Silviu Paun


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The Universal Anaphora Scorer
Juntao Yu | Sopan Khosla | Nafise Sadat Moosavi | Silviu Paun | Sameer Pradhan | Massimo Poesio
Proceedings of the Thirteenth Language Resources and Evaluation Conference

The aim of the Universal Anaphora initiative is to push forward the state of the art in anaphora and anaphora resolution by expanding the aspects of anaphoric interpretation which are or can be reliably annotated in anaphoric corpora, producing unified standards to annotate and encode these annotations, deliver datasets encoded according to these standards, and developing methods for evaluating models carrying out this type of interpretation. Such expansion of the scope of anaphora resolution requires a comparable expansion of the scope of the scorers used to evaluate this work. In this paper, we introduce an extended version of the Reference Coreference Scorer (Pradhan et al., 2014) that can be used to evaluate the extended range of anaphoric interpretation included in the current Universal Anaphora proposal. The UA scorer supports the evaluation of identity anaphora resolution and of bridging reference resolution, for which scorers already existed but not integrated in a single package. It also supports the evaluation of split antecedent anaphora and discourse deixis, for which no tools existed. The proposed approach to the evaluation of split antecedent anaphora is entirely novel; the proposed approach to the evaluation of discourse deixis leverages the encoding of discourse deixis proposed in Universal Anaphora to enable the use for discourse deixis of the same metrics already used for identity anaphora. The scorer was tested in the recent CODI-CRAC 2021 Shared Task on Anaphora Resolution in Dialogues.


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We Need to Consider Disagreement in Evaluation
Valerio Basile | Michael Fell | Tommaso Fornaciari | Dirk Hovy | Silviu Paun | Barbara Plank | Massimo Poesio | Alexandra Uma
Proceedings of the 1st Workshop on Benchmarking: Past, Present and Future

Evaluation is of paramount importance in data-driven research fields such as Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Computer Vision (CV). Current evaluation practice largely hinges on the existence of a single “ground truth” against which we can meaningfully compare the prediction of a model. However, this comparison is flawed for two reasons. 1) In many cases, more than one answer is correct. 2) Even where there is a single answer, disagreement among annotators is ubiquitous, making it difficult to decide on a gold standard. We argue that the current methods of adjudication, agreement, and evaluation need serious reconsideration. Some researchers now propose to minimize disagreement and to fix datasets. We argue that this is a gross oversimplification, and likely to conceal the underlying complexity. Instead, we suggest that we need to better capture the sources of disagreement to improve today’s evaluation practice. We discuss three sources of disagreement: from the annotator, the data, and the context, and show how this affects even seemingly objective tasks. Datasets with multiple annotations are becoming more common, as are methods to integrate disagreement into modeling. The logical next step is to extend this to evaluation.

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Aggregating and Learning from Multiple Annotators
Silviu Paun | Edwin Simpson
Proceedings of the 16th Conference of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Tutorial Abstracts

The success of NLP research is founded on high-quality annotated datasets, which are usually obtained from multiple expert annotators or crowd workers. The standard practice to training machine learning models is to first adjudicate the disagreements and then perform the training. To this end, there has been a lot of work on aggregating annotations, particularly for classification tasks. However, many other tasks, particularly in NLP, have unique characteristics not considered by standard models of annotation, e.g., label interdependencies in sequence labelling tasks, unrestricted labels for anaphoric annotation, or preference labels for ranking texts. In recent years, researchers have picked up on this and are covering the gap. A first objective of this tutorial is to connect NLP researchers with state-of-the-art aggregation models for a diverse set of canonical language annotation tasks. There is also a growing body of recent work arguing that following the convention and training with adjudicated labels ignores any uncertainty the labellers had in their classifications, which results in models with poorer generalisation capabilities. Therefore, a second objective of this tutorial is to teach NLP workers how they can augment their (deep) neural models to learn from data with multiple interpretations.

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Beyond Black & White: Leveraging Annotator Disagreement via Soft-Label Multi-Task Learning
Tommaso Fornaciari | Alexandra Uma | Silviu Paun | Barbara Plank | Dirk Hovy | Massimo Poesio
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Supervised learning assumes that a ground truth label exists. However, the reliability of this ground truth depends on human annotators, who often disagree. Prior work has shown that this disagreement can be helpful in training models. We propose a novel method to incorporate this disagreement as information: in addition to the standard error computation, we use soft-labels (i.e., probability distributions over the annotator labels) as an auxiliary task in a multi-task neural network. We measure the divergence between the predictions and the target soft-labels with several loss-functions and evaluate the models on various NLP tasks. We find that the soft-label prediction auxiliary task reduces the penalty for errors on ambiguous entities, and thereby mitigates overfitting. It significantly improves performance across tasks, beyond the standard approach and prior work.

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Stay Together: A System for Single and Split-antecedent Anaphora Resolution
Juntao Yu | Nafise Sadat Moosavi | Silviu Paun | Massimo Poesio
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

The state-of-the-art on basic, single-antecedent anaphora has greatly improved in recent years. Researchers have therefore started to pay more attention to more complex cases of anaphora such as split-antecedent anaphora, as in “Time-Warner is considering a legal challenge to Telecommunications Inc’s plan to buy half of Showtime Networks Inc–a move that could lead to all-out war between the two powerful companies”. Split-antecedent anaphora is rarer and more complex to resolve than single-antecedent anaphora; as a result, it is not annotated in many datasets designed to test coreference, and previous work on resolving this type of anaphora was carried out in unrealistic conditions that assume gold mentions and/or gold split-antecedent anaphors are available. These systems also focus on split-antecedent anaphors only. In this work, we introduce a system that resolves both single and split-antecedent anaphors, and evaluate it in a more realistic setting that uses predicted mentions. We also start addressing the question of how to evaluate single and split-antecedent anaphors together using standard coreference evaluation metrics.


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Free the Plural: Unrestricted Split-Antecedent Anaphora Resolution
Juntao Yu | Nafise Sadat Moosavi | Silviu Paun | Massimo Poesio
Proceedings of the 28th International Conference on Computational Linguistics

Now that the performance of coreference resolvers on the simpler forms of anaphoric reference has greatly improved, more attention is devoted to more complex aspects of anaphora. One limitation of virtually all coreference resolution models is the focus on single-antecedent anaphors. Plural anaphors with multiple antecedents-so-called split-antecedent anaphors (as in John met Mary. They went to the movies) have not been widely studied, because they are not annotated in ONTONOTES and are relatively infrequent in other corpora. In this paper, we introduce the first model for unrestricted resolution of split-antecedent anaphors. We start with a strong baseline enhanced by BERT embeddings, and show that we can substantially improve its performance by addressing the sparsity issue. To do this, we experiment with auxiliary corpora where split-antecedent anaphors were annotated by the crowd, and with transfer learning models using element-of bridging references and single-antecedent coreference as auxiliary tasks. Evaluation on the gold annotated ARRAU corpus shows that the out best model uses a combination of three auxiliary corpora achieved F1 scores of 70% and 43.6% when evaluated in a lenient and strict setting, respectively, i.e., 11 and 21 percentage points gain when compared with our baseline.

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Aggregation Driven Progression System for GWAPs
Osman Doruk Kicikoglu | Richard Bartle | Jon Chamberlain | Silviu Paun | Massimo Poesio
Workshop on Games and Natural Language Processing

As the uses of Games-With-A-Purpose (GWAPs) broadens, the systems that incorporate its usages have expanded in complexity. The types of annotations required within the NLP paradigm set such an example, where tasks can involve varying complexity of annotations. Assigning more complex tasks to more skilled players through a progression mechanism can achieve higher accuracy in the collected data while acting as a motivating factor that rewards the more skilled players. In this paper, we present the progression technique implemented in Wormingo , an NLP GWAP that currently includes two layers of task complexity. For the experiment, we have implemented four different progression scenarios on 192 players and compared the accuracy and engagement achieved with each scenario.


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Crowdsourcing and Aggregating Nested Markable Annotations
Chris Madge | Juntao Yu | Jon Chamberlain | Udo Kruschwitz | Silviu Paun | Massimo Poesio
Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

One of the key steps in language resource creation is the identification of the text segments to be annotated, or markables, which depending on the task may vary from nominal chunks for named entity resolution to (potentially nested) noun phrases in coreference resolution (or mentions) to larger text segments in text segmentation. Markable identification is typically carried out semi-automatically, by running a markable identifier and correcting its output by hand–which is increasingly done via annotators recruited through crowdsourcing and aggregating their responses. In this paper, we present a method for identifying markables for coreference annotation that combines high-performance automatic markable detectors with checking with a Game-With-A-Purpose (GWAP) and aggregation using a Bayesian annotation model. The method was evaluated both on news data and data from a variety of other genres and results in an improvement on F1 of mention boundaries of over seven percentage points when compared with a state-of-the-art, domain-independent automatic mention detector, and almost three points over an in-domain mention detector. One of the key contributions of our proposal is its applicability to the case in which markables are nested, as is the case with coreference markables; but the GWAP and several of the proposed markable detectors are task and language-independent and are thus applicable to a variety of other annotation scenarios.

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Proceedings of the First Workshop on Aggregating and Analysing Crowdsourced Annotations for NLP
Silviu Paun | Dirk Hovy
Proceedings of the First Workshop on Aggregating and Analysing Crowdsourced Annotations for NLP

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A Crowdsourced Corpus of Multiple Judgments and Disagreement on Anaphoric Interpretation
Massimo Poesio | Jon Chamberlain | Silviu Paun | Juntao Yu | Alexandra Uma | Udo Kruschwitz
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)

We present a corpus of anaphoric information (coreference) crowdsourced through a game-with-a-purpose. The corpus, containing annotations for about 108,000 markables, is one of the largest corpora for coreference for English, and one of the largest crowdsourced NLP corpora, but its main feature is the large number of judgments per markable: 20 on average, and over 2.2M in total. This characteristic makes the corpus a unique resource for the study of disagreements on anaphoric interpretation. A second distinctive feature is its rich annotation scheme, covering singletons, expletives, and split-antecedent plurals. Finally, the corpus also comes with labels inferred using a recently proposed probabilistic model of annotation for coreference. The labels are of high quality and make it possible to successfully train a state of the art coreference resolver, including training on singletons and non-referring expressions. The annotation model can also result in more than one label, or no label, being proposed for a markable, thus serving as a baseline method for automatically identifying ambiguous markables. A preliminary analysis of the results is presented.


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A Probabilistic Annotation Model for Crowdsourcing Coreference
Silviu Paun | Jon Chamberlain | Udo Kruschwitz | Juntao Yu | Massimo Poesio
Proceedings of the 2018 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

The availability of large scale annotated corpora for coreference is essential to the development of the field. However, creating resources at the required scale via expert annotation would be too expensive. Crowdsourcing has been proposed as an alternative; but this approach has not been widely used for coreference. This paper addresses one crucial hurdle on the way to make this possible, by introducing a new model of annotation for aggregating crowdsourced anaphoric annotations. The model is evaluated along three dimensions: the accuracy of the inferred mention pairs, the quality of the post-hoc constructed silver chains, and the viability of using the silver chains as an alternative to the expert-annotated chains in training a state of the art coreference system. The results suggest that our model can extract from crowdsourced annotations coreference chains of comparable quality to those obtained with expert annotation.

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Comparing Bayesian Models of Annotation
Silviu Paun | Bob Carpenter | Jon Chamberlain | Dirk Hovy | Udo Kruschwitz | Massimo Poesio
Transactions of the Association for Computational Linguistics, Volume 6

The analysis of crowdsourced annotations in natural language processing is concerned with identifying (1) gold standard labels, (2) annotator accuracies and biases, and (3) item difficulties and error patterns. Traditionally, majority voting was used for 1, and coefficients of agreement for 2 and 3. Lately, model-based analysis of corpus annotations have proven better at all three tasks. But there has been relatively little work comparing them on the same datasets. This paper aims to fill this gap by analyzing six models of annotation, covering different approaches to annotator ability, item difficulty, and parameter pooling (tying) across annotators and items. We evaluate these models along four aspects: comparison to gold labels, predictive accuracy for new annotations, annotator characterization, and item difficulty, using four datasets with varying degrees of noise in the form of random (spammy) annotators. We conclude with guidelines for model selection, application, and implementation.