Proceedings of the First Workshop on Commonsense Inference in Natural Language Processing

Simon Ostermann, Sheng Zhang, Michael Roth, Peter Clark (Editors)

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Hong Kong, China
Association for Computational Linguistics
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Proceedings of the First Workshop on Commonsense Inference in Natural Language Processing
Simon Ostermann | Sheng Zhang | Michael Roth | Peter Clark

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Cracking the Contextual Commonsense Code: Understanding Commonsense Reasoning Aptitude of Deep Contextual Representations
Jeff Da | Jungo Kasai

Pretrained deep contextual representations have advanced the state-of-the-art on various commonsense NLP tasks, but we lack a concrete understanding of the capability of these models. Thus, we investigate and challenge several aspects of BERT’s commonsense representation abilities. First, we probe BERT’s ability to classify various object attributes, demonstrating that BERT shows a strong ability in encoding various commonsense features in its embedding space, but is still deficient in many areas. Next, we show that, by augmenting BERT’s pretraining data with additional data related to the deficient attributes, we are able to improve performance on a downstream commonsense reasoning task while using a minimal amount of data. Finally, we develop a method of fine-tuning knowledge graphs embeddings alongside BERT and show the continued importance of explicit knowledge graphs.

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A Hybrid Neural Network Model for Commonsense Reasoning
Pengcheng He | Xiaodong Liu | Weizhu Chen | Jianfeng Gao

This paper proposes a hybrid neural network(HNN) model for commonsense reasoning. An HNN consists of two component models, a masked language model and a semantic similarity model, which share a BERTbased contextual encoder but use different model-specific input and output layers. HNN obtains new state-of-the-art results on three classic commonsense reasoning tasks, pushing the WNLI benchmark to 89%, the Winograd Schema Challenge (WSC) benchmark to 75.1%, and the PDP60 benchmark to 90.0%. An ablation study shows that language models and semantic similarity models are complementary approaches to commonsense reasoning, and HNN effectively combines the strengths of both. The code and pre-trained models will be publicly available at https: //

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Towards Generalizable Neuro-Symbolic Systems for Commonsense Question Answering
Kaixin Ma | Jonathan Francis | Quanyang Lu | Eric Nyberg | Alessandro Oltramari

Non-extractive commonsense QA remains a challenging AI task, as it requires systems to reason about, synthesize, and gather disparate pieces of information, in order to generate responses to queries. Recent approaches on such tasks show increased performance, only when models are either pre-trained with additional information or when domain-specific heuristics are used, without any special consideration regarding the knowledge resource type. In this paper, we perform a survey of recent commonsense QA methods and we provide a systematic analysis of popular knowledge resources and knowledge-integration methods, across benchmarks from multiple commonsense datasets. Our results and analysis show that attention-based injection seems to be a preferable choice for knowledge integration and that the degree of domain overlap, between knowledge bases and datasets, plays a crucial role in determining model success.

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When Choosing Plausible Alternatives, Clever Hans can be Clever
Pride Kavumba | Naoya Inoue | Benjamin Heinzerling | Keshav Singh | Paul Reisert | Kentaro Inui

Pretrained language models, such as BERT and RoBERTa, have shown large improvements in the commonsense reasoning benchmark COPA. However, recent work found that many improvements in benchmarks of natural language understanding are not due to models learning the task, but due to their increasing ability to exploit superficial cues, such as tokens that occur more often in the correct answer than the wrong one. Are BERT’s and RoBERTa’s good performance on COPA also caused by this? We find superficial cues in COPA, as well as evidence that BERT exploits these cues. To remedy this problem, we introduce Balanced COPA, an extension of COPA that does not suffer from easy-to-exploit single token cues. We analyze BERT’s and RoBERTa’s performance on original and Balanced COPA, finding that BERT relies on superficial cues when they are present, but still achieves comparable performance once they are made ineffective, suggesting that BERT learns the task to a certain degree when forced to. In contrast, RoBERTa does not appear to rely on superficial cues.

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Commonsense about Human Senses: Labeled Data Collection Processes
Ndapa Nakashole

We consider the problem of extracting from text commonsense knowledge pertaining to human senses such as sound and smell. First, we consider the problem of recognizing mentions of human senses in text. Our contribution is a method for acquiring labeled data. Experiments show the effectiveness of our proposed data labeling approach when used with standard machine learning models on the task of sense recognition in text. Second, we propose to extract novel, common sense relationships pertaining to sense perception concepts. Our contribution is a process for generating labeled data by leveraging large corpora and crowdsourcing questionnaires.

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Extracting Common Inference Patterns from Semi-Structured Explanations
Sebastian Thiem | Peter Jansen

Complex questions often require combining multiple facts to correctly answer, particularly when generating detailed explanations for why those answers are correct. Combining multiple facts to answer questions is often modeled as a “multi-hop” graph traversal problem, where a given solver must find a series of interconnected facts in a knowledge graph that, taken together, answer the question and explain the reasoning behind that answer. Multi-hop inference currently suffers from semantic drift, or the tendency for chains of reasoning to “drift”’ to unrelated topics, and this semantic drift greatly limits the number of facts that can be combined in both free text or knowledge base inference. In this work we present our effort to mitigate semantic drift by extracting large high-confidence multi-hop inference patterns, generated by abstracting large-scale explanatory structure from a corpus of detailed explanations. We represent these inference patterns as sets of generalized constraints over sentences represented as rows in a knowledge base of semi-structured tables. We present a prototype tool for identifying common inference patterns from corpora of semi-structured explanations, and use it to successfully extract 67 inference patterns from a “matter” subset of standardized elementary science exam questions that span scientific and world knowledge.

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Commonsense Inference in Natural Language Processing (COIN) - Shared Task Report
Simon Ostermann | Sheng Zhang | Michael Roth | Peter Clark

This paper reports on the results of the shared tasks of the COIN workshop at EMNLP-IJCNLP 2019. The tasks consisted of two machine comprehension evaluations, each of which tested a system’s ability to answer questions/queries about a text. Both evaluations were designed such that systems need to exploit commonsense knowledge, for example, in the form of inferences over information that is available in the common ground but not necessarily mentioned in the text. A total of five participating teams submitted systems for the shared tasks, with the best submitted system achieving 90.6% accuracy and 83.7% F1-score on task 1 and task 2, respectively.

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KARNA at COIN Shared Task 1: Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers with relational knowledge for machine comprehension with common sense
Yash Jain | Chinmay Singh

This paper describes our model for COmmonsense INference in Natural Language Processing (COIN) shared task 1: Commonsense Inference in Everyday Narrations. This paper explores the use of Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers(BERT) along with external relational knowledge from ConceptNet to tackle the problem of commonsense inference. The input passage, question, and answer are augmented with relational knowledge from ConceptNet. Using this technique we are able to achieve an accuracy of 73.3 % on the official test data.

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IIT-KGP at COIN 2019: Using pre-trained Language Models for modeling Machine Comprehension
Prakhar Sharma | Sumegh Roychowdhury

In this paper, we describe our system for COIN 2019 Shared Task 1: Commonsense Inference in Everyday Narrations. We show the power of leveraging state-of-the-art pre-trained language models such as BERT(Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) and XLNet over other Commonsense Knowledge Base Resources such as ConceptNet and NELL for modeling machine comprehension. We used an ensemble of BERT-Large and XLNet-Large. Experimental results show that our model give substantial improvements over the baseline and other systems incorporating knowledge bases. We bagged 2nd position on the final test set leaderboard with an accuracy of 90.5%

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Jeff Da at COIN - Shared Task: BIG MOOD: Relating Transformers to Explicit Commonsense Knowledge
Jeff Da

We introduce a simple yet effective method of integrating contextual embeddings with commonsense graph embeddings, dubbed BERT Infused Graphs: Matching Over Other embeDdings. First, we introduce a preprocessing method to improve the speed of querying knowledge bases. Then, we develop a method of creating knowledge embeddings from each knowledge base. We introduce a method of aligning tokens between two misaligned tokenization methods. Finally, we contribute a method of contextualizing BERT after combining with knowledge base embeddings. We also show BERTs tendency to correct lower accuracy question types. Our model achieves a higher accuracy than BERT, and we score fifth on the official leaderboard of the shared task and score the highest without any additional language model pretraining.

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Pingan Smart Health and SJTU at COIN - Shared Task: utilizing Pre-trained Language Models and Common-sense Knowledge in Machine Reading Tasks
Xiepeng Li | Zhexi Zhang | Wei Zhu | Zheng Li | Yuan Ni | Peng Gao | Junchi Yan | Guotong Xie

To solve the shared tasks of COIN: COmmonsense INference in Natural Language Processing) Workshop in , we need explore the impact of knowledge representation in modeling commonsense knowledge to boost performance of machine reading comprehension beyond simple text matching. There are two approaches to represent knowledge in the low-dimensional space. The first is to leverage large-scale unsupervised text corpus to train fixed or contextual language representations. The second approach is to explicitly express knowledge into a knowledge graph (KG), and then fit a model to represent the facts in the KG. We have experimented both (a) improving the fine-tuning of pre-trained language models on a task with a small dataset size, by leveraging datasets of similar tasks; and (b) incorporating the distributional representations of a KG onto the representations of pre-trained language models, via simply concatenation or multi-head attention. We find out that: (a) for task 1, first fine-tuning on larger datasets like RACE (Lai et al., 2017) and SWAG (Zellersetal.,2018), and then fine-tuning on the target task improve the performance significantly; (b) for task 2, we find out the incorporating a KG of commonsense knowledge, WordNet (Miller, 1995) into the Bert model (Devlin et al., 2018) is helpful, however, it will hurts the performace of XLNET (Yangetal.,2019), a more powerful pre-trained model. Our approaches achieve the state-of-the-art results on both shared task’s official test data, outperforming all the other submissions.

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BLCU-NLP at COIN-Shared Task1: Stagewise Fine-tuning BERT for Commonsense Inference in Everyday Narrations
Chunhua Liu | Dong Yu

This paper describes our system for COIN Shared Task 1: Commonsense Inference in Everyday Narrations. To inject more external knowledge to better reason over the narrative passage, question and answer, the system adopts a stagewise fine-tuning method based on pre-trained BERT model. More specifically, the first stage is to fine-tune on addi- tional machine reading comprehension dataset to learn more commonsense knowledge. The second stage is to fine-tune on target-task (MCScript2.0) with MCScript (2018) dataset assisted. Experimental results show that our system achieves significant improvements over the baseline systems with 84.2% accuracy on the official test dataset.

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Commonsense inference in human-robot communication
Aliaksandr Huminski | Yan Bin Ng | Kenneth Kwok | Francis Bond

Natural language communication between machines and humans are still constrained. The article addresses a gap in natural language understanding about actions, specifically that of understanding commands. We propose a new method for commonsense inference (grounding) of high-level natural language commands into specific action commands for further execution by a robotic system. The method allows to build a knowledge base that consists of a large set of commonsense inferences. The preliminary results have been presented.

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Diversity-aware Event Prediction based on a Conditional Variational Autoencoder with Reconstruction
Hirokazu Kiyomaru | Kazumasa Omura | Yugo Murawaki | Daisuke Kawahara | Sadao Kurohashi

Typical event sequences are an important class of commonsense knowledge. Formalizing the task as the generation of a next event conditioned on a current event, previous work in event prediction employs sequence-to-sequence (seq2seq) models. However, what can happen after a given event is usually diverse, a fact that can hardly be captured by deterministic models. In this paper, we propose to incorporate a conditional variational autoencoder (CVAE) into seq2seq for its ability to represent diverse next events as a probabilistic distribution. We further extend the CVAE-based seq2seq with a reconstruction mechanism to prevent the model from concentrating on highly typical events. To facilitate fair and systematic evaluation of the diversity-aware models, we also extend existing evaluation datasets by tying each current event to multiple next events. Experiments show that the CVAE-based models drastically outperform deterministic models in terms of precision and that the reconstruction mechanism improves the recall of CVAE-based models without sacrificing precision.

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Can a Gorilla Ride a Camel? Learning Semantic Plausibility from Text
Ian Porada | Kaheer Suleman | Jackie Chi Kit Cheung

Modeling semantic plausibility requires commonsense knowledge about the world and has been used as a testbed for exploring various knowledge representations. Previous work has focused specifically on modeling physical plausibility and shown that distributional methods fail when tested in a supervised setting. At the same time, distributional models, namely large pretrained language models, have led to improved results for many natural language understanding tasks. In this work, we show that these pretrained language models are in fact effective at modeling physical plausibility in the supervised setting. We therefore present the more difficult problem of learning to model physical plausibility directly from text. We create a training set by extracting attested events from a large corpus, and we provide a baseline for training on these attested events in a self-supervised manner and testing on a physical plausibility task. We believe results could be further improved by injecting explicit commonsense knowledge into a distributional model.

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How Pre-trained Word Representations Capture Commonsense Physical Comparisons
Pranav Goel | Shi Feng | Jordan Boyd-Graber

Understanding common sense is important for effective natural language reasoning. One type of common sense is how two objects compare on physical properties such as size and weight: e.g., ‘is a house bigger than a person?’. We probe whether pre-trained representations capture comparisons and find they, in fact, have higher accuracy than previous approaches. They also generalize to comparisons involving objects not seen during training. We investigate how such comparisons are made: models learn a consistent ordering over all the objects in the comparisons. Probing models have significantly higher accuracy than those baseline models which use dataset artifacts: e.g., memorizing some words are larger than any other word.