Xiang Yue


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Roll Up Your Sleeves: Working with a Collaborative and Engaging Task-Oriented Dialogue System
Lingbo Mo | Shijie Chen | Ziru Chen | Xiang Deng | Ashley Lewis | Sunit Singh | Samuel Stevens | Chang-You Tai | Zhen Wang | Xiang Yue | Tianshu Zhang | Yu Su | Huan Sun
Proceedings of the 24th Annual Meeting of the Special Interest Group on Discourse and Dialogue

We introduce TacoBot, a user-centered task-oriented digital assistant designed to guide users through complex real-world tasks with multiple steps. Covering a wide range of cooking and how-to tasks, we aim to deliver a collaborative and engaging dialogue experience. Equipped with language understanding, dialogue management, and response generation components supported by a robust search engine, TacoBot ensures efficient task assistance. To enhance the dialogue experience, we explore a series of data augmentation strategies using LLMs to train advanced neural models continuously. TacoBot builds upon our successful participation in the inaugural Alexa Prize TaskBot Challenge, where our team secured third place among ten competing teams. We offer TacoBot as an open-source framework that serves as a practical example for deploying task-oriented dialogue systems.

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Synthetic Text Generation with Differential Privacy: A Simple and Practical Recipe
Xiang Yue | Huseyin Inan | Xuechen Li | Girish Kumar | Julia McAnallen | Hoda Shajari | Huan Sun | David Levitan | Robert Sim
Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Privacy concerns have attracted increasing attention in data-driven products due to the tendency of machine learning models to memorize sensitive training data. Generating synthetic versions of such data with a formal privacy guarantee, such as differential privacy (DP), provides a promising path to mitigating these privacy concerns, but previous approaches in this direction have typically failed to produce synthetic data of high quality. In this work, we show that a simple and practical recipe in the text domain is effective: simply fine-tuning a pretrained generative language model with DP enables the model to generate useful synthetic text with strong privacy protection. Through extensive empirical analyses on both benchmark and private customer data, we demonstrate that our method produces synthetic text that is competitive in terms of utility with its non-private counterpart, meanwhile providing strong protection against potential privacy leakages.


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Synthetic Question Value Estimation for Domain Adaptation of Question Answering
Xiang Yue | Ziyu Yao | Huan Sun
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Synthesizing QA pairs with a question generator (QG) on the target domain has become a popular approach for domain adaptation of question answering (QA) models. Since synthetic questions are often noisy in practice, existing work adapts scores from a pretrained QA (or QG) model as criteria to select high-quality questions. However, these scores do not directly serve the ultimate goal of improving QA performance on the target domain. In this paper, we introduce a novel idea of training a question value estimator (QVE) that directly estimates the usefulness of synthetic questions for improving the target-domain QA performance. By conducting comprehensive experiments, we show that the synthetic questions selected by QVE can help achieve better target-domain QA performance, in comparison with existing techniques. We additionally show that by using such questions and only around 15% of the human annotations on the target domain, we can achieve comparable performance to the fully-supervised baselines.

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C-MORE: Pretraining to Answer Open-Domain Questions by Consulting Millions of References
Xiang Yue | Xiaoman Pan | Wenlin Yao | Dian Yu | Dong Yu | Jianshu Chen
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 2: Short Papers)

We consider the problem of pretraining a two-stage open-domain question answering (QA) system (retriever + reader) with strong transfer capabilities. The key challenge is how to construct a large amount of high-quality question-answer-context triplets without task-specific annotations. Specifically, the triplets should align well with downstream tasks by: (i) covering a wide range of domains (for open-domain applications), (ii) linking a question to its semantically relevant context with supporting evidence (for training the retriever), and (iii) identifying the correct answer in the context (for training the reader). Previous pretraining approaches generally fall short of one or more of these requirements. In this work, we automatically construct a large-scale corpus that meets all three criteria by consulting millions of references cited within Wikipedia. The well-aligned pretraining signals benefit both the retriever and the reader significantly. Our pretrained retriever leads to 2%-10% absolute gains in top-20 accuracy. And with our pretrained reader, the entire system improves by up to 4% in exact match.


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Differential Privacy for Text Analytics via Natural Text Sanitization
Xiang Yue | Minxin Du | Tianhao Wang | Yaliang Li | Huan Sun | Sherman S. M. Chow
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL-IJCNLP 2021

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COUGH: A Challenge Dataset and Models for COVID-19 FAQ Retrieval
Xinliang Frederick Zhang | Heming Sun | Xiang Yue | Simon Lin | Huan Sun
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

We present a large, challenging dataset, COUGH, for COVID-19 FAQ retrieval. Similar to a standard FAQ dataset, COUGH consists of three parts: FAQ Bank, Query Bank and Relevance Set. The FAQ Bank contains ~16K FAQ items scraped from 55 credible websites (e.g., CDC and WHO). For evaluation, we introduce Query Bank and Relevance Set, where the former contains 1,236 human-paraphrased queries while the latter contains ~32 human-annotated FAQ items for each query. We analyze COUGH by testing different FAQ retrieval models built on top of BM25 and BERT, among which the best model achieves 48.8 under P@5, indicating a great challenge presented by COUGH and encouraging future research for further improvement. Our COUGH dataset is available at https://github.com/sunlab-osu/covid-faq.


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Clinical Reading Comprehension: A Thorough Analysis of the emrQA Dataset
Xiang Yue | Bernal Jimenez Gutierrez | Huan Sun
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Machine reading comprehension has made great progress in recent years owing to large-scale annotated datasets. In the clinical domain, however, creating such datasets is quite difficult due to the domain expertise required for annotation. Recently, Pampari et al. (EMNLP’18) tackled this issue by using expert-annotated question templates and existing i2b2 annotations to create emrQA, the first large-scale dataset for question answering (QA) based on clinical notes. In this paper, we provide an in-depth analysis of this dataset and the clinical reading comprehension (CliniRC) task. From our qualitative analysis, we find that (i) emrQA answers are often incomplete, and (ii) emrQA questions are often answerable without using domain knowledge. From our quantitative experiments, surprising results include that (iii) using a small sampled subset (5%-20%), we can obtain roughly equal performance compared to the model trained on the entire dataset, (iv) this performance is close to human expert’s performance, and (v) BERT models do not beat the best performing base model. Following our analysis of the emrQA, we further explore two desired aspects of CliniRC systems: the ability to utilize clinical domain knowledge and to generalize to unseen questions and contexts. We argue that both should be considered when creating future datasets.

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PHICON: Improving Generalization of Clinical Text De-identification Models via Data Augmentation
Xiang Yue | Shuang Zhou
Proceedings of the 3rd Clinical Natural Language Processing Workshop

De-identification is the task of identifying protected health information (PHI) in the clinical text. Existing neural de-identification models often fail to generalize to a new dataset. We propose a simple yet effective data augmentation method PHICON to alleviate the generalization issue. PHICON consists of PHI augmentation and Context augmentation, which creates augmented training corpora by replacing PHI entities with named-entities sampled from external sources, and by changing background context with synonym replacement or random word insertion, respectively. Experimental results on the i2b2 2006 and 2014 de-identification challenge datasets show that PHICON can help three selected de-identification models boost F1-score (by at most 8.6%) on cross-dataset test setting. We also discuss how much augmentation to use and how each augmentation method influences the performance.