Shi Zong


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Extracting a Knowledge Base of COVID-19 Events from Social Media
Shi Zong | Ashutosh Baheti | Wei Xu | Alan Ritter
Proceedings of the 29th International Conference on Computational Linguistics

We present a manually annotated corpus of 10,000 tweets containing public reports of five COVID-19 events, including positive and negative tests, deaths, denied access to testing, claimed cures and preventions. We designed slot-filling questions for each event type and annotated a total of 28 fine-grained slots, such as the location of events, recent travel, and close contacts. We show that our corpus can support fine-tuning BERT-based classifiers to automatically extract publicly reported events, which can be further collected for building a knowledge base. Our knowledge base is constructed over Twitter data covering two years and currently covers over 4.2M events. It can answer complex queries with high precision, such as “Which organizations have employees that tested positive in Philadelphia?” We believe our proposed methodology could be quickly applied to develop knowledge bases for new domains in response to an emerging crisis, including natural disasters or future disease outbreaks.

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Doctor Recommendation in Online Health Forums via Expertise Learning
Xiaoxin Lu | Yubo Zhang | Jing Li | Shi Zong
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Huge volumes of patient queries are daily generated on online health forums, rendering manual doctor allocation a labor-intensive task. To better help patients, this paper studies a novel task of doctor recommendation to enable automatic pairing of a patient to a doctor with relevant expertise. While most prior work in recommendation focuses on modeling target users from their past behavior, we can only rely on the limited words in a query to infer a patient’s needs for privacy reasons. For doctor modeling, we study the joint effects of their profiles and previous dialogues with other patients and explore their interactions via self-learning. The learned doctor embeddings are further employed to estimate their capabilities of handling a patient query with a multi-head attention mechanism. For experiments, a large-scale dataset is collected from Chunyu Yisheng, a Chinese online health forum, where our model exhibits the state-of-the-art results, outperforming baselines only consider profiles and past dialogues to characterize a doctor.

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Analyzing the Intensity of Complaints on Social Media
Ming Fang | Shi Zong | Jing Li | Xinyu Dai | Shujian Huang | Jiajun Chen
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: NAACL 2022

Complaining is a speech act that expresses a negative inconsistency between reality and human’s expectations. While prior studies mostly focus on identifying the existence or the type of complaints, in this work, we present the first study in computational linguistics of measuring the intensity of complaints from text. Analyzing complaints from such perspective is particularly useful, as complaints of certain degrees may cause severe consequences for companies or organizations. We first collect 3,103 posts about complaints in education domain from Weibo, a popular Chinese social media platform. These posts are then annotated with complaints intensity scores using Best-Worst Scaling (BWS) method. We show that complaints intensity can be accurately estimated by computational models with best mean square error achieving 0.11. Furthermore, we conduct a comprehensive linguistic analysis around complaints, including the connections between complaints and sentiment, and a cross-lingual comparison for complaints expressions used by Chinese and English speakers. We finally show that our complaints intensity scores can be incorporated for better estimating the popularity of posts on social media.

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Probing Cross-modal Semantics Alignment Capability from the Textual Perspective
Zheng Ma | Shi Zong | Mianzhi Pan | Jianbing Zhang | Shujian Huang | Xinyu Dai | Jiajun Chen
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2022

In recent years, vision and language pre-training (VLP) models have advanced the state-of-the-art results in a variety of cross-modal downstream tasks. Aligning cross-modal semantics is claimed to be one of the essential capabilities of VLP models. However, it still remains unclear about the inner working mechanism of alignment in VLP models. In this paper, we propose a new probing method that is based on image captioning to first empirically study the cross-modal semantics alignment of VLP models. Our probing method is built upon the fact that given an image-caption pair, the VLP models will give a score, indicating how well two modalities are aligned; maximizing such scores will generate sentences that VLP models believe are of good alignment. Analyzing these sentences thus will reveal in what way different modalities are aligned and how well these alignments are in VLP models. We apply our probing method to five popular VLP models, including UNITER, ROSITA, ViLBERT, CLIP, and LXMERT, and provide a comprehensive analysis of the generated captions guided by these models. Our results show that VLP models (1) focus more on just aligning objects with visual words, while neglecting global semantics; (2) prefer fixed sentence patterns, thus ignoring more important textual information including fluency and grammar; and (3) deem the captions with more visual words are better aligned with images. These findings indicate that VLP models still have weaknesses in cross-modal semantics alignment and we hope this work will draw researchers’ attention to such problems when designing a new VLP model.


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Measuring Forecasting Skill from Text
Shi Zong | Alan Ritter | Eduard Hovy
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

People vary in their ability to make accurate predictions about the future. Prior studies have shown that some individuals can predict the outcome of future events with consistently better accuracy. This leads to a natural question: what makes some forecasters better than others? In this paper we explore connections between the language people use to describe their predictions and their forecasting skill. Datasets from two different forecasting domains are explored: (1) geopolitical forecasts from Good Judgment Open, an online prediction forum and (2) a corpus of company earnings forecasts made by financial analysts. We present a number of linguistic metrics which are computed over text associated with people’s predictions about the future including: uncertainty, readability, and emotion. By studying linguistic factors associated with predictions, we are able to shed some light on the approach taken by skilled forecasters. Furthermore, we demonstrate that it is possible to accurately predict forecasting skill using a model that is based solely on language. This could potentially be useful for identifying accurate predictions or potentially skilled forecasters earlier.


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Analyzing the Perceived Severity of Cybersecurity Threats Reported on Social Media
Shi Zong | Alan Ritter | Graham Mueller | Evan Wright
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)

Breaking cybersecurity events are shared across a range of websites, including security blogs (FireEye, Kaspersky, etc.), in addition to social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. In this paper, we investigate methods to analyze the severity of cybersecurity threats based on the language that is used to describe them online. A corpus of 6,000 tweets describing software vulnerabilities is annotated with authors’ opinions toward their severity. We show that our corpus supports the development of automatic classifiers with high precision for this task. Furthermore, we demonstrate the value of analyzing users’ opinions about the severity of threats reported online as an early indicator of important software vulnerabilities. We present a simple, yet effective method for linking software vulnerabilities reported in tweets to Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVEs) in the National Vulnerability Database (NVD). Using our predicted severity scores, we show that it is possible to achieve a Precision@50 of 0.86 when forecasting high severity vulnerabilities, significantly outperforming a baseline that is based on tweet volume. Finally we show how reports of severe vulnerabilities online are predictive of real-world exploits.