Proceedings of the 2018 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Tutorial Abstracts

Mohit Bansal, Rebecca Passonneau (Editors)

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New Orleans, Louisiana
Association for Computational Linguistics
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Proceedings of the 2018 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Tutorial Abstracts
Mohit Bansal | Rebecca Passonneau

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Modelling Natural Language, Programs, and their Intersection
Graham Neubig | Miltiadis Allamanis

As computers and information grow a more integral part of our world, it is becoming more and more important for humans to be able to interact with their computers in complex ways. One way to do so is by programming, but the ability to understand and generate programming languages is a highly specialized skill. As a result, in the past several years there has been an increasing research interest in methods that focus on the intersection of programming and natural language, allowing users to use natural language to interact with computers in the complex ways that programs allow us to do. In this tutorial, we will focus on machine learning models of programs and natural language focused on making this goal a reality. First, we will discuss the similarities and differences between programming and natural language. Then we will discuss methods that have been designed to cover a variety of tasks in this field, including automatic explanation of programs in natural language (code-to-language), automatic generation of programs from natural language specifications (language-to-code), modeling the natural language elements of source code, and analysis of communication in collaborative programming communities. The tutorial will be aimed at NLP researchers and practitioners, aiming to describe the interesting opportunities that models at the intersection of natural and programming languages provide, and also how their techniques could provide benefit to the practice of software engineering as a whole.

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Deep Learning Approaches to Text Production
Claire Gardent | Shashi Narayan

Text production is a key component of many NLP applications. In data-driven approaches, it is used for instance, to generate dialogue turns from dialogue moves, to verbalise the content of Knowledge bases or to generate natural English sentences from rich linguistic representations, such as dependency trees or Abstract Meaning Representations. In text-driven methods on the other hand, text production is at work in sentence compression, sentence fusion, paraphrasing, sentence (or text) simplification, text summarisation and end-to-end dialogue systems. Following the success of encoder-decoder models in modeling sequence-rewriting tasks such as machine translation, deep learning models have successfully been applied to the various text production tasks. In this tutorial, we will cover the fundamentals and the state-of-the-art research on neural models for text production. Each text production task raises a slightly different communication goal (e.g, how to take the dialogue context into account when producing a dialogue turn; how to detect and merge relevant information when summarising a text; or how to produce a well-formed text that correctly capture the information contained in some input data in the case of data-to-text generation). We will outline the constraints specific to each subtasks and examine how the existing neural models account for them.

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Scalable Construction and Reasoning of Massive Knowledge Bases
Xiang Ren | Nanyun Peng | William Yang Wang

In today’s information-based society, there is abundant knowledge out there carried in the form of natural language texts (e.g., news articles, social media posts, scientific publications), which spans across various domains (e.g., corporate documents, advertisements, legal acts, medical reports), which grows at an astonishing rate. Yet this knowledge is mostly inaccessible to computers and overwhelming for human experts to absorb. How to turn such massive and unstructured text data into structured, actionable knowledge, and furthermore, how to teach machines learn to reason and complete the extracted knowledge is a grand challenge to the research community. Traditional IE systems assume abundant human annotations for training high quality machine learning models, which is impractical when trying to deploy IE systems to a broad range of domains, settings and languages. In the first part of the tutorial, we introduce how to extract structured facts (i.e., entities and their relations for types of interest) from text corpora to construct knowledge bases, with a focus on methods that are weakly-supervised and domain-independent for timely knowledge base construction across various application domains. In the second part, we introduce how to leverage other knowledge, such as the distributional statistics of characters and words, the annotations for other tasks and other domains, and the linguistics and problem structures, to combat the problem of inadequate supervision, and conduct low-resource information extraction. In the third part, we describe recent advances in knowledge base reasoning. We start with the gentle introduction to the literature, focusing on path-based and embedding based methods. We then describe DeepPath, a recent attempt of using deep reinforcement learning to combine the best of both worlds for knowledge base reasoning.

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The interplay between lexical resources and Natural Language Processing
Jose Camacho-Collados | Luis Espinosa Anke | Mohammad Taher Pilehvar

Incorporating linguistic, world and common sense knowledge into AI/NLP systems is currently an important research area, with several open problems and challenges. At the same time, processing and storing this knowledge in lexical resources is not a straightforward task. We propose to address these complementary goals from two methodological perspectives: the use of NLP methods to help the process of constructing and enriching lexical resources and the use of lexical resources for improving NLP applications. This tutorial may be useful for two main types of audience: those working on language resources who are interested in becoming acquainted with automatic NLP techniques, with the end goal of speeding and/or easing up the process of resource curation; and on the other hand, researchers in NLP who would like to benefit from the knowledge of lexical resources to improve their systems and models.

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Socially Responsible NLP
Yulia Tsvetkov | Vinodkumar Prabhakaran | Rob Voigt

As language technologies have become increasingly prevalent, there is a growing awareness that decisions we make about our data, methods, and tools are often tied up with their impact on people and societies. This tutorial will provide an overview of real-world applications of language technologies and the potential ethical implications associated with them. We will discuss philosophical foundations of ethical research along with state of the art techniques. Through this tutorial, we intend to provide the NLP researcher with an overview of tools to ensure that the data, algorithms, and models that they build are socially responsible. These tools will include a checklist of common pitfalls that one should avoid (e.g., demographic bias in data collection), as well as methods to adequately mitigate these issues (e.g., adjusting sampling rates or de-biasing through regularization). The tutorial is based on a new course on Ethics and NLP developed at Carnegie Mellon University.

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Deep Learning for Conversational AI
Pei-Hao Su | Nikola Mrkšić | Iñigo Casanueva | Ivan Vulić

Spoken Dialogue Systems (SDS) have great commercial potential as they promise to revolutionise the way in which humans interact with machines. The advent of deep learning led to substantial developments in this area of NLP research, and the goal of this tutorial is to familiarise the research community with the recent advances in what some call the most difficult problem in NLP. From a research perspective, the design of spoken dialogue systems provides a number of significant challenges, as these systems depend on: a) solving several difficult NLP and decision-making tasks; and b) combining these into a functional dialogue system pipeline. A key long-term goal of dialogue system research is to enable open-domain systems that can converse about arbitrary topics and assist humans with completing a wide range of tasks. Furthermore, such systems need to autonomously learn on-line to improve their performance and recover from errors using both signals from their environment and from implicit and explicit user feedback. While the design of such systems has traditionally been modular, domain and language-specific, advances in deep learning have alleviated many of the design problems. The main purpose of this tutorial is to encourage dialogue research in the NLP community by providing the research background, a survey of available resources, and giving key insights to application of state-of-the-art SDS methodology into industry-scale conversational AI systems. We plan to introduce researchers to the pipeline framework for modelling goal-oriented dialogue systems, which includes three key components: 1) Language Understanding; 2) Dialogue Management; and 3) Language Generation. The differences between goal-oriented dialogue systems and chat-bot style conversational agents will be explained in order to show the motivation behind the design of both, with the main focus on the pipeline SDS framework. For each key component, we will define the research problem, provide a brief literature review and introduce the current state-of-the-art approaches. Complementary resources (e.g. available datasets and toolkits) will also be discussed. Finally, future work, outstanding challenges, and current industry practices will be presented. All of the presented material will be made available online for future reference.