Yizhe Zhang


2021

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Automatic Document Sketching: Generating Drafts from Analogous Texts
Zeqiu Wu | Michel Galley | Chris Brockett | Yizhe Zhang | Bill Dolan
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL-IJCNLP 2021

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Contextualized Perturbation for Textual Adversarial Attack
Dianqi Li | Yizhe Zhang | Hao Peng | Liqun Chen | Chris Brockett | Ming-Ting Sun | Bill Dolan
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Adversarial examples expose the vulnerabilities of natural language processing (NLP) models, and can be used to evaluate and improve their robustness. Existing techniques of generating such examples are typically driven by local heuristic rules that are agnostic to the context, often resulting in unnatural and ungrammatical outputs. This paper presents CLARE, a ContextuaLized AdversaRial Example generation model that produces fluent and grammatical outputs through a mask-then-infill procedure. CLARE builds on a pre-trained masked language model and modifies the inputs in a context-aware manner. We propose three contextualized perturbations, Replace, Insert and Merge, that allow for generating outputs of varied lengths. CLARE can flexibly combine these perturbations and apply them at any position in the inputs, and is thus able to attack the victim model more effectively with fewer edits. Extensive experiments and human evaluation demonstrate that CLARE outperforms the baselines in terms of attack success rate, textual similarity, fluency and grammaticality.

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Contrastive Multi-document Question Generation
Woon Sang Cho | Yizhe Zhang | Sudha Rao | Asli Celikyilmaz | Chenyan Xiong | Jianfeng Gao | Mengdi Wang | Bill Dolan
Proceedings of the 16th Conference of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Main Volume

Multi-document question generation focuses on generating a question that covers the common aspect of multiple documents. Such a model is useful in generating clarifying options. However, a naive model trained only using the targeted (‘positive’) document set may generate too generic questions that cover a larger scope than delineated by the document set. To address this challenge, we introduce the contrastive learning strategy where given ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ sets of documents, we generate a question that is closely related to the ‘positive’ set but is far away from the ‘negative’ set. This setting allows generated questions to be more specific and related to the target document set. To generate such specific questions, we propose Multi-Source Coordinated Question Generator (MSCQG), a novel framework that includes a supervised learning (SL) stage and a reinforcement learning (RL) stage. In the SL stage, a single-document question generator is trained. In the RL stage, a coordinator model is trained to find optimal attention weights to align multiple single-document generators, by optimizing a reward designed to promote specificity of generated questions. We also develop an effective auxiliary objective, named Set-induced Contrastive Regularization (SCR) that improves the coordinator’s contrastive learning during the RL stage. We show that our model significantly outperforms several strong baselines, as measured by automatic metrics and human evaluation. The source repository is publicly available at ‘www.github.com/woonsangcho/contrast_qgen’.

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Finetuning Pretrained Transformers into RNNs
Jungo Kasai | Hao Peng | Yizhe Zhang | Dani Yogatama | Gabriel Ilharco | Nikolaos Pappas | Yi Mao | Weizhu Chen | Noah A. Smith
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Transformers have outperformed recurrent neural networks (RNNs) in natural language generation. But this comes with a signifi- cant computational cost, as the attention mechanism’s complexity scales quadratically with sequence length. Efficient transformer variants have received increasing interest in recent works. Among them, a linear-complexity recurrent variant has proven well suited for autoregressive generation. It approximates the softmax attention with randomized or heuristic feature maps, but can be difficult to train and may yield suboptimal accuracy. This work aims to convert a pretrained transformer into its efficient recurrent counterpart, improving efficiency while maintaining accuracy. Specifically, we propose a swap-then-finetune procedure: in an off-the-shelf pretrained transformer, we replace the softmax attention with its linear-complexity recurrent alternative and then finetune. With a learned feature map, our approach provides an improved tradeoff between efficiency and accuracy over the standard transformer and other recurrent variants. We also show that the finetuning process has lower training cost relative to training these recurrent variants from scratch. As many models for natural language tasks are increasingly dependent on large-scale pretrained transformers, this work presents a viable approach to improving inference efficiency without repeating the expensive pretraining process.

2020

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Dialogue Response Ranking Training with Large-Scale Human Feedback Data
Xiang Gao | Yizhe Zhang | Michel Galley | Chris Brockett | Bill Dolan
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

Existing open-domain dialog models are generally trained to minimize the perplexity of target human responses. However, some human replies are more engaging than others, spawning more followup interactions. Current conversational models are increasingly capable of producing turns that are context-relevant, but in order to produce compelling agents, these models need to be able to predict and optimize for turns that are genuinely engaging. We leverage social media feedback data (number of replies and upvotes) to build a large-scale training dataset for feedback prediction. To alleviate possible distortion between the feedback and engagingness, we convert the ranking problem to a comparison of response pairs which involve few confounding factors. We trained DialogRPT, a set of GPT-2 based models on 133M pairs of human feedback data and the resulting ranker outperformed several baselines. Particularly, our ranker outperforms the conventional dialog perplexity baseline with a large margin on predicting Reddit feedback. We finally combine the feedback prediction models and a human-like scoring model to rank the machine-generated dialog responses. Crowd-sourced human evaluation shows that our ranking method correlates better with real human preferences than baseline models.

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Optimus: Organizing Sentences via Pre-trained Modeling of a Latent Space
Chunyuan Li | Xiang Gao | Yuan Li | Baolin Peng | Xiujun Li | Yizhe Zhang | Jianfeng Gao
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

When trained effectively, the Variational Autoencoder (VAE) can be both a powerful generative model and an effective representation learning framework for natural language. In this paper, we propose the first large-scale language VAE model Optimus (Organizing sentences via Pre-Trained Modeling of a Universal Space). A universal latent embedding space for sentences is first pre-trained on large text corpus, and then fine-tuned for various language generation and understanding tasks. Compared with GPT-2, Optimus enables guided language generation from an abstract level using the latent vectors. Compared with BERT, Optimus can generalize better on low-resource language understanding tasks due to the smooth latent space structure. Extensive experimental results on a wide range of language tasks demonstrate the effectiveness of Optimus. It achieves new state-of-the-art on VAE language modeling benchmarks.

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POINTER: Constrained Progressive Text Generation via Insertion-based Generative Pre-training
Yizhe Zhang | Guoyin Wang | Chunyuan Li | Zhe Gan | Chris Brockett | Bill Dolan
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

Large-scale pre-trained language models, such as BERT and GPT-2, have achieved excellent performance in language representation learning and free-form text generation. However, these models cannot be directly employed to generate text under specified lexical constraints. To address this challenge, we present POINTER (PrOgressive INsertion-based TransformER), a simple yet novel insertion-based approach for hard-constrained text generation. The proposed method operates by progressively inserting new tokens between existing tokens in a parallel manner. This procedure is recursively applied until a sequence is completed. The resulting coarse-to-fine hierarchy makes the generation process intuitive and interpretable. We pre-train our model with the proposed progressive insertion-based objective on a 12GB Wikipedia dataset, and fine-tune it on downstream hard-constrained generation tasks. Non-autoregressive decoding yields a logarithmic time complexity during inference time. Experimental results on both News and Yelp datasets demonstrate that Pointer achieves state-of-the-art performance on constrained text generation. We released the pre-trained models and the source code to facilitate future research.

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Improving Text Generation with Student-Forcing Optimal Transport
Jianqiao Li | Chunyuan Li | Guoyin Wang | Hao Fu | Yuhchen Lin | Liqun Chen | Yizhe Zhang | Chenyang Tao | Ruiyi Zhang | Wenlin Wang | Dinghan Shen | Qian Yang | Lawrence Carin
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

Neural language models are often trained with maximum likelihood estimation (MLE), where the next word is generated conditioned on the ground-truth word tokens. During testing, however, the model is instead conditioned on previously generated tokens, resulting in what is termed exposure bias. To reduce this gap between training and testing, we propose using optimal transport (OT) to match the sequences generated in these two modes. We examine the necessity of adding Student-Forcing scheme during training with an imitation learning interpretation. An extension is further proposed to improve the OT learning for long sequences, based on the structural and contextual information of the text sequences. The effectiveness of the proposed method is validated on machine translation, text summarization, and text generation tasks.

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Contextual Text Style Transfer
Yu Cheng | Zhe Gan | Yizhe Zhang | Oussama Elachqar | Dianqi Li | Jingjing Liu
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2020

We introduce a new task, Contextual Text Style Transfer - translating a sentence into a desired style with its surrounding context taken into account. This brings two key challenges to existing style transfer approaches: (I) how to preserve the semantic meaning of target sentence and its consistency with surrounding context during transfer; (ii) how to train a robust model with limited labeled data accompanied by context. To realize high-quality style transfer with natural context preservation, we propose a Context-Aware Style Transfer (CAST) model, which uses two separate encoders for each input sentence and its surrounding context. A classifier is further trained to ensure contextual consistency of the generated sentence. To compensate for the lack of parallel data, additional self-reconstruction and back-translation losses are introduced to leverage non-parallel data in a semi-supervised fashion. Two new benchmarks, Enron-Context and Reddit-Context, are introduced for formality and offensiveness style transfer. Experimental results on these datasets demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed CAST model over state-of-the-art methods across style accuracy, content preservation and contextual consistency metrics.

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INSET: Sentence Infilling with INter-SEntential Transformer
Yichen Huang | Yizhe Zhang | Oussama Elachqar | Yu Cheng
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Missing sentence generation (or sentence in-filling) fosters a wide range of applications in natural language generation, such as document auto-completion and meeting note expansion. This task asks the model to generate intermediate missing sentences that can syntactically and semantically bridge the surrounding context. Solving the sentence infilling task requires techniques in natural language processing ranging from understanding to discourse-level planning to generation. In this paper, we propose a framework to decouple the challenge and address these three aspects respectively, leveraging the power of existing large-scale pre-trained models such as BERT and GPT-2. We empirically demonstrate the effectiveness of our model in learning a sentence representation for generation and further generating a missing sentence that fits the context.

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Improving Disentangled Text Representation Learning with Information-Theoretic Guidance
Pengyu Cheng | Martin Renqiang Min | Dinghan Shen | Christopher Malon | Yizhe Zhang | Yitong Li | Lawrence Carin
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Learning disentangled representations of natural language is essential for many NLP tasks, e.g., conditional text generation, style transfer, personalized dialogue systems, etc. Similar problems have been studied extensively for other forms of data, such as images and videos. However, the discrete nature of natural language makes the disentangling of textual representations more challenging (e.g., the manipulation over the data space cannot be easily achieved). Inspired by information theory, we propose a novel method that effectively manifests disentangled representations of text, without any supervision on semantics. A new mutual information upper bound is derived and leveraged to measure dependence between style and content. By minimizing this upper bound, the proposed method induces style and content embeddings into two independent low-dimensional spaces. Experiments on both conditional text generation and text-style transfer demonstrate the high quality of our disentangled representation in terms of content and style preservation.

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DIALOGPT : Large-Scale Generative Pre-training for Conversational Response Generation
Yizhe Zhang | Siqi Sun | Michel Galley | Yen-Chun Chen | Chris Brockett | Xiang Gao | Jianfeng Gao | Jingjing Liu | Bill Dolan
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics: System Demonstrations

We present a large, tunable neural conversational response generation model, DIALOGPT (dialogue generative pre-trained transformer). Trained on 147M conversation-like exchanges extracted from Reddit comment chains over a period spanning from 2005 through 2017, DialoGPT extends the Hugging Face PyTorch transformer to attain a performance close to human both in terms of automatic and human evaluation in single-turn dialogue settings. We show that conversational systems that leverage DialoGPT generate more relevant, contentful and context-consistent responses than strong baseline systems. The pre-trained model and training pipeline are publicly released to facilitate research into neural response generation and the development of more intelligent open-domain dialogue systems.

2019

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Towards Coherent and Cohesive Long-form Text Generation
Woon Sang Cho | Pengchuan Zhang | Yizhe Zhang | Xiujun Li | Michel Galley | Chris Brockett | Mengdi Wang | Jianfeng Gao
Proceedings of the First Workshop on Narrative Understanding

Generating coherent and cohesive long-form texts is a challenging task. Previous works relied on large amounts of human-generated texts to train neural language models. However, few attempted to explicitly improve neural language models from the perspectives of coherence and cohesion. In this work, we propose a new neural language model that is equipped with two neural discriminators which provide feedback signals at the levels of sentence (cohesion) and paragraph (coherence). Our model is trained using a simple yet efficient variant of policy gradient, called ‘negative-critical sequence training’, which is proposed to eliminate the need of training a separate critic for estimating ‘baseline’. Results demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach, showing improvements over the strong baseline – recurrent attention-based bidirectional MLE-trained neural language model.

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Unsupervised Dialogue Spectrum Generation for Log Dialogue Ranking
Xinnuo Xu | Yizhe Zhang | Lars Liden | Sungjin Lee
Proceedings of the 20th Annual SIGdial Meeting on Discourse and Dialogue

Although the data-driven approaches of some recent bot building platforms make it possible for a wide range of users to easily create dialogue systems, those platforms don’t offer tools for quickly identifying which log dialogues contain problems. This is important since corrections to log dialogues provide a means to improve performance after deployment. A log dialogue ranker, which ranks problematic dialogues higher, is an essential tool due to the sheer volume of log dialogues that could be generated. However, training a ranker typically requires labelling a substantial amount of data, which is not feasible for most users. In this paper, we present a novel unsupervised approach for dialogue ranking using GANs and release a corpus of labelled dialogues for evaluation and comparison with supervised methods. The evaluation result shows that our method compares favorably to supervised methods without any labelled data.

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Jointly Optimizing Diversity and Relevance in Neural Response Generation
Xiang Gao | Sungjin Lee | Yizhe Zhang | Chris Brockett | Michel Galley | Jianfeng Gao | Bill Dolan
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies, Volume 1 (Long and Short Papers)

Although recent neural conversation models have shown great potential, they often generate bland and generic responses. While various approaches have been explored to diversify the output of the conversation model, the improvement often comes at the cost of decreased relevance. In this paper, we propose a SpaceFusion model to jointly optimize diversity and relevance that essentially fuses the latent space of a sequence-to-sequence model and that of an autoencoder model by leveraging novel regularization terms. As a result, our approach induces a latent space in which the distance and direction from the predicted response vector roughly match the relevance and diversity, respectively. This property also lends itself well to an intuitive visualization of the latent space. Both automatic and human evaluation results demonstrate that the proposed approach brings significant improvement compared to strong baselines in both diversity and relevance.

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Towards Generating Long and Coherent Text with Multi-Level Latent Variable Models
Dinghan Shen | Asli Celikyilmaz | Yizhe Zhang | Liqun Chen | Xin Wang | Jianfeng Gao | Lawrence Carin
Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Variational autoencoders (VAEs) have received much attention recently as an end-to-end architecture for text generation with latent variables. However, previous works typically focus on synthesizing relatively short sentences (up to 20 words), and the posterior collapse issue has been widely identified in text-VAEs. In this paper, we propose to leverage several multi-level structures to learn a VAE model for generating long, and coherent text. In particular, a hierarchy of stochastic layers between the encoder and decoder networks is employed to abstract more informative and semantic-rich latent codes. Besides, we utilize a multi-level decoder structure to capture the coherent long-term structure inherent in long-form texts, by generating intermediate sentence representations as high-level plan vectors. Extensive experimental results demonstrate that the proposed multi-level VAE model produces more coherent and less repetitive long text compared to baselines as well as can mitigate the posterior-collapse issue.

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Improving Textual Network Embedding with Global Attention via Optimal Transport
Liqun Chen | Guoyin Wang | Chenyang Tao | Dinghan Shen | Pengyu Cheng | Xinyuan Zhang | Wenlin Wang | Yizhe Zhang | Lawrence Carin
Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Constituting highly informative network embeddings is an essential tool for network analysis. It encodes network topology, along with other useful side information, into low dimensional node-based feature representations that can be exploited by statistical modeling. This work focuses on learning context-aware network embeddings augmented with text data. We reformulate the network embedding problem, and present two novel strategies to improve over traditional attention mechanisms: (i) a content-aware sparse attention module based on optimal transport; and (ii) a high-level attention parsing module. Our approach yields naturally sparse and self-normalized relational inference. It can capture long-term interactions between sequences, thus addressing the challenges faced by existing textual network embedding schemes. Extensive experiments are conducted to demonstrate our model can consistently outperform alternative state-of-the-art methods.

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Microsoft Icecaps: An Open-Source Toolkit for Conversation Modeling
Vighnesh Leonardo Shiv | Chris Quirk | Anshuman Suri | Xiang Gao | Khuram Shahid | Nithya Govindarajan | Yizhe Zhang | Jianfeng Gao | Michel Galley | Chris Brockett | Tulasi Menon | Bill Dolan
Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics: System Demonstrations

The Intelligent Conversation Engine: Code and Pre-trained Systems (Microsoft Icecaps) is an upcoming open-source natural language processing repository. Icecaps wraps TensorFlow functionality in a modular component-based architecture, presenting an intuitive and flexible paradigm for constructing sophisticated learning setups. Capabilities include multitask learning between models with shared parameters, upgraded language model decoding features, a range of built-in architectures, and a user-friendly data processing pipeline. The system is targeted toward conversational tasks, exploring diverse response generation, coherence, and knowledge grounding. Icecaps also provides pre-trained conversational models that can be either used directly or loaded for fine-tuning or bootstrapping other models; these models power an online demo of our framework.

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Structuring Latent Spaces for Stylized Response Generation
Xiang Gao | Yizhe Zhang | Sungjin Lee | Michel Galley | Chris Brockett | Jianfeng Gao | Bill Dolan
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing and the 9th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (EMNLP-IJCNLP)

Generating responses in a targeted style is a useful yet challenging task, especially in the absence of parallel data. With limited data, existing methods tend to generate responses that are either less stylized or less context-relevant. We propose StyleFusion, which bridges conversation modeling and non-parallel style transfer by sharing a structured latent space. This structure allows the system to generate stylized relevant responses by sampling in the neighborhood of the conversation model prediction, and continuously control the style level. We demonstrate this method using dialogues from Reddit data and two sets of sentences with distinct styles (arXiv and Sherlock Holmes novels). Automatic and human evaluation show that, without sacrificing appropriateness, the system generates responses of the targeted style and outperforms competitive baselines.

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Domain Adaptive Text Style Transfer
Dianqi Li | Yizhe Zhang | Zhe Gan | Yu Cheng | Chris Brockett | Bill Dolan | Ming-Ting Sun
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing and the 9th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (EMNLP-IJCNLP)

Text style transfer without parallel data has achieved some practical success. However, in the scenario where less data is available, these methods may yield poor performance. In this paper, we examine domain adaptation for text style transfer to leverage massively available data from other domains. These data may demonstrate domain shift, which impedes the benefits of utilizing such data for training. To address this challenge, we propose simple yet effective domain adaptive text style transfer models, enabling domain-adaptive information exchange. The proposed models presumably learn from the source domain to: (i) distinguish stylized information and generic content information; (ii) maximally preserve content information; and (iii) adaptively transfer the styles in a domain-aware manner. We evaluate the proposed models on two style transfer tasks (sentiment and formality) over multiple target domains where only limited non-parallel data is available. Extensive experiments demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed model compared to the baselines.

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Generating a Common Question from Multiple Documents using Multi-source Encoder-Decoder Models
Woon Sang Cho | Yizhe Zhang | Sudha Rao | Chris Brockett | Sungjin Lee
Proceedings of the 3rd Workshop on Neural Generation and Translation

Ambiguous user queries in search engines result in the retrieval of documents that often span multiple topics. One potential solution is for the search engine to generate multiple refined queries, each of which relates to a subset of the documents spanning the same topic. A preliminary step towards this goal is to generate a question that captures common concepts of multiple documents. We propose a new task of generating common question from multiple documents and present simple variant of an existing multi-source encoder-decoder framework, called the Multi-Source Question Generator (MSQG). We first train an RNN-based single encoder-decoder generator from (single document, question) pairs. At test time, given multiple documents, the Distribute step of our MSQG model predicts target word distributions for each document using the trained model. The Aggregate step aggregates these distributions to generate a common question. This simple yet effective strategy significantly outperforms several existing baseline models applied to the new task when evaluated using automated metrics and human judgments on the MS-MARCO-QA dataset.

2018

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Baseline Needs More Love: On Simple Word-Embedding-Based Models and Associated Pooling Mechanisms
Dinghan Shen | Guoyin Wang | Wenlin Wang | Martin Renqiang Min | Qinliang Su | Yizhe Zhang | Chunyuan Li | Ricardo Henao | Lawrence Carin
Proceedings of the 56th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Many deep learning architectures have been proposed to model the compositionality in text sequences, requiring substantial number of parameters and expensive computations. However, there has not been a rigorous evaluation regarding the added value of sophisticated compositional functions. In this paper, we conduct a point-by-point comparative study between Simple Word-Embedding-based Models (SWEMs), consisting of parameter-free pooling operations, relative to word-embedding-based RNN/CNN models. Surprisingly, SWEMs exhibit comparable or even superior performance in the majority of cases considered. Based upon this understanding, we propose two additional pooling strategies over learned word embeddings: (i) a max-pooling operation for improved interpretability; and (ii) a hierarchical pooling operation, which preserves spatial (n-gram) information within text sequences. We present experiments on 17 datasets encompassing three tasks: (i) (long) document classification; (ii) text sequence matching; and (iii) short text tasks, including classification and tagging.

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Joint Embedding of Words and Labels for Text Classification
Guoyin Wang | Chunyuan Li | Wenlin Wang | Yizhe Zhang | Dinghan Shen | Xinyuan Zhang | Ricardo Henao | Lawrence Carin
Proceedings of the 56th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Word embeddings are effective intermediate representations for capturing semantic regularities between words, when learning the representations of text sequences. We propose to view text classification as a label-word joint embedding problem: each label is embedded in the same space with the word vectors. We introduce an attention framework that measures the compatibility of embeddings between text sequences and labels. The attention is learned on a training set of labeled samples to ensure that, given a text sequence, the relevant words are weighted higher than the irrelevant ones. Our method maintains the interpretability of word embeddings, and enjoys a built-in ability to leverage alternative sources of information, in addition to input text sequences. Extensive results on the several large text datasets show that the proposed framework outperforms the state-of-the-art methods by a large margin, in terms of both accuracy and speed.