Tal Linzen


2021

pdf bib
Frequency Effects on Syntactic Rule Learning in Transformers
Jason Wei | Dan Garrette | Tal Linzen | Ellie Pavlick
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Pre-trained language models perform well on a variety of linguistic tasks that require symbolic reasoning, raising the question of whether such models implicitly represent abstract symbols and rules. We investigate this question using the case study of BERT’s performance on English subject–verb agreement. Unlike prior work, we train multiple instances of BERT from scratch, allowing us to perform a series of controlled interventions at pre-training time. We show that BERT often generalizes well to subject–verb pairs that never occurred in training, suggesting a degree of rule-governed behavior. We also find, however, that performance is heavily influenced by word frequency, with experiments showing that both the absolute frequency of a verb form, as well as the frequency relative to the alternate inflection, are causally implicated in the predictions BERT makes at inference time. Closer analysis of these frequency effects reveals that BERT’s behavior is consistent with a system that correctly applies the SVA rule in general but struggles to overcome strong training priors and to estimate agreement features (singular vs. plural) on infrequent lexical items.

pdf bib
Does Putting a Linguist in the Loop Improve NLU Data Collection?
Alicia Parrish | William Huang | Omar Agha | Soo-Hwan Lee | Nikita Nangia | Alexia Warstadt | Karmanya Aggarwal | Emily Allaway | Tal Linzen | Samuel R. Bowman
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2021

Many crowdsourced NLP datasets contain systematic artifacts that are identified only after data collection is complete. Earlier identification of these issues should make it easier to create high-quality training and evaluation data. We attempt this by evaluating protocols in which expert linguists work ‘in the loop’ during data collection to identify and address these issues by adjusting task instructions and incentives. Using natural language inference as a test case, we compare three data collection protocols: (i) a baseline protocol with no linguist involvement, (ii) a linguist-in-the-loop intervention with iteratively-updated constraints on the writing task, and (iii) an extension that adds direct interaction between linguists and crowdworkers via a chatroom. We find that linguist involvement does not lead to increased accuracy on out-of-domain test sets compared to baseline, and adding a chatroom has no effect on the data. Linguist involvement does, however, lead to more challenging evaluation data and higher accuracy on some challenge sets, demonstrating the benefits of integrating expert analysis during data collection.

pdf bib
The Language Model Understood the Prompt was Ambiguous: Probing Syntactic Uncertainty Through Generation
Laura Aina | Tal Linzen
Proceedings of the Fourth BlackboxNLP Workshop on Analyzing and Interpreting Neural Networks for NLP

Temporary syntactic ambiguities arise when the beginning of a sentence is compatible with multiple syntactic analyses. We inspect to which extent neural language models (LMs) exhibit uncertainty over such analyses when processing temporarily ambiguous inputs, and how that uncertainty is modulated by disambiguating cues. We probe the LM’s expectations by generating from it: we use stochastic decoding to derive a set of sentence completions, and estimate the probability that the LM assigns to each interpretation based on the distribution of parses across completions. Unlike scoring-based methods for targeted syntactic evaluation, this technique makes it possible to explore completions that are not hypothesized in advance by the researcher. We apply this method to study the behavior of two LMs (GPT2 and an LSTM) on three types of temporary ambiguity, using materials from human sentence processing experiments. We find that LMs can track multiple analyses simultaneously; the degree of uncertainty varies across constructions and contexts. As a response to disambiguating cues, the LMs often select the correct interpretation, but occasional errors point to potential areas of improvement

pdf bib
Structure Here, Bias There: Hierarchical Generalization by Jointly Learning Syntactic Transformations
Karl Mulligan | Robert Frank | Tal Linzen
Proceedings of the Society for Computation in Linguistics 2021

pdf bib
Counterfactual Interventions Reveal the Causal Effect of Relative Clause Representations on Agreement Prediction
Shauli Ravfogel | Grusha Prasad | Tal Linzen | Yoav Goldberg
Proceedings of the 25th Conference on Computational Natural Language Learning

When language models process syntactically complex sentences, do they use their representations of syntax in a manner that is consistent with the grammar of the language? We propose AlterRep, an intervention-based method to address this question. For any linguistic feature of a given sentence, AlterRep generates counterfactual representations by altering how the feature is encoded, while leaving in- tact all other aspects of the original representation. By measuring the change in a model’s word prediction behavior when these counterfactual representations are substituted for the original ones, we can draw conclusions about the causal effect of the linguistic feature in question on the model’s behavior. We apply this method to study how BERT models of different sizes process relative clauses (RCs). We find that BERT variants use RC boundary information during word prediction in a manner that is consistent with the rules of English grammar; this RC boundary information generalizes to a considerable extent across different RC types, suggesting that BERT represents RCs as an abstract linguistic category.

pdf bib
NOPE: A Corpus of Naturally-Occurring Presuppositions in English
Alicia Parrish | Sebastian Schuster | Alex Warstadt | Omar Agha | Soo-Hwan Lee | Zhuoye Zhao | Samuel R. Bowman | Tal Linzen
Proceedings of the 25th Conference on Computational Natural Language Learning

Understanding language requires grasping not only the overtly stated content, but also making inferences about things that were left unsaid. These inferences include presuppositions, a phenomenon by which a listener learns about new information through reasoning about what a speaker takes as given. Presuppositions require complex understanding of the lexical and syntactic properties that trigger them as well as the broader conversational context. In this work, we introduce the Naturally-Occurring Presuppositions in English (NOPE) Corpus to investigate the context-sensitivity of 10 different types of presupposition triggers and to evaluate machine learning models’ ability to predict human inferences. We find that most of the triggers we investigate exhibit moderate variability. We further find that transformer-based models draw correct inferences in simple cases involving presuppositions, but they fail to capture the minority of exceptional cases in which human judgments reveal complex interactions between context and triggers.

pdf bib
Causal Analysis of Syntactic Agreement Mechanisms in Neural Language Models
Matthew Finlayson | Aaron Mueller | Sebastian Gehrmann | Stuart Shieber | Tal Linzen | Yonatan Belinkov
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)

Targeted syntactic evaluations have demonstrated the ability of language models to perform subject-verb agreement given difficult contexts. To elucidate the mechanisms by which the models accomplish this behavior, this study applies causal mediation analysis to pre-trained neural language models. We investigate the magnitude of models’ preferences for grammatical inflections, as well as whether neurons process subject-verb agreement similarly across sentences with different syntactic structures. We uncover similarities and differences across architectures and model sizes—notably, that larger models do not necessarily learn stronger preferences. We also observe two distinct mechanisms for producing subject-verb agreement depending on the syntactic structure of the input sentence. Finally, we find that language models rely on similar sets of neurons when given sentences with similar syntactic structure.

2020

pdf bib
COGS: A Compositional Generalization Challenge Based on Semantic Interpretation
Najoung Kim | Tal Linzen
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

Natural language is characterized by compositionality: the meaning of a complex expression is constructed from the meanings of its constituent parts. To facilitate the evaluation of the compositional abilities of language processing architectures, we introduce COGS, a semantic parsing dataset based on a fragment of English. The evaluation portion of COGS contains multiple systematic gaps that can only be addressed by compositional generalization; these include new combinations of familiar syntactic structures, or new combinations of familiar words and familiar structures. In experiments with Transformers and LSTMs, we found that in-distribution accuracy on the COGS test set was near-perfect (96–99%), but generalization accuracy was substantially lower (16–35%) and showed high sensitivity to random seed (+-6–8%). These findings indicate that contemporary standard NLP models are limited in their compositional generalization capacity, and position COGS as a good way to measure progress.

pdf bib
Neural network learning of the Russian genitive of negation: optionality and structure sensitivity
Natalia Talmina | Tal Linzen
Proceedings of the Society for Computation in Linguistics 2020

pdf bib
Tensor Product Decomposition Networks: Uncovering Representations of Structure Learned by Neural Networks
R. Thomas McCoy | Tal Linzen | Ewan Dunbar | Paul Smolensky
Proceedings of the Society for Computation in Linguistics 2020

pdf bib
Proceedings of the 24th Conference on Computational Natural Language Learning
Raquel Fernández | Tal Linzen
Proceedings of the 24th Conference on Computational Natural Language Learning

pdf bib
Does Syntax Need to Grow on Trees? Sources of Hierarchical Inductive Bias in Sequence-to-Sequence Networks
R. Thomas McCoy | Robert Frank | Tal Linzen
Transactions of the Association for Computational Linguistics, Volume 8

Learners that are exposed to the same training data might generalize differently due to differing inductive biases. In neural network models, inductive biases could in theory arise from any aspect of the model architecture. We investigate which architectural factors affect the generalization behavior of neural sequence-to-sequence models trained on two syntactic tasks, English question formation and English tense reinflection. For both tasks, the training set is consistent with a generalization based on hierarchical structure and a generalization based on linear order. All architectural factors that we investigated qualitatively affected how models generalized, including factors with no clear connection to hierarchical structure. For example, LSTMs and GRUs displayed qualitatively different inductive biases. However, the only factor that consistently contributed a hierarchical bias across tasks was the use of a tree-structured model rather than a model with sequential recurrence, suggesting that human-like syntactic generalization requires architectural syntactic structure.

pdf bib
Syntactic Data Augmentation Increases Robustness to Inference Heuristics
Junghyun Min | R. Thomas McCoy | Dipanjan Das | Emily Pitler | Tal Linzen
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Pretrained neural models such as BERT, when fine-tuned to perform natural language inference (NLI), often show high accuracy on standard datasets, but display a surprising lack of sensitivity to word order on controlled challenge sets. We hypothesize that this issue is not primarily caused by the pretrained model’s limitations, but rather by the paucity of crowdsourced NLI examples that might convey the importance of syntactic structure at the fine-tuning stage. We explore several methods to augment standard training sets with syntactically informative examples, generated by applying syntactic transformations to sentences from the MNLI corpus. The best-performing augmentation method, subject/object inversion, improved BERT’s accuracy on controlled examples that diagnose sensitivity to word order from 0.28 to 0.73, without affecting performance on the MNLI test set. This improvement generalized beyond the particular construction used for data augmentation, suggesting that augmentation causes BERT to recruit abstract syntactic representations.

pdf bib
Representations of Syntax [MASK] Useful: Effects of Constituency and Dependency Structure in Recursive LSTMs
Michael Lepori | Tal Linzen | R. Thomas McCoy
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Sequence-based neural networks show significant sensitivity to syntactic structure, but they still perform less well on syntactic tasks than tree-based networks. Such tree-based networks can be provided with a constituency parse, a dependency parse, or both. We evaluate which of these two representational schemes more effectively introduces biases for syntactic structure that increase performance on the subject-verb agreement prediction task. We find that a constituency-based network generalizes more robustly than a dependency-based one, and that combining the two types of structure does not yield further improvement. Finally, we show that the syntactic robustness of sequential models can be substantially improved by fine-tuning on a small amount of constructed data, suggesting that data augmentation is a viable alternative to explicit constituency structure for imparting the syntactic biases that sequential models are lacking.

pdf bib
How Can We Accelerate Progress Towards Human-like Linguistic Generalization?
Tal Linzen
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

This position paper describes and critiques the Pretraining-Agnostic Identically Distributed (PAID) evaluation paradigm, which has become a central tool for measuring progress in natural language understanding. This paradigm consists of three stages: (1) pre-training of a word prediction model on a corpus of arbitrary size; (2) fine-tuning (transfer learning) on a training set representing a classification task; (3) evaluation on a test set drawn from the same distribution as that training set. This paradigm favors simple, low-bias architectures, which, first, can be scaled to process vast amounts of data, and second, can capture the fine-grained statistical properties of a particular data set, regardless of whether those properties are likely to generalize to examples of the task outside the data set. This contrasts with humans, who learn language from several orders of magnitude less data than the systems favored by this evaluation paradigm, and generalize to new tasks in a consistent way. We advocate for supplementing or replacing PAID with paradigms that reward architectures that generalize as quickly and robustly as humans.

pdf bib
Cross-Linguistic Syntactic Evaluation of Word Prediction Models
Aaron Mueller | Garrett Nicolai | Panayiota Petrou-Zeniou | Natalia Talmina | Tal Linzen
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

A range of studies have concluded that neural word prediction models can distinguish grammatical from ungrammatical sentences with high accuracy. However, these studies are based primarily on monolingual evidence from English. To investigate how these models’ ability to learn syntax varies by language, we introduce CLAMS (Cross-Linguistic Assessment of Models on Syntax), a syntactic evaluation suite for monolingual and multilingual models. CLAMS includes subject-verb agreement challenge sets for English, French, German, Hebrew and Russian, generated from grammars we develop. We use CLAMS to evaluate LSTM language models as well as monolingual and multilingual BERT. Across languages, monolingual LSTMs achieved high accuracy on dependencies without attractors, and generally poor accuracy on agreement across object relative clauses. On other constructions, agreement accuracy was generally higher in languages with richer morphology. Multilingual models generally underperformed monolingual models. Multilingual BERT showed high syntactic accuracy on English, but noticeable deficiencies in other languages.

pdf bib
BERTs of a feather do not generalize together: Large variability in generalization across models with similar test set performance
R. Thomas McCoy | Junghyun Min | Tal Linzen
Proceedings of the Third BlackboxNLP Workshop on Analyzing and Interpreting Neural Networks for NLP

If the same neural network architecture is trained multiple times on the same dataset, will it make similar linguistic generalizations across runs? To study this question, we fine-tuned 100 instances of BERT on the Multi-genre Natural Language Inference (MNLI) dataset and evaluated them on the HANS dataset, which evaluates syntactic generalization in natural language inference. On the MNLI development set, the behavior of all instances was remarkably consistent, with accuracy ranging between 83.6% and 84.8%. In stark contrast, the same models varied widely in their generalization performance. For example, on the simple case of subject-object swap (e.g., determining that “the doctor visited the lawyer” does not entail “the lawyer visited the doctor”), accuracy ranged from 0.0% to 66.2%. Such variation is likely due to the presence of many local minima in the loss surface that are equally attractive to a low-bias learner such as a neural network; decreasing the variability may therefore require models with stronger inductive biases.

pdf bib
Discovering the Compositional Structure of Vector Representations with Role Learning Networks
Paul Soulos | R. Thomas McCoy | Tal Linzen | Paul Smolensky
Proceedings of the Third BlackboxNLP Workshop on Analyzing and Interpreting Neural Networks for NLP

How can neural networks perform so well on compositional tasks even though they lack explicit compositional representations? We use a novel analysis technique called ROLE to show that recurrent neural networks perform well on such tasks by converging to solutions which implicitly represent symbolic structure. This method uncovers a symbolic structure which, when properly embedded in vector space, closely approximates the encodings of a standard seq2seq network trained to perform the compositional SCAN task. We verify the causal importance of the discovered symbolic structure by showing that, when we systematically manipulate hidden embeddings based on this symbolic structure, the model’s output is changed in the way predicted by our analysis.

2019

pdf bib
Probing What Different NLP Tasks Teach Machines about Function Word Comprehension
Najoung Kim | Roma Patel | Adam Poliak | Patrick Xia | Alex Wang | Tom McCoy | Ian Tenney | Alexis Ross | Tal Linzen | Benjamin Van Durme | Samuel R. Bowman | Ellie Pavlick
Proceedings of the Eighth Joint Conference on Lexical and Computational Semantics (*SEM 2019)

We introduce a set of nine challenge tasks that test for the understanding of function words. These tasks are created by structurally mutating sentences from existing datasets to target the comprehension of specific types of function words (e.g., prepositions, wh-words). Using these probing tasks, we explore the effects of various pretraining objectives for sentence encoders (e.g., language modeling, CCG supertagging and natural language inference (NLI)) on the learned representations. Our results show that pretraining on CCG—our most syntactic objective—performs the best on average across our probing tasks, suggesting that syntactic knowledge helps function word comprehension. Language modeling also shows strong performance, supporting its widespread use for pretraining state-of-the-art NLP models. Overall, no pretraining objective dominates across the board, and our function word probing tasks highlight several intuitive differences between pretraining objectives, e.g., that NLI helps the comprehension of negation.

pdf bib
Right for the Wrong Reasons: Diagnosing Syntactic Heuristics in Natural Language Inference
Tom McCoy | Ellie Pavlick | Tal Linzen
Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

A machine learning system can score well on a given test set by relying on heuristics that are effective for frequent example types but break down in more challenging cases. We study this issue within natural language inference (NLI), the task of determining whether one sentence entails another. We hypothesize that statistical NLI models may adopt three fallible syntactic heuristics: the lexical overlap heuristic, the subsequence heuristic, and the constituent heuristic. To determine whether models have adopted these heuristics, we introduce a controlled evaluation set called HANS (Heuristic Analysis for NLI Systems), which contains many examples where the heuristics fail. We find that models trained on MNLI, including BERT, a state-of-the-art model, perform very poorly on HANS, suggesting that they have indeed adopted these heuristics. We conclude that there is substantial room for improvement in NLI systems, and that the HANS dataset can motivate and measure progress in this area.

pdf bib
Quantity doesn’t buy quality syntax with neural language models
Marten van Schijndel | Aaron Mueller | Tal Linzen
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing and the 9th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (EMNLP-IJCNLP)

Recurrent neural networks can learn to predict upcoming words remarkably well on average; in syntactically complex contexts, however, they often assign unexpectedly high probabilities to ungrammatical words. We investigate to what extent these shortcomings can be mitigated by increasing the size of the network and the corpus on which it is trained. We find that gains from increasing network size are minimal beyond a certain point. Likewise, expanding the training corpus yields diminishing returns; we estimate that the training corpus would need to be unrealistically large for the models to match human performance. A comparison to GPT and BERT, Transformer-based models trained on billions of words, reveals that these models perform even more poorly than our LSTMs in some constructions. Our results make the case for more data efficient architectures.

pdf bib
Can Entropy Explain Successor Surprisal Effects in Reading?
Marten van Schijndel | Tal Linzen
Proceedings of the Society for Computation in Linguistics (SCiL) 2019

pdf bib
Proceedings of the Workshop on Cognitive Modeling and Computational Linguistics
Emmanuele Chersoni | Cassandra Jacobs | Alessandro Lenci | Tal Linzen | Laurent Prévot | Enrico Santus
Proceedings of the Workshop on Cognitive Modeling and Computational Linguistics

pdf bib
Proceedings of the 2019 ACL Workshop BlackboxNLP: Analyzing and Interpreting Neural Networks for NLP
Tal Linzen | Grzegorz Chrupała | Yonatan Belinkov | Dieuwke Hupkes
Proceedings of the 2019 ACL Workshop BlackboxNLP: Analyzing and Interpreting Neural Networks for NLP

pdf bib
Studying the Inductive Biases of RNNs with Synthetic Variations of Natural Languages
Shauli Ravfogel | Yoav Goldberg | Tal Linzen
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)

How do typological properties such as word order and morphological case marking affect the ability of neural sequence models to acquire the syntax of a language? Cross-linguistic comparisons of RNNs’ syntactic performance (e.g., on subject-verb agreement prediction) are complicated by the fact that any two languages differ in multiple typological properties, as well as by differences in training corpus. We propose a paradigm that addresses these issues: we create synthetic versions of English, which differ from English in one or more typological parameters, and generate corpora for those languages based on a parsed English corpus. We report a series of experiments in which RNNs were trained to predict agreement features for verbs in each of those synthetic languages. Among other findings, (1) performance was higher in subject-verb-object order (as in English) than in subject-object-verb order (as in Japanese), suggesting that RNNs have a recency bias; (2) predicting agreement with both subject and object (polypersonal agreement) improves over predicting each separately, suggesting that underlying syntactic knowledge transfers across the two tasks; and (3) overt morphological case makes agreement prediction significantly easier, regardless of word order.

pdf bib
Using Priming to Uncover the Organization of Syntactic Representations in Neural Language Models
Grusha Prasad | Marten van Schijndel | Tal Linzen
Proceedings of the 23rd Conference on Computational Natural Language Learning (CoNLL)

Neural language models (LMs) perform well on tasks that require sensitivity to syntactic structure. Drawing on the syntactic priming paradigm from psycholinguistics, we propose a novel technique to analyze the representations that enable such success. By establishing a gradient similarity metric between structures, this technique allows us to reconstruct the organization of the LMs’ syntactic representational space. We use this technique to demonstrate that LSTM LMs’ representations of different types of sentences with relative clauses are organized hierarchically in a linguistically interpretable manner, suggesting that the LMs track abstract properties of the sentence.

2018

pdf bib
Colorless Green Recurrent Networks Dream Hierarchically
Kristina Gulordava | Piotr Bojanowski | Edouard Grave | Tal Linzen | Marco Baroni
Proceedings of the 2018 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies, Volume 1 (Long Papers)

Recurrent neural networks (RNNs) achieved impressive results in a variety of linguistic processing tasks, suggesting that they can induce non-trivial properties of language. We investigate to what extent RNNs learn to track abstract hierarchical syntactic structure. We test whether RNNs trained with a generic language modeling objective in four languages (Italian, English, Hebrew, Russian) can predict long-distance number agreement in various constructions. We include in our evaluation nonsensical sentences where RNNs cannot rely on semantic or lexical cues (“The colorless green ideas I ate with the chair sleep furiously”), and, for Italian, we compare model performance to human intuitions. Our language-model-trained RNNs make reliable predictions about long-distance agreement, and do not lag much behind human performance. We thus bring support to the hypothesis that RNNs are not just shallow-pattern extractors, but they also acquire deeper grammatical competence.

pdf bib
Proceedings of the 8th Workshop on Cognitive Modeling and Computational Linguistics (CMCL 2018)
Asad Sayeed | Cassandra Jacobs | Tal Linzen | Marten van Schijndel
Proceedings of the 8th Workshop on Cognitive Modeling and Computational Linguistics (CMCL 2018)

pdf bib
Phonological (un)certainty weights lexical activation
Laura Gwilliams | David Poeppel | Alec Marantz | Tal Linzen
Proceedings of the 8th Workshop on Cognitive Modeling and Computational Linguistics (CMCL 2018)

pdf bib
Proceedings of the 2018 EMNLP Workshop BlackboxNLP: Analyzing and Interpreting Neural Networks for NLP
Tal Linzen | Grzegorz Chrupała | Afra Alishahi
Proceedings of the 2018 EMNLP Workshop BlackboxNLP: Analyzing and Interpreting Neural Networks for NLP

pdf bib
Targeted Syntactic Evaluation of Language Models
Rebecca Marvin | Tal Linzen
Proceedings of the 2018 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

We present a data set for evaluating the grammaticality of the predictions of a language model. We automatically construct a large number of minimally different pairs of English sentences, each consisting of a grammatical and an ungrammatical sentence. The sentence pairs represent different variations of structure-sensitive phenomena: subject-verb agreement, reflexive anaphora and negative polarity items. We expect a language model to assign a higher probability to the grammatical sentence than the ungrammatical one. In an experiment using this data set, an LSTM language model performed poorly on many of the constructions. Multi-task training with a syntactic objective (CCG supertagging) improved the LSTM’s accuracy, but a large gap remained between its performance and the accuracy of human participants recruited online. This suggests that there is considerable room for improvement over LSTMs in capturing syntax in a language model.

pdf bib
A Neural Model of Adaptation in Reading
Marten van Schijndel | Tal Linzen
Proceedings of the 2018 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

It has been argued that humans rapidly adapt their lexical and syntactic expectations to match the statistics of the current linguistic context. We provide further support to this claim by showing that the addition of a simple adaptation mechanism to a neural language model improves our predictions of human reading times compared to a non-adaptive model. We analyze the performance of the model on controlled materials from psycholinguistic experiments and show that it adapts not only to lexical items but also to abstract syntactic structures.

2017

pdf bib
Comparing Character-level Neural Language Models Using a Lexical Decision Task
Gaël Le Godais | Tal Linzen | Emmanuel Dupoux
Proceedings of the 15th Conference of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Volume 2, Short Papers

What is the information captured by neural network models of language? We address this question in the case of character-level recurrent neural language models. These models do not have explicit word representations; do they acquire implicit ones? We assess the lexical capacity of a network using the lexical decision task common in psycholinguistics: the system is required to decide whether or not a string of characters forms a word. We explore how accuracy on this task is affected by the architecture of the network, focusing on cell type (LSTM vs. SRN), depth and width. We also compare these architectural properties to a simple count of the parameters of the network. The overall number of parameters in the network turns out to be the most important predictor of accuracy; in particular, there is little evidence that deeper networks are beneficial for this task.

pdf bib
Exploring the Syntactic Abilities of RNNs with Multi-task Learning
Émile Enguehard | Yoav Goldberg | Tal Linzen
Proceedings of the 21st Conference on Computational Natural Language Learning (CoNLL 2017)

Recent work has explored the syntactic abilities of RNNs using the subject-verb agreement task, which diagnoses sensitivity to sentence structure. RNNs performed this task well in common cases, but faltered in complex sentences (Linzen et al., 2016). We test whether these errors are due to inherent limitations of the architecture or to the relatively indirect supervision provided by most agreement dependencies in a corpus. We trained a single RNN to perform both the agreement task and an additional task, either CCG supertagging or language modeling. Multi-task training led to significantly lower error rates, in particular on complex sentences, suggesting that RNNs have the ability to evolve more sophisticated syntactic representations than shown before. We also show that easily available agreement training data can improve performance on other syntactic tasks, in particular when only a limited amount of training data is available for those tasks. The multi-task paradigm can also be leveraged to inject grammatical knowledge into language models.

pdf bib
Proceedings of the 7th Workshop on Cognitive Modeling and Computational Linguistics (CMCL 2017)
Ted Gibson | Tal Linzen | Asad Sayeed | Martin van Schijndel | William Schuler
Proceedings of the 7th Workshop on Cognitive Modeling and Computational Linguistics (CMCL 2017)

2016

pdf bib
Issues in evaluating semantic spaces using word analogies
Tal Linzen
Proceedings of the 1st Workshop on Evaluating Vector-Space Representations for NLP

pdf bib
Evaluating vector space models using human semantic priming results
Allyson Ettinger | Tal Linzen
Proceedings of the 1st Workshop on Evaluating Vector-Space Representations for NLP

pdf bib
Quantificational features in distributional word representations
Tal Linzen | Emmanuel Dupoux | Benjamin Spector
Proceedings of the Fifth Joint Conference on Lexical and Computational Semantics

pdf bib
Assessing the Ability of LSTMs to Learn Syntax-Sensitive Dependencies
Tal Linzen | Emmanuel Dupoux | Yoav Goldberg
Transactions of the Association for Computational Linguistics, Volume 4

The success of long short-term memory (LSTM) neural networks in language processing is typically attributed to their ability to capture long-distance statistical regularities. Linguistic regularities are often sensitive to syntactic structure; can such dependencies be captured by LSTMs, which do not have explicit structural representations? We begin addressing this question using number agreement in English subject-verb dependencies. We probe the architecture’s grammatical competence both using training objectives with an explicit grammatical target (number prediction, grammaticality judgments) and using language models. In the strongly supervised settings, the LSTM achieved very high overall accuracy (less than 1% errors), but errors increased when sequential and structural information conflicted. The frequency of such errors rose sharply in the language-modeling setting. We conclude that LSTMs can capture a non-trivial amount of grammatical structure given targeted supervision, but stronger architectures may be required to further reduce errors; furthermore, the language modeling signal is insufficient for capturing syntax-sensitive dependencies, and should be supplemented with more direct supervision if such dependencies need to be captured.

2015

pdf bib
A model of rapid phonotactic generalization
Tal Linzen | Timothy O’Donnell
Proceedings of the 2015 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

2014

pdf bib
Investigating the role of entropy in sentence processing
Tal Linzen | Florian Jaeger
Proceedings of the Fifth Workshop on Cognitive Modeling and Computational Linguistics