Zaiqiao Meng


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Can Pretrained Language Models (Yet) Reason Deductively?
Zhangdie Yuan | Songbo Hu | Ivan Vulić | Anna Korhonen | Zaiqiao Meng
Proceedings of the 17th Conference of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Acquiring factual knowledge with Pretrained Language Models (PLMs) has attracted increasing attention, showing promising performance in many knowledge-intensive tasks. Their good performance has led the community to believe that the models do possess a modicum of reasoning competence rather than merely memorising the knowledge. In this paper, we conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the learnable deductive (also known as explicit) reasoning capability of PLMs. Through a series of controlled experiments, we posit two main findings. 1) PLMs inadequately generalise learned logic rules and perform inconsistently against simple adversarial surface form edits. 2) While the deductive reasoning fine-tuning of PLMs does improve their performance on reasoning over unseen knowledge facts, it results in catastrophically forgetting the previously learnt knowledge. Our main results suggest that PLMs cannot yet perform reliable deductive reasoning, demonstrating the importance of controlled examinations and probing of PLMs’ deductive reasoning abilities; we reach beyond (misleading) task performance, revealing that PLMs are still far from robust reasoning capabilities, even for simple deductive tasks.

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GenKIE: Robust Generative Multimodal Document Key Information Extraction
Panfeng Cao | Ye Wang | Qiang Zhang | Zaiqiao Meng
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2023

Key information extraction (KIE) from scanned documents has gained increasing attention because of its applications in various domains. Although promising results have been achieved by some recent KIE approaches, they are usually built based on discriminative models, which lack the ability to handle optical character recognition (OCR) errors and require laborious token-level labeling. In this paper, we propose a novel generative end-to-end model, named GenKIE, to address the KIE task. GenKIE is a sequence-to-sequence multimodal generative model that utilizes multimodal encoders to embed visual, layout and textual features and a decoder to generate the desired output. Well-designed prompts are leveraged to incorporate the label semantics as the weakly supervised signals and entice the generation of the key information. One notable advantage of the generative model is that it enables automatic correction of OCR errors. Besides, token-level granular annotation is not required. Extensive experiments on multiple public real-world datasets show that GenKIE effectively generalizes over different types of documents and achieves state-of-the-art results. Our experiments also validate the model’s robustness against OCR errors, making GenKIE highly applicable in real-world scenarios.

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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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MANNER: A Variational Memory-Augmented Model for Cross Domain Few-Shot Named Entity Recognition
Jinyuan Fang | Xiaobin Wang | Zaiqiao Meng | Pengjun Xie | Fei Huang | Yong Jiang
Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

This paper focuses on the task of cross domain few-shot named entity recognition (NER), which aims to adapt the knowledge learned from source domain to recognize named entities in target domain with only a few labeled examples. To address this challenging task, we propose MANNER, a variational memory-augmented few-shot NER model. Specifically, MANNER uses a memory module to store information from the source domain and then retrieve relevant information from the memory to augment few-shot task in the target domain. In order to effectively utilize the information from memory, MANNER uses optimal transport to retrieve and process information from memory, which can explicitly adapt the retrieved information from source domain to target domain and improve the performance in the cross domain few-shot setting. We conduct experiments on English and Chinese cross domain few-shot NER datasets, and the experimental results demonstrate that MANNER can achieve superior performance.


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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

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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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Revisiting Parameter-Efficient Tuning: Are We Really There Yet?
Guanzheng Chen | Fangyu Liu | Zaiqiao Meng | Shangsong Liang
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Parameter-Efficient Tuning (PETuning) methods have been deemed by many as the new paradigm for using pretrained language models (PLMs). By tuning just a fraction amount of parameters comparing to full model finetuning, PETuning methods claim to have achieved performance on par with or even better than finetuning. In this work, we take a step back and re-examine these PETuning methods by conducting the first comprehensive investigation into the training and evaluation of them. We found the problematic validation and testing practice in current studies, when accompanied by the instability nature of PETuning methods, has led to unreliable conclusions. When being compared under a truly fair evaluation protocol, PETuning cannot yield consistently competitive performance while finetuning remains to be the best-performing method in medium- and high-resource settings. We delve deeper into the cause of the instability and observed that the number of trainable parameters and training iterations are two main factors: reducing trainable parameters and prolonging training iterations may lead to higher stability in PETuning methods.


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Self-Alignment Pretraining for Biomedical Entity Representations
Fangyu Liu | Ehsan Shareghi | Zaiqiao Meng | Marco Basaldella | Nigel Collier
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Despite the widespread success of self-supervised learning via masked language models (MLM), accurately capturing fine-grained semantic relationships in the biomedical domain remains a challenge. This is of paramount importance for entity-level tasks such as entity linking where the ability to model entity relations (especially synonymy) is pivotal. To address this challenge, we propose SapBERT, a pretraining scheme that self-aligns the representation space of biomedical entities. We design a scalable metric learning framework that can leverage UMLS, a massive collection of biomedical ontologies with 4M+ concepts. In contrast with previous pipeline-based hybrid systems, SapBERT offers an elegant one-model-for-all solution to the problem of medical entity linking (MEL), achieving a new state-of-the-art (SOTA) on six MEL benchmarking datasets. In the scientific domain, we achieve SOTA even without task-specific supervision. With substantial improvement over various domain-specific pretrained MLMs such as BioBERT, SciBERTand and PubMedBERT, our pretraining scheme proves to be both effective and robust.

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Integrating Transformers and Knowledge Graphs for Twitter Stance Detection
Thomas Clark | Costanza Conforti | Fangyu Liu | Zaiqiao Meng | Ehsan Shareghi | Nigel Collier
Proceedings of the Seventh Workshop on Noisy User-generated Text (W-NUT 2021)

Stance detection (SD) entails classifying the sentiment of a text towards a given target, and is a relevant sub-task for opinion mining and social media analysis. Recent works have explored knowledge infusion supplementing the linguistic competence and latent knowledge of large pre-trained language models with structured knowledge graphs (KGs), yet few works have applied such methods to the SD task. In this work, we first perform stance-relevant knowledge probing on Transformers-based pre-trained models in a zero-shot setting, showing these models’ latent real-world knowledge about SD targets and their sensitivity to context. We then train and evaluate new knowledge-enriched stance detection models on two Twitter stance datasets, achieving state-of-the-art performance on both.

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Mixture-of-Partitions: Infusing Large Biomedical Knowledge Graphs into BERT
Zaiqiao Meng | Fangyu Liu | Thomas Clark | Ehsan Shareghi | Nigel Collier
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Infusing factual knowledge into pre-trained models is fundamental for many knowledge-intensive tasks. In this paper, we proposed Mixture-of-Partitions (MoP), an infusion approach that can handle a very large knowledge graph (KG) by partitioning it into smaller sub-graphs and infusing their specific knowledge into various BERT models using lightweight adapters. To leverage the overall factual knowledge for a target task, these sub-graph adapters are further fine-tuned along with the underlying BERT through a mixture layer. We evaluate our MoP with three biomedical BERTs (SciBERT, BioBERT, PubmedBERT) on six downstream tasks (inc. NLI, QA, Classification), and the results show that our MoP consistently enhances the underlying BERTs in task performance, and achieves new SOTA performances on five evaluated datasets.

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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.