Zhilin Wang


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Extracting and Inferring Personal Attributes from Dialogue
Zhilin Wang | Xuhui Zhou | Rik Koncel-Kedziorski | Alex Marin | Fei Xia
Proceedings of the 4th Workshop on NLP for Conversational AI

Personal attributes represent structured information about a person, such as their hobbies, pets, family, likes and dislikes. We introduce the tasks of extracting and inferring personal attributes from human-human dialogue, and analyze the linguistic demands of these tasks. To meet these challenges, we introduce a simple and extensible model that combines an autoregressive language model utilizing constrained attribute generation with a discriminative reranker. Our model outperforms strong baselines on extracting personal attributes as well as inferring personal attributes that are not contained verbatim in utterances and instead requires commonsense reasoning and lexical inferences, which occur frequently in everyday conversation. Finally, we demonstrate the benefit of incorporating personal attributes in social chit-chat and task-oriented dialogue settings.

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Uncovering Surprising Event Boundaries in Narratives
Zhilin Wang | Anna Jafarpour | Maarten Sap
Proceedings of the 4th Workshop of Narrative Understanding (WNU2022)

When reading stories, people can naturally identify sentences in which a new event starts, i.e., event boundaries, using their knowledge of how events typically unfold, but a computational model to detect event boundaries is not yet available. We characterize and detect sentences with expected or surprising event boundaries in an annotated corpus of short diary-like stories, using a model that combines commonsense knowledge and narrative flow features with a RoBERTa classifier. Our results show that, while commonsense and narrative features can help improve performance overall, detecting event boundaries that are more subjective remains challenging for our model. We also find that sentences marking surprising event boundaries are less likely to be causally related to the preceding sentence, but are more likely to express emotional reactions of story characters, compared to sentences with no event boundary.

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How to be Helpful on Online Support Forums?
Zhilin Wang | Pablo E. Torres
Proceedings of the 4th Workshop of Narrative Understanding (WNU2022)

Internet forums such as Reddit offer people a platform to ask for advice when they encounter various issues at work, school or in relationships. Telling helpful comments apart from unhelpful comments to these advice-seeking posts can help people and dialogue agents to become more helpful in offering advice. We propose a dataset that contains both helpful and unhelpful comments in response to such requests. We then relate helpfulness to the closely related construct of empathy. Finally, we analyze the language features that are associated with helpful and unhelpful comments.


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Learning Similarity between Movie Characters and Its Potential Implications on Understanding Human Experiences
Zhilin Wang | Weizhe Lin | Xiaodong Wu
Proceedings of the Third Workshop on Narrative Understanding

While many different aspects of human experiences have been studied by the NLP community, none has captured its full richness. We propose a new task to capture this richness based on an unlikely setting: movie characters. We sought to capture theme-level similarities between movie characters that were community-curated into 20,000 themes. By introducing a two-step approach that balances performance and efficiency, we managed to achieve 9-27% improvement over recent paragraph-embedding based methods. Finally, we demonstrate how the thematic information learnt from movie characters can potentially be used to understand themes in the experience of people, as indicated on Reddit posts.


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No, you’re not alone: A better way to find people with similar experiences on Reddit
Zhilin Wang | Elena Rastorgueva | Weizhe Lin | Xiaodong Wu
Proceedings of the 5th Workshop on Noisy User-generated Text (W-NUT 2019)

We present a probabilistic clustering algorithm that can help Reddit users to find posts that discuss experiences similar to their own. This model is built upon the BERT Next Sentence Prediction model and reduces the time complexity for clustering all posts in a corpus from O(nˆ2) to O(n) with respect to the number of posts. We demonstrate that such probabilistic clustering can yield a performance better than baseline clustering methods based on Latent Dirichlet Allocation (Blei et al., 2003) and Word2Vec (Mikolov et al., 2013). Furthermore, there is a high degree of coherence between our probabilistic clustering and the exhaustive comparison O(nˆ2) algorithm in which the similarity between every pair of posts is found. This makes the use of the BERT Next Sentence Prediction model more practical for unsupervised clustering tasks due to the high runtime overhead of each BERT computation.