Zachary Ziegler


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A Generative Approach for Mitigating Structural Biases in Natural Language Inference
Dimion Asael | Zachary Ziegler | Yonatan Belinkov
Proceedings of the 11th Joint Conference on Lexical and Computational Semantics

Many natural language inference (NLI) datasets contain biases that allow models to perform well by only using a biased subset of the input, without considering the remainder features. For instance, models are able to classify samples by only using the hypothesis, without learning the true relationship between it and the premise. These structural biases lead discriminative models to learn unintended superficial features and generalize poorly out of the training distribution. In this work, we reformulate the NLI task as a generative task, where a model is conditioned on the biased subset of the input and the label and generates the remaining subset of the input. We show that by imposing a uniform prior, we obtain a provably unbiased model. Through synthetic experiments, we find that this approach is highly robust to large amounts of bias. We then demonstrate empirically on two types of natural bias that this approach leads to fully unbiased models in practice. However, we find that generative models are difficult to train and generally perform worse than discriminative baselines. We highlight the difficulty of the generative modeling task in the context of NLI as a cause for this worse performance. Finally, by fine-tuning the generative model with a discriminative objective, we reduce the performance gap between the generative model and the discriminative baseline, while allowing for a small amount of bias.


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Generating Abstractive Summaries with Finetuned Language Models
Sebastian Gehrmann | Zachary Ziegler | Alexander Rush
Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Natural Language Generation

Neural abstractive document summarization is commonly approached by models that exhibit a mostly extractive behavior. This behavior is facilitated by a copy-attention which allows models to copy words from a source document. While models in the mostly extractive news summarization domain benefit from this inductive bias, they commonly fail to paraphrase or compress information from the source document. Recent advances in transfer-learning from large pretrained language models give rise to alternative approaches that do not rely on copy-attention and instead learn to generate concise and abstractive summaries. In this paper, as part of the TL;DR challenge, we compare the abstractiveness of summaries from different summarization approaches and show that transfer-learning can be efficiently utilized without any changes to the model architecture. We demonstrate that the approach leads to a higher level of abstraction for a similar performance on the TL;DR challenge tasks, enabling true natural language compression.

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Neural Linguistic Steganography
Zachary Ziegler | Yuntian Deng | Alexander Rush
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing and the 9th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (EMNLP-IJCNLP)

Whereas traditional cryptography encrypts a secret message into an unintelligible form, steganography conceals that communication is taking place by encoding a secret message into a cover signal. Language is a particularly pragmatic cover signal due to its benign occurrence and independence from any one medium. Traditionally, linguistic steganography systems encode secret messages in existing text via synonym substitution or word order rearrangements. Advances in neural language models enable previously impractical generation-based techniques. We propose a steganography technique based on arithmetic coding with large-scale neural language models. We find that our approach can generate realistic looking cover sentences as evaluated by humans, while at the same time preserving security by matching the cover message distribution with the language model distribution.