Xiaoya Li


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Fast Nearest Neighbor Machine Translation
Yuxian Meng | Xiaoya Li | Xiayu Zheng | Fei Wu | Xiaofei Sun | Tianwei Zhang | Jiwei Li
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2022

Though nearest neighbor Machine Translation (kNN-MT) (CITATION) has proved to introduce significant performance boosts over standard neural MT systems, it is prohibitively slow since it uses the entire reference corpus as the datastore for the nearest neighbor search. This means each step for each beam in the beam search has to search over the entire reference corpus. kNN-MT is thus two-orders slower than vanilla MT models, making it hard to be applied to real-world applications, especially online services. In this work, we propose Fast kNN-MT to address this issue. Fast kNN-MT constructs a significantly smaller datastore for the nearest neighbor search: for each word in a source sentence, Fast kNN-MT first selects its nearest token-level neighbors, which is limited to tokens that are the same as the query token. Then at each decoding step, in contrast to using the entire corpus as the datastore, the search space is limited to target tokens corresponding to the previously selected reference source tokens. This strategy avoids search through the whole datastore for nearest neighbors and drastically improves decoding efficiency. Without loss of performance, Fast kNN-MT is two-orders faster than kNN-MT, and is only two times slower than the standard NMT model. Fast kNN-MT enables the practical use of kNN-MT systems in real-world MT applications. The code is available at https://github.com/ShannonAI/fast-knn-nmt.

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Triggerless Backdoor Attack for NLP Tasks with Clean Labels
Leilei Gan | Jiwei Li | Tianwei Zhang | Xiaoya Li | Yuxian Meng | Fei Wu | Yi Yang | Shangwei Guo | Chun Fan
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Backdoor attacks pose a new threat to NLP models. A standard strategy to construct poisoned data in backdoor attacks is to insert triggers (e.g., rare words) into selected sentences and alter the original label to a target label. This strategy comes with a severe flaw of being easily detected from both the trigger and the label perspectives: the trigger injected, which is usually a rare word, leads to an abnormal natural language expression, and thus can be easily detected by a defense model; the changed target label leads the example to be mistakenly labeled, and thus can be easily detected by manual inspections. To deal with this issue, in this paper, we propose a new strategy to perform textual backdoor attack which does not require an external trigger and the poisoned samples are correctly labeled. The core idea of the proposed strategy is to construct clean-labeled examples, whose labels are correct but can lead to test label changes when fused with the training set. To generate poisoned clean-labeled examples, we propose a sentence generation model based on the genetic algorithm to cater to the non-differentiable characteristic of text data. Extensive experiments demonstrate that the proposed attacking strategy is not only effective, but more importantly, hard to defend due to its triggerless and clean-labeled nature. Our work marks the first step towards developing triggerless attacking strategies in NLP.


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kFolden: k-Fold Ensemble for Out-Of-Distribution Detection
Xiaoya Li | Jiwei Li | Xiaofei Sun | Chun Fan | Tianwei Zhang | Fei Wu | Yuxian Meng | Jun Zhang
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Out-of-Distribution (OOD) detection is an important problem in natural language processing (NLP). In this work, we propose a simple yet effective framework kFolden, which mimics the behaviors of OOD detection during training without the use of any external data. For a task with k training labels, kFolden induces k sub-models, each of which is trained on a subset with k-1 categories with the left category masked unknown to the sub-model. Exposing an unknown label to the sub-model during training, the model is encouraged to learn to equally attribute the probability to the seen k-1 labels for the unknown label, enabling this framework to simultaneously resolve in- and out-distribution examples in a natural way via OOD simulations. Taking text classification as an archetype, we develop benchmarks for OOD detection using existing text classification datasets. By conducting comprehensive comparisons and analyses on the developed benchmarks, we demonstrate the superiority of kFolden against current methods in terms of improving OOD detection performances while maintaining improved in-domain classification accuracy.

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ChineseBERT: Chinese Pretraining Enhanced by Glyph and Pinyin Information
Zijun Sun | Xiaoya Li | Xiaofei Sun | Yuxian Meng | Xiang Ao | Qing He | Fei Wu | Jiwei Li
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)

Recent pretraining models in Chinese neglect two important aspects specific to the Chinese language: glyph and pinyin, which carry significant syntax and semantic information for language understanding. In this work, we propose ChineseBERT, which incorporates both the glyph and pinyin information of Chinese characters into language model pretraining. The glyph embedding is obtained based on different fonts of a Chinese character, being able to capture character semantics from the visual features, and the pinyin embedding characterizes the pronunciation of Chinese characters, which handles the highly prevalent heteronym phenomenon in Chinese (the same character has different pronunciations with different meanings). Pretrained on large-scale unlabeled Chinese corpus, the proposed ChineseBERT model yields significant performance boost over baseline models with fewer training steps. The proposed model achieves new SOTA performances on a wide range of Chinese NLP tasks, including machine reading comprehension, natural language inference, text classification, sentence pair matching, and competitive performances in named entity recognition and word segmentation.


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Dice Loss for Data-imbalanced NLP Tasks
Xiaoya Li | Xiaofei Sun | Yuxian Meng | Junjun Liang | Fei Wu | Jiwei Li
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Many NLP tasks such as tagging and machine reading comprehension are faced with the severe data imbalance issue: negative examples significantly outnumber positive examples, and the huge number of easy-negative examples overwhelms the training. The most commonly used cross entropy (CE) criteria is actually an accuracy-oriented objective, and thus creates a discrepancy between training and test: at training time, each training instance contributes equally to the objective function, while at test time F1 score concerns more about positive examples. In this paper, we propose to use dice loss in replacement of the standard cross-entropy objective for data-imbalanced NLP tasks. Dice loss is based on the Sørensen--Dice coefficient or Tversky index , which attaches similar importance to false positives and false negatives, and is more immune to the data-imbalance issue. To further alleviate the dominating influence from easy-negative examples in training, we propose to associate training examples with dynamically adjusted weights to deemphasize easy-negative examples. Theoretical analysis shows that this strategy narrows down the gap between the F1 score in evaluation and the dice loss in training. With the proposed training objective, we observe significant performance boost on a wide range of data imbalanced NLP tasks. Notably, we are able to achieve SOTA results on CTB5, CTB6 and UD1.4 for the part of speech tagging task; SOTA results on CoNLL03, OntoNotes5.0, MSRA and OntoNotes4.0 for the named entity recognition task; along with competitive results on the tasks of machine reading comprehension and paraphrase identification.

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A Unified MRC Framework for Named Entity Recognition
Xiaoya Li | Jingrong Feng | Yuxian Meng | Qinghong Han | Fei Wu | Jiwei Li
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

The task of named entity recognition (NER) is normally divided into nested NER and flat NER depending on whether named entities are nested or not.Models are usually separately developed for the two tasks, since sequence labeling models, the most widely used backbone for flat NER, are only able to assign a single label to a particular token, which is unsuitable for nested NER where a token may be assigned several labels. In this paper, we propose a unified framework that is capable of handling both flat and nested NER tasks. Instead of treating the task of NER as a sequence labeling problem, we propose to formulate it as a machine reading comprehension (MRC) task. For example, extracting entities with the per label is formalized as extracting answer spans to the question “which person is mentioned in the text".This formulation naturally tackles the entity overlapping issue in nested NER: the extraction of two overlapping entities with different categories requires answering two independent questions. Additionally, since the query encodes informative prior knowledge, this strategy facilitates the process of entity extraction, leading to better performances for not only nested NER, but flat NER. We conduct experiments on both nested and flat NER datasets.Experiment results demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed formulation. We are able to achieve a vast amount of performance boost over current SOTA models on nested NER datasets, i.e., +1.28, +2.55, +5.44, +6.37,respectively on ACE04, ACE05, GENIA and KBP17, along with SOTA results on flat NER datasets, i.e., +0.24, +1.95, +0.21, +1.49 respectively on English CoNLL 2003, English OntoNotes 5.0, Chinese MSRA and Chinese OntoNotes 4.0.


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Entity-Relation Extraction as Multi-Turn Question Answering
Xiaoya Li | Fan Yin | Zijun Sun | Xiayu Li | Arianna Yuan | Duo Chai | Mingxin Zhou | Jiwei Li
Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

In this paper, we propose a new paradigm for the task of entity-relation extraction. We cast the task as a multi-turn question answering problem, i.e., the extraction of entities and elations is transformed to the task of identifying answer spans from the context. This multi-turn QA formalization comes with several key advantages: firstly, the question query encodes important information for the entity/relation class we want to identify; secondly, QA provides a natural way of jointly modeling entity and relation; and thirdly, it allows us to exploit the well developed machine reading comprehension (MRC) models. Experiments on the ACE and the CoNLL04 corpora demonstrate that the proposed paradigm significantly outperforms previous best models. We are able to obtain the state-of-the-art results on all of the ACE04, ACE05 and CoNLL04 datasets, increasing the SOTA results on the three datasets to 49.6 (+1.2), 60.3 (+0.7) and 69.2 (+1.4), respectively. Additionally, we construct and will release a newly developed dataset RESUME, which requires multi-step reasoning to construct entity dependencies, as opposed to the single-step dependency extraction in the triplet exaction in previous datasets. The proposed multi-turn QA model also achieves the best performance on the RESUME dataset.

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Is Word Segmentation Necessary for Deep Learning of Chinese Representations?
Xiaoya Li | Yuxian Meng | Xiaofei Sun | Qinghong Han | Arianna Yuan | Jiwei Li
Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Segmenting a chunk of text into words is usually the first step of processing Chinese text, but its necessity has rarely been explored. In this paper, we ask the fundamental question of whether Chinese word segmentation (CWS) is necessary for deep learning-based Chinese Natural Language Processing. We benchmark neural word-based models which rely on word segmentation against neural char-based models which do not involve word segmentation in four end-to-end NLP benchmark tasks: language modeling, machine translation, sentence matching/paraphrase and text classification. Through direct comparisons between these two types of models, we find that char-based models consistently outperform word-based models. Based on these observations, we conduct comprehensive experiments to study why word-based models underperform char-based models in these deep learning-based NLP tasks. We show that it is because word-based models are more vulnerable to data sparsity and the presence of out-of-vocabulary (OOV) words, and thus more prone to overfitting. We hope this paper could encourage researchers in the community to rethink the necessity of word segmentation in deep learning-based Chinese Natural Language Processing.