Xisen Jin


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Lifelong Pretraining: Continually Adapting Language Models to Emerging Corpora
Xisen Jin | Dejiao Zhang | Henghui Zhu | Wei Xiao | Shang-Wen Li | Xiaokai Wei | Andrew Arnold | Xiang Ren
Proceedings of BigScience Episode #5 -- Workshop on Challenges & Perspectives in Creating Large Language Models

Pretrained language models (PTLMs) are typically learned over a large, static corpus and further fine-tuned for various downstream tasks. However, when deployed in the real world, a PTLM-based model must deal with data distributions that deviates from what the PTLM was initially trained on. In this paper, we study a lifelong language model pretraining challenge where a PTLM is continually updated so as to adapt to emerging data. Over a domain-incremental research paper stream and a chronologically-ordered tweet stream, we incrementally pretrain a PTLM with different continual learning algorithms, and keep track of the downstream task performance (after fine-tuning). We evaluate PTLM’s ability to adapt to new corpora while retaining learned knowledge in earlier corpora. Our experiments show distillation-based approaches to be most effective in retaining downstream performance in earlier domains. The algorithms also improve knowledge transfer, allowing models to achieve better downstream performance over latest data, and improve temporal generalization when distribution gaps exist between training and evaluation because of time. We believe our problem formulation, methods, and analysis will inspire future studies towards continual pretraining of language models.


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Learn Continually, Generalize Rapidly: Lifelong Knowledge Accumulation for Few-shot Learning
Xisen Jin | Bill Yuchen Lin | Mohammad Rostami | Xiang Ren
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2021

The ability to continuously expand knowledge over time and utilize it to rapidly generalize to new tasks is a key feature of human linguistic intelligence. Existing models that pursue rapid generalization to new tasks (e.g., few-shot learning methods), however, are mostly trained in a single shot on fixed datasets, unable to dynamically expand their knowledge; while continual learning algorithms are not specifically designed for rapid generalization. We present a new learning setup, Continual Learning of Few-Shot Learners (CLIF), to address challenges of both learning settings in a unified setup. CLIF assumes a model learns from a sequence of diverse NLP tasks arriving sequentially, accumulating knowledge for improved generalization to new tasks, while also retaining performance on the tasks learned earlier. We examine how the generalization ability is affected in the continual learning setup, evaluate a number of continual learning algorithms, and propose a novel regularized adapter generation approach. We find that catastrophic forgetting affects generalization ability to a lesser degree than performance on seen tasks; while continual learning algorithms can still bring considerable benefit to the generalization ability.

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On Transferability of Bias Mitigation Effects in Language Model Fine-Tuning
Xisen Jin | Francesco Barbieri | Brendan Kennedy | Aida Mostafazadeh Davani | Leonardo Neves | Xiang Ren
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Fine-tuned language models have been shown to exhibit biases against protected groups in a host of modeling tasks such as text classification and coreference resolution. Previous works focus on detecting these biases, reducing bias in data representations, and using auxiliary training objectives to mitigate bias during fine-tuning. Although these techniques achieve bias reduction for the task and domain at hand, the effects of bias mitigation may not directly transfer to new tasks, requiring additional data collection and customized annotation of sensitive attributes, and re-evaluation of appropriate fairness metrics. We explore the feasibility and benefits of upstream bias mitigation (UBM) for reducing bias on downstream tasks, by first applying bias mitigation to an upstream model through fine-tuning and subsequently using it for downstream fine-tuning. We find, in extensive experiments across hate speech detection, toxicity detection and coreference resolution tasks over various bias factors, that the effects of UBM are indeed transferable to new downstream tasks or domains via fine-tuning, creating less biased downstream models than directly fine-tuning on the downstream task or transferring from a vanilla upstream model. Though challenges remain, we show that UBM promises more efficient and accessible bias mitigation in LM fine-tuning.


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Contextualizing Hate Speech Classifiers with Post-hoc Explanation
Brendan Kennedy | Xisen Jin | Aida Mostafazadeh Davani | Morteza Dehghani | Xiang Ren
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Hate speech classifiers trained on imbalanced datasets struggle to determine if group identifiers like “gay” or “black” are used in offensive or prejudiced ways. Such biases manifest in false positives when these identifiers are present, due to models’ inability to learn the contexts which constitute a hateful usage of identifiers. We extract post-hoc explanations from fine-tuned BERT classifiers to detect bias towards identity terms. Then, we propose a novel regularization technique based on these explanations that encourages models to learn from the context of group identifiers in addition to the identifiers themselves. Our approach improved over baselines in limiting false positives on out-of-domain data while maintaining and in cases improving in-domain performance.

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Visually Grounded Continual Learning of Compositional Phrases
Xisen Jin | Junyi Du | Arka Sadhu | Ram Nevatia | Xiang Ren
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

Humans acquire language continually with much more limited access to data samples at a time, as compared to contemporary NLP systems. To study this human-like language acquisition ability, we present VisCOLL, a visually grounded language learning task, which simulates the continual acquisition of compositional phrases from streaming visual scenes. In the task, models are trained on a paired image-caption stream which has shifting object distribution; while being constantly evaluated by a visually-grounded masked language prediction task on held-out test sets. VisCOLL compounds the challenges of continual learning (i.e., learning from continuously shifting data distribution) and compositional generalization (i.e., generalizing to novel compositions). To facilitate research on VisCOLL, we construct two datasets, COCO-shift and Flickr-shift, and benchmark them using different continual learning methods. Results reveal that SoTA continual learning approaches provide little to no improvements on VisCOLL, since storing examples of all possible compositions is infeasible. We conduct further ablations and analysis to guide future work.

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Recurrent Event Network: Autoregressive Structure Inferenceover Temporal Knowledge Graphs
Woojeong Jin | Meng Qu | Xisen Jin | Xiang Ren
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

Knowledge graph reasoning is a critical task in natural language processing. The task becomes more challenging on temporal knowledge graphs, where each fact is associated with a timestamp. Most existing methods focus on reasoning at past timestamps and they are not able to predict facts happening in the future. This paper proposes Recurrent Event Network (RE-Net), a novel autoregressive architecture for predicting future interactions. The occurrence of a fact (event) is modeled as a probability distribution conditioned on temporal sequences of past knowledge graphs. Specifically, our RE-Net employs a recurrent event encoder to encode past facts, and uses a neighborhood aggregator to model the connection of facts at the same timestamp. Future facts can then be inferred in a sequential manner based on the two modules. We evaluate our proposed method via link prediction at future times on five public datasets. Through extensive experiments, we demonstrate the strength of RE-Net, especially on multi-step inference over future timestamps, and achieve state-of-the-art performance on all five datasets.


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Sequicity: Simplifying Task-oriented Dialogue Systems with Single Sequence-to-Sequence Architectures
Wenqiang Lei | Xisen Jin | Min-Yen Kan | Zhaochun Ren | Xiangnan He | Dawei Yin
Proceedings of the 56th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Existing solutions to task-oriented dialogue systems follow pipeline designs which introduces architectural complexity and fragility. We propose a novel, holistic, extendable framework based on a single sequence-to-sequence (seq2seq) model which can be optimized with supervised or reinforcement learning. A key contribution is that we design text spans named belief spans to track dialogue believes, allowing task-oriented dialogue systems to be modeled in a seq2seq way. Based on this, we propose a simplistic Two Stage CopyNet instantiation which emonstrates good scalability: significantly reducing model complexity in terms of number of parameters and training time by a magnitude. It significantly outperforms state-of-the-art pipeline-based methods on large datasets and retains a satisfactory entity match rate on out-of-vocabulary (OOV) cases where pipeline-designed competitors totally fail.