Zhenzhong Lan


pdf bib
Uni-Encoder: A Fast and Accurate Response Selection Paradigm for Generation-Based Dialogue Systems
Chiyu Song | Hongliang He | Haofei Yu | Pengfei Fang | Leyang Cui | Zhenzhong Lan
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2023

Sample-and-rank is a key decoding strategy for modern generation-based dialogue systems. It helps achieve diverse and high-quality responses by selecting an answer from a small pool of generated candidates. The current state-of-the-art ranking methods mainly use an encoding paradigm called Cross-Encoder, which separately encodes each context-candidate pair and ranks the candidates according to their fitness scores. However, Cross-Encoder repeatedly encodes the same lengthy context for each candidate, resulting in high computational costs. Poly-Encoder addresses the above problems by reducing the interaction between context and candidates, but with a price of performance drop. In this work, we develop a new paradigm called Uni-Encoder, that keeps the full attention over each pair as in Cross-Encoder while only encoding the context once, as in Poly-Encoder. Uni-Encoder encodes all the candidates with the context in one forward pass. We use the same positional embedding for all candidates to ensure they are treated equally and design a new attention mechanism to avoid confusion. Our Uni-Encoder can simulate other ranking paradigms using different attention and response concatenation methods. Extensive experiments show that our proposed paradigm achieves new state-of-the-art results on four benchmark datasets with high computational efficiency. For instance, it improves R10@1 by 2.9% with an approximately 4X faster inference speed on the Ubuntu V2 dataset.

pdf bib
Contrastive Learning of Sentence Embeddings from Scratch
Junlei Zhang | Zhenzhong Lan | Junxian He
Proceedings of the 2023 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Contrastive learning has been the dominant approach to train state-of-the-art sentence embeddings. Previous studies have typically learned sentence embeddings either through the use of human-annotated natural language inference (NLI) data or via large-scale unlabeled sentences in an unsupervised manner. However, even in the case of unlabeled data, their acquisition presents challenges in certain domains due to various reasons. due to copyright restrictions, data distribution issues, and messy formats, among other factors. To address these issues, we present SynCSE, a contrastive learning framework that trains sentence embeddings with synthetic data. Specifically, we explore utilizing large language models to synthesize the required data samples for contrastive learning, including (1) producing positive and negative annotations given unlabeled sentences SynCSE-partial, and (2) generating sentences along with their corresponding annotations from scratch SynCSE-scratch. Notably, SynCSE-scratch constitutes the first contrastive learning method to learn sentence embeddings from scratch without manually collecting any data sample. Experimental results on sentence similarity and reranking tasks indicate that both SynCSE-partial and SynCSE-scratch greatly outperform unsupervised baselines, and SynCSE-partial even achieves comparable performance to the supervised models in most settings.

pdf bib
Enhancing Grammatical Error Correction Systems with Explanations
Yuejiao Fei | Leyang Cui | Sen Yang | Wai Lam | Zhenzhong Lan | Shuming Shi
Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Grammatical error correction systems improve written communication by detecting and correcting language mistakes. To help language learners better understand why the GEC system makes a certain correction, the causes of errors (evidence words) and the corresponding error types are two key factors. To enhance GEC systems with explanations, we introduce EXPECT, a large dataset annotated with evidence words and grammatical error types. We propose several baselines and anlysis to understand this task. Furthermore, human evaluation verifies our explainable GEC system’s explanations can assist second-language learners in determining whether to accept a correction suggestion and in understanding the associated grammar rule.

pdf bib
Understanding Client Reactions in Online Mental Health Counseling
Anqi Li | Lizhi Ma | Yaling Mei | Hongliang He | Shuai Zhang | Huachuan Qiu | Zhenzhong Lan
Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Communication success relies heavily on reading participants’ reactions. Such feedback is especially important for mental health counselors, who must carefully consider the client’s progress and adjust their approach accordingly. However, previous NLP research on counseling has mainly focused on studying counselors’ intervention strategies rather than their clients’ reactions to the intervention. This work aims to fill this gap by developing a theoretically grounded annotation framework that encompasses counselors’ strategies and client reaction behaviors. The framework has been tested against a large-scale, high-quality text-based counseling dataset we collected over the past two years from an online welfare counseling platform. Our study show how clients react to counselors’ strategies, how such reactions affect the final counseling outcomes, and how counselors can adjust their strategies in response to these reactions. We also demonstrate that this study can help counselors automatically predict their clients’ states.


pdf bib
Memformer: A Memory-Augmented Transformer for Sequence Modeling
Qingyang Wu | Zhenzhong Lan | Kun Qian | Jing Gu | Alborz Geramifard | Zhou Yu
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: AACL-IJCNLP 2022

Transformers have reached remarkable success in sequence modeling. However, these models have efficiency issues as they need to store all the history token-level representations as memory. We present Memformer, an efficient neural network for sequence modeling, that utilizes an external dynamic memory to encode and retrieve past information. Our model achieves linear time complexity and constant memory space complexity when processing long sequences. We also propose a new optimization scheme, memory replay back-propagation (MRBP), which promotes long-range back-propagation through time with a significantly reduced memory requirement. Experimental results show that Memformer has achieved comparable performance compared against the baselines by using 8.1x less memory space and 3.2x faster on inference. Analysis of the attention pattern shows that our external memory slots can encode and retain important information through timesteps.


pdf bib
Do Transformer Modifications Transfer Across Implementations and Applications?
Sharan Narang | Hyung Won Chung | Yi Tay | Liam Fedus | Thibault Fevry | Michael Matena | Karishma Malkan | Noah Fiedel | Noam Shazeer | Zhenzhong Lan | Yanqi Zhou | Wei Li | Nan Ding | Jake Marcus | Adam Roberts | Colin Raffel
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

The research community has proposed copious modifications to the Transformer architecture since it was introduced over three years ago, relatively few of which have seen widespread adoption. In this paper, we comprehensively evaluate many of these modifications in a shared experimental setting that covers most of the common uses of the Transformer in natural language processing. Surprisingly, we find that most modifications do not meaningfully improve performance. Furthermore, most of the Transformer variants we found beneficial were either developed in the same codebase that we used or are relatively minor changes. We conjecture that performance improvements may strongly depend on implementation details and correspondingly make some recommendations for improving the generality of experimental results.


pdf bib
CLUE: A Chinese Language Understanding Evaluation Benchmark
Liang Xu | Hai Hu | Xuanwei Zhang | Lu Li | Chenjie Cao | Yudong Li | Yechen Xu | Kai Sun | Dian Yu | Cong Yu | Yin Tian | Qianqian Dong | Weitang Liu | Bo Shi | Yiming Cui | Junyi Li | Jun Zeng | Rongzhao Wang | Weijian Xie | Yanting Li | Yina Patterson | Zuoyu Tian | Yiwen Zhang | He Zhou | Shaoweihua Liu | Zhe Zhao | Qipeng Zhao | Cong Yue | Xinrui Zhang | Zhengliang Yang | Kyle Richardson | Zhenzhong Lan
Proceedings of the 28th International Conference on Computational Linguistics

The advent of natural language understanding (NLU) benchmarks for English, such as GLUE and SuperGLUE allows new NLU models to be evaluated across a diverse set of tasks. These comprehensive benchmarks have facilitated a broad range of research and applications in natural language processing (NLP). The problem, however, is that most such benchmarks are limited to English, which has made it difficult to replicate many of the successes in English NLU for other languages. To help remedy this issue, we introduce the first large-scale Chinese Language Understanding Evaluation (CLUE) benchmark. CLUE is an open-ended, community-driven project that brings together 9 tasks spanning several well-established single-sentence/sentence-pair classification tasks, as well as machine reading comprehension, all on original Chinese text. To establish results on these tasks, we report scores using an exhaustive set of current state-of-the-art pre-trained Chinese models (9 in total). We also introduce a number of supplementary datasets and additional tools to help facilitate further progress on Chinese NLU. Our benchmark is released at https://www.cluebenchmarks.com