LLMs have demonstrated impressive zero-shot performance on NLP tasks thanks to the knowledge they acquired in their training. In multiple-choice QA tasks, the LM probabilities are used as an imperfect measure of the plausibility of each answer choice. One of the major limitations of the basic score is that it treats all words as equally important. We propose CASE, a Commonsense-Augmented Score with an Expanded Answer Space. CASE addresses this limitation by assigning importance weights for individual words based on their semantic relations to other words in the input. The dynamic weighting approach outperforms basic LM scores, not only because it reduces noise from unimportant words, but also because it informs the model of implicit commonsense knowledge that may be useful for answering the question. We then also follow prior work in expanding the answer space by generating lexically-divergent answers that are conceptually-similar to the choices. When combined with answer space expansion, our method outperforms strong baselines on 5 commonsense benchmarks. We further show these two approaches are complementary and may be especially beneficial when using smaller LMs.
Unsupervised commonsense question answering is appealing since it does not rely on any labeled task data. Among existing work, a popular solution is to use pre-trained language models to score candidate choices directly conditioned on the question or context. However, such scores from language models can be easily affected by irrelevant factors, such as word frequencies, sentence structures, etc. These distracting factors may not only mislead the model to choose a wrong answer but also make it oversensitive to lexical perturbations in candidate answers. In this paper, we present a novel SEmantic-based Question Answering method (SEQA) for unsupervised commonsense question answering. Instead of directly scoring each answer choice, our method first generates a set of plausible answers with generative models (e.g., GPT-2), and then uses these plausible answers to select the correct choice by considering the semantic similarity between each plausible answer and each choice. We devise a simple, yet sound formalism for this idea and verify its effectiveness and robustness with extensive experiments. We evaluate the proposed method on four benchmark datasets, and our method achieves the best results in unsupervised settings. Moreover, when attacked by TextFooler with synonym replacement, SEQA demonstrates much less performance drops than baselines, thereby indicating stronger robustness.