Tyler Chang


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Different Tokenization Schemes Lead to Comparable Performance in Spanish Number Agreement
Catherine Arnett | Tyler Chang | Sean Trott
Proceedings of the 21st SIGMORPHON workshop on Computational Research in Phonetics, Phonology, and Morphology

The relationship between language model tokenization and performance is an open area of research. Here, we investigate how different tokenization schemes impact number agreement in Spanish plurals. We find that morphologically-aligned tokenization performs similarly to other tokenization schemes, even when induced artificially for words that would not be tokenized that way during training. We then present exploratory analyses demonstrating that language model embeddings for different plural tokenizations have similar distributions along the embedding space axis that maximally distinguishes singular and plural nouns. Our results suggest that morphologically-aligned tokenization is a viable tokenization approach, and existing models already generalize some morphological patterns to new items. However, our results indicate that morphological tokenization is not strictly required for performance.


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Structural Priming Demonstrates Abstract Grammatical Representations in Multilingual Language Models
James Michaelov | Catherine Arnett | Tyler Chang | Ben Bergen
Proceedings of the 2023 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Abstract grammatical knowledge—of parts of speech and grammatical patterns—is key to the capacity for linguistic generalization in humans. But how abstract is grammatical knowledge in large language models? In the human literature, compelling evidence for grammatical abstraction comes from structural priming. A sentence that shares the same grammatical structure as a preceding sentence is processed and produced more readily. Because confounds exist when using stimuli in a single language, evidence of abstraction is even more compelling from crosslingual structural priming, where use of a syntactic structure in one language primes an analogous structure in another language. We measure crosslingual structural priming in large language models, comparing model behavior to human experimental results from eight crosslingual experiments covering six languages, and four monolingual structural priming experiments in three non-English languages. We find evidence for abstract monolingual and crosslingual grammatical representations in the models that function similarly to those found in humans. These results demonstrate that grammatical representations in multilingual language models are not only similar across languages, but they can causally influence text produced in different languages.

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Characterizing and Measuring Linguistic Dataset Drift
Tyler Chang | Kishaloy Halder | Neha Anna John | Yogarshi Vyas | Yassine Benajiba | Miguel Ballesteros | Dan Roth
Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

NLP models often degrade in performance when real world data distributions differ markedly from training data. However, existing dataset drift metrics in NLP have generally not considered specific dimensions of linguistic drift that affect model performance, and they have not been validated in their ability to predict model performance at the individual example level, where such metrics are often used in practice. In this paper, we propose three dimensions of linguistic dataset drift: vocabulary, structural, and semantic drift. These dimensions correspond to content word frequency divergences, syntactic divergences, and meaning changes not captured by word frequencies (e.g. lexical semantic change). We propose interpretable metrics for all three drift dimensions, and we modify past performance prediction methods to predict model performance at both the example and dataset level for English sentiment classification and natural language inference. We find that our drift metrics are more effective than previous metrics at predicting out-of-domain model accuracies (mean 16.8% root mean square error decrease), particularly when compared to popular fine-tuned embedding distances (mean 47.7% error decrease). Fine-tuned embedding distances are much more effective at ranking individual examples by expected performance, but decomposing into vocabulary, structural, and semantic drift produces the best example rankings of all considered model-agnostic drift metrics (mean 6.7% ROC AUC increase).


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The Geometry of Multilingual Language Model Representations
Tyler Chang | Zhuowen Tu | Benjamin Bergen
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

We assess how multilingual language models maintain a shared multilingual representation space while still encoding language-sensitive information in each language. Using XLM-R as a case study, we show that languages occupy similar linear subspaces after mean-centering, evaluated based on causal effects on language modeling performance and direct comparisons between subspaces for 88 languages. The subspace means differ along language-sensitive axes that are relatively stable throughout middle layers, and these axes encode information such as token vocabularies. Shifting representations by language means is sufficient to induce token predictions in different languages. However, we also identify stable language-neutral axes that encode information such as token positions and part-of-speech. We visualize representations projected onto language-sensitive and language-neutral axes, identifying language family and part-of-speech clusters, along with spirals, toruses, and curves representing token position information. These results demonstrate that multilingual language models encode information along orthogonal language-sensitive and language-neutral axes, allowing the models to extract a variety of features for downstream tasks and cross-lingual transfer learning.


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Convolutions and Self-Attention: Re-interpreting Relative Positions in Pre-trained Language Models
Tyler Chang | Yifan Xu | Weijian Xu | Zhuowen Tu
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)

In this paper, we detail the relationship between convolutions and self-attention in natural language tasks. We show that relative position embeddings in self-attention layers are equivalent to recently-proposed dynamic lightweight convolutions, and we consider multiple new ways of integrating convolutions into Transformer self-attention. Specifically, we propose composite attention, which unites previous relative position encoding methods under a convolutional framework. We conduct experiments by training BERT with composite attention, finding that convolutions consistently improve performance on multiple downstream tasks, replacing absolute position embeddings. To inform future work, we present results comparing lightweight convolutions, dynamic convolutions, and depthwise-separable convolutions in language model pre-training, considering multiple injection points for convolutions in self-attention layers.