Shufan Wang


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Phrase-BERT: Improved Phrase Embeddings from BERT with an Application to Corpus Exploration
Shufan Wang | Laure Thompson | Mohit Iyyer
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Phrase representations derived from BERT often do not exhibit complex phrasal compositionality, as the model relies instead on lexical similarity to determine semantic relatedness. In this paper, we propose a contrastive fine-tuning objective that enables BERT to produce more powerful phrase embeddings. Our approach (Phrase-BERT) relies on a dataset of diverse phrasal paraphrases, which is automatically generated using a paraphrase generation model, as well as a large-scale dataset of phrases in context mined from the Books3 corpus. Phrase-BERT outperforms baselines across a variety of phrase-level similarity tasks, while also demonstrating increased lexical diversity between nearest neighbors in the vector space. Finally, as a case study, we show that Phrase-BERT embeddings can be easily integrated with a simple autoencoder to build a phrase-based neural topic model that interprets topics as mixtures of words and phrases by performing a nearest neighbor search in the embedding space. Crowdsourced evaluations demonstrate that this phrase-based topic model produces more coherent and meaningful topics than baseline word and phrase-level topic models, further validating the utility of Phrase-BERT.


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STORIUM: A Dataset and Evaluation Platform for Machine-in-the-Loop Story Generation
Nader Akoury | Shufan Wang | Josh Whiting | Stephen Hood | Nanyun Peng | Mohit Iyyer
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

Systems for story generation are asked to produce plausible and enjoyable stories given an input context. This task is underspecified, as a vast number of diverse stories can originate from a single input. The large output space makes it difficult to build and evaluate story generation models, as (1) existing datasets lack rich enough contexts to meaningfully guide models, and (2) existing evaluations (both crowdsourced and automatic) are unreliable for assessing long-form creative text. To address these issues, we introduce a dataset and evaluation platform built from STORIUM, an online collaborative storytelling community. Our author-generated dataset contains 6K lengthy stories (125M tokens) with fine-grained natural language annotations (e.g., character goals and attributes) interspersed throughout each narrative, forming a robust source for guiding models. We evaluate language models fine-tuned on our dataset by integrating them onto STORIUM, where real authors can query a model for suggested story continuations and then edit them. Automatic metrics computed over these edits correlate well with both user ratings of generated stories and qualitative feedback from semi-structured user interviews. We release both the STORIUM dataset and evaluation platform to spur more principled research into story generation.


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Casting Light on Invisible Cities: Computationally Engaging with Literary Criticism
Shufan Wang | Mohit Iyyer
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)

Literary critics often attempt to uncover meaning in a single work of literature through careful reading and analysis. Applying natural language processing methods to aid in such literary analyses remains a challenge in digital humanities. While most previous work focuses on “distant reading” by algorithmically discovering high-level patterns from large collections of literary works, here we sharpen the focus of our methods to a single literary theory about Italo Calvino’s postmodern novel Invisible Cities, which consists of 55 short descriptions of imaginary cities. Calvino has provided a classification of these cities into eleven thematic groups, but literary scholars disagree as to how trustworthy his categorization is. Due to the unique structure of this novel, we can computationally weigh in on this debate: we leverage pretrained contextualized representations to embed each city’s description and use unsupervised methods to cluster these embeddings. Additionally, we compare results of our computational approach to similarity judgments generated by human readers. Our work is a first step towards incorporating natural language processing into literary criticism.