Yixuan Su


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COFFEE: A Contrastive Oracle-Free Framework for Event Extraction
Meiru Zhang | Yixuan Su | Zaiqiao Meng | Zihao Fu | Nigel Collier
Proceedings of the First Workshop on Matching From Unstructured and Structured Data (MATCHING 2023)

Event extraction is a complex task that involves extracting events from unstructured text. Prior classification-based methods require comprehensive entity annotations for joint training, while newer generation-based methods rely on heuristic templates containing oracle information such as event type, which is often unavailable in real-world scenarios. In this study, we consider a more realistic task setting, namely the Oracle-Free Event Extraction (OFEE) task, where only the input context is given, without any oracle information including event type, event ontology, or trigger word. To address this task, we propose a new framework, COFFEE. This framework extracts events solely based on the document context, without referring to any oracle information. In particular, COFFEE introduces a contrastive selection model to refine the generated triggers and handle multi-event instances. Our proposed COFFEE outperforms state-of-the-art approaches in the oracle-free setting of the event extraction task, as evaluated on two public variants of the ACE05 benchmark. The code used in our study has been made publicly available.

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Biomedical Named Entity Recognition via Dictionary-based Synonym Generalization
Zihao Fu | Yixuan Su | Zaiqiao Meng | Nigel Collier
Proceedings of the 2023 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Biomedical named entity recognition is one of the core tasks in biomedical natural language processing (BioNLP). To tackle this task, numerous supervised/distantly supervised approaches have been proposed. Despite their remarkable success, these approaches inescapably demand laborious human effort. To alleviate the need of human effort, dictionary-based approaches have been proposed to extract named entities simply based on a given dictionary. However, one downside of existing dictionary-based approaches is that they are challenged to identify concept synonyms that are not listed in the given dictionary, which we refer as the synonym generalization problem. In this study, we propose a novel Synonym Generalization (SynGen) framework that recognizes the biomedical concepts contained in the input text using span-based predictions. In particular, SynGen introduces two regularization terms, namely, (1) a synonym distance regularizer; and (2) a noise perturbation regularizer, to minimize the synonym generalization error. To demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach, we provide a theoretical analysis of the bound of synonym generalization error. We extensively evaluate our approach on a wide range of benchmarks and the results verify that SynGen outperforms previous dictionary-based models by notable margins. Lastly, we provide a detailed analysis to further reveal the merits and inner-workings of our approach.

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Specialist or Generalist? Instruction Tuning for Specific NLP Tasks
Chufan Shi | Yixuan Su | Cheng Yang | Yujiu Yang | Deng Cai
Proceedings of the 2023 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

The potential of large language models (LLMs) to simultaneously perform a wide range of natural language processing (NLP) tasks has been the subject of extensive research. Although instruction tuning has proven to be a data-efficient method for transforming LLMs into such generalist models, their performance still lags behind specialist models trained exclusively for specific tasks. In this paper, we investigate whether incorporating broadcoverage generalist instruction tuning can contribute to building a specialist model. We hypothesize that its efficacy depends on task specificity and skill requirements. Our experiments assess four target tasks with distinct coverage levels, revealing that integrating generalist instruction tuning consistently enhances model performance when the task coverage is broad. The effect is particularly pronounced when the amount of task-specific training data is limited. Further investigation into three target tasks focusing on different capabilities demonstrates that generalist instruction tuning improves understanding and reasoning abilities. However, for tasks requiring factual knowledge, generalist data containing hallucinatory information may negatively affect the model’s performance. Overall, our work provides a systematic guide for developing specialist models with general instruction tuning.

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PandaGPT: One Model To Instruction-Follow Them All
Yixuan Su | Tian Lan | Huayang Li | Jialu Xu | Yan Wang | Deng Cai
Proceedings of the 1st Workshop on Taming Large Language Models: Controllability in the era of Interactive Assistants!

We present PandaGPT, an approach to emPower large lANguage moDels with visual and Auditory instruction-following capabilities. Our pilot experiments show that PandaGPT can perform complex tasks such as detailed image description generation, writing stories inspired by videos, and answering questions about audios. More interestingly, PandaGPT can take multimodal inputs simultaneously and compose their semantics naturally. For example, PandaGPT can connect how objects look in an image/video and how they sound in an audio. To do so, PandaGPT combines the multimodal encoders from ImageBind and the large language models from Vicuna. Notably, only aligned image-text pairs are required for the training of PandaGPT. Thanks to the strong capability of ImageBind in embedding data from different modalities into the same space, PandaGPT displays emergent, i.e. zero-shot, cross-modal behaviors for data other than image and text (e.g., video, audio, depth, thermal, and IMU). We hope that PandaGPT serves as an initial step toward building AGI that can perceive and understand inputs in different modalities holistically, as we humans do.


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Multi-Task Pre-Training for Plug-and-Play Task-Oriented Dialogue System
Yixuan Su | Lei Shu | Elman Mansimov | Arshit Gupta | Deng Cai | Yi-An Lai | Yi Zhang
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Pre-trained language models have been recently shown to benefit task-oriented dialogue (TOD) systems. Despite their success, existing methods often formulate this task as a cascaded generation problem which can lead to error accumulation across different sub-tasks and greater data annotation overhead. In this study, we present PPTOD, a unified plug-and-play model for task-oriented dialogue. In addition, we introduce a new dialogue multi-task pre-training strategy that allows the model to learn the primary TOD task completion skills from heterogeneous dialog corpora. We extensively test our model on three benchmark TOD tasks, including end-to-end dialogue modelling, dialogue state tracking, and intent classification. Experimental results show that PPTOD achieves new state of the art on all evaluated tasks in both high-resource and low-resource scenarios. Furthermore, comparisons against previous SOTA methods show that the responses generated by PPTOD are more factually correct and semantically coherent as judged by human annotators.

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Rewire-then-Probe: A Contrastive Recipe for Probing Biomedical Knowledge of Pre-trained Language Models
Zaiqiao Meng | Fangyu Liu | Ehsan Shareghi | Yixuan Su | Charlotte Collins | Nigel Collier
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Knowledge probing is crucial for understanding the knowledge transfer mechanism behind the pre-trained language models (PLMs). Despite the growing progress of probing knowledge for PLMs in the general domain, specialised areas such as the biomedical domain are vastly under-explored. To facilitate this, we release a well-curated biomedical knowledge probing benchmark, MedLAMA, constructed based on the Unified Medical Language System (UMLS) Metathesaurus. We test a wide spectrum of state-of-the-art PLMs and probing approaches on our benchmark, reaching at most 3% of acc@10. While highlighting various sources of domain-specific challenges that amount to this underwhelming performance, we illustrate that the underlying PLMs have a higher potential for probing tasks. To achieve this, we propose Contrastive-Probe, a novel self-supervised contrastive probing approach, that adjusts the underlying PLMs without using any probing data. While Contrastive-Probe pushes the acc@10 to 28%, the performance gap still remains notable. Our human expert evaluation suggests that the probing performance of our Contrastive-Probe is still under-estimated as UMLS still does not include the full spectrum of factual knowledge. We hope MedLAMA and Contrastive-Probe facilitate further developments of more suited probing techniques for this domain. Our code and dataset are publicly available at https://github.com/cambridgeltl/medlama.

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TaCL: Improving BERT Pre-training with Token-aware Contrastive Learning
Yixuan Su | Fangyu Liu | Zaiqiao Meng | Tian Lan | Lei Shu | Ehsan Shareghi | Nigel Collier
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: NAACL 2022

Masked language models (MLMs) such as BERT have revolutionized the field of Natural Language Understanding in the past few years. However, existing pre-trained MLMs often output an anisotropic distribution of token representations that occupies a narrow subset of the entire representation space. Such token representations are not ideal, especially for tasks that demand discriminative semantic meanings of distinct tokens. In this work, we propose TaCL (Token-aware Contrastive Learning), a novel continual pre-training approach that encourages BERT to learn an isotropic and discriminative distribution of token representations. TaCL is fully unsupervised and requires no additional data. We extensively test our approach on a wide range of English and Chinese benchmarks. The results show that TaCL brings consistent and notable improvements over the original BERT model. Furthermore, we conduct detailed analysis to reveal the merits and inner-workings of our approach.

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Plug-and-Play Recipe Generation with Content Planning
Yinhong Liu | Yixuan Su | Ehsan Shareghi | Nigel Collier
Proceedings of the 2nd Workshop on Natural Language Generation, Evaluation, and Metrics (GEM)

Recent pre-trained language models have shown promising capability to generate fluent and realistic natural text. However, generating multi-sentence text with global content planning has been a long-existing research question. The current controlled text generation models cannot directly address this issue, as they usually condition on single known control attribute. We propose a low-cost yet effective framework that explicitly models content plans and optimizes the joint distribution of the natural sequence and the content plans in a plug-and-play post-processing manner. We evaluate our model with extensive automatic metrics and human evaluations and show that it achieves the state-of-the-art performance on the recipe generation task on Recipe1M+ dataset.


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Keep the Primary, Rewrite the Secondary: A Two-Stage Approach for Paraphrase Generation
Yixuan Su | David Vandyke | Simon Baker | Yan Wang | Nigel Collier
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL-IJCNLP 2021

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Plan-then-Generate: Controlled Data-to-Text Generation via Planning
Yixuan Su | David Vandyke | Sihui Wang | Yimai Fang | Nigel Collier
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2021

Recent developments in neural networks have led to the advance in data-to-text generation. However, the lack of ability of neural models to control the structure of generated output can be limiting in certain real-world applications. In this study, we propose a novel Plan-then-Generate (PlanGen) framework to improve the controllability of neural data-to-text models. Extensive experiments and analyses are conducted on two benchmark datasets, ToTTo and WebNLG. The results show that our model is able to control both the intra-sentence and inter-sentence structure of the generated output. Furthermore, empirical comparisons against previous state-of-the-art methods show that our model improves the generation quality as well as the output diversity as judged by human and automatic evaluations.

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Few-Shot Table-to-Text Generation with Prototype Memory
Yixuan Su | Zaiqiao Meng | Simon Baker | Nigel Collier
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2021

Neural table-to-text generation models have achieved remarkable progress on an array of tasks. However, due to the data-hungry nature of neural models, their performances strongly rely on large-scale training examples, limiting their applicability in real-world applications. To address this, we propose a new framework: Prototype-to-Generate (P2G), for table-to-text generation under the few-shot scenario. The proposed framework utilizes the retrieved prototypes, which are jointly selected by an IR system and a novel prototype selector to help the model bridging the structural gap between tables and texts. Experimental results on three benchmark datasets with three state-of-the-art models demonstrate that the proposed framework significantly improves the model performance across various evaluation metrics.

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Non-Autoregressive Text Generation with Pre-trained Language Models
Yixuan Su | Deng Cai | Yan Wang | David Vandyke | Simon Baker | Piji Li | Nigel Collier
Proceedings of the 16th Conference of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Main Volume

Non-autoregressive generation (NAG) has recently attracted great attention due to its fast inference speed. However, the generation quality of existing NAG models still lags behind their autoregressive counterparts. In this work, we show that BERT can be employed as the backbone of a NAG model for a greatly improved performance. Additionally, we devise two mechanisms to alleviate the two common problems of vanilla NAG models: the inflexibility of prefixed output length and the conditional independence of individual token predictions. To further strengthen the speed advantage of the proposed model, we propose a new decoding strategy, ratio-first, for applications where the output lengths can be approximately estimated beforehand. For a comprehensive evaluation, we test the proposed model on three text generation tasks, including text summarization, sentence compression and machine translation. Experimental results show that our model significantly outperforms existing non-autoregressive baselines and achieves competitive performance with many strong autoregressive models. In addition, we also conduct extensive analysis experiments to reveal the effect of each proposed component.

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Dialogue Response Selection with Hierarchical Curriculum Learning
Yixuan Su | Deng Cai | Qingyu Zhou | Zibo Lin | Simon Baker | Yunbo Cao | Shuming Shi | Nigel Collier | Yan Wang
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)

We study the learning of a matching model for dialogue response selection. Motivated by the recent finding that models trained with random negative samples are not ideal in real-world scenarios, we propose a hierarchical curriculum learning framework that trains the matching model in an “easy-to-difficult” scheme. Our learning framework consists of two complementary curricula: (1) corpus-level curriculum (CC); and (2) instance-level curriculum (IC). In CC, the model gradually increases its ability in finding the matching clues between the dialogue context and a response candidate. As for IC, it progressively strengthens the model’s ability in identifying the mismatching information between the dialogue context and a response candidate. Empirical studies on three benchmark datasets with three state-of-the-art matching models demonstrate that the proposed learning framework significantly improves the model performance across various evaluation metrics.