Shufan Wang


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kNN-LM Does Not Improve Open-ended Text Generation
Shufan Wang | Yixiao Song | Andrew Drozdov | Aparna Garimella | Varun Manjunatha | Mohit Iyyer
Proceedings of the 2023 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

In this paper, we study the generation quality of interpolation-based retrieval-augmented language models (LMs). These methods, best exemplified by the kNN-LM, interpolate the LM’s predicted distribution of the next word with a distribution formed from the most relevant retrievals for a given prefix. While the kNN-LM and related methods yield impressive decreases in perplexity, we discover that they do not exhibit corresponding improvements in open-ended generation quality, as measured by both automatic evaluation metrics (e.g., MAUVE) and human evaluations. Digging deeper, we find that interpolating with a retrieval distribution actually increases perplexity compared to a baseline LM for the majority of tokens in the WikiText-103 test set, even though the overall perplexity is lower due to a smaller number of tokens for which perplexity dramatically decreases after interpolation. However, when decoding a long sequence at inference time, significant improvements on this smaller subset of tokens are washed out by slightly worse predictions on most tokens. Furthermore, we discover that the entropy of the retrieval distribution increases faster than that of the base LM as the generated sequence becomes longer, which indicates that retrieval is less reliable when using model-generated text as queries (i.e., is subject to exposure bias). We hope that our analysis spurs future work on improved decoding algorithms and interpolation strategies for retrieval-augmented language models.

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Measuring and Mitigating Constraint Violations of In-Context Learning for Utterance-to-API Semantic Parsing
Shufan Wang | Sébastien Jean | Sailik Sengupta | James Gung | Nikolaos Pappas | Yi Zhang
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2023

In executable task-oriented semantic parsing, the system aims to translate users’ utterances in natural language to machine-interpretable programs (API calls) that can be executed according to pre-defined API specifications. With the popularity of Large Language Models (LLMs), in-context learning offers a strong baseline for such scenarios, especially in data-limited regimes. However, LLMs are known to hallucinate and therefore pose a formidable challenge in constraining generated content. Thus, it remains uncertain if LLMs can effectively perform task-oriented utterance-to-API generation, where respecting the API’s structural and task-specific constraints is crucial. In this work, we seek to measure, analyze and mitigate such constraints violations. First, we identify the categories of various constraints in obtaining API-semantics from task-oriented utterances, and define fine-grained metrics that complement traditional ones. Second, we leverage these metrics to conduct a detailed error analysis of constraints violations seen in state-of-the-art LLMs, which motivates us to investigate two popular mitigation strategies– Semantic-Retrieval of Demonstrations (SRD) and API-aware Constrained Decoding (API-CD). Our experiments show that these strategies are effective at reducing constraints violations and improving the quality of the generated API calls, but require careful consideration given their implementation complexity and latency.

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Robustness of Named-Entity Replacements for In-Context Learning
Saeed Goodarzi | Nikhil Kagita | Dennis Minn | Shufan Wang | Roberto Dessi | Shubham Toshniwal | Adina Williams | Jack Lanchantin | Koustuv Sinha
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2023

A key feature of modern large language models (LLMs) is their ability to perform in-context learning, a prompting technique where query- answer demonstrations are shown before the final query. This allows for generalization to novel distributions at inference time where the LLM can learn new rules without parameter updates. However, the choice of demonstrations and their relationship to a particular query can have a profound impact on model accuracy, raising concerns about the true in-context generalization capabilities (Zhao et al., 2021). In this work, we explore the robustness of the in-context learning paradigm by focusing on entities. In particular, we seek to understand the robustness of LLM in-context learning with respect to named entity replacements. We discover a significant variance in downstream performance based on the choice of the named entities, across three popular reasoning tasks and two popular LLMs. Specifically, model accuracy on the test sets can fluctuate between -2.7 to +8.0 points depending on the choice of named entity replacements. Our analysis exposes the sensitivity of LLM in-context learning with respect to named entities, and offers a simple recipe to improve test performance by hyper-parameter tuning the named entities for a given dataset. Code and datasets for reproducing the results are publicly available.


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Modeling Exemplification in Long-form Question Answering via Retrieval
Shufan Wang | Fangyuan Xu | Laure Thompson | Eunsol Choi | Mohit Iyyer
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Exemplification is a process by which writers explain or clarify a concept by providing an example. While common in all forms of writing, exemplification is particularly useful in the task of long-form question answering (LFQA), where a complicated answer can be made more understandable through simple examples. In this paper, we provide the first computational study of exemplification in QA, performing a fine-grained annotation of different types of examples (e.g., hypotheticals, anecdotes) in three corpora. We show that not only do state-of-the-art LFQA models struggle to generate relevant examples, but also that standard evaluation metrics such as ROUGE are insufficient to judge exemplification quality. We propose to treat exemplification as a retrieval problem in which a partially-written answer is used to query a large set of human-written examples extracted from a corpus. Our approach allows a reliable ranking-type automatic metrics that correlates well with human evaluation. A human evaluation shows that our model’s retrieved examples are more relevant than examples generated from a state-of-the-art LFQA model.

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Knowledge Injected Prompt Based Fine-tuning for Multi-label Few-shot ICD Coding
Zhichao Yang | Shufan Wang | Bhanu Pratap Singh Rawat | Avijit Mitra | Hong Yu
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2022

Automatic International Classification of Diseases (ICD) coding aims to assign multiple ICD codes to a medical note with average length of 3,000+ tokens. This task is challenging due to a high-dimensional space of multi-label assignment (tens of thousands of ICD codes) and the long-tail challenge: only a few codes (common diseases) are frequently assigned while most codes (rare diseases) are infrequently assigned. This study addresses the long-tail challenge by adapting a prompt-based fine-tuning technique with label semantics, which has been shown to be effective under few-shot setting. To further enhance the performance in medical domain, we propose a knowledge-enhanced longformer by injecting three domain-specific knowledge: hierarchy, synonym, and abbreviation with additional pretraining using contrastive learning. Experiments on MIMIC-III-full, a benchmark dataset of code assignment, show that our proposed method outperforms previous state-of-the-art method in 14.5% in marco F1 (from 10.3 to 11.8, P<0.001). To further test our model on few-shot setting, we created a new rare diseases coding dataset, MIMIC-III-rare50, on which our model improves marco F1 from 17.1 to 30.4 and micro F1 from 17.2 to 32.6 compared to previous method.

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You can’t pick your neighbors, or can you? When and How to Rely on Retrieval in the kNN-LM
Andrew Drozdov | Shufan Wang | Razieh Rahimi | Andrew McCallum | Hamed Zamani | Mohit Iyyer
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2022

Retrieval-enhanced language models (LMs), which condition their predictions on text retrieved from large external datastores, have recently shown significant perplexity improvements compared to standard LMs. One such approach, the kNN-LM, interpolates any existing LM’s predictions with the output of a k-nearest neighbors model and requires no additional training. In this paper, we explore the importance of lexical and semantic matching in the context of items retrieved by kNN-LM. We find two trends: (1) the presence of large overlapping n-grams between the datastore and evaluation set plays an important factor in strong performance, even when the datastore is derived from the training data; and (2) the kNN-LM is most beneficial when retrieved items have high semantic similarity with the query. Based on our analysis, we define a new formulation of the kNN-LM that uses retrieval quality to assign the interpolation coefficient. We empirically measure the effectiveness of our approach on two English language modeling datasets, Wikitext-103 and PG-19. Our re-formulation of the kNN-LM is beneficial in both cases, and leads to nearly 4% improvement in perplexity on the Wikitext-103 test set.


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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.