Traian Rebedea


pdf bib
NeMo Guardrails: A Toolkit for Controllable and Safe LLM Applications with Programmable Rails
Traian Rebedea | Razvan Dinu | Makesh Narsimhan Sreedhar | Christopher Parisien | Jonathan Cohen
Proceedings of the 2023 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing: System Demonstrations

NeMo Guardrails is an open-source toolkit for easily adding programmable guardrails to LLM-based conversational systems. Guardrails (or rails for short) are a specific way of controlling the output of an LLM, such as not talking about topics considered harmful, following a predefined dialogue path, using a particular language style, and more. There are several mechanisms that allow LLM providers and developers to add guardrails that are embedded into a specific model at training, e.g. using model alignment. Using a runtime inspired from dialogue management, NeMo Guardrails provides a different approach by allowing developers to add programmable rails to LLM applications - these are user-defined, independent of the underlying LLM, and interpretable. Our initial results show that the proposed approach can be used with several LLM providers to develop controllable and safe LLM applications using programmable rails.


pdf bib
Multimodal Semi-supervised Learning for Disaster Tweet Classification
Iustin Sirbu | Tiberiu Sosea | Cornelia Caragea | Doina Caragea | Traian Rebedea
Proceedings of the 29th International Conference on Computational Linguistics

During natural disasters, people often use social media platforms, such as Twitter, to post information about casualties and damage produced by disasters. This information can help relief authorities gain situational awareness in nearly real time, and enable them to quickly distribute resources where most needed. However, annotating data for this purpose can be burdensome, subjective and expensive. In this paper, we investigate how to leverage the copious amounts of unlabeled data generated on social media by disaster eyewitnesses and affected individuals during disaster events. To this end, we propose a semi-supervised learning approach to improve the performance of neural models on several multimodal disaster tweet classification tasks. Our approach shows significant improvements, obtaining up to 7.7% improvements in F-1 in low-data regimes and 1.9% when using the entire training data. We make our code and data publicly available at

pdf bib
Distilling the Knowledge of Romanian BERTs Using Multiple Teachers
Andrei-Marius Avram | Darius Catrina | Dumitru-Clementin Cercel | Mihai Dascalu | Traian Rebedea | Vasile Pais | Dan Tufis
Proceedings of the Thirteenth Language Resources and Evaluation Conference

Running large-scale pre-trained language models in computationally constrained environments remains a challenging problem yet to be addressed, while transfer learning from these models has become prevalent in Natural Language Processing tasks. Several solutions, including knowledge distillation, network quantization, or network pruning have been previously proposed; however, these approaches focus mostly on the English language, thus widening the gap when considering low-resource languages. In this work, we introduce three light and fast versions of distilled BERT models for the Romanian language: Distil-BERT-base-ro, Distil-RoBERT-base, and DistilMulti-BERT-base-ro. The first two models resulted from the individual distillation of knowledge from two base versions of Romanian BERTs available in literature, while the last one was obtained by distilling their ensemble. To our knowledge, this is the first attempt to create publicly available Romanian distilled BERT models, which were thoroughly evaluated on five tasks: part-of-speech tagging, named entity recognition, sentiment analysis, semantic textual similarity, and dialect identification. Our experimental results argue that the three distilled models offer performance comparable to their teachers, while being twice as fast on a GPU and ~35% smaller. In addition, we further test the similarity between the predictions of our students versus their teachers by measuring their label and probability loyalty, together with regression loyalty - a new metric introduced in this work.


pdf bib
BART-TL: Weakly-Supervised Topic Label Generation
Cristian Popa | Traian Rebedea
Proceedings of the 16th Conference of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Main Volume

We propose a novel solution for assigning labels to topic models by using multiple weak labelers. The method leverages generative transformers to learn accurate representations of the most important topic terms and candidate labels. This is achieved by fine-tuning pre-trained BART models on a large number of potential labels generated by state of the art non-neural models for topic labeling, enriched with different techniques. The proposed BART-TL model is able to generate valuable and novel labels in a weakly-supervised manner and can be improved by adding other weak labelers or distant supervision on similar tasks.

pdf bib
jurBERT: A Romanian BERT Model for Legal Judgement Prediction
Mihai Masala | Radu Cristian Alexandru Iacob | Ana Sabina Uban | Marina Cidota | Horia Velicu | Traian Rebedea | Marius Popescu
Proceedings of the Natural Legal Language Processing Workshop 2021

Transformer-based models have become the de facto standard in the field of Natural Language Processing (NLP). By leveraging large unlabeled text corpora, they enable efficient transfer learning leading to state-of-the-art results on numerous NLP tasks. Nevertheless, for low resource languages and highly specialized tasks, transformer models tend to lag behind more classical approaches (e.g. SVM, LSTM) due to the lack of aforementioned corpora. In this paper we focus on the legal domain and we introduce a Romanian BERT model pre-trained on a large specialized corpus. Our model outperforms several strong baselines for legal judgement prediction on two different corpora consisting of cases from trials involving banks in Romania.

pdf bib
Dialect Identification through Adversarial Learning and Knowledge Distillation on Romanian BERT
George-Eduard Zaharia | Andrei-Marius Avram | Dumitru-Clementin Cercel | Traian Rebedea
Proceedings of the Eighth Workshop on NLP for Similar Languages, Varieties and Dialects

Dialect identification is a task with applicability in a vast array of domains, ranging from automatic speech recognition to opinion mining. This work presents our architectures used for the VarDial 2021 Romanian Dialect Identification subtask. We introduced a series of solutions based on Romanian or multilingual Transformers, as well as adversarial training techniques. At the same time, we experimented with a knowledge distillation tool in order to check whether a smaller model can maintain the performance of our best approach. Our best solution managed to obtain a weighted F1-score of 0.7324, allowing us to obtain the 2nd place on the leaderboard.


pdf bib
UPB at SemEval-2020 Task 9: Identifying Sentiment in Code-Mixed Social Media Texts Using Transformers and Multi-Task Learning
George-Eduard Zaharia | George-Alexandru Vlad | Dumitru-Clementin Cercel | Traian Rebedea | Costin Chiru
Proceedings of the Fourteenth Workshop on Semantic Evaluation

Sentiment analysis is a process widely used in opinion mining campaigns conducted today. This phenomenon presents applications in a variety of fields, especially in collecting information related to the attitude or satisfaction of users concerning a particular subject. However, the task of managing such a process becomes noticeably more difficult when it is applied in cultures that tend to combine two languages in order to express ideas and thoughts. By interleaving words from two languages, the user can express with ease, but at the cost of making the text far less intelligible for those who are not familiar with this technique, but also for standard opinion mining algorithms. In this paper, we describe the systems developed by our team for SemEval-2020 Task 9 that aims to cover two well-known code-mixed languages: Hindi-English and Spanish-English. We intend to solve this issue by introducing a solution that takes advantage of several neural network approaches, as well as pre-trained word embeddings. Our approach (multlingual BERT) achieves promising performance on the Hindi-English task, with an average F1-score of 0.6850, registered on the competition leaderboard, ranking our team 16 out of 62 participants. For the Spanish-English task, we obtained an average F1-score of 0.7064 ranking our team 17th out of 29 participants by using another multilingual Transformer-based model, XLM-RoBERTa.

pdf bib
Neural Approaches for Natural Language Interfaces to Databases: A Survey
Radu Cristian Alexandru Iacob | Florin Brad | Elena-Simona Apostol | Ciprian-Octavian Truică | Ionel Alexandru Hosu | Traian Rebedea
Proceedings of the 28th International Conference on Computational Linguistics

A natural language interface to databases (NLIDB) enables users without technical expertise to easily access information from relational databases. Interest in NLIDBs has resurged in the past years due to the availability of large datasets and improvements to neural sequence-to-sequence models. In this survey we focus on the key design decisions behind current state of the art neural approaches, which we group into encoder and decoder improvements. We highlight the three most important directions, namely linking question tokens to database schema elements (schema linking), better architectures for encoding the textual query taking into account the schema (schema encoding), and improved generation of structured queries using autoregressive neural models (grammar-based decoders). To foster future research, we also present an overview of the most important NLIDB datasets, together with a comparison of the top performing neural models and a short insight into recent non deep learning solutions.

pdf bib
Exploring the Power of Romanian BERT for Dialect Identification
George-Eduard Zaharia | Andrei-Marius Avram | Dumitru-Clementin Cercel | Traian Rebedea
Proceedings of the 7th Workshop on NLP for Similar Languages, Varieties and Dialects

Dialect identification represents a key aspect for improving a series of tasks, for example, opinion mining, considering that the location of the speaker can greatly influence the attitude towards a subject. In this work, we describe the systems developed by our team for VarDial 2020: Romanian Dialect Identification, a task specifically created for challenging participants to solve the previously mentioned issue. More specifically, we introduce a series of neural systems based on Transformers, that combine a BERT model exclusively pre-trained on the Romanian language with techniques such as adversarial training or character-level embeddings. By using these approaches, we were able to obtain a 0.6475 macro F1 score on the test dataset, thus allowing us to be ranked 5th out of 8 participant teams.


pdf bib
Answering questions by learning to rank - Learning to rank by answering questions
George Sebastian Pirtoaca | Traian Rebedea | Stefan Ruseti
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing and the 9th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (EMNLP-IJCNLP)

Answering multiple-choice questions in a setting in which no supporting documents are explicitly provided continues to stand as a core problem in natural language processing. The contribution of this article is two-fold. First, it describes a method which can be used to semantically rank documents extracted from Wikipedia or similar natural language corpora. Second, we propose a model employing the semantic ranking that holds the first place in two of the most popular leaderboards for answering multiple-choice questions: ARC Easy and Challenge. To achieve this, we introduce a self-attention based neural network that latently learns to rank documents by their importance related to a given question, whilst optimizing the objective of predicting the correct answer. These documents are considered relevant contexts for the underlying question. We have published the ranked documents so that they can be used off-the-shelf to improve downstream decision models.

pdf bib
Cross-Domain Training for Goal-Oriented Conversational Agents
Alexandra Maria Bodîrlău | Stefania Budulan | Traian Rebedea
Proceedings of the International Conference on Recent Advances in Natural Language Processing (RANLP 2019)

Goal-Oriented Chatbots in fields such as customer support, providing certain information or general help with bookings or reservations, suffer from low performance partly due to the difficulty of obtaining large domain-specific annotated datasets. Given that the problem is closely related to the domain of the conversational agent and the data belonging to a specific domain is difficult to annotate, there have been some attempts at surpassing these challenges such as unsupervised pre-training or transfer learning between different domains. A more thorough analysis of the transfer learning mechanism is justified by the significant improvement of the results demonstrated in the results section. We describe extensive experiments using transfer learning and warm-starting techniques with improvements of more than 5% in relative percentage of success rate in the majority of cases, and up to 10x faster convergence as opposed to training the system without them.


pdf bib
Natural Language Interface for Databases Using a Dual-Encoder Model
Ionel Alexandru Hosu | Radu Cristian Alexandru Iacob | Florin Brad | Stefan Ruseti | Traian Rebedea
Proceedings of the 27th International Conference on Computational Linguistics

We propose a sketch-based two-step neural model for generating structured queries (SQL) based on a user’s request in natural language. The sketch is obtained by using placeholders for specific entities in the SQL query, such as column names, table names, aliases and variables, in a process similar to semantic parsing. The first step is to apply a sequence-to-sequence (SEQ2SEQ) model to determine the most probable SQL sketch based on the request in natural language. Then, a second network designed as a dual-encoder SEQ2SEQ model using both the text query and the previously obtained sketch is employed to generate the final SQL query. Our approach shows improvements over previous approaches on two recent large datasets (WikiSQL and SENLIDB) suitable for data-driven solutions for natural language interfaces for databases.


pdf bib
Dataset for a Neural Natural Language Interface for Databases (NNLIDB)
Florin Brad | Radu Cristian Alexandru Iacob | Ionel Alexandru Hosu | Traian Rebedea
Proceedings of the Eighth International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Progress in natural language interfaces to databases (NLIDB) has been slow mainly due to linguistic issues (such as language ambiguity) and domain portability. Moreover, the lack of a large corpus to be used as a standard benchmark has made data-driven approaches difficult to develop and compare. In this paper, we revisit the problem of NLIDBs and recast it as a sequence translation problem. To this end, we introduce a large dataset extracted from the Stack Exchange Data Explorer website, which can be used for training neural natural language interfaces for databases. We also report encouraging baseline results on a smaller manually annotated test corpus, obtained using an attention-based sequence-to-sequence neural network.

pdf bib
Neural Paraphrase Generation using Transfer Learning
Florin Brad | Traian Rebedea
Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Natural Language Generation

Progress in statistical paraphrase generation has been hindered for a long time by the lack of large monolingual parallel corpora. In this paper, we adapt the neural machine translation approach to paraphrase generation and perform transfer learning from the closely related task of entailment generation. We evaluate the model on the Microsoft Research Paraphrase (MSRP) corpus and show that the model is able to generate sentences that capture part of the original meaning, but fails to pick up on important words or to show large lexical variation.


pdf bib
Using Embedding Masks for Word Categorization
Stefan Ruseti | Traian Rebedea | Stefan Trausan-Matu
Proceedings of the 1st Workshop on Representation Learning for NLP