Toby Li


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Interactive Text-to-SQL Generation via Editable Step-by-Step Explanations
Yuan Tian | Zheng Zhang | Zheng Ning | Toby Li | Jonathan K. Kummerfeld | Tianyi Zhang
Proceedings of the 2023 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Relational databases play an important role in business, science, and more. However, many users cannot fully unleash the analytical power of relational databases, because they are not familiar with database languages such as SQL. Many techniques have been proposed to automatically generate SQL from natural language, but they suffer from two issues: (1) they still make many mistakes, particularly for complex queries, and (2) they do not provide a flexible way for non-expert users to validate and refine incorrect queries. To address these issues, we introduce a new interaction mechanism that allows users to directly edit a step-by-step explanation of a query to fix errors. Our experiments on multiple datasets, as well as a user study with 24 participants, demonstrate that our approach can achieve better performance than multiple SOTA approaches. Our code and datasets are available at


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Fantastic Questions and Where to Find Them: FairytaleQA – An Authentic Dataset for Narrative Comprehension
Ying Xu | Dakuo Wang | Mo Yu | Daniel Ritchie | Bingsheng Yao | Tongshuang Wu | Zheng Zhang | Toby Li | Nora Bradford | Branda Sun | Tran Hoang | Yisi Sang | Yufang Hou | Xiaojuan Ma | Diyi Yang | Nanyun Peng | Zhou Yu | Mark Warschauer
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Question answering (QA) is a fundamental means to facilitate assessment and training of narrative comprehension skills for both machines and young children, yet there is scarcity of high-quality QA datasets carefully designed to serve this purpose. In particular, existing datasets rarely distinguish fine-grained reading skills, such as the understanding of varying narrative elements. Drawing on the reading education research, we introduce FairytaleQA, a dataset focusing on narrative comprehension of kindergarten to eighth-grade students. Generated by educational experts based on an evidence-based theoretical framework, FairytaleQA consists of 10,580 explicit and implicit questions derived from 278 children-friendly stories, covering seven types of narrative elements or relations. Our dataset is valuable in two folds: First, we ran existing QA models on our dataset and confirmed that this annotation helps assess models’ fine-grained learning skills. Second, the dataset supports question generation (QG) task in the education domain. Through benchmarking with QG models, we show that the QG model trained on FairytaleQA is capable of asking high-quality and more diverse questions.

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It is AI’s Turn to Ask Humans a Question: Question-Answer Pair Generation for Children’s Story Books
Bingsheng Yao | Dakuo Wang | Tongshuang Wu | Zheng Zhang | Toby Li | Mo Yu | Ying Xu
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Existing question answering (QA) techniques are created mainly to answer questions asked by humans. But in educational applications, teachers often need to decide what questions they should ask, in order to help students to improve their narrative understanding capabilities. We design an automated question-answer generation (QAG) system for this education scenario: given a story book at the kindergarten to eighth-grade level as input, our system can automatically generate QA pairs that are capable of testing a variety of dimensions of a student’s comprehension skills. Our proposed QAG model architecture is demonstrated using a new expert-annotated FairytaleQA dataset, which has 278 child-friendly storybooks with 10,580 QA pairs. Automatic and human evaluations show that our model outperforms state-of-the-art QAG baseline systems. On top of our QAG system, we also start to build an interactive story-telling application for the future real-world deployment in this educational scenario.