Wei Bi


2021

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Set Generation Networks for End-to-End Knowledge Base Population
Dianbo Sui | Chenhao Wang | Yubo Chen | Kang Liu | Jun Zhao | Wei Bi
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

The task of knowledge base population (KBP) aims to discover facts about entities from texts and expand a knowledge base with these facts. Previous studies shape end-to-end KBP as a machine translation task, which is required to convert unordered fact into a sequence according to a pre-specified order. However, the facts stated in a sentence are unordered in essence. In this paper, we formulate end-to-end KBP as a direct set generation problem, avoiding considering the order of multiple facts. To solve the set generation problem, we propose networks featured by transformers with non-autoregressive parallel decoding. Unlike previous approaches that use an autoregressive decoder to generate facts one by one, the proposed networks can directly output the final set of facts in one shot. Furthermore, to train the networks, we also design a set-based loss that forces unique predictions via bipartite matching. Compared with cross-entropy loss that highly penalizes small shifts in fact order, the proposed bipartite matching loss is invariant to any permutation of predictions. Benefiting from getting rid of the burden of predicting the order of multiple facts, our proposed networks achieve state-of-the-art (SoTA) performance on two benchmark datasets.

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REAM: An Enhancement Approach to Reference-based Evaluation Metrics for Open-domain Dialog Generation
Jun Gao | Wei Bi | Ruifeng Xu | Shuming Shi
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL-IJCNLP 2021

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Data Augmentation for Text Generation Without Any Augmented Data
Wei Bi | Huayang Li | Jiacheng Huang
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)

Data augmentation is an effective way to improve the performance of many neural text generation models. However, current data augmentation methods need to define or choose proper data mapping functions that map the original samples into the augmented samples. In this work, we derive an objective to formulate the problem of data augmentation on text generation tasks without any use of augmented data constructed by specific mapping functions. Our proposed objective can be efficiently optimized and applied to popular loss functions on text generation tasks with a convergence rate guarantee. Experiments on five datasets of two text generation tasks show that our approach can approximate or even surpass popular data augmentation methods.

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Good for Misconceived Reasons: An Empirical Revisiting on the Need for Visual Context in Multimodal Machine Translation
Zhiyong Wu | Lingpeng Kong | Wei Bi | Xiang Li | Ben Kao
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)

A neural multimodal machine translation (MMT) system is one that aims to perform better translation by extending conventional text-only translation models with multimodal information. Many recent studies report improvements when equipping their models with the multimodal module, despite the controversy of whether such improvements indeed come from the multimodal part. We revisit the contribution of multimodal information in MMT by devising two interpretable MMT models. To our surprise, although our models replicate similar gains as recently developed multimodal-integrated systems achieved, our models learn to ignore the multimodal information. Upon further investigation, we discover that the improvements achieved by the multimodal models over text-only counterparts are in fact results of the regularization effect. We report empirical findings that highlight the importance of MMT models’ interpretability, and discuss how our findings will benefit future research.

2020

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Event Extraction as Machine Reading Comprehension
Jian Liu | Yubo Chen | Kang Liu | Wei Bi | Xiaojiang Liu
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

Event extraction (EE) is a crucial information extraction task that aims to extract event information in texts. Previous methods for EE typically model it as a classification task, which are usually prone to the data scarcity problem. In this paper, we propose a new learning paradigm of EE, by explicitly casting it as a machine reading comprehension problem (MRC). Our approach includes an unsupervised question generation process, which can transfer event schema into a set of natural questions, followed by a BERT-based question-answering process to retrieve answers as EE results. This learning paradigm enables us to strengthen the reasoning process of EE, by introducing sophisticated models in MRC, and relieve the data scarcity problem, by introducing the large-scale datasets in MRC. The empirical results show that: i) our approach attains state-of-the-art performance by considerable margins over previous methods. ii) Our model is excelled in the data-scarce scenario, for example, obtaining 49.8% in F1 for event argument extraction with only 1% data, compared with 2.2% of the previous method. iii) Our model also fits with zero-shot scenarios, achieving 37.0% and 16% in F1 on two datasets without using any EE training data.

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Response-Anticipated Memory for On-Demand Knowledge Integration in Response Generation
Zhiliang Tian | Wei Bi | Dongkyu Lee | Lanqing Xue | Yiping Song | Xiaojiang Liu | Nevin L. Zhang
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Neural conversation models are known to generate appropriate but non-informative responses in general. A scenario where informativeness can be significantly enhanced is Conversing by Reading (CbR), where conversations take place with respect to a given external document. In previous work, the external document is utilized by (1) creating a context-aware document memory that integrates information from the document and the conversational context, and then (2) generating responses referring to the memory. In this paper, we propose to create the document memory with some anticipated responses in mind. This is achieved using a teacher-student framework. The teacher is given the external document, the context, and the ground-truth response, and learns how to build a response-aware document memory from three sources of information. The student learns to construct a response-anticipated document memory from the first two sources, and teacher’s insight on memory creation. Empirical results show that our model outperforms the previous state-of-the-art for the CbR task.

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A Batch Normalized Inference Network Keeps the KL Vanishing Away
Qile Zhu | Wei Bi | Xiaojiang Liu | Xiyao Ma | Xiaolin Li | Dapeng Wu
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Variational Autoencoder (VAE) is widely used as a generative model to approximate a model’s posterior on latent variables by combining the amortized variational inference and deep neural networks. However, when paired with strong autoregressive decoders, VAE often converges to a degenerated local optimum known as “posterior collapse”. Previous approaches consider the Kullback–Leibler divergence (KL) individual for each datapoint. We propose to let the KL follow a distribution across the whole dataset, and analyze that it is sufficient to prevent posterior collapse by keeping the expectation of the KL’s distribution positive. Then we propose Batch Normalized-VAE (BN-VAE), a simple but effective approach to set a lower bound of the expectation by regularizing the distribution of the approximate posterior’s parameters. Without introducing any new model component or modifying the objective, our approach can avoid the posterior collapse effectively and efficiently. We further show that the proposed BN-VAE can be extended to conditional VAE (CVAE). Empirically, our approach surpasses strong autoregressive baselines on language modeling, text classification and dialogue generation, and rivals more complex approaches while keeping almost the same training time as VAE.

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Learning to Customize Model Structures for Few-shot Dialogue Generation Tasks
Yiping Song | Zequn Liu | Wei Bi | Rui Yan | Ming Zhang
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Training the generative models with minimal corpus is one of the critical challenges for building open-domain dialogue systems. Existing methods tend to use the meta-learning framework which pre-trains the parameters on all non-target tasks then fine-tunes on the target task. However, fine-tuning distinguishes tasks from the parameter perspective but ignores the model-structure perspective, resulting in similar dialogue models for different tasks. In this paper, we propose an algorithm that can customize a unique dialogue model for each task in the few-shot setting. In our approach, each dialogue model consists of a shared module, a gating module, and a private module. The first two modules are shared among all the tasks, while the third one will differentiate into different network structures to better capture the characteristics of the corresponding task. The extensive experiments on two datasets show that our method outperforms all the baselines in terms of task consistency, response quality, and diversity.

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TableGPT: Few-shot Table-to-Text Generation with Table Structure Reconstruction and Content Matching
Heng Gong | Yawei Sun | Xiaocheng Feng | Bing Qin | Wei Bi | Xiaojiang Liu | Ting Liu
Proceedings of the 28th International Conference on Computational Linguistics

Although neural table-to-text models have achieved remarkable progress with the help of large-scale datasets, they suffer insufficient learning problem with limited training data. Recently, pre-trained language models show potential in few-shot learning with linguistic knowledge learnt from pretraining on large-scale corpus. However, benefiting table-to-text generation in few-shot setting with the powerful pretrained language model faces three challenges, including (1) the gap between the task’s structured input and the natural language input for pretraining language model. (2) The lack of modeling for table structure and (3) improving text fidelity with less incorrect expressions that are contradicting to the table. To address aforementioned problems, we propose TableGPT for table-to-text generation. At first, we utilize table transformation module with template to rewrite structured table in natural language as input for GPT-2. In addition, we exploit multi-task learning with two auxiliary tasks that preserve table’s structural information by reconstructing the structure from GPT-2’s representation and improving the text’s fidelity with content matching task aligning the table and information in the generated text. By experimenting on Humans, Songs and Books, three few-shot table-to-text datasets in different domains, our model outperforms existing systems on most few-shot settings.

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Dual Dynamic Memory Network for End-to-End Multi-turn Task-oriented Dialog Systems
Jian Wang | Junhao Liu | Wei Bi | Xiaojiang Liu | Kejing He | Ruifeng Xu | Min Yang
Proceedings of the 28th International Conference on Computational Linguistics

Existing end-to-end task-oriented dialog systems struggle to dynamically model long dialog context for interactions and effectively incorporate knowledge base (KB) information into dialog generation. To conquer these limitations, we propose a Dual Dynamic Memory Network (DDMN) for multi-turn dialog generation, which maintains two core components: dialog memory manager and KB memory manager. The dialog memory manager dynamically expands the dialog memory turn by turn and keeps track of dialog history with an updating mechanism, which encourages the model to filter irrelevant dialog history and memorize important newly coming information. The KB memory manager shares the structural KB triples throughout the whole conversation, and dynamically extracts KB information with a memory pointer at each turn. Experimental results on three benchmark datasets demonstrate that DDMN significantly outperforms the strong baselines in terms of both automatic evaluation and human evaluation. Our code is available at https://github.com/siat-nlp/DDMN.

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Dialogue Generation on Infrequent Sentence Functions via Structured Meta-Learning
Yifan Gao | Piji Li | Wei Bi | Xiaojiang Liu | Michael Lyu | Irwin King
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2020

Sentence function is an important linguistic feature indicating the communicative purpose in uttering a sentence. Incorporating sentence functions into conversations has shown improvements in the quality of generated responses. However, the number of utterances for different types of fine-grained sentence functions is extremely imbalanced. Besides a small number of high-resource sentence functions, a large portion of sentence functions is infrequent. Consequently, dialogue generation conditioned on these infrequent sentence functions suffers from data deficiency. In this paper, we investigate a structured meta-learning (SML) approach for dialogue generation on infrequent sentence functions. We treat dialogue generation conditioned on different sentence functions as separate tasks, and apply model-agnostic meta-learning to high-resource sentence functions data. Furthermore, SML enhances meta-learning effectiveness by promoting knowledge customization among different sentence functions but simultaneously preserving knowledge generalization for similar sentence functions. Experimental results demonstrate that SML not only improves the informativeness and relevance of generated responses, but also can generate responses consistent with the target sentence functions. Code will be public to facilitate the research along this line.

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Pretrained Language Models for Dialogue Generation with Multiple Input Sources
Yu Cao | Wei Bi | Meng Fang | Dacheng Tao
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2020

Large-scale pretrained language models have achieved outstanding performance on natural language understanding tasks. However, it is still under investigating how to apply them to dialogue generation tasks, especially those with responses conditioned on multiple sources. Previous work simply concatenates all input sources or averages information from different input sources. In this work, we study dialogue models with multiple input sources adapted from the pretrained language model GPT2. We explore various methods to fuse multiple separate attention information corresponding to different sources. Our experimental results show that proper fusion methods deliver higher relevance with dialogue history than simple fusion baselines.

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Enhancing Content Planning for Table-to-Text Generation with Data Understanding and Verification
Heng Gong | Wei Bi | Xiaocheng Feng | Bing Qin | Xiaojiang Liu | Ting Liu
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2020

Neural table-to-text models, which select and order salient data, as well as verbalizing them fluently via surface realization, have achieved promising progress. Based on results from previous work, the performance bottleneck of current models lies in the stage of content planing (selecting and ordering salient content from the input). That is, performance drops drastically when an oracle content plan is replaced by a model-inferred one during surface realization. In this paper, we propose to enhance neural content planning by (1) understanding data values with contextual numerical value representations that bring the sense of value comparison into content planning; (2) verifying the importance and ordering of the selected sequence of records with policy gradient. We evaluated our model on ROTOWIRE and MLB, two datasets on this task, and results show that our model outperforms existing systems with respect to content planning metrics.

2019

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Unsupervised Rewriter for Multi-Sentence Compression
Yang Zhao | Xiaoyu Shen | Wei Bi | Akiko Aizawa
Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Multi-sentence compression (MSC) aims to generate a grammatical but reduced compression from multiple input sentences while retaining their key information. Previous dominating approach for MSC is the extraction-based word graph approach. A few variants further leveraged lexical substitution to yield more abstractive compression. However, two limitations exist. First, the word graph approach that simply concatenates fragments from multiple sentences may yield non-fluent or ungrammatical compression. Second, lexical substitution is often inappropriate without the consideration of context information. To tackle the above-mentioned issues, we present a neural rewriter for multi-sentence compression that does not need any parallel corpus. Empirical studies have shown that our approach achieves comparable results upon automatic evaluation and improves the grammaticality of compression based on human evaluation. A parallel corpus with more than 140,000 (sentence group, compression) pairs is also constructed as a by-product for future research.

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Learning to Abstract for Memory-augmented Conversational Response Generation
Zhiliang Tian | Wei Bi | Xiaopeng Li | Nevin L. Zhang
Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Neural generative models for open-domain chit-chat conversations have become an active area of research in recent years. A critical issue with most existing generative models is that the generated responses lack informativeness and diversity. A few researchers attempt to leverage the results of retrieval models to strengthen the generative models, but these models are limited by the quality of the retrieval results. In this work, we propose a memory-augmented generative model, which learns to abstract from the training corpus and saves the useful information to the memory to assist the response generation. Our model clusters query-response samples, extracts characteristics of each cluster, and learns to utilize these characteristics for response generation. Experimental results show that our model outperforms other competitive baselines.

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Are Training Samples Correlated? Learning to Generate Dialogue Responses with Multiple References
Lisong Qiu | Juntao Li | Wei Bi | Dongyan Zhao | Rui Yan
Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Due to its potential applications, open-domain dialogue generation has become popular and achieved remarkable progress in recent years, but sometimes suffers from generic responses. Previous models are generally trained based on 1-to-1 mapping from an input query to its response, which actually ignores the nature of 1-to-n mapping in dialogue that there may exist multiple valid responses corresponding to the same query. In this paper, we propose to utilize the multiple references by considering the correlation of different valid responses and modeling the 1-to-n mapping with a novel two-step generation architecture. The first generation phase extracts the common features of different responses which, combined with distinctive features obtained in the second phase, can generate multiple diverse and appropriate responses. Experimental results show that our proposed model can effectively improve the quality of response and outperform existing neural dialogue models on both automatic and human evaluations.

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Fine-Grained Sentence Functions for Short-Text Conversation
Wei Bi | Jun Gao | Xiaojiang Liu | Shuming Shi
Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Sentence function is an important linguistic feature referring to a user’s purpose in uttering a specific sentence. The use of sentence function has shown promising results to improve the performance of conversation models. However, there is no large conversation dataset annotated with sentence functions. In this work, we collect a new Short-Text Conversation dataset with manually annotated SEntence FUNctions (STC-Sefun). Classification models are trained on this dataset to (i) recognize the sentence function of new data in a large corpus of short-text conversations; (ii) estimate a proper sentence function of the response given a test query. We later train conversation models conditioned on the sentence functions, including information retrieval-based and neural generative models. Experimental results demonstrate that the use of sentence functions can help improve the quality of the returned responses.

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Retrieval-guided Dialogue Response Generation via a Matching-to-Generation Framework
Deng Cai | Yan Wang | Wei Bi | Zhaopeng Tu | Xiaojiang Liu | Shuming Shi
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing and the 9th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (EMNLP-IJCNLP)

End-to-end sequence generation is a popular technique for developing open domain dialogue systems, though they suffer from the safe response problem. Researchers have attempted to tackle this problem by incorporating generative models with the returns of retrieval systems. Recently, a skeleton-then-response framework has been shown promising results for this task. Nevertheless, how to precisely extract a skeleton and how to effectively train a retrieval-guided response generator are still challenging. This paper presents a novel framework in which the skeleton extraction is made by an interpretable matching model and the following skeleton-guided response generation is accomplished by a separately trained generator. Extensive experiments demonstrate the effectiveness of our model designs.

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A Discrete CVAE for Response Generation on Short-Text Conversation
Jun Gao | Wei Bi | Xiaojiang Liu | Junhui Li | Guodong Zhou | Shuming Shi
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing and the 9th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (EMNLP-IJCNLP)

Neural conversation models such as encoder-decoder models are easy to generate bland and generic responses. Some researchers propose to use the conditional variational autoencoder (CVAE) which maximizes the lower bound on the conditional log-likelihood on a continuous latent variable. With different sampled latent variables, the model is expected to generate diverse responses. Although the CVAE-based models have shown tremendous potential, their improvement of generating high-quality responses is still unsatisfactory. In this paper, we introduce a discrete latent variable with an explicit semantic meaning to improve the CVAE on short-text conversation. A major advantage of our model is that we can exploit the semantic distance between the latent variables to maintain good diversity between the sampled latent variables. Accordingly, we propose a two-stage sampling approach to enable efficient diverse variable selection from a large latent space assumed in the short-text conversation task. Experimental results indicate that our model outperforms various kinds of generation models under both automatic and human evaluations and generates more diverse and informative responses.

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Skeleton-to-Response: Dialogue Generation Guided by Retrieval Memory
Deng Cai | Yan Wang | Wei Bi | Zhaopeng Tu | Xiaojiang Liu | Wai Lam | Shuming Shi
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)

Traditional generative dialogue models generate responses solely from input queries. Such information is insufficient for generating a specific response since a certain query could be answered in multiple ways. Recently, researchers have attempted to fill the information gap by exploiting information retrieval techniques. For a given query, similar dialogues are retrieved from the entire training data and considered as an additional knowledge source. While the use of retrieval may harvest extensive information, the generative models could be overwhelmed, leading to unsatisfactory performance. In this paper, we propose a new framework which exploits retrieval results via a skeleton-to-response paradigm. At first, a skeleton is extracted from the retrieved dialogues. Then, both the generated skeleton and the original query are used for response generation via a novel response generator. Experimental results show that our approach significantly improves the informativeness of the generated responses

2018

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Automatic Article Commenting: the Task and Dataset
Lianhui Qin | Lemao Liu | Wei Bi | Yan Wang | Xiaojiang Liu | Zhiting Hu | Hai Zhao | Shuming Shi
Proceedings of the 56th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 2: Short Papers)

Comments of online articles provide extended views and improve user engagement. Automatically making comments thus become a valuable functionality for online forums, intelligent chatbots, etc. This paper proposes the new task of automatic article commenting, and introduces a large-scale Chinese dataset with millions of real comments and a human-annotated subset characterizing the comments’ varying quality. Incorporating the human bias of comment quality, we further develop automatic metrics that generalize a broad set of popular reference-based metrics and exhibit greatly improved correlations with human evaluations.

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Towards Less Generic Responses in Neural Conversation Models: A Statistical Re-weighting Method
Yahui Liu | Wei Bi | Jun Gao | Xiaojiang Liu | Jian Yao | Shuming Shi
Proceedings of the 2018 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Sequence-to-sequence neural generation models have achieved promising performance on short text conversation tasks. However, they tend to generate generic/dull responses, leading to unsatisfying dialogue experience. We observe that in the conversation tasks, each query could have multiple responses, which forms a 1-to-n or m-to-n relationship in the view of the total corpus. The objective function used in standard sequence-to-sequence models will be dominated by loss terms with generic patterns. Inspired by this observation, we introduce a statistical re-weighting method that assigns different weights for the multiple responses of the same query, and trains the common neural generation model with the weights. Experimental results on a large Chinese dialogue corpus show that our method improves the acceptance rate of generated responses compared with several baseline models and significantly reduces the number of generated generic responses.