Stephen Mussmann


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On the Importance of Adaptive Data Collection for Extremely Imbalanced Pairwise Tasks
Stephen Mussmann | Robin Jia | Percy Liang
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2020

Many pairwise classification tasks, such as paraphrase detection and open-domain question answering, naturally have extreme label imbalance (e.g., 99.99% of examples are negatives). In contrast, many recent datasets heuristically choose examples to ensure label balance. We show that these heuristics lead to trained models that generalize poorly: State-of-the art models trained on QQP and WikiQA each have only 2.4% average precision when evaluated on realistically imbalanced test data. We instead collect training data with active learning, using a BERT-based embedding model to efficiently retrieve uncertain points from a very large pool of unlabeled utterance pairs. By creating balanced training data with more informative negative examples, active learning greatly improves average precision to 32.5% on QQP and 20.1% on WikiQA.


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The price of debiasing automatic metrics in natural language evalaution
Arun Chaganty | Stephen Mussmann | Percy Liang
Proceedings of the 56th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

For evaluating generation systems, automatic metrics such as BLEU cost nothing to run but have been shown to correlate poorly with human judgment, leading to systematic bias against certain model improvements. On the other hand, averaging human judgments, the unbiased gold standard, is often too expensive. In this paper, we use control variates to combine automatic metrics with human evaluation to obtain an unbiased estimator with lower cost than human evaluation alone. In practice, however, we obtain only a 7-13% cost reduction on evaluating summarization and open-response question answering systems. We then prove that our estimator is optimal: there is no unbiased estimator with lower cost. Our theory further highlights the two fundamental bottlenecks—the automatic metric and the prompt shown to human evaluators—both of which need to be improved to obtain greater cost savings.