Torsten Scholak


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UnifiedSKG: Unifying and Multi-Tasking Structured Knowledge Grounding with Text-to-Text Language Models
Tianbao Xie | Chen Henry Wu | Peng Shi | Ruiqi Zhong | Torsten Scholak | Michihiro Yasunaga | Chien-Sheng Wu | Ming Zhong | Pengcheng Yin | Sida I. Wang | Victor Zhong | Bailin Wang | Chengzu Li | Connor Boyle | Ansong Ni | Ziyu Yao | Dragomir Radev | Caiming Xiong | Lingpeng Kong | Rui Zhang | Noah A. Smith | Luke Zettlemoyer | Tao Yu
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Structured knowledge grounding (SKG) leverages structured knowledge to complete user requests, such as semantic parsing over databases and question answering over knowledge bases. Since the inputs and outputs of SKG tasks are heterogeneous, they have been studied separately by different communities, which limits systematic and compatible research on SKG. In this paper, we overcome this limitation by proposing the UnifiedSKG framework, which unifies 21 SKG tasks into a text-to-text format, aiming to promote systematic SKG research, instead of being exclusive to a single task, domain, or dataset. We use UnifiedSKG to benchmark T5 with different sizes and show that T5, with simple modifications when necessary, achieves state-of-the-art performance on almost all of the 21 tasks. We further demonstrate that multi-task prefix-tuning improves the performance on most tasks, largely improving the overall performance. UnifiedSKG also facilitates the investigation of zero-shot and few-shot learning, and we show that T0, GPT-3, and Codex struggle in zero-shot and few-shot learning for SKG. We also use UnifiedSKG to conduct a series of controlled experiments on structured knowledge encoding variants across SKG tasks. UnifiedSKG is easily extensible to more tasks, and it is open-sourced at


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PICARD: Parsing Incrementally for Constrained Auto-Regressive Decoding from Language Models
Torsten Scholak | Nathan Schucher | Dzmitry Bahdanau
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Large pre-trained language models for textual data have an unconstrained output space; at each decoding step, they can produce any of 10,000s of sub-word tokens. When fine-tuned to target constrained formal languages like SQL, these models often generate invalid code, rendering it unusable. We propose PICARD (code available at, a method for constraining auto-regressive decoders of language models through incremental parsing. PICARD helps to find valid output sequences by rejecting inadmissible tokens at each decoding step. On the challenging Spider and CoSQL text-to-SQL translation tasks, we show that PICARD transforms fine-tuned T5 models with passable performance into state-of-the-art solutions.

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DuoRAT: Towards Simpler Text-to-SQL Models
Torsten Scholak | Raymond Li | Dzmitry Bahdanau | Harm de Vries | Chris Pal
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Recent neural text-to-SQL models can effectively translate natural language questions to corresponding SQL queries on unseen databases. Working mostly on the Spider dataset, researchers have proposed increasingly sophisticated solutions to the problem. Contrary to this trend, in this paper we focus on simplifications. We begin by building DuoRAT, a re-implementation of the state-of-the-art RAT-SQL model that unlike RAT-SQL is using only relation-aware or vanilla transformers as the building blocks. We perform several ablation experiments using DuoRAT as the baseline model. Our experiments confirm the usefulness of some techniques and point out the redundancy of others, including structural SQL features and features that link the question with the schema.