Shrey Desai


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Contemporary NLP Modeling in Six Comprehensive Programming Assignments
Greg Durrett | Jifan Chen | Shrey Desai | Tanya Goyal | Lucas Kabela | Yasumasa Onoe | Jiacheng Xu
Proceedings of the Fifth Workshop on Teaching NLP

We present a series of programming assignments, adaptable to a range of experience levels from advanced undergraduate to PhD, to teach students design and implementation of modern NLP systems. These assignments build from the ground up and emphasize full-stack understanding of machine learning models: initially, students implement inference and gradient computation by hand, then use PyTorch to build nearly state-of-the-art neural networks using current best practices. Topics are chosen to cover a wide range of modeling and inference techniques that one might encounter, ranging from linear models suitable for industry applications to state-of-the-art deep learning models used in NLP research. The assignments are customizable, with constrained options to guide less experienced students or open-ended options giving advanced students freedom to explore. All of them can be deployed in a fully autogradable fashion, and have collectively been tested on over 300 students across several semesters.

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Diagnosing Transformers in Task-Oriented Semantic Parsing
Shrey Desai | Ahmed Aly
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL-IJCNLP 2021

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Span Pointer Networks for Non-Autoregressive Task-Oriented Semantic Parsing
Akshat Shrivastava | Pierce Chuang | Arun Babu | Shrey Desai | Abhinav Arora | Alexander Zotov | Ahmed Aly
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2021

An effective recipe for building seq2seq, non-autoregressive, task-oriented parsers to map utterances to semantic frames proceeds in three steps: encoding an utterance x, predicting a frame’s length |y|, and decoding a |y|-sized frame with utterance and ontology tokens. Though empirically strong, these models are typically bottlenecked by length prediction, as even small inaccuracies change the syntactic and semantic characteristics of resulting frames. In our work, we propose span pointer networks, non-autoregressive parsers which shift the decoding task from text generation to span prediction; that is, when imputing utterance spans into frame slots, our model produces endpoints (e.g., [i, j]) as opposed to text (e.g., “6pm”). This natural quantization of the output space reduces the variability of gold frames, therefore improving length prediction and, ultimately, exact match. Furthermore, length prediction is now responsible for frame syntax and the decoder is responsible for frame semantics, resulting in a coarse-to-fine model. We evaluate our approach on several task-oriented semantic parsing datasets. Notably, we bridge the quality gap between non-autogressive and autoregressive parsers, achieving 87 EM on TOPv2 (Chen et al. 2020). Furthermore, due to our more consistent gold frames, we show strong improvements in model generalization in both cross-domain and cross-lingual transfer in low-resource settings. Finally, due to our diminished output vocabulary, we observe 70% reduction in latency and 83% reduction in memory at beam size 5 compared to prior non-autoregressive parsers.


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Calibration of Pre-trained Transformers
Shrey Desai | Greg Durrett
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

Pre-trained Transformers are now ubiquitous in natural language processing, but despite their high end-task performance, little is known empirically about whether they are calibrated. Specifically, do these models’ posterior probabilities provide an accurate empirical measure of how likely the model is to be correct on a given example? We focus on BERT and RoBERTa in this work, and analyze their calibration across three tasks: natural language inference, paraphrase detection, and commonsense reasoning. For each task, we consider in-domain as well as challenging out-of-domain settings, where models face more examples they should be uncertain about. We show that: (1) when used out-of-the-box, pre-trained models are calibrated in-domain, and compared to baselines, their calibration error out-of-domain can be as much as 3.5x lower; (2) temperature scaling is effective at further reducing calibration error in-domain, and using label smoothing to deliberately increase empirical uncertainty helps calibrate posteriors out-of-domain.

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Compressive Summarization with Plausibility and Salience Modeling
Shrey Desai | Jiacheng Xu | Greg Durrett
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

Compressive summarization systems typically rely on a seed set of syntactic rules to determine under what circumstances deleting a span is permissible, then learn which compressions to actually apply by optimizing for ROUGE. In this work, we propose to relax these explicit syntactic constraints on candidate spans, and instead leave the decision about what to delete to two data-driven criteria: plausibility and salience. Deleting a span is plausible if removing it maintains the grammaticality and factuality of a sentence, and it is salient if it removes important information from the summary. Each of these is judged by a pre-trained Transformer model, and only deletions that are both plausible and not salient can be applied. When integrated into a simple extraction-compression pipeline, our method achieves strong in-domain results on benchmark datasets, and human evaluation shows that the plausibility model generally selects for grammatical and factual deletions. Furthermore, the flexibility of our approach allows it to generalize cross-domain, and we show that our system fine-tuned on only 500 samples from a new domain can match or exceed a strong in-domain extractive model.

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Understanding Neural Abstractive Summarization Models via Uncertainty
Jiacheng Xu | Shrey Desai | Greg Durrett
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

An advantage of seq2seq abstractive summarization models is that they generate text in a free-form manner, but this flexibility makes it difficult to interpret model behavior. In this work, we analyze summarization decoders in both blackbox and whitebox ways by studying on the entropy, or uncertainty, of the model’s token-level predictions. For two strong pre-trained models, PEGASUS and BART on two summarization datasets, we find a strong correlation between low prediction entropy and where the model copies tokens rather than generating novel text. The decoder’s uncertainty also connects to factors like sentence position and syntactic distance between adjacent pairs of tokens, giving a sense of what factors make a context particularly selective for the model’s next output token. Finally, we study the relationship of decoder uncertainty and attention behavior to understand how attention gives rise to these observed effects in the model. We show that uncertainty is a useful perspective for analyzing summarization and text generation models more broadly.

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Detecting Perceived Emotions in Hurricane Disasters
Shrey Desai | Cornelia Caragea | Junyi Jessy Li
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Natural disasters (e.g., hurricanes) affect millions of people each year, causing widespread destruction in their wake. People have recently taken to social media websites (e.g., Twitter) to share their sentiments and feelings with the larger community. Consequently, these platforms have become instrumental in understanding and perceiving emotions at scale. In this paper, we introduce HurricaneEmo, an emotion dataset of 15,000 English tweets spanning three hurricanes: Harvey, Irma, and Maria. We present a comprehensive study of fine-grained emotions and propose classification tasks to discriminate between coarse-grained emotion groups. Our best BERT model, even after task-guided pre-training which leverages unlabeled Twitter data, achieves only 68% accuracy (averaged across all groups). HurricaneEmo serves not only as a challenging benchmark for models but also as a valuable resource for analyzing emotions in disaster-centric domains.

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Accelerating Natural Language Understanding in Task-Oriented Dialog
Ojas Ahuja | Shrey Desai
Proceedings of the 2nd Workshop on Natural Language Processing for Conversational AI

Task-oriented dialog models typically leverage complex neural architectures and large-scale, pre-trained Transformers to achieve state-of-the-art performance on popular natural language understanding benchmarks. However, these models frequently have in excess of tens of millions of parameters, making them impossible to deploy on-device where resource-efficiency is a major concern. In this work, we show that a simple convolutional model compressed with structured pruning achieves largely comparable results to BERT on ATIS and Snips, with under 100K parameters. Moreover, we perform acceleration experiments on CPUs, where we observe our multi-task model predicts intents and slots nearly 63x faster than even DistilBERT.


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Adaptive Ensembling: Unsupervised Domain Adaptation for Political Document Analysis
Shrey Desai | Barea Sinno | Alex Rosenfeld | Junyi Jessy Li
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing and the 9th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (EMNLP-IJCNLP)

Insightful findings in political science often require researchers to analyze documents of a certain subject or type, yet these documents are usually contained in large corpora that do not distinguish between pertinent and non-pertinent documents. In contrast, we can find corpora that label relevant documents but have limitations (e.g., from a single source or era), preventing their use for political science research. To bridge this gap, we present adaptive ensembling, an unsupervised domain adaptation framework, equipped with a novel text classification model and time-aware training to ensure our methods work well with diachronic corpora. Experiments on an expert-annotated dataset show that our framework outperforms strong benchmarks. Further analysis indicates that our methods are more stable, learn better representations, and extract cleaner corpora for fine-grained analysis.

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Evaluating Lottery Tickets Under Distributional Shifts
Shrey Desai | Hongyuan Zhan | Ahmed Aly
Proceedings of the 2nd Workshop on Deep Learning Approaches for Low-Resource NLP (DeepLo 2019)

The Lottery Ticket Hypothesis suggests large, over-parameterized neural networks consist of small, sparse subnetworks that can be trained in isolation to reach a similar (or better) test accuracy. However, the initialization and generalizability of the obtained sparse subnetworks have been recently called into question. Our work focuses on evaluating the initialization of sparse subnetworks under distributional shifts. Specifically, we investigate the extent to which a sparse subnetwork obtained in a source domain can be re-trained in isolation in a dissimilar, target domain. In addition, we examine the effects of different initialization strategies at transfer-time. Our experiments show that sparse subnetworks obtained through lottery ticket training do not simply overfit to particular domains, but rather reflect an inductive bias of deep neural networks that can be exploited in multiple domains.