Yixuan Su


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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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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.

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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.