Yongfeng Zhang


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Improving Personalized Explanation Generation through Visualization
Shijie Geng | Zuohui Fu | Yingqiang Ge | Lei Li | Gerard de Melo | Yongfeng Zhang
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

In modern recommender systems, there are usually comments or reviews from users that justify their ratings for different items. Trained on such textual corpus, explainable recommendation models learn to discover user interests and generate personalized explanations. Though able to provide plausible explanations, existing models tend to generate repeated sentences for different items or empty sentences with insufficient details. This begs an interesting question: can we immerse the models in a multimodal environment to gain proper awareness of real-world concepts and alleviate above shortcomings? To this end, we propose a visually-enhanced approach named METER with the help of visualization generation and text–image matching discrimination: the explainable recommendation model is encouraged to visualize what it refers to while incurring a penalty if the visualization is incongruent with the textual explanation. Experimental results and a manual assessment demonstrate that our approach can improve not only the text quality but also the diversity and explainability of the generated explanations.

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Assessing Combinational Generalization of Language Models in Biased Scenarios
Yanbo Fang | Zuohui Fu | Xin Dong | Yongfeng Zhang | Gerard de Melo
Proceedings of the 2nd Conference of the Asia-Pacific Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 12th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing

In light of the prominence of Pre-trained Language Models (PLMs) across numerous downstream tasks, shedding light on what they learn is an important endeavor. Whereas previous work focuses on assessing in-domain knowledge, we evaluate the generalization ability in biased scenarios through component combinations where it could be easy for the PLMs to learn shortcuts from the training corpus. This would lead to poor performance on the testing corpus, which is combinationally reconstructed from the training components. The results show that PLMs are able to overcome such distribution shifts for specific tasks and with sufficient data. We further find that overfitting can lead the models to depend more on biases for prediction, thus hurting the combinational generalization ability of PLMs.


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Personalized Transformer for Explainable Recommendation
Lei Li | Yongfeng Zhang | Li Chen
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)

Personalization of natural language generation plays a vital role in a large spectrum of tasks, such as explainable recommendation, review summarization and dialog systems. In these tasks, user and item IDs are important identifiers for personalization. Transformer, which is demonstrated with strong language modeling capability, however, is not personalized and fails to make use of the user and item IDs since the ID tokens are not even in the same semantic space as the words. To address this problem, we present a PErsonalized Transformer for Explainable Recommendation (PETER), on which we design a simple and effective learning objective that utilizes the IDs to predict the words in the target explanation, so as to endow the IDs with linguistic meanings and to achieve personalized Transformer. Besides generating explanations, PETER can also make recommendations, which makes it a unified model for the whole recommendation-explanation pipeline. Extensive experiments show that our small unpretrained model outperforms fine-tuned BERT on the generation task, in terms of both effectiveness and efficiency, which highlights the importance and the nice utility of our design.

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Faithfully Explainable Recommendation via Neural Logic Reasoning
Yaxin Zhu | Yikun Xian | Zuohui Fu | Gerard de Melo | Yongfeng Zhang
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Knowledge graphs (KG) have become increasingly important to endow modern recommender systems with the ability to generate traceable reasoning paths to explain the recommendation process. However, prior research rarely considers the faithfulness of the derived explanations to justify the decision-making process. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first work that models and evaluates faithfully explainable recommendation under the framework of KG reasoning. Specifically, we propose neural logic reasoning for explainable recommendation (LOGER) by drawing on interpretable logical rules to guide the path-reasoning process for explanation generation. We experiment on three large-scale datasets in the e-commerce domain, demonstrating the effectiveness of our method in delivering high-quality recommendations as well as ascertaining the faithfulness of the derived explanation.


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A Representation Learning Approach to Animal Biodiversity Conservation
Meet Mukadam | Mandhara Jayaram | Yongfeng Zhang
Proceedings of the 28th International Conference on Computational Linguistics

Generating knowledge from natural language data has aided in solving many artificial intelligence problems. Vector representations of words have been the driving force behind the majority of natural language processing tasks. This paper develops a novel approach for predicting the conservation status of animal species using custom generated scientific name embeddings. We use two different vector embeddings generated using representation learning on Wikipedia text and animal taxonomy data. We generate name embeddings for all species in the animal kingdom using unsupervised learning and build a model on the IUCN Red List dataset to classify species into endangered or least-concern. To our knowledge, this is the first work that makes use of learnt features instead of handcrafted features for this task and achieves competitive results. Based on the high confidence results of our model, we also predict the conservation status of data deficient species whose conservation status is still unknown and thus steering more focus towards them for protection. These embeddings have also been made publicly available here. We believe this will greatly help in solving various downstream tasks and further advance research in the cross-domain involving natural language processing, conservation biology, and life sciences.