Vinit Ravishankar


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Word Order Does Matter and Shuffled Language Models Know It
Mostafa Abdou | Vinit Ravishankar | Artur Kulmizev | Anders Søgaard
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Recent studies have shown that language models pretrained and/or fine-tuned on randomly permuted sentences exhibit competitive performance on GLUE, putting into question the importance of word order information. Somewhat counter-intuitively, some of these studies also report that position embeddings appear to be crucial for models’ good performance with shuffled text. We probe these language models for word order information and investigate what position embeddings learned from shuffled text encode, showing that these models retain a notion of word order information. We show this is in part due to a subtlety in how shuffling is implemented in previous work – before rather than after subword segmentation. Surprisingly, we find even Language models trained on text shuffled after subword segmentation retain some semblance of information about word order because of the statistical dependencies between sentence length and unigram probabilities. Finally, we show that beyond GLUE, a variety of language understanding tasks do require word order information, often to an extent that cannot be learned through fine-tuning.


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The Impact of Positional Encodings on Multilingual Compression
Vinit Ravishankar | Anders Søgaard
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

In order to preserve word-order information in a non-autoregressive setting, transformer architectures tend to include positional knowledge, by (for instance) adding positional encodings to token embeddings. Several modifications have been proposed over the sinusoidal positional encodings used in the original transformer architecture; these include, for instance, separating position encodings and token embeddings, or directly modifying attention weights based on the distance between word pairs. We first show that surprisingly, while these modifications tend to improve monolingual language models, none of them result in better multilingual language models. We then answer why that is: sinusoidal encodings were explicitly designed to facilitate compositionality by allowing linear projections over arbitrary time steps. Higher variances in multilingual training distributions requires higher compression, in which case, compositionality becomes indispensable. Learned absolute positional encodings (e.g., in mBERT) tend to approximate sinusoidal embeddings in multilingual settings, but more complex positional encoding architectures lack the inductive bias to effectively learn cross-lingual alignment. In other words, while sinusoidal positional encodings were designed for monolingual applications, they are particularly useful in multilingual language models.

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Attention Can Reflect Syntactic Structure (If You Let It)
Vinit Ravishankar | Artur Kulmizev | Mostafa Abdou | Anders Søgaard | Joakim Nivre
Proceedings of the 16th Conference of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Main Volume

Since the popularization of the Transformer as a general-purpose feature encoder for NLP, many studies have attempted to decode linguistic structure from its novel multi-head attention mechanism. However, much of such work focused almost exclusively on English — a language with rigid word order and a lack of inflectional morphology. In this study, we present decoding experiments for multilingual BERT across 18 languages in order to test the generalizability of the claim that dependency syntax is reflected in attention patterns. We show that full trees can be decoded above baseline accuracy from single attention heads, and that individual relations are often tracked by the same heads across languages. Furthermore, in an attempt to address recent debates about the status of attention as an explanatory mechanism, we experiment with fine-tuning mBERT on a supervised parsing objective while freezing different series of parameters. Interestingly, in steering the objective to learn explicit linguistic structure, we find much of the same structure represented in the resulting attention patterns, with interesting differences with respect to which parameters are frozen.

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Multilingual ELMo and the Effects of Corpus Sampling
Vinit Ravishankar | Andrey Kutuzov | Lilja Øvrelid | Erik Velldal
Proceedings of the 23rd Nordic Conference on Computational Linguistics (NoDaLiDa)

Multilingual pretrained language models are rapidly gaining popularity in NLP systems for non-English languages. Most of these models feature an important corpus sampling step in the process of accumulating training data in different languages, to ensure that the signal from better resourced languages does not drown out poorly resourced ones. In this study, we train multiple multilingual recurrent language models, based on the ELMo architecture, and analyse both the effect of varying corpus size ratios on downstream performance, as well as the performance difference between monolingual models for each language, and broader multilingual language models. As part of this effort, we also make these trained models available for public use.


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Do Neural Language Models Show Preferences for Syntactic Formalisms?
Artur Kulmizev | Vinit Ravishankar | Mostafa Abdou | Joakim Nivre
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Recent work on the interpretability of deep neural language models has concluded that many properties of natural language syntax are encoded in their representational spaces. However, such studies often suffer from limited scope by focusing on a single language and a single linguistic formalism. In this study, we aim to investigate the extent to which the semblance of syntactic structure captured by language models adheres to a surface-syntactic or deep syntactic style of analysis, and whether the patterns are consistent across different languages. We apply a probe for extracting directed dependency trees to BERT and ELMo models trained on 13 different languages, probing for two different syntactic annotation styles: Universal Dependencies (UD), prioritizing deep syntactic relations, and Surface-Syntactic Universal Dependencies (SUD), focusing on surface structure. We find that both models exhibit a preference for UD over SUD — with interesting variations across languages and layers — and that the strength of this preference is correlated with differences in tree shape.

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The Sensitivity of Language Models and Humans to Winograd Schema Perturbations
Mostafa Abdou | Vinit Ravishankar | Maria Barrett | Yonatan Belinkov | Desmond Elliott | Anders Søgaard
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Large-scale pretrained language models are the major driving force behind recent improvements in perfromance on the Winograd Schema Challenge, a widely employed test of commonsense reasoning ability. We show, however, with a new diagnostic dataset, that these models are sensitive to linguistic perturbations of the Winograd examples that minimally affect human understanding. Our results highlight interesting differences between humans and language models: language models are more sensitive to number or gender alternations and synonym replacements than humans, and humans are more stable and consistent in their predictions, maintain a much higher absolute performance, and perform better on non-associative instances than associative ones.

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From Zero to Hero: On the Limitations of Zero-Shot Language Transfer with Multilingual Transformers
Anne Lauscher | Vinit Ravishankar | Ivan Vulić | Goran Glavaš
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

Massively multilingual transformers (MMTs) pretrained via language modeling (e.g., mBERT, XLM-R) have become a default paradigm for zero-shot language transfer in NLP, offering unmatched transfer performance. Current evaluations, however, verify their efficacy in transfers (a) to languages with sufficiently large pretraining corpora, and (b) between close languages. In this work, we analyze the limitations of downstream language transfer with MMTs, showing that, much like cross-lingual word embeddings, they are substantially less effective in resource-lean scenarios and for distant languages. Our experiments, encompassing three lower-level tasks (POS tagging, dependency parsing, NER) and two high-level tasks (NLI, QA), empirically correlate transfer performance with linguistic proximity between source and target languages, but also with the size of target language corpora used in MMT pretraining. Most importantly, we demonstrate that the inexpensive few-shot transfer (i.e., additional fine-tuning on a few target-language instances) is surprisingly effective across the board, warranting more research efforts reaching beyond the limiting zero-shot conditions.


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Probing Multilingual Sentence Representations With X-Probe
Vinit Ravishankar | Lilja Øvrelid | Erik Velldal
Proceedings of the 4th Workshop on Representation Learning for NLP (RepL4NLP-2019)

This paper extends the task of probing sentence representations for linguistic insight in a multilingual domain. In doing so, we make two contributions: first, we provide datasets for multilingual probing, derived from Wikipedia, in five languages, viz. English, French, German, Spanish and Russian. Second, we evaluate six sentence encoders for each language, each trained by mapping sentence representations to English sentence representations, using sentences in a parallel corpus. We discover that cross-lingually mapped representations are often better at retaining certain linguistic information than representations derived from English encoders trained on natural language inference (NLI) as a downstream task.

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Multilingual Probing of Deep Pre-Trained Contextual Encoders
Vinit Ravishankar | Memduh Gökırmak | Lilja Øvrelid | Erik Velldal
Proceedings of the First NLPL Workshop on Deep Learning for Natural Language Processing

Encoders that generate representations based on context have, in recent years, benefited from adaptations that allow for pre-training on large text corpora. Earlier work on evaluating fixed-length sentence representations has included the use of ‘probing’ tasks, that use diagnostic classifiers to attempt to quantify the extent to which these encoders capture specific linguistic phenomena. The principle of probing has also resulted in extended evaluations that include relatively newer word-level pre-trained encoders. We build on probing tasks established in the literature and comprehensively evaluate and analyse – from a typological perspective amongst others – multilingual variants of existing encoders on probing datasets constructed for 6 non-English languages. Specifically, we probe each layer of a multiple monolingual RNN-based ELMo models, the transformer-based BERT’s cased and uncased multilingual variants, and a variant of BERT that uses a cross-lingual modelling scheme (XLM).


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MGAD: Multilingual Generation of Analogy Datasets
Mostafa Abdou | Artur Kulmizev | Vinit Ravishankar
Proceedings of the Eleventh International Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation (LREC 2018)

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A prototype dependency treebank for Breton
Francis M Tyers | Vinit Ravishankar
Actes de la Conférence TALN. Volume 1 - Articles longs, articles courts de TALN

This paper describes the development of the first syntactically-annotated corpus of Breton. The corpus is part of the Universal Dependencies project. In the paper we describe how the corpus was prepared, some Breton-specific constructions that required special treatment, and in addition we give results for parsing Breton using a number of off-the-shelf data-driven parsers.

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Discriminator at SemEval-2018 Task 10: Minimally Supervised Discrimination
Artur Kulmizev | Mostafa Abdou | Vinit Ravishankar | Malvina Nissim
Proceedings of The 12th International Workshop on Semantic Evaluation

We participated to the SemEval-2018 shared task on capturing discriminative attributes (Task 10) with a simple system that ranked 8th amongst the 26 teams that took part in the evaluation. Our final score was 0.67, which is competitive with the winning score of 0.75, particularly given that our system is a zero-shot system that requires no training and minimal parameter optimisation. In addition to describing the submitted system, and discussing the implications of the relative success of such a system on this task, we also report on other, more complex models we experimented with.

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The WMT’18 Morpheval test suites for English-Czech, English-German, English-Finnish and Turkish-English
Franck Burlot | Yves Scherrer | Vinit Ravishankar | Ondřej Bojar | Stig-Arne Grönroos | Maarit Koponen | Tommi Nieminen | François Yvon
Proceedings of the Third Conference on Machine Translation: Shared Task Papers

Progress in the quality of machine translation output calls for new automatic evaluation procedures and metrics. In this paper, we extend the Morpheval protocol introduced by Burlot and Yvon (2017) for the English-to-Czech and English-to-Latvian translation directions to three additional language pairs, and report its use to analyze the results of WMT 2018’s participants for these language pairs. Considering additional, typologically varied source and target languages also enables us to draw some generalizations regarding this morphology-oriented evaluation procedure.

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What can we learn from Semantic Tagging?
Mostafa Abdou | Artur Kulmizev | Vinit Ravishankar | Lasha Abzianidze | Johan Bos
Proceedings of the 2018 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

We investigate the effects of multi-task learning using the recently introduced task of semantic tagging. We employ semantic tagging as an auxiliary task for three different NLP tasks: part-of-speech tagging, Universal Dependency parsing, and Natural Language Inference. We compare full neural network sharing, partial neural network sharing, and what we term the learning what to share setting where negative transfer between tasks is less likely. Our findings show considerable improvements for all tasks, particularly in the learning what to share setting which shows consistent gains across all tasks.


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Finite-State Morphological Analysis for Marathi
Vinit Ravishankar | Francis M. Tyers
Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Finite State Methods and Natural Language Processing (FSMNLP 2017)

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A Universal Dependencies Treebank for Marathi
Vinit Ravishankar
Proceedings of the 16th International Workshop on Treebanks and Linguistic Theories