configuration outperforms the strongest baselines by an average of 32.9% NRG. Plus, we find that UNIREX-trained rationale extractors’ faithfulness can even generalize to unseen datasets and tasks.

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Detection, Disambiguation, Re-ranking: Autoregressive Entity Linking as a Multi-Task Problem
Khalil Mrini | Shaoliang Nie | Jiatao Gu | Sinong Wang | Maziar Sanjabi | Hamed Firooz
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2022

We propose an autoregressive entity linking model, that is trained with two auxiliary tasks, and learns to re-rank generated samples at inference time. Our proposed novelties address two weaknesses in the literature. First, a recent method proposes to learn mention detection and then entity candidate selection, but relies on predefined sets of candidates. We use encoder-decoder autoregressive entity linking in order to bypass this need, and propose to train mention detection as an auxiliary task instead. Second, previous work suggests that re-ranking could help correct prediction errors. We add a new, auxiliary task, match prediction, to learn re-ranking. Without the use of a knowledge base or candidate sets, our model sets a new state of the art in two benchmark datasets of entity linking: COMETA in the biomedical domain, and AIDA-CoNLL in the news domain. We show through ablation studies that each of the two auxiliary tasks increases performance, and that re-ranking is an important factor to the increase. Finally, our low-resource experimental results suggest that performance on the main task benefits from the knowledge learned by the auxiliary tasks, and not just from the additional training data.

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ER-Test: Evaluating Explanation Regularization Methods for Language Models
Brihi Joshi | Aaron Chan | Ziyi Liu | Shaoliang Nie | Maziar Sanjabi | Hamed Firooz | Xiang Ren
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2022

By explaining how humans would solve a given task, human rationales can provide strong learning signal for neural language models (NLMs). Explanation regularization (ER) aims to improve NLM generalization by pushing the NLM’s machine rationales (Which input tokens did the NLM focus on?) to align with human rationales (Which input tokens would humans focus on). Though prior works primarily study ER via in-distribution (ID) evaluation, out-of-distribution (OOD) generalization is often more critical in real-world scenarios, yet ER’s effect on OOD generalization has been underexplored.In this paper, we introduce ER-Test, a framework for evaluating ER models’ OOD generalization along three dimensions: unseen datasets, contrast set tests, and functional tests. Using ER-Test, we comprehensively analyze how ER models’ OOD generalization varies with the rationale alignment criterion (loss function), human rationale type (instance-level v/s task-level), number and choice of rationale-annotated instances, and time budget for rationale annotation. Across two tasks and six datasets, we show that ER has little impact on ID performance but yields large OOD performance gains, with the best ER criterion being task-dependent. Also, ER can improve OOD performance even with task-level or few human rationales. Finally, we find that rationale annotation is more time-efficient than label annotation for improving OOD performance. Our results with ER-Test help demonstrate ER’s utility and establish best practices for using ER effectively.


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MSD: Saliency-aware Knowledge Distillation for Multimodal Understanding
Woojeong Jin | Maziar Sanjabi | Shaoliang Nie | Liang Tan | Xiang Ren | Hamed Firooz
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2021

To reduce a model size but retain performance, we often rely on knowledge distillation (KD) which transfers knowledge from a large “teacher” model to a smaller “student” model. However, KD on multimodal datasets such as vision-language tasks is relatively unexplored, and digesting multimodal information is challenging since different modalities present different types of information. In this paper, we perform a large-scale empirical study to investigate the importance and effects of each modality in knowledge distillation. Furthermore, we introduce a multimodal knowledge distillation framework, modality-specific distillation (MSD), to transfer knowledge from a teacher on multimodal tasks by learning the teacher’s behavior within each modality. The idea aims at mimicking a teacher’s modality-specific predictions by introducing auxiliary loss terms for each modality. Furthermore, because each modality has different saliency for predictions, we define saliency scores for each modality and investigate saliency-based weighting schemes for the auxiliary losses. We further study a weight learning approach to learn the optimal weights on these loss terms. In our empirical analysis, we examine the saliency of each modality in KD, demonstrate the effectiveness of the weighting scheme in MSD, and show that it achieves better performance than KD on four multimodal datasets.

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Findings of the WOAH 5 Shared Task on Fine Grained Hateful Memes Detection
Lambert Mathias | Shaoliang Nie | Aida Mostafazadeh Davani | Douwe Kiela | Vinodkumar Prabhakaran | Bertie Vidgen | Zeerak Waseem
Proceedings of the 5th Workshop on Online Abuse and Harms (WOAH 2021)

We present the results and main findings of the shared task at WOAH 5 on hateful memes detection. The task include two subtasks relating to distinct challenges in the fine-grained detection of hateful memes: (1) the protected category attacked by the meme and (2) the attack type. 3 teams submitted system description papers. This shared task builds on the hateful memes detection task created by Facebook AI Research in 2020.

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Modality-specific Distillation
Woojeong Jin | Maziar Sanjabi | Shaoliang Nie | Liang Tan | Xiang Ren | Hamed Firooz
Proceedings of the Third Workshop on Multimodal Artificial Intelligence

Large neural networks are impractical to deploy on mobile devices due to their heavy computational cost and slow inference. Knowledge distillation (KD) is a technique to reduce the model size while retaining performance by transferring knowledge from a large “teacher” model to a smaller “student” model. However, KD on multimodal datasets such as vision-language datasets is relatively unexplored and digesting such multimodal information is challenging since different modalities present different types of information. In this paper, we propose modality-specific distillation (MSD) to effectively transfer knowledge from a teacher on multimodal datasets. Existing KD approaches can be applied to multimodal setup, but a student doesn’t have access to modality-specific predictions. Our idea aims at mimicking a teacher’s modality-specific predictions by introducing an auxiliary loss term for each modality. Because each modality has different importance for predictions, we also propose weighting approaches for the auxiliary losses; a meta-learning approach to learn the optimal weights on these loss terms. In our experiments, we demonstrate the effectiveness of our MSD and the weighting scheme and show that it achieves better performance than KD.