Zhijing Jin


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Membership Inference Attacks against Language Models via Neighbourhood Comparison
Justus Mattern | Fatemehsadat Mireshghallah | Zhijing Jin | Bernhard Schoelkopf | Mrinmaya Sachan | Taylor Berg-Kirkpatrick
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2023

Membership Inference attacks (MIAs) aim to predict whether a data sample was present in the training data of a machine learning model or not, and are widely used for assessing the privacy risks of language models. Most existing attacks rely on the observation that models tend toassign higher probabilities to their training samples than non-training points. However, simple thresholding of the model score in isolation tends to lead to high false-positive rates as it does not account for the intrinsic complexity of a sample. Recent work has demonstrated that reference-based attacks which compare model scores to those obtained from a reference model trained on similar data can substantially improve the performance of MIAs.However, in order to train reference models, attacks of this kind make the strong and arguably unrealistic assumption that an adversary has access to samples closely resembling the original training data. Therefore, we investigate their performance in more realistic scenarios and find that they are highly fragile in relation to the data distribution used to train reference models. To investigate whether this fragility provides a layer of safety, we propose and evaluate neighbourhood attacks, which compare model scores for a given sample to scores of synthetically generated neighbour texts and therefore eliminate the need for access to the training data distribution. We show that, in addition to being competitive with reference-based attacks that have perfect knowledge about the training data distribution, our attack clearly outperforms existing reference-free attacks as well as reference-based attacks with imperfect knowledge, which demonstrates the need for a reevaluation of the threat model of adversarial attacks.

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OPT-R: Exploring the Role of Explanations in Finetuning and Prompting for Reasoning Skills of Large Language Models
Badr Alkhamissi | Siddharth Verma | Ping Yu | Zhijing Jin | Asli Celikyilmaz | Mona Diab
Proceedings of the 1st Workshop on Natural Language Reasoning and Structured Explanations (NLRSE)

We conduct a thorough investigation into the reasoning capabilities of Large Language Models (LLMs), focusing specifically on the Open Pretrained Transformers (OPT) models as a representative of such models. Our study entails finetuning three different sizes of OPT on a carefully curated reasoning corpus, resulting in two sets of finetuned models: OPT-R, finetuned without explanations, and OPT-RE, finetuned with explanations. We then evaluate all models on 57 out-of-domain tasks drawn from the Super-NaturalInstructions benchmark, covering 26 distinct reasoning skills, utilizing three prompting techniques. Through a comprehensive grid of 27 configurations and 6,156 test evaluations, we investigate the dimensions of finetuning, prompting, and scale to understand the role of explanations on different reasoning skills. Our findings reveal that having explanations in the fewshot exemplar has no significant impact on the model’s performance when the model is finetuned, while positively affecting the non-finetuned counterpart. Moreover, we observe a slight yet consistent increase in classification accuracy as we incorporate explanations during prompting and finetuning, respectively. Finally, we offer insights on which reasoning skills benefit the most from incorporating explanations during finetuning and prompting, such as Numerical (+20.4%) and Analogical (+13.9%) reasoning, as well as skills that exhibit negligible or negative effects.

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A Causal Framework to Quantify the Robustness of Mathematical Reasoning with Language Models
Alessandro Stolfo | Zhijing Jin | Kumar Shridhar | Bernhard Schoelkopf | Mrinmaya Sachan
Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

We have recently witnessed a number of impressive results on hard mathematical reasoning problems with language models. At the same time, the robustness of these models has also been called into question; recent works have shown that models can rely on shallow patterns in the problem description when generating a solution. Building on the idea of behavioral testing, we propose a novel framework, which pins down the causal effect of various factors in the input, e.g., the surface form of the problem text, the operands, and math operators on the output solution. By grounding the behavioral analysis in a causal graph describing an intuitive reasoning process, we study the behavior of language models in terms of robustness and sensitivity to direct interventions in the input space. We apply our framework on a test bed of math word problems. Our analysis shows that robustness does not appear to continuously improve as a function of size, but the GPT-3 Davinci models (175B) achieve a dramatic improvement in both robustness and sensitivity compared to all other GPT variants.

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ALERT: Adapt Language Models to Reasoning Tasks
Ping Yu | Tianlu Wang | Olga Golovneva | Badr AlKhamissi | Siddharth Verma | Zhijing Jin | Gargi Ghosh | Mona Diab | Asli Celikyilmaz
Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Recent advancements in large language models have enabled them to perform well on complex tasks that require step-by-step reasoning with few-shot learning. However, it is unclear whether these models are applying reasoning skills they have learnt during pre-training , or if they are simply memorizing their training corpus at finer granularity and have learnt to better understand their context. To address this question, we introduce {pasted macro ‘OUR’}model, a benchmark and suite of analyses for evaluating reasoning skills of language models. {pasted macro ‘OUR’}model enables comparing pre-trained and finetuned models on complex tasks that require reasoning skills to solve. Our benchmark provides a test bed to asses any language model on fine-grained reasoning skills, which spans over 20 datasets and covers 10 different reasoning skills. By using {pasted macro ‘OUR’}model we further investigate the role of finetuning. Our extensive empirical analysis shows that language models learn more reasoning skills such as textual entailment, abductive reasoning, and analogical reasoning during the finetuning stage compared to pretraining stage. However, we also find that when language models are finetuned they tend to overfit to the prompt template, which hurts the robustness of models causing generalization problems.

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When Does Aggregating Multiple Skills with Multi-Task Learning Work? A Case Study in Financial NLP
Jingwei Ni | Zhijing Jin | Qian Wang | Mrinmaya Sachan | Markus Leippold
Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Multi-task learning (MTL) aims at achieving a better model by leveraging data and knowledge from multiple tasks. However, MTL does not always work – sometimes negative transfer occurs between tasks, especially when aggregating loosely related skills, leaving it an open question when MTL works. Previous studies show that MTL performance can be improved by algorithmic tricks. However, what tasks and skills should be included is less well explored. In this work, we conduct a case study in Financial NLP where multiple datasets exist for skills relevant to the domain, such as numeric reasoning and sentiment analysis. Due to the task difficulty and data scarcity in the Financial NLP domain, we explore when aggregating such diverse skills from multiple datasets with MTL can work. Our findings suggest that the key to MTL success lies in skill diversity, relatedness between tasks, and choice of aggregation size and shared capacity. Specifically, MTL works well when tasks are diverse but related, and when the size of the task aggregation and the shared capacity of the model are balanced to avoid overwhelming certain tasks.


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Original or Translated? A Causal Analysis of the Impact of Translationese on Machine Translation Performance
Jingwei Ni | Zhijing Jin | Markus Freitag | Mrinmaya Sachan | Bernhard Schölkopf
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Human-translated text displays distinct features from naturally written text in the same language. This phenomena, known as translationese, has been argued to confound the machine translation (MT) evaluation. Yet, we find that existing work on translationese neglects some important factors and the conclusions are mostly correlational but not causal. In this work, we collect CausalMT, a dataset where the MT training data are also labeled with the human translation directions. We inspect two critical factors, the train-test direction match (whether the human translation directions in the training and test sets are aligned), and data-model direction match (whether the model learns in the same direction as the human translation direction in the dataset). We show that these two factors have a large causal effect on the MT performance, in addition to the test-model direction mismatch highlighted by existing work on the impact of translationese. In light of our findings, we provide a set of suggestions for MT training and evaluation. Our code and data are at https://github.com/EdisonNi-hku/CausalMT

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Slangvolution: A Causal Analysis of Semantic Change and Frequency Dynamics in Slang
Daphna Keidar | Andreas Opedal | Zhijing Jin | Mrinmaya Sachan
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Languages are continuously undergoing changes, and the mechanisms that underlie these changes are still a matter of debate. In this work, we approach language evolution through the lens of causality in order to model not only how various distributional factors associate with language change, but how they causally affect it. In particular, we study slang, which is an informal language that is typically restricted to a specific group or social setting. We analyze the semantic change and frequency shift of slang words and compare them to those of standard, nonslang words. With causal discovery and causal inference techniques, we measure the effect that word type (slang/nonslang) has on both semantic change and frequency shift, as well as its relationship to frequency, polysemy and part of speech. Our analysis provides some new insights in the study of language change, e.g., we show that slang words undergo less semantic change but tend to have larger frequency shifts over time.

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Logical Fallacy Detection
Zhijing Jin | Abhinav Lalwani | Tejas Vaidhya | Xiaoyu Shen | Yiwen Ding | Zhiheng Lyu | Mrinmaya Sachan | Rada Mihalcea | Bernhard Schoelkopf
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2022

Reasoning is central to human intelligence. However, fallacious arguments are common, and some exacerbate problems such as spreading misinformation about climate change. In this paper, we propose the task of logical fallacy detection, and provide a new dataset (Logic) of logical fallacies generally found in text, together with an additional challenge set for detecting logical fallacies in climate change claims (LogicClimate). Detecting logical fallacies is a hard problem as the model must understand the underlying logical structure of the argument. We find that existing pretrained large language models perform poorly on this task. In contrast, we show that a simple structure-aware classifier outperforms the best language model by 5.46% F1 scores on Logic and 4.51% on LogicClimate. We encourage future work to explore this task since (a) it can serve as a new reasoning challenge for language models, and (b) it can have potential applications in tackling the spread of misinformation. Our dataset and code are available at https://github.com/causalNLP/logical-fallacy

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Differentially Private Language Models for Secure Data Sharing
Justus Mattern | Zhijing Jin | Benjamin Weggenmann | Bernhard Schoelkopf | Mrinmaya Sachan
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

To protect the privacy of individuals whose data is being shared, it is of high importance to develop methods allowing researchers and companies to release textual data while providing formal privacy guarantees to its originators. In the field of NLP, substantial efforts have been directed at building mechanisms following the framework of local differential privacy, thereby anonymizing individual text samples before releasing them. In practice, these approaches are often dissatisfying in terms of the quality of their output language due to the strong noise required for local differential privacy. In this paper, we approach the problem at hand using global differential privacy, particularly by training a generative language model in a differentially private manner and consequently sampling data from it. Using natural language prompts and a new prompt-mismatch loss, we are able to create highly accurate and fluent textual datasets taking on specific desired attributes such as sentiment or topic and resembling statistical properties of the training data. We perform thorough experiments indicating that our synthetic datasets do not leak information from our original data and are of high language quality and highly suitable for training models for further analysis on real-world data. Notably, we also demonstrate that training classifiers on private synthetic data outperforms directly training classifiers with DP-SGD.

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CausalNLP Tutorial: An Introduction to Causality for Natural Language Processing
Zhijing Jin | Amir Feder | Kun Zhang
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing: Tutorial Abstracts

Causal inference is becoming an increasingly important topic in deep learning, with the potential to help with critical deep learning problems such as model robustness, interpretability, and fairness. In addition, causality is naturally widely used in various disciplines of science, to discover causal relationships among variables and estimate causal effects of interest. In this tutorial, we introduce the fundamentals of causal discovery and causal effect estimation to the natural language processing (NLP) audience, provide an overview of causal perspectives to NLP problems, and aim to inspire novel approaches to NLP further. This tutorial is inclusive to a variety of audiences and is expected to facilitate the community’s developments in formulating and addressing new, important NLP problems in light of emerging causal principles and methodologies.

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Proceedings of the Second Workshop on NLP for Positive Impact (NLP4PI)
Laura Biester | Dorottya Demszky | Zhijing Jin | Mrinmaya Sachan | Joel Tetreault | Steven Wilson | Lu Xiao | Jieyu Zhao
Proceedings of the Second Workshop on NLP for Positive Impact (NLP4PI)

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Deep Learning for Text Style Transfer: A Survey
Di Jin | Zhijing Jin | Zhiting Hu | Olga Vechtomova | Rada Mihalcea
Computational Linguistics, Volume 48, Issue 1 - March 2022

Text style transfer is an important task in natural language generation, which aims to control certain attributes in the generated text, such as politeness, emotion, humor, and many others. It has a long history in the field of natural language processing, and recently has re-gained significant attention thanks to the promising performance brought by deep neural models. In this article, we present a systematic survey of the research on neural text style transfer, spanning over 100 representative articles since the first neural text style transfer work in 2017. We discuss the task formulation, existing datasets and subtasks, evaluation, as well as the rich methodologies in the presence of parallel and non-parallel data. We also provide discussions on a variety of important topics regarding the future development of this task.1


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Proceedings of the 1st Workshop on NLP for Positive Impact
Anjalie Field | Shrimai Prabhumoye | Maarten Sap | Zhijing Jin | Jieyu Zhao | Chris Brockett
Proceedings of the 1st Workshop on NLP for Positive Impact

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How Good Is NLP? A Sober Look at NLP Tasks through the Lens of Social Impact
Zhijing Jin | Geeticka Chauhan | Brian Tse | Mrinmaya Sachan | Rada Mihalcea
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL-IJCNLP 2021

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Mining the Cause of Political Decision-Making from Social Media: A Case Study of COVID-19 Policies across the US States
Zhijing Jin | Zeyu Peng | Tejas Vaidhya | Bernhard Schoelkopf | Rada Mihalcea
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2021

Mining the causes of political decision-making is an active research area in the field of political science. In the past, most studies have focused on long-term policies that are collected over several decades of time, and have primarily relied on surveys as the main source of predictors. However, the recent COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to a new political phenomenon, where political decision-making consists of frequent short-term decisions, all on the same controlled topic—the pandemic. In this paper, we focus on the question of how public opinion influences policy decisions, while controlling for confounders such as COVID-19 case increases or unemployment rates. Using a dataset consisting of Twitter data from the 50 US states, we classify the sentiments toward governors of each state, and conduct controlled studies and comparisons. Based on the compiled samples of sentiments, policies, and confounders, we conduct causal inference to discover trends in political decision-making across different states.

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Causal Direction of Data Collection Matters: Implications of Causal and Anticausal Learning for NLP
Zhijing Jin | Julius von Kügelgen | Jingwei Ni | Tejas Vaidhya | Ayush Kaushal | Mrinmaya Sachan | Bernhard Schoelkopf
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

The principle of independent causal mechanisms (ICM) states that generative processes of real world data consist of independent modules which do not influence or inform each other. While this idea has led to fruitful developments in the field of causal inference, it is not widely-known in the NLP community. In this work, we argue that the causal direction of the data collection process bears nontrivial implications that can explain a number of published NLP findings, such as differences in semi-supervised learning (SSL) and domain adaptation (DA) performance across different settings. We categorize common NLP tasks according to their causal direction and empirically assay the validity of the ICM principle for text data using minimum description length. We conduct an extensive meta-analysis of over 100 published SSL and 30 DA studies, and find that the results are consistent with our expectations based on causal insights. This work presents the first attempt to analyze the ICM principle in NLP, and provides constructive suggestions for future modeling choices.


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Hooks in the Headline: Learning to Generate Headlines with Controlled Styles
Di Jin | Zhijing Jin | Joey Tianyi Zhou | Lisa Orii | Peter Szolovits
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Current summarization systems only produce plain, factual headlines, far from the practical needs for the exposure and memorableness of the articles. We propose a new task, Stylistic Headline Generation (SHG), to enrich the headlines with three style options (humor, romance and clickbait), thus attracting more readers. With no style-specific article-headline pair (only a standard headline summarization dataset and mono-style corpora), our method TitleStylist generates stylistic headlines by combining the summarization and reconstruction tasks into a multitasking framework. We also introduced a novel parameter sharing scheme to further disentangle the style from text. Through both automatic and human evaluation, we demonstrate that TitleStylist can generate relevant, fluent headlines with three target styles: humor, romance, and clickbait. The attraction score of our model generated headlines outperforms the state-of-the-art summarization model by 9.68%, even outperforming human-written references.

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CycleGT: Unsupervised Graph-to-Text and Text-to-Graph Generation via Cycle Training
Qipeng Guo | Zhijing Jin | Xipeng Qiu | Weinan Zhang | David Wipf | Zheng Zhang
Proceedings of the 3rd International Workshop on Natural Language Generation from the Semantic Web (WebNLG+)

Two important tasks at the intersection of knowledge graphs and natural language processing are graph-to-text (G2T) and text-tograph (T2G) conversion. Due to the difficulty and high cost of data collection, the supervised data available in the two fields are usually on the magnitude of tens of thousands, for example, 18K in the WebNLG 2017 dataset after preprocessing, which is far fewer than the millions of data for other tasks such as machine translation. Consequently, deep learning models for G2T and T2G suffer largely from scarce training data. We present CycleGT, an unsupervised training method that can bootstrap from fully non-parallel graph and text data, and iteratively back translate between the two forms. Experiments on WebNLG datasets show that our unsupervised model trained on the same number of data achieves performance on par with several fully supervised models. Further experiments on the non-parallel GenWiki dataset verify that our method performs the best among unsupervised baselines. This validates our framework as an effective approach to overcome the data scarcity problem in the fields of G2T and T2G.

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𝒫2: A Plan-and-Pretrain Approach for Knowledge Graph-to-Text Generation
Qipeng Guo | Zhijing Jin | Ning Dai | Xipeng Qiu | Xiangyang Xue | David Wipf | Zheng Zhang
Proceedings of the 3rd International Workshop on Natural Language Generation from the Semantic Web (WebNLG+)

Text verbalization of knowledge graphs is an important problem with wide application to natural language generation (NLG) systems. It is challenging because the generated text not only needs to be grammatically correct (fluency), but also has to contain the given structured knowledge input (relevance) and meet some other criteria. We develop a plan-and-pretrain approach, 𝒫2, which consists of a relational graph convolutional network (RGCN) planner and the pretrained sequence-tosequence (Seq2Seq) model T5. Specifically, the R-GCN planner first generates an order of the knowledge graph triplets, corresponding to the order that they will be mentioned in text, and then T5 produces the surface realization of the given plan. In the WebNLG+ 2020 Challenge, our submission ranked in 1st place on all automatic and human evaluation criteria of the English RDF-to-text generation task.

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Tasty Burgers, Soggy Fries: Probing Aspect Robustness in Aspect-Based Sentiment Analysis
Xiaoyu Xing | Zhijing Jin | Di Jin | Bingning Wang | Qi Zhang | Xuanjing Huang
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

Aspect-based sentiment analysis (ABSA) aims to predict the sentiment towards a specific aspect in the text. However, existing ABSA test sets cannot be used to probe whether a model can distinguish the sentiment of the target aspect from the non-target aspects. To solve this problem, we develop a simple but effective approach to enrich ABSA test sets. Specifically, we generate new examples to disentangle the confounding sentiments of the non-target aspects from the target aspect’s sentiment. Based on the SemEval 2014 dataset, we construct the Aspect Robustness Test Set (ARTS) as a comprehensive probe of the aspect robustness of ABSA models. Over 92% data of ARTS show high fluency and desired sentiment on all aspects by human evaluation. Using ARTS, we analyze the robustness of nine ABSA models, and observe, surprisingly, that their accuracy drops by up to 69.73%. We explore several ways to improve aspect robustness, and find that adversarial training can improve models’ performance on ARTS by up to 32.85%. Our code and new test set are available at https://github.com/zhijing-jin/ARTS_TestSet

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GenWiki: A Dataset of 1.3 Million Content-Sharing Text and Graphs for Unsupervised Graph-to-Text Generation
Zhijing Jin | Qipeng Guo | Xipeng Qiu | Zheng Zhang
Proceedings of the 28th International Conference on Computational Linguistics

Data collection for the knowledge graph-to-text generation is expensive. As a result, research on unsupervised models has emerged as an active field recently. However, most unsupervised models have to use non-parallel versions of existing small supervised datasets, which largely constrain their potential. In this paper, we propose a large-scale, general-domain dataset, GenWiki. Our unsupervised dataset has 1.3M text and graph examples, respectively. With a human-annotated test set, we provide this new benchmark dataset for future research on unsupervised text generation from knowledge graphs.


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IMaT: Unsupervised Text Attribute Transfer via Iterative Matching and Translation
Zhijing Jin | Di Jin | Jonas Mueller | Nicholas Matthews | Enrico Santus
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing and the 9th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (EMNLP-IJCNLP)

Text attribute transfer aims to automatically rewrite sentences such that they possess certain linguistic attributes, while simultaneously preserving their semantic content. This task remains challenging due to a lack of supervised parallel data. Existing approaches try to explicitly disentangle content and attribute information, but this is difficult and often results in poor content-preservation and ungrammaticality. In contrast, we propose a simpler approach, Iterative Matching and Translation (IMaT), which: (1) constructs a pseudo-parallel corpus by aligning a subset of semantically similar sentences from the source and the target corpora; (2) applies a standard sequence-to-sequence model to learn the attribute transfer; (3) iteratively improves the learned transfer function by refining imperfections in the alignment. In sentiment modification and formality transfer tasks, our method outperforms complex state-of-the-art systems by a large margin. As an auxiliary contribution, we produce a publicly-available test set with human-generated transfer references.

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GraphIE: A Graph-Based Framework for Information Extraction
Yujie Qian | Enrico Santus | Zhijing Jin | Jiang Guo | Regina Barzilay
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies, Volume 1 (Long and Short Papers)

Most modern Information Extraction (IE) systems are implemented as sequential taggers and only model local dependencies. Non-local and non-sequential context is, however, a valuable source of information to improve predictions. In this paper, we introduce GraphIE, a framework that operates over a graph representing a broad set of dependencies between textual units (i.e. words or sentences). The algorithm propagates information between connected nodes through graph convolutions, generating a richer representation that can be exploited to improve word-level predictions. Evaluation on three different tasks — namely textual, social media and visual information extraction — shows that GraphIE consistently outperforms the state-of-the-art sequence tagging model by a significant margin.