Factorising Meaning and Form for Intent-Preserving Paraphrasing
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)
We propose a method for generating paraphrases of English questions that retain the original intent but use a different surface form. Our model combines a careful choice of training objective with a principled information bottleneck, to induce a latent encoding space that disentangles meaning and form. We train an encoder-decoder model to reconstruct a question from a paraphrase with the same meaning and an exemplar with the same surface form, leading to separated encoding spaces. We use a Vector-Quantized Variational Autoencoder to represent the surface form as a set of discrete latent variables, allowing us to use a classifier to select a different surface form at test time. Crucially, our method does not require access to an external source of target exemplars. Extensive experiments and a human evaluation show that we are able to generate paraphrases with a better tradeoff between semantic preservation and syntactic novelty compared to previous methods.
Querent Intent in Multi-Sentence Questions
Proceedings of the 14th Linguistic Annotation Workshop
Multi-sentence questions (MSQs) are sequences of questions connected by relations which, unlike sequences of standalone questions, need to be answered as a unit. Following Rhetorical Structure Theory (RST), we recognise that different “question discourse relations” between the subparts of MSQs reflect different speaker intents, and consequently elicit different answering strategies. Correctly identifying these relations is therefore a crucial step in automatically answering MSQs. We identify five different types of MSQs in English, and define five novel relations to describe them. We extract over 162,000 MSQs from Stack Exchange to enable future research. Finally, we implement a high-precision baseline classifier based on surface features.
Evaluating Rewards for Question Generation Models
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)
Recent approaches to question generation have used modifications to a Seq2Seq architecture inspired by advances in machine translation. Models are trained using teacher forcing to optimise only the one-step-ahead prediction. However, at test time, the model is asked to generate a whole sequence, causing errors to propagate through the generation process (exposure bias). A number of authors have suggested that optimising for rewards less tightly coupled to the training data might counter this mismatch. We therefore optimise directly for various objectives beyond simply replicating the ground truth questions, including a novel approach using an adversarial discriminator that seeks to generate questions that are indistinguishable from real examples. We confirm that training with policy gradient methods leads to increases in the metrics used as rewards. We perform a human evaluation, and show that although these metrics have previously been assumed to be good proxies for question quality, they are poorly aligned with human judgement and the model simply learns to exploit the weaknesses of the reward source.