Soroush Vosoughi


2021

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GradTS: A Gradient-Based Automatic Auxiliary Task Selection Method Based on Transformer Networks
Weicheng Ma | Renze Lou | Kai Zhang | Lili Wang | Soroush Vosoughi
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

A key problem in multi-task learning (MTL) research is how to select high-quality auxiliary tasks automatically. This paper presents GradTS, an automatic auxiliary task selection method based on gradient calculation in Transformer-based models. Compared to AUTOSEM, a strong baseline method, GradTS improves the performance of MT-DNN with a bert-base-cased backend model, from 0.33% to 17.93% on 8 natural language understanding (NLU) tasks in the GLUE benchmarks. GradTS is also time-saving since (1) its gradient calculations are based on single-task experiments and (2) the gradients are re-used without additional experiments when the candidate task set changes. On the 8 GLUE classification tasks, for example, GradTS costs on average 21.32% less time than AUTOSEM with comparable GPU consumption. Further, we show the robustness of GradTS across various task settings and model selections, e.g. mixed objectives among candidate tasks. The efficiency and efficacy of GradTS in these case studies illustrate its general applicability in MTL research without requiring manual task filtering or costly parameter tuning.

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A Survey of Data Augmentation Approaches for NLP
Steven Y. Feng | Varun Gangal | Jason Wei | Sarath Chandar | Soroush Vosoughi | Teruko Mitamura | Eduard Hovy
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL-IJCNLP 2021

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Modulating Language Models with Emotions
Ruibo Liu | Jason Wei | Chenyan Jia | Soroush Vosoughi
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL-IJCNLP 2021

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Text Augmentation in a Multi-Task View
Jason Wei | Chengyu Huang | Shiqi Xu | Soroush Vosoughi
Proceedings of the 16th Conference of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Main Volume

Traditional data augmentation aims to increase the coverage of the input distribution by generating augmented examples that strongly resemble original samples in an online fashion where augmented examples dominate training. In this paper, we propose an alternative perspective—a multi-task view (MTV) of data augmentation—in which the primary task trains on original examples and the auxiliary task trains on augmented examples. In MTV data augmentation, both original and augmented samples are weighted substantively during training, relaxing the constraint that augmented examples must resemble original data and thereby allowing us to apply stronger augmentation functions. In empirical experiments using four common data augmentation techniques on three benchmark text classification datasets, we find that using the MTV leads to higher and more robust performance than traditional augmentation.

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BigGreen at SemEval-2021 Task 1: Lexical Complexity Prediction with Assembly Models
Aadil Islam | Weicheng Ma | Soroush Vosoughi
Proceedings of the 15th International Workshop on Semantic Evaluation (SemEval-2021)

This paper describes a system submitted by team BigGreen to LCP 2021 for predicting the lexical complexity of English words in a given context. We assemble a feature engineering-based model with a deep neural network model founded on BERT. While BERT itself performs competitively, our feature engineering-based model helps in extreme cases, eg. separating instances of easy and neutral difficulty. Our handcrafted features comprise a breadth of lexical, semantic, syntactic, and novel phonological measures. Visualizations of BERT attention maps offer insight into potential features that Transformers models may learn when fine-tuned for lexical complexity prediction. Our ensembled predictions score reasonably well for the single word subtask, and we demonstrate how they can be harnessed to perform well on the multi word expression subtask too.

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Lone Pine at SemEval-2021 Task 5: Fine-Grained Detection of Hate Speech Using BERToxic
Yakoob Khan | Weicheng Ma | Soroush Vosoughi
Proceedings of the 15th International Workshop on Semantic Evaluation (SemEval-2021)

This paper describes our approach to the Toxic Spans Detection problem (SemEval-2021 Task 5). We propose BERToxic, a system that fine-tunes a pre-trained BERT model to locate toxic text spans in a given text and utilizes additional post-processing steps to refine the boundaries. The post-processing steps involve (1) labeling character offsets between consecutive toxic tokens as toxic and (2) assigning a toxic label to words that have at least one token labeled as toxic. Through experiments, we show that these two post-processing steps improve the performance of our model by 4.16% on the test set. We also studied the effects of data augmentation and ensemble modeling strategies on our system. Our system significantly outperformed the provided baseline and achieved an F1-score of 0.683, placing Lone Pine in the 17th place out of 91 teams in the competition. Our code is made available at https://github.com/Yakoob-Khan/Toxic-Spans-Detection

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Linguistic Complexity Loss in Text-Based Therapy
Jason Wei | Kelly Finn | Emma Templeton | Thalia Wheatley | Soroush Vosoughi
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

The complexity loss paradox, which posits that individuals suffering from disease exhibit surprisingly predictable behavioral dynamics, has been observed in a variety of both human and animal physiological systems. The recent advent of online text-based therapy presents a new opportunity to analyze the complexity loss paradox in a novel operationalization: linguistic complexity loss in text-based therapy conversations. In this paper, we analyze linguistic complexity correlates of mental health in the online therapy messages sent between therapists and 7,170 clients who provided 30,437 corresponding survey responses on their anxiety. We found that when clients reported more anxiety, they showed reduced lexical diversity as estimated by the moving average type-token ratio. Therapists, on the other hand, used language of higher reading difficulty, syntactic complexity, and age of acquisition when clients were more anxious. Finally, we found that clients, and to an even greater extent, therapists, exhibited consistent levels of many linguistic complexity measures. These results demonstrate how linguistic analysis of text-based communication can be leveraged as a marker for anxiety, an exciting prospect in a time of both increased online communication and increased mental health issues.

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Few-Shot Text Classification with Triplet Networks, Data Augmentation, and Curriculum Learning
Jason Wei | Chengyu Huang | Soroush Vosoughi | Yu Cheng | Shiqi Xu
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Few-shot text classification is a fundamental NLP task in which a model aims to classify text into a large number of categories, given only a few training examples per category. This paper explores data augmentation—a technique particularly suitable for training with limited data—for this few-shot, highly-multiclass text classification setting. On four diverse text classification tasks, we find that common data augmentation techniques can improve the performance of triplet networks by up to 3.0% on average. To further boost performance, we present a simple training strategy called curriculum data augmentation, which leverages curriculum learning by first training on only original examples and then introducing augmented data as training progresses. We explore a two-stage and a gradual schedule, and find that, compared with standard single-stage training, curriculum data augmentation trains faster, improves performance, and remains robust to high amounts of noising from augmentation.

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Improvements and Extensions on Metaphor Detection
Weicheng Ma | Ruibo Liu | Lili Wang | Soroush Vosoughi
Proceedings of the 1st Workshop on Understanding Implicit and Underspecified Language

Metaphors are ubiquitous in human language. The metaphor detection task (MD) aims at detecting and interpreting metaphors from written language, which is crucial in natural language understanding (NLU) research. In this paper, we introduce a pre-trained Transformer-based model into MD. Our model outperforms the previous state-of-the-art models by large margins in our evaluations, with relative improvements on the F-1 score from 5.33% to 28.39%. Second, we extend MD to a classification task about the metaphoricity of an entire piece of text to make MD applicable in more general NLU scenes. Finally, we clean up the improper or outdated annotations in one of the MD benchmark datasets and re-benchmark it with our Transformer-based model. This approach could be applied to other existing MD datasets as well, since the metaphoricity annotations in these benchmark datasets may be outdated. Future research efforts are also necessary to build an up-to-date and well-annotated dataset consisting of longer and more complex texts.

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Contributions of Transformer Attention Heads in Multi- and Cross-lingual Tasks
Weicheng Ma | Kai Zhang | Renze Lou | Lili Wang | Soroush Vosoughi
Proceedings of the 59th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 11th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (Volume 1: Long Papers)

This paper studies the relative importance of attention heads in Transformer-based models to aid their interpretability in cross-lingual and multi-lingual tasks. Prior research has found that only a few attention heads are important in each mono-lingual Natural Language Processing (NLP) task and pruning the remaining heads leads to comparable or improved performance of the model. However, the impact of pruning attention heads is not yet clear in cross-lingual and multi-lingual tasks. Through extensive experiments, we show that (1) pruning a number of attention heads in a multi-lingual Transformer-based model has, in general, positive effects on its performance in cross-lingual and multi-lingual tasks and (2) the attention heads to be pruned can be ranked using gradients and identified with a few trial experiments. Our experiments focus on sequence labeling tasks, with potential applicability on other cross-lingual and multi-lingual tasks. For comprehensiveness, we examine two pre-trained multi-lingual models, namely multi-lingual BERT (mBERT) and XLM-R, on three tasks across 9 languages each. We also discuss the validity of our findings and their extensibility to truly resource-scarce languages and other task settings.

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Language Model Augmented Relevance Score
Ruibo Liu | Jason Wei | Soroush Vosoughi
Proceedings of the 59th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 11th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Although automated metrics are commonly used to evaluate NLG systems, they often correlate poorly with human judgements. Newer metrics such as BERTScore have addressed many weaknesses in prior metrics such as BLEU and ROUGE, which rely on n-gram matching. These newer methods, however, are still limited in that they do not consider the generation context, so they cannot properly reward generated text that is correct but deviates from the given reference. In this paper, we propose Language Model Augmented Relevance Score (MARS), a new context-aware metric for NLG evaluation. MARS leverages off-the-shelf language models, guided by reinforcement learning, to create augmented references that consider both the generation context and available human references, which are then used as additional references to score generated text. Compared with seven existing metrics in three common NLG tasks, MARS not only achieves higher correlation with human reference judgements, but also differentiates well-formed candidates from adversarial samples to a larger degree.

2020

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What Are People Asking About COVID-19? A Question Classification Dataset
Jerry Wei | Chengyu Huang | Soroush Vosoughi | Jason Wei
Proceedings of the 1st Workshop on NLP for COVID-19 at ACL 2020

We present COVID-Q, a set of 1,690 questions about COVID-19 from 13 sources, which we annotate into 15 question categories and 207 question clusters. The most common questions in our dataset asked about transmission, prevention, and societal effects of COVID, and we found that many questions that appeared in multiple sources were not answered by any FAQ websites of reputable organizations such as the CDC and FDA. We post our dataset publicly at https://github.com/JerryWei03/COVID-Q. For classifying questions into 15 categories, a BERT baseline scored 58.1% accuracy when trained on 20 examples per category, and for a question clustering task, a BERT + triplet loss baseline achieved 49.5% accuracy. We hope COVID-Q can help either for direct use in developing applied systems or as a domain-specific resource for model evaluation.

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Multi-resolution Annotations for Emoji Prediction
Weicheng Ma | Ruibo Liu | Lili Wang | Soroush Vosoughi
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

Emojis are able to express various linguistic components, including emotions, sentiments, events, etc. Predicting the proper emojis associated with text provides a way to summarize the text accurately, and it has been proven to be a good auxiliary task to many Natural Language Understanding (NLU) tasks. Labels in existing emoji prediction datasets are all passage-based and are usually under the multi-class classification setting. However, in many cases, one single emoji cannot fully cover the theme of a piece of text. It is thus useful to infer the part of text related to each emoji. The lack of multi-label and aspect-level emoji prediction datasets is one of the bottlenecks for this task. This paper annotates an emoji prediction dataset with passage-level multi-class/multi-label, and aspect-level multi-class annotations. We also present a novel annotation method with which we generate the aspect-level annotations. The annotations are generated heuristically, taking advantage of the self-attention mechanism in Transformer networks. We validate the annotations both automatically and manually to ensure their quality. We also benchmark the dataset with a pre-trained BERT model.

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Data Boost: Text Data Augmentation Through Reinforcement Learning Guided Conditional Generation
Ruibo Liu | Guangxuan Xu | Chenyan Jia | Weicheng Ma | Lili Wang | Soroush Vosoughi
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

Data augmentation is proven to be effective in many NLU tasks, especially for those suffering from data scarcity. In this paper, we present a powerful and easy to deploy text augmentation framework, Data Boost, which augments data through reinforcement learning guided conditional generation. We evaluate Data Boost on three diverse text classification tasks under five different classifier architectures. The result shows that Data Boost can boost the performance of classifiers especially in low-resource data scenarios. For instance, Data Boost improves F1 for the three tasks by 8.7% on average when given only 10% of the whole data for training. We also compare Data Boost with six prior text augmentation methods. Through human evaluations (N=178), we confirm that Data Boost augmentation has comparable quality as the original data with respect to readability and class consistency.

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An Empirical Survey of Unsupervised Text Representation Methods on Twitter Data
Lili Wang | Chongyang Gao | Jason Wei | Weicheng Ma | Ruibo Liu | Soroush Vosoughi
Proceedings of the Sixth Workshop on Noisy User-generated Text (W-NUT 2020)

The field of NLP has seen unprecedented achievements in recent years. Most notably, with the advent of large-scale pre-trained Transformer-based language models, such as BERT, there has been a noticeable improvement in text representation. It is, however, unclear whether these improvements translate to noisy user-generated text, such as tweets. In this paper, we present an experimental survey of a wide range of well-known text representation techniques for the task of text clustering on noisy Twitter data. Our results indicate that the more advanced models do not necessarily work best on tweets and that more exploration in this area is needed.

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Big Green at WNUT 2020 Shared Task-1: Relation Extraction as Contextualized Sequence Classification
Chris Miller | Soroush Vosoughi
Proceedings of the Sixth Workshop on Noisy User-generated Text (W-NUT 2020)

Relation and event extraction is an important task in natural language processing. We introduce a system which uses contextualized knowledge graph completion to classify relations and events between known entities in a noisy text environment. We report results which show that our system is able to effectively extract relations and events from a dataset of wet lab protocols.

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Dartmouth CS at WNUT-2020 Task 2: Informative COVID-19 Tweet Classification Using BERT
Dylan Whang | Soroush Vosoughi
Proceedings of the Sixth Workshop on Noisy User-generated Text (W-NUT 2020)

We describe the systems developed for the WNUT-2020 shared task 2, identification of informative COVID-19 English Tweets. BERT is a highly performant model for Natural Language Processing tasks. We increased BERT’s performance in this classification task by fine-tuning BERT and concatenating its embeddings with Tweet-specific features and training a Support Vector Machine (SVM) for classification (henceforth called BERT+). We compared its performance to a suite of machine learning models. We used a Twitter specific data cleaning pipeline and word-level TF-IDF to extract features for the non-BERT models. BERT+ was the top performing model with an F1-score of 0.8713.

2017

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Twitter Demographic Classification Using Deep Multi-modal Multi-task Learning
Prashanth Vijayaraghavan | Soroush Vosoughi | Deb Roy
Proceedings of the 55th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 2: Short Papers)

Twitter should be an ideal place to get a fresh read on how different issues are playing with the public, one that’s potentially more reflective of democracy in this new media age than traditional polls. Pollsters typically ask people a fixed set of questions, while in social media people use their own voices to speak about whatever is on their minds. However, the demographic distribution of users on Twitter is not representative of the general population. In this paper, we present a demographic classifier for gender, age, political orientation and location on Twitter. We collected and curated a robust Twitter demographic dataset for this task. Our classifier uses a deep multi-modal multi-task learning architecture to reach a state-of-the-art performance, achieving an F1-score of 0.89, 0.82, 0.86, and 0.68 for gender, age, political orientation, and location respectively.

2016

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DeepStance at SemEval-2016 Task 6: Detecting Stance in Tweets Using Character and Word-Level CNNs
Prashanth Vijayaraghavan | Ivan Sysoev | Soroush Vosoughi | Deb Roy
Proceedings of the 10th International Workshop on Semantic Evaluation (SemEval-2016)

2015

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Enhanced Twitter Sentiment Classification Using Contextual Information
Soroush Vosoughi | Helen Zhou | Deb Roy
Proceedings of the 6th Workshop on Computational Approaches to Subjectivity, Sentiment and Social Media Analysis