Steven Cao


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Low-Complexity Probing via Finding Subnetworks
Steven Cao | Victor Sanh | Alexander Rush
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

The dominant approach in probing neural networks for linguistic properties is to train a new shallow multi-layer perceptron (MLP) on top of the model’s internal representations. This approach can detect properties encoded in the model, but at the cost of adding new parameters that may learn the task directly. We instead propose a subtractive pruning-based probe, where we find an existing subnetwork that performs the linguistic task of interest. Compared to an MLP, the subnetwork probe achieves both higher accuracy on pre-trained models and lower accuracy on random models, so it is both better at finding properties of interest and worse at learning on its own. Next, by varying the complexity of each probe, we show that subnetwork probing Pareto-dominates MLP probing in that it achieves higher accuracy given any budget of probe complexity. Finally, we analyze the resulting subnetworks across various tasks to locate where each task is encoded, and we find that lower-level tasks are captured in lower layers, reproducing similar findings in past work.


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Unsupervised Parsing via Constituency Tests
Steven Cao | Nikita Kitaev | Dan Klein
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

We propose a method for unsupervised parsing based on the linguistic notion of a constituency test. One type of constituency test involves modifying the sentence via some transformation (e.g. replacing the span with a pronoun) and then judging the result (e.g. checking if it is grammatical). Motivated by this idea, we design an unsupervised parser by specifying a set of transformations and using an unsupervised neural acceptability model to make grammaticality decisions. To produce a tree given a sentence, we score each span by aggregating its constituency test judgments, and we choose the binary tree with the highest total score. While this approach already achieves performance in the range of current methods, we further improve accuracy by fine-tuning the grammaticality model through a refinement procedure, where we alternate between improving the estimated trees and improving the grammaticality model. The refined model achieves 62.8 F1 on the Penn Treebank test set, an absolute improvement of 7.6 points over the previously best published result.


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Multilingual Constituency Parsing with Self-Attention and Pre-Training
Nikita Kitaev | Steven Cao | Dan Klein
Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

We show that constituency parsing benefits from unsupervised pre-training across a variety of languages and a range of pre-training conditions. We first compare the benefits of no pre-training, fastText, ELMo, and BERT for English and find that BERT outperforms ELMo, in large part due to increased model capacity, whereas ELMo in turn outperforms the non-contextual fastText embeddings. We also find that pre-training is beneficial across all 11 languages tested; however, large model sizes (more than 100 million parameters) make it computationally expensive to train separate models for each language. To address this shortcoming, we show that joint multilingual pre-training and fine-tuning allows sharing all but a small number of parameters between ten languages in the final model. The 10x reduction in model size compared to fine-tuning one model per language causes only a 3.2% relative error increase in aggregate. We further explore the idea of joint fine-tuning and show that it gives low-resource languages a way to benefit from the larger datasets of other languages. Finally, we demonstrate new state-of-the-art results for 11 languages, including English (95.8 F1) and Chinese (91.8 F1).