Human language understanding operates at multiple levels of granularity (e.g., words, phrases, and sentences) with increasing levels of abstraction that can be hierarchically combined. However, existing deep models with stacked layers do not explicitly model any sort of hierarchical process. In this paper, we propose a recursive Transformer model based on differentiable CKY style binary trees to emulate this composition process, and we extend the bidirectional language model pre-training objective to this architecture, attempting to predict each word given its left and right abstraction nodes. To scale up our approach, we also introduce an efficient pruning and growing algorithm to reduce the time complexity and enable encoding in linear time. Experimental results on language modeling and unsupervised parsing show the effectiveness of our approach.
Utterance classification is a key component in many conversational systems. However, classifying real-world user utterances is challenging, as people may express their ideas and thoughts in manifold ways, and the amount of training data for some categories may be fairly limited, resulting in imbalanced data distributions. To alleviate these issues, we conduct a comprehensive survey regarding data augmentation approaches for text classification, including simple random resampling, word-level transformations, and neural text generation to cope with imbalanced data. Our experiments focus on multi-class datasets with a large number of data samples, which has not been systematically studied in previous work. The results show that the effectiveness of different data augmentation schemes depends on the nature of the dataset under consideration.
Recent years have witnessed substantial progress in the development of neural ranking networks, but also an increasingly heavy computational burden due to growing numbers of parameters and the adoption of model ensembles. Knowledge Distillation (KD) is a common solution to balance the effectiveness and efficiency. However, it is not straightforward to apply KD to ranking problems. Ranking Distillation (RD) has been proposed to address this issue, but only shows effectiveness on recommendation tasks. We present a novel two-stage distillation method for ranking problems that allows a smaller student model to be trained while benefitting from the better performance of the teacher model, providing better control of the inference latency and computational burden. We design a novel BERT-based ranking model structure for list-wise ranking to serve as our student model. All ranking candidates are fed to the BERT model simultaneously, such that the self-attention mechanism can enable joint inference to rank the document list. Our experiments confirm the advantages of our method, not just with regard to the inference latency but also in terms of higher-quality rankings compared to the original teacher model.
Coping with ambiguous questions has been a perennial problem in real-world dialogue systems. Although clarification by asking questions is a common form of human interaction, it is hard to define appropriate questions to elicit more specific intents from a user. In this work, we propose a reinforcement model to clarify ambiguous questions by suggesting refinements of the original query. We first formulate a collection partitioning problem to select a set of labels enabling us to distinguish potential unambiguous intents. We list the chosen labels as intent phrases to the user for further confirmation. The selected label along with the original user query then serves as a refined query, for which a suitable response can more easily be identified. The model is trained using reinforcement learning with a deep policy network. We evaluate our model based on real-world user clicks and demonstrate significant improvements across several different experiments.