Yifan Gao


2023

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SCOTT: Self-Consistent Chain-of-Thought Distillation
Peifeng Wang | Zhengyang Wang | Zheng Li | Yifan Gao | Bing Yin | Xiang Ren
Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Large language models (LMs) beyond a certain scale, demonstrate the emergent capability of generating free-text rationales for their predictions via chain-of-thought (CoT) prompting. While CoT can yield dramatically improved performance, such gains are only observed for sufficiently large LMs. Even more concerning, there is little guarantee that the generated rationales are consistent with LM’s predictions or faithfully justify the decisions. In this work, we propose SCOTT, a faithful knowledge distillation method to learn a small, self-consistent CoT model from a teacher model that is orders of magnitude larger. To form better supervision, we elicit rationales supporting the gold answers from a large LM (teacher) by contrastive decoding, which encourages the teacher to generate tokens that become more plausible only when the answer is considered. To ensure faithful distillation, we use the teacher-generated rationales to learn a student LM with a counterfactual reasoning objective, which prevents the student from ignoring the rationales to make inconsistent predictions. Experiments show that while yielding comparable performance, our method leads to a more faithful model than baselines. Further analysis shows that such a model respects the rationales more when making decisions; thus, we can improve its performance more by refining its rationales.

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Efficient Zero-Shot Cross-lingual Inference via Retrieval
Genta Winata | Lingjue Xie | Karthik Radhakrishnan | Yifan Gao | Daniel Preotiuc-Pietro
Proceedings of the 13th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing and the 3rd Conference of the Asia-Pacific Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 2: Short Papers)

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FolkScope: Intention Knowledge Graph Construction for E-commerce Commonsense Discovery
Changlong Yu | Weiqi Wang | Xin Liu | Jiaxin Bai | Yangqiu Song | Zheng Li | Yifan Gao | Tianyu Cao | Bing Yin
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2023

Understanding users’ intentions in e-commerce platforms requires commonsense knowledge. In this paper, we present FolkScope, an intention knowledge graph construction framework, to reveal the structure of humans’ minds about purchasing items. As commonsense knowledge is usually ineffable and not expressed explicitly, it is challenging to perform information extraction. Thus, we propose a new approach that leverages the generation power of large language models (LLMs) and human-in-the-loop annotation to semi-automatically construct the knowledge graph. LLMs first generate intention assertions via e-commerce specific prompts to explain shopping behaviors, where the intention can be an open reason or a predicate falling into one of 18 categories aligning with ConceptNet, e.g., IsA, MadeOf, UsedFor, etc. Then we annotate plausibility and typicality labels of sampled intentions as training data in order to populate human judgments to all automatic generations. Last, to structurize the assertions, we propose pattern mining and conceptualization to form more condensed and abstract knowledge. Extensive evaluations and study demonstrate that our constructed knowledge graph can well model e-commerce knowledge and have many potential applications.

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Graph Reasoning for Question Answering with Triplet Retrieval
Shiyang Li | Yifan Gao | Haoming Jiang | Qingyu Yin | Zheng Li | Xifeng Yan | Chao Zhang | Bing Yin
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2023

Answering complex questions often requires reasoning over knowledge graphs (KGs). State-of-the-art methods often utilize entities in questions to retrieve local subgraphs, which are then fed into KG encoder, e.g. graph neural networks (GNNs), to model their local structures and integrated into language models for question answering. However, this paradigm constrains retrieved knowledge in local subgraphs and discards more diverse triplets buried in KGs that are disconnected but useful for question answering. In this paper, we propose a simple yet effective method to first retrieve the most relevant triplets from KGs and then rerank them, which are then concatenated with questions to be fed into language models. Extensive results on both CommonsenseQA and OpenbookQA datasets show that our method can outperform state-of-the-art up to 4.6% absolute accuracy.

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Knowledge-Selective Pretraining for Attribute Value Extraction
Hui Liu | Qingyu Yin | Zhengyang Wang | Chenwei Zhang | Haoming Jiang | Yifan Gao | Zheng Li | Xian Li | Chao Zhang | Bing Yin | William Wang | Xiaodan Zhu
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2023

Attribute Value Extraction (AVE) aims to retrieve the values of attributes from the product profiles. The state-of-the-art methods tackle the AVE task through a question-answering (QA) paradigm, where the value is predicted from the context (i.e. product profile) given a query (i.e. attributes). Despite of the substantial advancements that have been made, the performance of existing methods on rare attributes is still far from satisfaction, and they cannot be easily extended to unseen attributes due to the poor generalization ability. In this work, we propose to leverage pretraining and transfer learning to address the aforementioned weaknesses. We first collect the product information from various E-commerce stores and retrieve a large number of (profile, attribute, value) triples, which will be used as the pretraining corpus. To more effectively utilize the retrieved corpus, we further design a Knowledge-Selective Framework (KSelF) based on query expansion that can be closely combined with the pretraining corpus to boost the performance. Meanwhile, considering the public AE-pub dataset contains considerable noise, we construct and contribute a larger benchmark EC-AVE collected from E-commerce websites. We conduct evaluation on both of these datasets. The experimental results demonstrate that our proposed KSelF achieves new state-of-the-art performance without pretraining. When incorporated with the pretraining corpus, the performance of KSelF can be further improved, particularly on the attributes with limited training resources.

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Improving Consistency for Text Summarization with Energy Functions
Qi Zeng | Qingyu Yin | Zheng Li | Yifan Gao | Sreyashi Nag | Zhengyang Wang | Bing Yin | Heng Ji | Chao Zhang
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2023

Current abstractive summarization models often generate inconsistent content, i.e. texts that are not directly inferable from the source document, are not consistent with respect to world knowledge, or are self-contradictory. These inconsistencies motivate a new consistency taxonomy that we define as faithfulness, factuality, and self-supportiveness. However, most recent work on reducing inconsistency in document summarization only focuses on faithfulness detection and correction while ignoring other inconsistency phenomena, which limits the model’s scalability. To improve the general consistency we introduce EnergySum, where we apply the Residual Energy-based Model by designing energy scorers that reflect each type of consistency. These energy scores are utilized in candidate re-ranking during the sampling process. Experiments on XSUM and CNN/DM datasets show that EnergySum mitigates the trade-off between accuracy and consistency.

2022

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Retrieval-Augmented Multilingual Keyphrase Generation with Retriever-Generator Iterative Training
Yifan Gao | Qingyu Yin | Zheng Li | Rui Meng | Tong Zhao | Bing Yin | Irwin King | Michael Lyu
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: NAACL 2022

Keyphrase generation is the task of automatically predicting keyphrases given a piece of long text. Despite its recent flourishing, keyphrase generation on non-English languages haven’t been vastly investigated. In this paper, we call attention to a new setting named multilingual keyphrase generation and we contribute two new datasets, EcommerceMKP and AcademicMKP, covering six languages. Technically, we propose a retrieval-augmented method for multilingual keyphrase generation to mitigate the data shortage problem in non-English languages. The retrieval-augmented model leverages keyphrase annotations in English datasets to facilitate generating keyphrases in low-resource languages. Given a non-English passage, a cross-lingual dense passage retrieval module finds relevant English passages. Then the associated English keyphrases serve as external knowledge for keyphrase generation in the current language. Moreover, we develop a retriever-generator iterative training algorithm to mine pseudo parallel passage pairs to strengthen the cross-lingual passage retriever. Comprehensive experiments and ablations show that the proposed approach outperforms all baselines.

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ProQA: Structural Prompt-based Pre-training for Unified Question Answering
Wanjun Zhong | Yifan Gao | Ning Ding | Yujia Qin | Zhiyuan Liu | Ming Zhou | Jiahai Wang | Jian Yin | Nan Duan
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Question Answering (QA) is a longstanding challenge in natural language processing. Existing QA works mostly focus on specific question types, knowledge domains, or reasoning skills. The specialty in QA research hinders systems from modeling commonalities between tasks and generalization for wider applications. To address this issue, we present ProQA, a unified QA paradigm that solves various tasks through a single model. ProQA takes a unified structural prompt as the bridge and improves the QA-centric ability by structural prompt-based pre-training. Through a structurally designed prompt-based input schema, ProQA concurrently models the knowledge generalization for all QA tasks while keeping the knowledge customization for every specific QA task. Furthermore, ProQA is pre-trained with structural prompt-formatted large-scale synthesized corpus, which empowers the model with the commonly-required QA ability. Experimental results on 11 QA benchmarks demonstrate that ProQA consistently boosts performance on both full data fine-tuning, few-shot learning, and zero-shot testing scenarios. Furthermore, ProQA exhibits strong ability in both continual learning and transfer learning by taking the advantages of the structural prompt.

2021

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Answering Ambiguous Questions through Generative Evidence Fusion and Round-Trip Prediction
Yifan Gao | Henghui Zhu | Patrick Ng | Cicero Nogueira dos Santos | Zhiguo Wang | Feng Nan | Dejiao Zhang | Ramesh Nallapati | Andrew O. Arnold | Bing Xiang
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)

In open-domain question answering, questions are highly likely to be ambiguous because users may not know the scope of relevant topics when formulating them. Therefore, a system needs to find possible interpretations of the question, and predict one or multiple plausible answers. When multiple plausible answers are found, the system should rewrite the question for each answer to resolve the ambiguity. In this paper, we present a model that aggregates and combines evidence from multiple passages to adaptively predict a single answer or a set of question-answer pairs for ambiguous questions. In addition, we propose a novel round-trip prediction approach to iteratively generate additional interpretations that our model fails to find in the first pass, and then verify and filter out the incorrect question-answer pairs to arrive at the final disambiguated output. Our model, named Refuel, achieves a new state-of-the-art performance on the AmbigQA dataset, and shows competitive performance on NQ-Open and TriviaQA. The proposed round-trip prediction is a model-agnostic general approach for answering ambiguous open-domain questions, which improves our Refuel as well as several baseline models. We release source code for our models and experiments at https://github.com/amzn/refuel-open-domain-qa.

2020

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Discern: Discourse-Aware Entailment Reasoning Network for Conversational Machine Reading
Yifan Gao | Chien-Sheng Wu | Jingjing Li | Shafiq Joty | Steven C.H. Hoi | Caiming Xiong | Irwin King | Michael Lyu
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

Document interpretation and dialog understanding are the two major challenges for conversational machine reading. In this work, we propose “Discern”, a discourse-aware entailment reasoning network to strengthen the connection and enhance the understanding of both document and dialog. Specifically, we split the document into clause-like elementary discourse units (EDU) using a pre-trained discourse segmentation model, and we train our model in a weakly-supervised manner to predict whether each EDU is entailed by the user feedback in a conversation. Based on the learned EDU and entailment representations, we either reply to the user our final decision “yes/no/irrelevant” of the initial question, or generate a follow-up question to inquiry more information. Our experiments on the ShARC benchmark (blind, held-out test set) show that Discern achieves state-of-the-art results of 78.3% macro-averaged accuracy on decision making and 64.0 BLEU1 on follow-up question generation. Code and models are released at https://github.com/Yifan-Gao/Discern.

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Explicit Memory Tracker with Coarse-to-Fine Reasoning for Conversational Machine Reading
Yifan Gao | Chien-Sheng Wu | Shafiq Joty | Caiming Xiong | Richard Socher | Irwin King | Michael Lyu | Steven C.H. Hoi
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

The goal of conversational machine reading is to answer user questions given a knowledge base text which may require asking clarification questions. Existing approaches are limited in their decision making due to struggles in extracting question-related rules and reasoning about them. In this paper, we present a new framework of conversational machine reading that comprises a novel Explicit Memory Tracker (EMT) to track whether conditions listed in the rule text have already been satisfied to make a decision. Moreover, our framework generates clarification questions by adopting a coarse-to-fine reasoning strategy, utilizing sentence-level entailment scores to weight token-level distributions. On the ShARC benchmark (blind, held-out) testset, EMT achieves new state-of-the-art results of 74.6% micro-averaged decision accuracy and 49.5 BLEU4. We also show that EMT is more interpretable by visualizing the entailment-oriented reasoning process as the conversation flows. Code and models are released at https://github.com/Yifan-Gao/explicit_memory_tracker.

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Leveraging WordNet Paths for Neural Hypernym Prediction
Yejin Cho | Juan Diego Rodriguez | Yifan Gao | Katrin Erk
Proceedings of the 28th International Conference on Computational Linguistics

We formulate the problem of hypernym prediction as a sequence generation task, where the sequences are taxonomy paths in WordNet. Our experiments with encoder-decoder models show that training to generate taxonomy paths can improve the performance of direct hypernym prediction. As a simple but powerful model, the hypo2path model achieves state-of-the-art performance, outperforming the best benchmark by 4.11 points in hit-at-one (H@1).

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Dialogue Generation on Infrequent Sentence Functions via Structured Meta-Learning
Yifan Gao | Piji Li | Wei Bi | Xiaojiang Liu | Michael Lyu | Irwin King
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2020

Sentence function is an important linguistic feature indicating the communicative purpose in uttering a sentence. Incorporating sentence functions into conversations has shown improvements in the quality of generated responses. However, the number of utterances for different types of fine-grained sentence functions is extremely imbalanced. Besides a small number of high-resource sentence functions, a large portion of sentence functions is infrequent. Consequently, dialogue generation conditioned on these infrequent sentence functions suffers from data deficiency. In this paper, we investigate a structured meta-learning (SML) approach for dialogue generation on infrequent sentence functions. We treat dialogue generation conditioned on different sentence functions as separate tasks, and apply model-agnostic meta-learning to high-resource sentence functions data. Furthermore, SML enhances meta-learning effectiveness by promoting knowledge customization among different sentence functions but simultaneously preserving knowledge generalization for similar sentence functions. Experimental results demonstrate that SML not only improves the informativeness and relevance of generated responses, but also can generate responses consistent with the target sentence functions. Code will be public to facilitate the research along this line.

2019

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Interconnected Question Generation with Coreference Alignment and Conversation Flow Modeling
Yifan Gao | Piji Li | Irwin King | Michael R. Lyu
Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

We study the problem of generating interconnected questions in question-answering style conversations. Compared with previous works which generate questions based on a single sentence (or paragraph), this setting is different in two major aspects: (1) Questions are highly conversational. Almost half of them refer back to conversation history using coreferences. (2) In a coherent conversation, questions have smooth transitions between turns. We propose an end-to-end neural model with coreference alignment and conversation flow modeling. The coreference alignment modeling explicitly aligns coreferent mentions in conversation history with corresponding pronominal references in generated questions, which makes generated questions interconnected to conversation history. The conversation flow modeling builds a coherent conversation by starting questioning on the first few sentences in a text passage and smoothly shifting the focus to later parts. Extensive experiments show that our system outperforms several baselines and can generate highly conversational questions. The code implementation is released at https://github.com/Evan-Gao/conversaional-QG.

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Improving Question Generation With to the Point Context
Jingjing Li | Yifan Gao | Lidong Bing | Irwin King | Michael R. Lyu
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing and the 9th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (EMNLP-IJCNLP)

Question generation (QG) is the task of generating a question from a reference sentence and a specified answer within the sentence. A major challenge in QG is to identify answer-relevant context words to finish the declarative-to-interrogative sentence transformation. Existing sequence-to-sequence neural models achieve this goal by proximity-based answer position encoding under the intuition that neighboring words of answers are of high possibility to be answer-relevant. However, such intuition may not apply to all cases especially for sentences with complex answer-relevant relations. Consequently, the performance of these models drops sharply when the relative distance between the answer fragment and other non-stop sentence words that also appear in the ground truth question increases. To address this issue, we propose a method to jointly model the unstructured sentence and the structured answer-relevant relation (extracted from the sentence in advance) for question generation. Specifically, the structured answer-relevant relation acts as the to the point context and it thus naturally helps keep the generated question to the point, while the unstructured sentence provides the full information. Extensive experiments show that to the point context helps our question generation model achieve significant improvements on several automatic evaluation metrics. Furthermore, our model is capable of generating diverse questions for a sentence which conveys multiple relations of its answer fragment.