Yingbo Zhou


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Efficiently Aligned Cross-Lingual Transfer Learning for Conversational Tasks using Prompt-Tuning
Lifu Tu | Jin Qu | Semih Yavuz | Shafiq Joty | Wenhao Liu | Caiming Xiong | Yingbo Zhou
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EACL 2024

Cross-lingual transfer of language models trained on high-resource languages like English has been widely studied for many NLP tasks, but focus on conversational tasks has been rather limited. This is partly due to the high cost of obtaining non-English conversational data, which results in limited coverage. In this work, we introduce for cross-lingual alignment pretraining, a parallel and large-scale multilingual conversation dataset that we created by translating the English-only Schema-Guided Dialogue (SGD) dataset (Rastogi et al., 2020) into 105 other languages. XSGD contains about 330k utterances per language. To facilitate aligned cross-lingual representations, we develop an efficient prompt-tuning-based method for learning alignment prompts. We also investigate two different classifiers: NLI-based and vanilla classifiers, and test cross-lingual capability enabled by the aligned prompts. We evaluate our model’s cross-lingual generalization capabilities on two conversation tasks: slot-filling and intent classification. Our results demonstrate strong and efficient modeling ability of NLI-based classifiers and the large cross-lingual transfer improvements achieved by our aligned prompts, particularly in few-shot settings. We also conduct studies on large language models (LLMs) such as text-davinci-003 and ChatGPT in both zero- and few-shot settings. While LLMs exhibit impressive performance in English, their cross-lingual capabilities in other languages, particularly low-resource ones, are limited.


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SharPT: Shared Latent Space Prompt Tuning
Bo Pang | Semih Yavuz | Caiming Xiong | Yingbo Zhou
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EACL 2023

Prompt tuning is an efficient method for adapting large language models, and Soft Prompt Transfer (SPoT) further narrows the gap between prompt tuning and full model tuning by transferring prompts learned from source tasks to target tasks. It is nevertheless difficult and expensive to identify the source task that provides optimal prompts. In this work, we propose to learn a shared latent space which captures a set of basis skills from a mixture of source tasks. Given an instance, its embedding queries the latent space, yielding a basis skill vector. This vector generates soft prompts, via a lightweight prompt generator, which modulates a frozen model. The latent space and prompt transformation are learned end-to-end by training on source tasks. Transfer learning from source tasks to a target task simply amounts to finetuning the prompt generator, accounting for roughly 0.3% parameters of the frozen backbone model, while the shared latent space is also frozen in finetuning. Our approach outperforms prior soft prompt methods by a significant margin on a variety of tasks such as NLI, sentence completion, QA, conference resolution, word sense disambiguation. We also find, on various model scales, our method achieves competitive performance compared to finetuning the full model.

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Long Document Summarization with Top-down and Bottom-up Inference
Bo Pang | Erik Nijkamp | Wojciech Kryscinski | Silvio Savarese | Yingbo Zhou | Caiming Xiong
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EACL 2023

Text summarization aims to condense long documents and retain key information. Critical to the success of a summarization model is the faithful inference of latent representations of words or tokens in the source documents. Most recent models infer the latent representations with a transformer encoder, which is purely bottom-up and thus does not capture long-distance context well. Also, self-attention-based models face the challenge of quadratic complexity with respect to sequence length. We propose a method to improve summarization models on these two aspects. Our method assumes a hierarchical latent structure of a document where the top-level captures the long range dependency at a coarser time scale and the bottom token level preserves the details. Critically, our method enables token representations to be updated in both a bottom-up and top-down manner. In the bottom-up pass, token representations are inferred with local self-attention to leverage its efficiency. Top-down correction is then applied to allow tokens to capture global context. We demonstrate the effectiveness on a diverse set of summarization datasets, including narrative, conversational, scientific documents and news. Our model achieves state-of-the-art performance on a wide range of long document summarization benchmarks, compared to recent efficient transformers. We show that our model can summarize an entire book and achieve competitive performance using 0.27% parameters and much less training data, compared to a recent GPT-3-based model. These results indicate the general applicability and benefits of the framework.

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General-to-Specific Transfer Labeling for Domain Adaptable Keyphrase Generation
Rui Meng | Tong Wang | Xingdi Yuan | Yingbo Zhou | Daqing He
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2023

Training keyphrase generation (KPG) models require a large amount of annotated data, which can be prohibitively expensive and often limited to specific domains. In this study, we first demonstrate that large distribution shifts among different domains severely hinder the transferability of KPG models. We then propose a three-stage pipeline, which gradually guides KPG models’ learning focus from general syntactical features to domain-related semantics, in a data-efficient manner. With domain-general phrase pre-training, we pre-train Sequence-to-Sequence models with generic phrase annotations that are widely available on the web, which enables the models to generate phrases in a wide range of domains. The resulting model is then applied in the Transfer Labeling stage to produce domain-specific pseudo keyphrases, which help adapt models to a new domain. Finally, we fine-tune the model with limited data with true labels to fully adapt it to the target domain. Our experiment results show that the proposed process can produce good quality keyphrases in new domains and achieve consistent improvements after adaptation with limited in-domain annotated data. All code and datasets are available at https://github.com/memray/OpenNMT-kpg-release.

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HPE: Answering Complex Questions over Text by Hybrid Question Parsing and Execution
Ye Liu | Semih Yavuz | Rui Meng | Dragomir Radev | Caiming Xiong | Shafiq Joty | Yingbo Zhou
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2023

The dominant paradigm of textual question answering systems is based on end-to-end neural networks, which excels at answering natural language questions but falls short on complex ones. This stands in contrast to the broad adaptation of semantic parsing approaches over structured data sources (e.g., relational database, knowledge graphs), that convert natural language questions to logical forms and execute them with query engines. Towards combining the strengths of neural and symbolic methods, we propose a framework of question parsing and execution on textual QA. It comprises two central pillars: (1) We parse the question of varying complexity into an intermediate representation, named H-expression, which is composed of simple questions as the primitives and symbolic operations representing the relationships among them; (2) To execute the resulting H-expressions, we design a hybrid executor, which integrates the deterministic rules to translate the symbolic operations with a drop-in neural reader network to answer each decomposed simple question. Hence, the proposed framework can be viewed as a top-down question parsing followed by a bottom-up answer backtracking. The resulting H-expressions closely guide the execution process, offering higher precision besides better interpretability while still preserving the advantages of the neural readers for resolving its primitive elements. Our extensive experiments on MuSiQue, 2WikiQA, HotpotQA, and NQ show that the proposed parsing and hybrid execution framework outperforms existing approaches in supervised, few-shot, and zero-shot settings, while also effectively exposing its underlying reasoning process.

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Few-shot Unified Question Answering: Tuning Models or Prompts?
Srijan Bansal | Semih Yavuz | Bo Pang | Meghana Bhat | Yingbo Zhou
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2023

Question-answering (QA) tasks often investigate specific question types, knowledge domains, or reasoning skills, leading to specialized models catering to specific categories of QA tasks. While recent research has explored the idea of unified QA models, such models are usually explored for high-resource scenarios and require re-training to extend their capabilities. To overcome these drawbacks, the paper explores the potential of two paradigms of tuning, model, and prompts, for unified QA under a low-resource setting. The paper provides an exhaustive analysis of their applicability using 16 QA datasets, revealing that prompt tuning can perform as well as model tuning in a few-shot setting with a good initialization. The study also shows that parameter-sharing results in superior few-shot performance, simple knowledge transfer techniques for prompt initialization can be effective, and prompt tuning achieves a significant performance boost from pre-training in a low-resource regime. The research offers insights into the advantages and limitations of prompt tuning for unified QA in a few-shot setting, contributing to the development of effective and efficient systems in low-resource scenarios.

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Best-k Search Algorithm for Neural Text Generation
Jiacheng Xu | Caiming Xiong | Silvio Savarese | Yingbo Zhou
Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Modern natural language generation paradigms require a decoding strategy to obtain quality sequences out of the model. Beam search yields high-quality but low diversity outputs; stochastic approaches suffer from high variance and sometimes low quality. In this work, we propose a deterministic search algorithm balancing both quality and diversity. We first investigate the vanilla best-first search (BFS) algorithm and then propose the best-k search algorithm. Inspired by BFS, we greedily expand the top k nodes, instead of the first node, to boost efficiency and diversity. Upweighting recently discovered nodes accompanied by heap pruning ensures the completeness of the search procedure. Experiments on four NLG tasks show that best-k search yields more diverse and natural outputs compared to strong baselines, while our approach maintains high text quality. The proposed algorithm is parameter-free, lightweight, efficient, and easy-to-use.


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Choose Your QA Model Wisely: A Systematic Study of Generative and Extractive Readers for Question Answering
Man Luo | Kazuma Hashimoto | Semih Yavuz | Zhiwei Liu | Chitta Baral | Yingbo Zhou
Proceedings of the 1st Workshop on Semiparametric Methods in NLP: Decoupling Logic from Knowledge

While both extractive and generative readers have been successfully applied to the Question Answering (QA) task, little attention has been paid toward the systematic comparison of them. Characterizing the strengths and weaknesses of the two readers is crucial not only for making a more informed reader selection in practice but also for developing a deeper understanding to foster further research on improving readers in a principled manner. Motivated by this goal, we make the first attempt to systematically study the comparison of extractive and generative readers for question answering. To be aligned with the state-of-the-art, we explore nine transformer-based large pre-trained language models (PrLMs) as backbone architectures. Furthermore, we organize our findings under two main categories: (1) keeping the architecture invariant, and (2) varying the underlying PrLMs. Among several interesting findings, it is important to highlight that (1) the generative readers perform better in long context QA, (2) the extractive readers perform better in short context while also showing better out-of-domain generalization, and (3) the encoder of encoder-decoder PrLMs (e.g., T5) turns out to be a strong extractive reader and outperforms the standard choice of encoder-only PrLMs (e.g., RoBERTa). We also study the effect of multi-task learning on the two types of readers varying the underlying PrLMs and perform qualitative and quantitative diagnosis to provide further insights into future directions in modeling better readers.

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Modeling Multi-hop Question Answering as Single Sequence Prediction
Semih Yavuz | Kazuma Hashimoto | Yingbo Zhou | Nitish Shirish Keskar | Caiming Xiong
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Fusion-in-decoder (Fid) (Izacard and Grave, 2020) is a generative question answering (QA) model that leverages passage retrieval with a pre-trained transformer and pushed the state of the art on single-hop QA. However, the complexity of multi-hop QA hinders the effectiveness of the generative QA approach. In this work, we propose a simple generative approach (PathFid) that extends the task beyond just answer generation by explicitly modeling the reasoning process to resolve the answer for multi-hop questions. By linearizing the hierarchical reasoning path of supporting passages, their key sentences, and finally the factoid answer, we cast the problem as a single sequence prediction task. To facilitate complex reasoning with multiple clues, we further extend the unified flat representation of multiple input documents by encoding cross-passage interactions. Our extensive experiments demonstrate that PathFid leads to strong performance gains on two multi-hop QA datasets: HotpotQA and IIRC. Besides the performance gains, PathFid is more interpretable, which in turn yields answers that are more faithfully grounded to the supporting passages and facts compared to the baseline Fid model.

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RNG-KBQA: Generation Augmented Iterative Ranking for Knowledge Base Question Answering
Xi Ye | Semih Yavuz | Kazuma Hashimoto | Yingbo Zhou | Caiming Xiong
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Existing KBQA approaches, despite achieving strong performance on i.i.d. test data, often struggle in generalizing to questions involving unseen KB schema items. Prior ranking-based approaches have shown some success in generalization, but suffer from the coverage issue. We present RnG-KBQA, a Rank-and-Generate approach for KBQA, which remedies the coverage issue with a generation model while preserving a strong generalization capability. Our approach first uses a contrastive ranker to rank a set of candidate logical forms obtained by searching over the knowledge graph. It then introduces a tailored generation model conditioned on the question and the top-ranked candidates to compose the final logical form. We achieve new state-of-the-art results on GrailQA and WebQSP datasets. In particular, our method surpasses the prior state-of-the-art by a large margin on the GrailQA leaderboard. In addition, RnG-KBQA outperforms all prior approaches on the popular WebQSP benchmark, even including the ones that use the oracle entity linking. The experimental results demonstrate the effectiveness of the interplay between ranking and generation, which leads to the superior performance of our proposed approach across all settings with especially strong improvements in zero-shot generalization.

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OneAligner: Zero-shot Cross-lingual Transfer with One Rich-Resource Language Pair for Low-Resource Sentence Retrieval
Tong Niu | Kazuma Hashimoto | Yingbo Zhou | Caiming Xiong
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2022

Aligning parallel sentences in multilingual corpora is essential to curating data for downstream applications such as Machine Translation. In this work, we present OneAligner, an alignment model specially designed for sentence retrieval tasks. This model is able to train on only one language pair and transfers, in a cross-lingual fashion, to low-resource language pairs with negligible degradation in performance. When trained with all language pairs of a large-scale parallel multilingual corpus (OPUS-100), this model achieves the state-of-the-art result on the Tateoba dataset, outperforming an equally-sized previous model by 8.0 points in accuracy while using less than 0.6% of their parallel data. When finetuned on a single rich-resource language pair, be it English-centered or not, our model is able to match the performance of the ones finetuned on all language pairs under the same data budget with less than 2.0 points decrease in accuracy. Furthermore, with the same setup, scaling up the number of rich-resource language pairs monotonically improves the performance, reaching a minimum of 0.4 points discrepancy in accuracy, making it less mandatory to collect any low-resource parallel data. Finally, we conclude through empirical results and analyses that the performance of the sentence alignment task depends mostly on the monolingual and parallel data size, up to a certain size threshold, rather than on what language pairs are used for training or evaluation.

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Improving the Faithfulness of Abstractive Summarization via Entity Coverage Control
Haopeng Zhang | Semih Yavuz | Wojciech Kryscinski | Kazuma Hashimoto | Yingbo Zhou
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: NAACL 2022

Abstractive summarization systems leveraging pre-training language models have achieved superior results on benchmark datasets. However, such models have been shown to be more prone to hallucinate facts that are unfaithful to the input context. In this paper, we propose a method to remedy entity-level extrinsic hallucinations with Entity Coverage Control (ECC). We first compute entity coverage precision and prepend the corresponding control code for each training example, which implicitly guides the model to recognize faithfulness contents in the training phase. We further extend our method via intermediate fine-tuning on large but noisy data extracted from Wikipedia to unlock zero-shot summarization. We show that the proposed method leads to more faithful and salient abstractive summarization in supervised fine-tuning and zero-shot settings according to our experimental results on three benchmark datasets XSum, Pubmed, and SAMSum of very different domains and styles.

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Prompt-Tuning Can Be Much Better Than Fine-Tuning on Cross-lingual Understanding With Multilingual Language Models
Lifu Tu | Caiming Xiong | Yingbo Zhou
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2022

Pre-trained multilingual language models show significant performance gains for zero-shot cross-lingual model transfer on a wide range of natural language understanding (NLU) tasks. Previously, for zero-shot cross-lingual evaluation, pre-trained models are only fine-tuned on English data and tested on a variety of target languages. In this paper, we do cross-lingualevaluation on various NLU tasks (sentence classification, sequence labeling, question answering) using prompt-tuning and compare it with fine-tuning. The results show that prompt tuning achieves much better cross-lingual transfer than fine-tuning across datasets, with only 0.1% to 0.3% tuned parameters. Additionally, we demonstrate through the analysis that prompt tuning can have better cross-lingual transfer-ability of representations on downstream tasks with better aligned decision boundaries.

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Uni-Parser: Unified Semantic Parser for Question Answering on Knowledge Base and Database
Ye Liu | Semih Yavuz | Rui Meng | Dragomir Radev | Caiming Xiong | Yingbo Zhou
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Parsing natural language questions into executable logical forms is a useful and interpretable way to perform question answering on structured data such as knowledge bases (KB) or databases (DB). However, existing approaches on semantic parsing cannot adapt to both modalities, as they suffer from the exponential growth of the logical form candidates and can hardly generalize to unseen data.In this work, we propose Uni-Parser, a unified semantic parser for question answering (QA) on both KB and DB. We define the primitive (relation and entity in KB, and table name, column name and cell value in DB) as the essential element in our framework. The number of primitives grows only at a linear rate to the number of retrieved relations in KB and DB, preventing us from exponential logic form candidates. We leverage the generator to predict final logical forms by altering and composing top-ranked primitives with different operations (e.g. select, where, count). With sufficiently pruned search space by a contrastive primitive ranker, the generator is empowered to capture the composition of primitives enhancing its generalization ability. We achieve competitive results on multiple KB and DB QA benchmarks with more efficiency, especially in the compositional and zero-shot settings.


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Focused Attention Improves Document-Grounded Generation
Shrimai Prabhumoye | Kazuma Hashimoto | Yingbo Zhou | Alan W Black | Ruslan Salakhutdinov
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Document grounded generation is the task of using the information provided in a document to improve text generation. This work focuses on two different document grounded generation tasks: Wikipedia Update Generation task and Dialogue response generation. Our work introduces two novel adaptations of large scale pre-trained encoder-decoder models focusing on building context driven representation of the document and enabling specific attention to the information in the document. Additionally, we provide a stronger BART baseline for these tasks. Our proposed techniques outperform existing methods on both automated (at least 48% increase in BLEU-4 points) and human evaluation for closeness to reference and relevance to the document. Furthermore, we perform comprehensive manual inspection of the generated output and categorize errors to provide insights into future directions in modeling these tasks.

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Unsupervised Paraphrasing with Pretrained Language Models
Tong Niu | Semih Yavuz | Yingbo Zhou | Nitish Shirish Keskar | Huan Wang | Caiming Xiong
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Paraphrase generation has benefited extensively from recent progress in the designing of training objectives and model architectures. However, previous explorations have largely focused on supervised methods, which require a large amount of labeled data that is costly to collect. To address this drawback, we adopt a transfer learning approach and propose a training pipeline that enables pre-trained language models to generate high-quality paraphrases in an unsupervised setting. Our recipe consists of task-adaptation, self-supervision, and a novel decoding algorithm named Dynamic Blocking (DB). To enforce a surface form dissimilar from the input, whenever the language model emits a token contained in the source sequence, DB prevents the model from outputting the subsequent source token for the next generation step. We show with automatic and human evaluations that our approach achieves state-of-the-art performance on both the Quora Question Pair (QQP) and the ParaNMT datasets and is robust to domain shift between the two datasets of distinct distributions. We also demonstrate that our model transfers to paraphrasing in other languages without any additional finetuning.

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Testing Cross-Database Semantic Parsers With Canonical Utterances
Heather Lent | Semih Yavuz | Tao Yu | Tong Niu | Yingbo Zhou | Dragomir Radev | Xi Victoria Lin
Proceedings of the 2nd Workshop on Evaluation and Comparison of NLP Systems

The benchmark performance of cross-database semantic parsing has climbed steadily in recent years, catalyzed by the wide adoption of pre-trained language models. Yet existing work have shown that state-of-the-art cross-database semantic parsers struggle to generalize to novel user utterances, databases and query structures. To obtain transparent details on the strengths and limitation of these models, we propose a diagnostic testing approach based on controlled synthesis of canonical natural language and SQL pairs. Inspired by the CheckList, we characterize a set of essential capabilities for cross-database semantic parsing models, and detailed the method for synthesizing the corresponding test data. We evaluated a variety of high performing models using the proposed approach, and identified several non-obvious weaknesses across models (e.g. unable to correctly select many columns). Our dataset and code are released as a test suite at http://github.com/hclent/BehaviorCheckingSemPar.

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Few-Shot Intent Classification by Gauging Entailment Relationship Between Utterance and Semantic Label
Jin Qu | Kazuma Hashimoto | Wenhao Liu | Caiming Xiong | Yingbo Zhou
Proceedings of the 3rd Workshop on Natural Language Processing for Conversational AI

Zhang et al. (2020) proposed to formulate few-shot intent classification as natural language inference (NLI) between query utterances and examples in the training set. The method is known as discriminative nearest neighbor classification or DNNC. Inspired by this work, we propose to simplify the NLI-style classification pipeline to be the entailment prediction on the utterance-semantic-label-pair (USLP). The semantic information in the labels can thus been infused into the classification process. Compared with DNNC, our proposed method is more efficient in both training and serving since it is based upon the entailment between query utterance and labels instead of all the training examples. The DNNC method requires more than one example per intent while the USLP approach does not have such constraint. In the 1-shot experiments on the CLINC150 (Larson et al., 2019) dataset, the USLP method outperforms traditional classification approach by >20 points (in-domain ac- curacy). We also find that longer and semantically meaningful labels tend to benefit model performance, however, the benefit shrinks as more training data is available.

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Dense Hierarchical Retrieval for Open-domain Question Answering
Ye Liu | Kazuma Hashimoto | Yingbo Zhou | Semih Yavuz | Caiming Xiong | Philip Yu
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2021

Dense neural text retrieval has achieved promising results on open-domain Question Answering (QA), where latent representations of questions and passages are exploited for maximum inner product search in the retrieval process. However, current dense retrievers require splitting documents into short passages that usually contain local, partial and sometimes biased context, and highly depend on the splitting process. As a consequence, it may yield inaccurate and misleading hidden representations, thus deteriorating the final retrieval result. In this work, we propose Dense Hierarchical Retrieval (DHR), a hierarchical framework which can generate accurate dense representations of passages by utilizing both macroscopic semantics in the document and microscopic semantics specific to each passage. Specifically, a document-level retriever first identifies relevant documents, among which relevant passages are then retrieved by a passage-level retriever. The ranking of the retrieved passages will be further calibrated by examining the document-level relevance. In addition, hierarchical title structure and two negative sampling strategies (i.e., In-Doc and In-Sec negatives) are investigated. We apply DHR to large-scale open-domain QA datasets. DHR significantly outperforms the original dense passage retriever, and helps an end-to-end QA system outperform the strong baselines on multiple open-domain QA benchmarks.