Tianxiang Sun


pdf bib
DiffusionBERT: Improving Generative Masked Language Models with Diffusion Models
Zhengfu He | Tianxiang Sun | Qiong Tang | Kuanning Wang | Xuanjing Huang | Xipeng Qiu
Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

We present DiffusionBERT, a new generative masked language model based on discrete dif- fusion models. Diffusion models and many pre- trained language models have a shared training objective, i.e., denoising, making it possible to combine the two powerful models and enjoy the best of both worlds. On the one hand, dif- fusion models offer a promising training strat- egy that helps improve the generation quality. On the other hand, pre-trained denoising lan- guage models (e.g., BERT) can be used as a good initialization that accelerates convergence. We explore training BERT to learn the reverse process of a discrete diffusion process with an absorbing state and elucidate several designs to improve it. First, we propose a new noise schedule for the forward diffusion process that controls the degree of noise added at each step based on the information of each token. Sec- ond, we investigate several designs of incorpo- rating the time step into BERT. Experiments on unconditional text generation demonstrate that DiffusionBERT achieves significant improve- ment over existing diffusion models for text (e.g., D3PM and Diffusion-LM) and previous generative masked language models in terms of perplexity and BLEU score. Promising re- sults in conditional generation tasks show that DiffusionBERT can generate texts of compa- rable quality and more diverse than a series of established baselines.

pdf bib
Multitask Pre-training of Modular Prompt for Chinese Few-Shot Learning
Tianxiang Sun | Zhengfu He | Qin Zhu | Xipeng Qiu | Xuanjing Huang
Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Prompt tuning is a parameter-efficient approach to adapting pre-trained language models to downstream tasks. Although prompt tuning has been shown to match the performance of full model tuning when training data is sufficient, it tends to struggle in few-shot learning settings. In this paper, we present Multi-task Pre-trained Modular Prompt (MP2) to boost prompt tuning for few-shot learning. MP2 is a set of combinable prompts pre-trained on 38 Chinese tasks. On downstream tasks, the pre-trained prompts are selectively activated and combined, leading to strong compositional generalization to unseen tasks. To bridge the gap between pre-training and fine-tuning, we formulate upstream and downstream tasks into a unified machine reading comprehension task. Extensive experiments under two learning paradigms, i.e., gradient descent and black-box tuning, show that MP2 significantly outperforms prompt tuning, full model tuning, and prior prompt pre-training methods in few-shot settings. In addition, we demonstrate that MP2 can achieve surprisingly fast and strong adaptation to downstream tasks by merely learning 8 parameters to combine the pre-trained modular prompts.

pdf bib
CodeIE: Large Code Generation Models are Better Few-Shot Information Extractors
Peng Li | Tianxiang Sun | Qiong Tang | Hang Yan | Yuanbin Wu | Xuanjing Huang | Xipeng Qiu
Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Large language models (LLMs) pre-trained on massive corpora have demonstrated impressive few-shot learning ability on many NLP tasks. A common practice is to recast the task into a text-to-text format such that generative LLMs of natural language (NL-LLMs) like GPT-3 can be prompted to solve it. However, it is nontrivial to perform information extraction (IE) tasks with NL-LLMs since the output of the IE task is usually structured and therefore is hard to be converted into plain text. In this paper, we propose to recast the structured output in the form of code instead of natural language and utilize generative LLMs of code (Code-LLMs) such as Codex to perform IE tasks, in particular, named entity recognition and relation extraction. In contrast to NL-LLMs, we show that Code-LLMs can be well-aligned with these IE tasks by designing code-style prompts and formulating these IE tasks as code generation tasks. Experiment results on seven benchmarks show that our method consistently outperforms fine-tuning moderate-size pre-trained models specially designed for IE tasks (e.g., UIE) and prompting NL-LLMs under few-shot settings. We further conduct a series of in-depth analyses to demonstrate the merits of leveraging Code-LLMs for IE tasks.

pdf bib
Improving Contrastive Learning of Sentence Embeddings from AI Feedback
Qinyuan Cheng | Xiaogui Yang | Tianxiang Sun | Linyang Li | Xipeng Qiu
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2023

Contrastive learning has become a popular approach in natural language processing, particularly for the learning of sentence embeddings.However, the discrete nature of natural language makes it difficult to ensure the quality of positive and negative sample pairs generated through data augmentation methods. Although supervised contrastive learning can produce more accurate sample pairs with human feedback labels, it still lacks fine-grained training signals. In this paper, we propose to improve Contrastive Learning of sentence embeddings from AI Feedback (CLAIF).Our method utilizes AI feedback from large pre-trained language models (LLMs) to construct sample pairs with fine-grained sample similarity scores to improve contrastive learning. Besides, we combine human feedback and AI feedback to provide better supervision signals for supervised contrastive learning of sentence embeddings.Experimental results show that our method achieves state-of-the-art performance on several semantic textual similarity (STS) and transfer learning tasks compared to other unsupervised and supervised contrastive learning methods.


pdf bib
BERTScore is Unfair: On Social Bias in Language Model-Based Metrics for Text Generation
Tianxiang Sun | Junliang He | Xipeng Qiu | Xuanjing Huang
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Automatic evaluation metrics are crucial to the development of generative systems. In recent years, pre-trained language model (PLM) based metrics, such as BERTScore, have been commonly adopted in various generation tasks. However, it has been demonstrated that PLMs encode a range of stereotypical societal biases, leading to a concern about the fairness of PLMs as metrics. To that end, this work presents the first systematic study on the social bias in PLM-based metrics. We demonstrate that popular PLM-based metrics exhibit significantly higher social bias than traditional metrics on 6 sensitive attributes, namely race, gender, religion, physical appearance, age, and socioeconomic status. In-depth analysis suggests that choosing paradigms (matching, regression, or generation) of the metric has a greater impact on fairness than choosing PLMs. In addition, we develop debiasing adapters that are injected into PLM layers, mitigating bias in PLM-based metrics while retaining high performance for evaluating text generation.

pdf bib
BBTv2: Towards a Gradient-Free Future with Large Language Models
Tianxiang Sun | Zhengfu He | Hong Qian | Yunhua Zhou | Xuanjing Huang | Xipeng Qiu
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Most downstream adaptation methods tune all or part of the parameters of pre-trained models (PTMs) through gradient descent, where the tuning cost increases linearly with the growth of the model size. By contrast, gradient-free methods only require the forward computation of the PTM to tune the prompt, retaining the benefits of efficient tuning and deployment. Though, past work on gradient-free tuning often introduces gradient descent to seek a good initialization of prompt and lacks versatility across tasks and PTMs.In this paper, we present BBTv2, an improved version of Black-Box Tuning, to drive PTMs for few-shot learning. We prepend continuous prompts to every layer of the PTM and propose a divide-and-conquer gradient-free algorithm to optimize the prompts at different layers alternately. Extensive experiments across various tasks and PTMs show that BBTv2 can achieve comparable performance to full model tuning and state-of-the-art parameter-efficient methods (e.g., Adapter, LoRA, BitFit, etc.) under few-shot settings while maintaining much fewer tunable parameters.

pdf bib
Towards Efficient NLP: A Standard Evaluation and A Strong Baseline
Xiangyang Liu | Tianxiang Sun | Junliang He | Jiawen Wu | Lingling Wu | Xinyu Zhang | Hao Jiang | Zhao Cao | Xuanjing Huang | Xipeng Qiu
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Supersized pre-trained language models have pushed the accuracy of various natural language processing (NLP) tasks to a new state-of-the-art (SOTA). Rather than pursuing the reachless SOTA accuracy, more and more researchers start paying attention to model efficiency and usability. Different from accuracy, the metric for efficiency varies across different studies, making them hard to be fairly compared. To that end, this work presents ELUE (Efficient Language Understanding Evaluation), a standard evaluation, and a public leaderboard for efficient NLP models. ELUE is dedicated to depicting the Pareto Frontier for various language understanding tasks, such that it can tell whether and how much a method achieves Pareto improvement. Along with the benchmark, we also release a strong baseline, ElasticBERT, which allows BERT to exit at any layer in both static and dynamic ways. We demonstrate the ElasticBERT, despite its simplicity, outperforms or performs on par with SOTA compressed and early exiting models. With ElasticBERT, the proposed ELUE has a strong Pareto Frontier and makes a better evaluation for efficient NLP models.

pdf bib
A Simple Hash-Based Early Exiting Approach For Language Understanding and Generation
Tianxiang Sun | Xiangyang Liu | Wei Zhu | Zhichao Geng | Lingling Wu | Yilong He | Yuan Ni | Guotong Xie | Xuanjing Huang | Xipeng Qiu
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2022

Early exiting allows instances to exit at different layers according to the estimation of difficulty. Previous works usually adopt heuristic metrics such as the entropy of internal outputs to measure instance difficulty, which suffers from generalization and threshold-tuning. In contrast, learning to exit, or learning to predict instance difficulty is a more appealing way. Though some effort has been devoted to employing such “learn-to-exit” modules, it is still unknown whether and how well the instance difficulty can be learned. As a response, we first conduct experiments on the learnability of instance difficulty, which demonstrates that modern neural models perform poorly on predicting instance difficulty. Based on this observation, we propose a simple-yet-effective Hash-based Early Exiting approach HashEE) that replaces the learn-to-exit modules with hash functions to assign each token to a fixed exiting layer. Different from previous methods, HashEE requires no internal classifiers nor extra parameters, and therefore is more efficient. HashEE can be used in various tasks (including language understanding and generation) and model architectures such as seq2seq models. Experimental results on classification, regression, and generation tasks demonstrate that HashEE can achieve higher performance with fewer FLOPs and inference time compared with previous state-of-the-art early exiting methods.

pdf bib
Late Prompt Tuning: A Late Prompt Could Be Better Than Many Prompts
Xiangyang Liu | Tianxiang Sun | Xuanjing Huang | Xipeng Qiu
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2022

Prompt tuning is a parameter-efficient tuning (PETuning) method for utilizing pre-trained models (PTMs) that simply prepends a soft prompt to the input and only optimizes the prompt to adapt PTMs to downstream tasks. Although it is parameter- and deployment-efficient, its performance still lags behind other state-of-the-art PETuning methods. Besides, the training cost of prompt tuning is not significantly reduced due to the back-propagation through the entire model. Through empirical analyses, we shed some light on the lagging performance of prompt tuning and recognize a trade-off between the propagation distance from label signals to the inserted prompt and the influence of the prompt on model outputs. Further, we present Late Prompt Tuning (LPT) that inserts a late prompt into an intermediate layer of the PTM instead of the input layer or all layers. The late prompt is obtained by a neural prompt generator conditioned on the hidden states before the prompt insertion layer and therefore is instance-dependent. Through extensive experimental results across various tasks and PTMs, we show that LPT can achieve competitive performance to full model tuning and other PETuning methods under both full-data and few-shot scenarios while possessing faster training speed and lower memory cost.


pdf bib
Does syntax matter? A strong baseline for Aspect-based Sentiment Analysis with RoBERTa
Junqi Dai | Hang Yan | Tianxiang Sun | Pengfei Liu | Xipeng Qiu
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Aspect-based Sentiment Analysis (ABSA), aiming at predicting the polarities for aspects, is a fine-grained task in the field of sentiment analysis. Previous work showed syntactic information, e.g. dependency trees, can effectively improve the ABSA performance. Recently, pre-trained models (PTMs) also have shown their effectiveness on ABSA. Therefore, the question naturally arises whether PTMs contain sufficient syntactic information for ABSA so that we can obtain a good ABSA model only based on PTMs. In this paper, we firstly compare the induced trees from PTMs and the dependency parsing trees on several popular models for the ABSA task, showing that the induced tree from fine-tuned RoBERTa (FT-RoBERTa) outperforms the parser-provided tree. The further analysis experiments reveal that the FT-RoBERTa Induced Tree is more sentiment-word-oriented and could benefit the ABSA task. The experiments also show that the pure RoBERTa-based model can outperform or approximate to the previous SOTA performances on six datasets across four languages since it implicitly incorporates the task-oriented syntactic information.

pdf bib
Accelerating BERT Inference for Sequence Labeling via Early-Exit
Xiaonan Li | Yunfan Shao | Tianxiang Sun | Hang Yan | Xipeng Qiu | Xuanjing Huang
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)

Both performance and efficiency are crucial factors for sequence labeling tasks in many real-world scenarios. Although the pre-trained models (PTMs) have significantly improved the performance of various sequence labeling tasks, their computational cost is expensive. To alleviate this problem, we extend the recent successful early-exit mechanism to accelerate the inference of PTMs for sequence labeling tasks. However, existing early-exit mechanisms are specifically designed for sequence-level tasks, rather than sequence labeling. In this paper, we first propose a simple extension of sentence-level early-exit for sequence labeling tasks. To further reduce the computational cost, we also propose a token-level early-exit mechanism that allows partial tokens to exit early at different layers. Considering the local dependency inherent in sequence labeling, we employed a window-based criterion to decide for a token whether or not to exit. The token-level early-exit brings the gap between training and inference, so we introduce an extra self-sampling fine-tuning stage to alleviate it. The extensive experiments on three popular sequence labeling tasks show that our approach can save up to 66%∼75% inference cost with minimal performance degradation. Compared with competitive compressed models such as DistilBERT, our approach can achieve better performance under the same speed-up ratios of 2×, 3×, and 4×.


pdf bib
CoLAKE: Contextualized Language and Knowledge Embedding
Tianxiang Sun | Yunfan Shao | Xipeng Qiu | Qipeng Guo | Yaru Hu | Xuanjing Huang | Zheng Zhang
Proceedings of the 28th International Conference on Computational Linguistics

With the emerging branch of incorporating factual knowledge into pre-trained language models such as BERT, most existing models consider shallow, static, and separately pre-trained entity embeddings, which limits the performance gains of these models. Few works explore the potential of deep contextualized knowledge representation when injecting knowledge. In this paper, we propose the Contextualized Language and Knowledge Embedding (CoLAKE), which jointly learns contextualized representation for both language and knowledge with the extended MLM objective. Instead of injecting only entity embeddings, CoLAKE extracts the knowledge context of an entity from large-scale knowledge bases. To handle the heterogeneity of knowledge context and language context, we integrate them in a unified data structure, word-knowledge graph (WK graph). CoLAKE is pre-trained on large-scale WK graphs with the modified Transformer encoder. We conduct experiments on knowledge-driven tasks, knowledge probing tasks, and language understanding tasks. Experimental results show that CoLAKE outperforms previous counterparts on most of the tasks. Besides, CoLAKE achieves surprisingly high performance on our synthetic task called word-knowledge graph completion, which shows the superiority of simultaneously contextualizing language and knowledge representation.