Zhenhua Ling


2021

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Detecting Speaker Personas from Conversational Texts
Jia-Chen Gu | Zhenhua Ling | Yu Wu | Quan Liu | Zhigang Chen | Xiaodan Zhu
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Personas are useful for dialogue response prediction. However, the personas used in current studies are pre-defined and hard to obtain before a conversation. To tackle this issue, we study a new task, named Speaker Persona Detection (SPD), which aims to detect speaker personas based on the plain conversational text. In this task, a best-matched persona is searched out from candidates given the conversational text. This is a many-to-many semantic matching task because both contexts and personas in SPD are composed of multiple sentences. The long-term dependency and the dynamic redundancy among these sentences increase the difficulty of this task. We build a dataset for SPD, dubbed as Persona Match on Persona-Chat (PMPC). Furthermore, we evaluate several baseline models and propose utterance-to-profile (U2P) matching networks for this task. The U2P models operate at a fine granularity which treat both contexts and personas as sets of multiple sequences. Then, each sequence pair is scored and an interpretable overall score is obtained for a context-persona pair through aggregation. Evaluation results show that the U2P models outperform their baseline counterparts significantly.

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SemEval-2021 Task 4: Reading Comprehension of Abstract Meaning
Boyuan Zheng | Xiaoyu Yang | Yu-Ping Ruan | Zhenhua Ling | Quan Liu | Si Wei | Xiaodan Zhu
Proceedings of the 15th International Workshop on Semantic Evaluation (SemEval-2021)

This paper introduces the SemEval-2021 shared task 4: Reading Comprehension of Abstract Meaning (ReCAM). This shared task is designed to help evaluate the ability of machines in representing and understanding abstract concepts.Given a passage and the corresponding question, a participating system is expected to choose the correct answer from five candidates of abstract concepts in cloze-style machine reading comprehension tasks. Based on two typical definitions of abstractness, i.e., the imperceptibility and nonspecificity, our task provides three subtasks to evaluate models’ ability in comprehending the two types of abstract meaning and the models’ generalizability. Specifically, Subtask 1 aims to evaluate how well a participating system models concepts that cannot be directly perceived in the physical world. Subtask 2 focuses on models’ ability in comprehending nonspecific concepts located high in a hypernym hierarchy given the context of a passage. Subtask 3 aims to provide some insights into models’ generalizability over the two types of abstractness. During the SemEval-2021 official evaluation period, we received 23 submissions to Subtask 1 and 28 to Subtask 2. The participating teams additionally made 29 submissions to Subtask 3. The leaderboard and competition website can be found at https://competitions.codalab.org/competitions/26153. The data and baseline code are available at https://github.com/boyuanzheng010/SemEval2021-Reading-Comprehension-of-Abstract-Meaning.

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MPC-BERT: A Pre-Trained Language Model for Multi-Party Conversation Understanding
Jia-Chen Gu | Chongyang Tao | Zhenhua Ling | Can Xu | Xiubo Geng | Daxin Jiang
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)

Recently, various neural models for multi-party conversation (MPC) have achieved impressive improvements on a variety of tasks such as addressee recognition, speaker identification and response prediction. However, these existing methods on MPC usually represent interlocutors and utterances individually and ignore the inherent complicated structure in MPC which may provide crucial interlocutor and utterance semantics and would enhance the conversation understanding process. To this end, we present MPC-BERT, a pre-trained model for MPC understanding that considers learning who says what to whom in a unified model with several elaborated self-supervised tasks. Particularly, these tasks can be generally categorized into (1) interlocutor structure modeling including reply-to utterance recognition, identical speaker searching and pointer consistency distinction, and (2) utterance semantics modeling including masked shared utterance restoration and shared node detection. We evaluate MPC-BERT on three downstream tasks including addressee recognition, speaker identification and response selection. Experimental results show that MPC-BERT outperforms previous methods by large margins and achieves new state-of-the-art performance on all three downstream tasks at two benchmarks.

2020

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Text Classification by Contrastive Learning and Cross-lingual Data Augmentation for Alzheimer’s Disease Detection
Zhiqiang Guo | Zhaoci Liu | Zhenhua Ling | Shijin Wang | Lingjing Jin | Yunxia Li
Proceedings of the 28th International Conference on Computational Linguistics

Data scarcity is always a constraint on analyzing speech transcriptions for automatic Alzheimer’s disease (AD) detection, especially when the subjects are non-English speakers. To deal with this issue, this paper first proposes a contrastive learning method to obtain effective representations for text classification based on monolingual embeddings of BERT. Furthermore, a cross-lingual data augmentation method is designed by building autoencoders to learn the text representations shared by both languages. Experiments on a Mandarin AD corpus show that the contrastive learning method can achieve better detection accuracy than conventional CNN-based and BERTbased methods. Our cross-lingual data augmentation method also outperforms other compared methods when using another English AD corpus for augmentation. Finally, a best detection accuracy of 81.6% is obtained by our proposed methods on the Mandarin AD corpus.

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Filtering before Iteratively Referring for Knowledge-Grounded Response Selection in Retrieval-Based Chatbots
Jia-Chen Gu | Zhenhua Ling | Quan Liu | Zhigang Chen | Xiaodan Zhu
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2020

The challenges of building knowledge-grounded retrieval-based chatbots lie in how to ground a conversation on its background knowledge and how to match response candidates with both context and knowledge simultaneously. This paper proposes a method named Filtering before Iteratively REferring (FIRE) for this task. In this method, a context filter and a knowledge filter are first built, which derive knowledge-aware context representations and context-aware knowledge representations respectively by global and bidirectional attention. Besides, the entries irrelevant to the conversation are discarded by the knowledge filter. After that, iteratively referring is performed between context and response representations as well as between knowledge and response representations, in order to collect deep matching features for scoring response candidates. Experimental results show that FIRE outperforms previous methods by margins larger than 2.8% and 4.1% on the PERSONA-CHAT dataset with original and revised personas respectively, and margins larger than 3.1% on the CMU_DoG dataset in terms of top-1 accuracy. We also show that FIRE is more interpretable by visualizing the knowledge grounding process.

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Joint Intent Detection and Entity Linking on Spatial Domain Queries
Lei Zhang | Runze Wang | Jingbo Zhou | Jingsong Yu | Zhenhua Ling | Hui Xiong
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2020

Continuous efforts have been devoted to language understanding (LU) for conversational queries with the fast and wide-spread popularity of voice assistants. In this paper, we first study the LU problem in the spatial domain, which is a critical problem for providing location-based services by voice assistants but is without in-depth investigation in existing studies. Spatial domain queries have several unique properties making them be more challenging for language understanding than common conversational queries, including lexical-similar but diverse intents and highly ambiguous words. Thus, a special tailored LU framework for spatial domain queries is necessary. To the end, a dataset was extracted and annotated based on the real-life queries from a voice assistant service. We then proposed a new multi-task framework that jointly learns the intent detection and entity linking tasks on the with invented hierarchical intent detection method and triple-scoring mechanism for entity linking. A specially designed spatial GCN is also utilized to model spatial context information among entities. We have conducted extensive experimental evaluations with state-of-the-art entity linking and intent detection methods, which demonstrated that can outperform all baselines with a significant margin.