Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing: Tutorial Abstracts

Aline Villavicencio, Benjamin Van Durme (Editors)

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Association for Computational Linguistics
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Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing: Tutorial Abstracts
Aline Villavicencio | Benjamin Van Durme

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Machine Reasoning: Technology, Dilemma and Future
Nan Duan | Duyu Tang | Ming Zhou

Machine reasoning research aims to build interpretable AI systems that can solve problems or draw conclusions from what they are told (i.e. facts and observations) and already know (i.e. models, common sense and knowledge) under certain constraints. In this tutorial, we will (1) describe the motivation of this tutorial and give our definition on machine reasoning; (2) introduce typical machine reasoning frameworks, including symbolic reasoning, probabilistic reasoning, neural-symbolic reasoning and neural-evidence reasoning, and show their successful applications in real-world scenarios; (3) talk about the dilemma between black-box neural networks with state-of-the-art performance and machine reasoning approaches with better interpretability; (4) summarize the content of this tutorial and discuss possible future directions.

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Fact-Checking, Fake News, Propaganda, and Media Bias: Truth Seeking in the Post-Truth Era
Preslav Nakov | Giovanni Da San Martino

The rise of social media has democratized content creation and has made it easy for everybody to share and spread information online. On the positive side, this has given rise to citizen journalism, thus enabling much faster dissemination of information compared to what was possible with newspapers, radio, and TV. On the negative side, stripping traditional media from their gate-keeping role has left the public unprotected against the spread of misinformation, which could now travel at breaking-news speed over the same democratic channel. This has given rise to the proliferation of false information specifically created to affect individual people’s beliefs, and ultimately to influence major events such as political elections. There are strong indications that false information was weaponized at an unprecedented scale during Brexit and the 2016 U.S. presidential elections. “Fake news,” which can be defined as fabricated information that mimics news media content in form but not in organizational process or intent, became the Word of the Year for 2017, according to Collins Dictionary. Thus, limiting the spread of “fake news” and its impact has become a major focus for computer scientists, journalists, social media companies, and regulatory authorities. The tutorial will offer an overview of the broad and emerging research area of disinformation, with focus on the latest developments and research directions.

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Interpreting Predictions of NLP Models
Eric Wallace | Matt Gardner | Sameer Singh

Although neural NLP models are highly expressive and empirically successful, they also systematically fail in counterintuitive ways and are opaque in their decision-making process. This tutorial will provide a background on interpretation techniques, i.e., methods for explaining the predictions of NLP models. We will first situate example-specific interpretations in the context of other ways to understand models (e.g., probing, dataset analyses). Next, we will present a thorough study of example-specific interpretations, including saliency maps, input perturbations (e.g., LIME, input reduction), adversarial attacks, and influence functions. Alongside these descriptions, we will walk through source code that creates and visualizes interpretations for a diverse set of NLP tasks. Finally, we will discuss open problems in the field, e.g., evaluating, extending, and improving interpretation methods.

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High Performance Natural Language Processing
Gabriel Ilharco | Cesar Ilharco | Iulia Turc | Tim Dettmers | Felipe Ferreira | Kenton Lee

Scale has played a central role in the rapid progress natural language processing has enjoyed in recent years. While benchmarks are dominated by ever larger models, efficient hardware use is critical for their widespread adoption and further progress in the field. In this cutting-edge tutorial, we will recapitulate the state-of-the-art in natural language processing with scale in perspective. After establishing these foundations, we will cover a wide range of techniques for improving efficiency, including knowledge distillation, quantization, pruning, more efficient architectures, along with case studies and practical implementation tricks.

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Representation, Learning and Reasoning on Spatial Language for Downstream NLP Tasks
Parisa Kordjamshidi | James Pustejovsky | Marie-Francine Moens

Understating spatial semantics expressed in natural language can become highly complex in real-world applications. This includes applications of language grounding, navigation, visual question answering, and more generic human-machine interaction and dialogue systems. In many of such downstream tasks, explicit representation of spatial concepts and relationships can improve the capabilities of machine learning models in reasoning and deep language understanding. In this tutorial, we overview the cutting-edge research results and existing challenges related to spatial language understanding including semantic annotations, existing corpora, symbolic and sub-symbolic representations, qualitative spatial reasoning, spatial common sense, deep and structured learning models. We discuss the recent results on the above-mentioned applications –that need spatial language learning and reasoning – and highlight the research gaps and future directions.

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Simultaneous Translation
Liang Huang | Colin Cherry | Mingbo Ma | Naveen Arivazhagan | Zhongjun He

Simultaneous translation, which performs translation concurrently with the source speech, is widely useful in many scenarios such as international conferences, negotiations, press releases, legal proceedings, and medicine. This problem has long been considered one of the hardest problems in AI and one of its holy grails. Recently, with rapid improvements in machine translation, speech recognition, and speech synthesis, there has been exciting progress towards simultaneous translation. This tutorial will focus on the design and evaluation of policies for simultaneous translation, to leave attendees with a deep technical understanding of the history, the recent advances, and the remaining challenges in this field.

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The Amazing World of Neural Language Generation
Yangfeng Ji | Antoine Bosselut | Thomas Wolf | Asli Celikyilmaz

Neural Language Generation (NLG) – using neural network models to generate coherent text – is among the most promising methods for automated text creation. Recent years have seen a paradigm shift in neural text generation, caused by the advances in deep contextual language modeling (e.g., LSTMs, GPT, GPT2) and transfer learning (e.g., ELMo, BERT). While these tools have dramatically improved the state of NLG, particularly for low resources tasks, state-of-the-art NLG models still face many challenges: a lack of diversity in generated text, commonsense violations in depicted situations, difficulties in making use of factual information, and difficulties in designing reliable evaluation metrics. In this tutorial, we will present an overview of the current state-of-the-art in neural network architectures, and how they shaped recent research directions in text generation. We will discuss how and why these models succeed/fail at generating coherent text, and provide insights on several applications.