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APP: Language, Speech and Dialog

Room 301 - 303

Moderator: Meng Liu

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Tue 19 July 7:30 - 7:35 PDT

Certified Robustness Against Natural Language Attacks by Causal Intervention

Haiteng Zhao · Chang Ma · Xinshuai Dong · Anh Tuan Luu · Zhi-Hong Deng · Hanwang Zhang

Deep learning models have achieved great success in many fields, yet they are vulnerable to adversarial examples. This paper follows a causal perspective to look into the adversarial vulnerability and proposes Causal Intervention by Semantic Smoothing (CISS), a novel framework towards robustness against natural language attacks. Instead of merely fitting observational data, CISS learns causal effects p(y|do(x)) by smoothing in the latent semantic space to make robust predictions, which scales to deep architectures and avoids tedious construction of noise customized for specific attacks. CISS is provably robust against word substitution attacks, as well as empirically robust even when perturbations are strengthened by unknown attack algorithms. For example, on YELP, CISS surpasses the runner-up by 6.8% in terms of certified robustness against word substitutions, and achieves 80.7% empirical robustness when syntactic attacks are integrated.

Tue 19 July 7:35 - 7:40 PDT

A$^3$T: Alignment-Aware Acoustic and Text Pretraining for Speech Synthesis and Editing

He Bai · Renjie Zheng · Junkun Chen · Mingbo Ma · Xintong Li · Liang Huang

Recently, speech representation learning has improved many speech-related tasks such as speech recognition, speech classification, and speech-to-text translation. However, all the above tasks are in the direction of speech understanding, but for the inverse direction, speech synthesis, the potential of representation learning is yet to be realized, due to the challenging nature of generating high-quality speech. To address this problem, we propose our framework, Alignment-Aware Acoustic-Text Pretraining (A$^3$T), which reconstructs masked acoustic signals with text input and acoustic-text alignment during training. In this way, the pretrained model can generate high quality reconstructed spectrogram, which can be applied to the speech editing and unseen speaker TTS directly. Experiments show A$^3$T outperforms SOTA models on speech editing, and improves multi-speaker speech synthesis without the external speaker verification model.

Tue 19 July 7:40 - 7:45 PDT

On the Learning of Non-Autoregressive Transformers

Fei Huang · Tianhua Tao · Hao Zhou · Lei Li · Minlie Huang

Non-autoregressive Transformer (NAT) is a family of text generation models, which aims to reduce the decoding latency by predicting the whole sentences in parallel. However, such latency reduction sacrifices the ability to capture left-to-right dependencies, thereby making NAT learning very challenging. In this paper, we present theoretical and empirical analyses to reveal the challenges of NAT learning and propose a unified perspective to understand existing successes. First, we show that simply training NAT by maximizing the likelihood can lead to an approximation of marginal distributions but drops all dependencies between tokens, where the dropped information can be measured by the dataset's conditional total correlation. Second, we formalize many previous objectives in a unified framework and show that their success can be concluded as maximizing the likelihood on a proxy distribution, leading to a reduced information loss. Empirical studies show that our perspective can explain the phenomena in NAT learning and guide the design of new training methods.

Tue 19 July 7:45 - 7:50 PDT

Latent Diffusion Energy-Based Model for Interpretable Text Modelling

Peiyu Yu · Sirui Xie · Xiaojian Ma · Baoxiong Jia · Bo Pang · Ruiqi Gao · Yixin Zhu · Song-Chun Zhu · Ying Nian Wu

Latent space Energy-Based Models (EBMs), also known as energy-based priors, have drawn growing interests in generative modeling. Fueled by its flexibility in the formulation and strong modeling power of the latent space, recent works built upon it have made interesting attempts aiming at the interpretability of text modeling. However, latent space EBMs also inherit some flaws from EBMs in data space; the degenerate MCMC sampling quality in practice can lead to poor generation quality and instability in training, especially on data with complex latent structures. Inspired by the recent efforts that leverage diffusion recovery likelihood learning as a cure for the sampling issue, we introduce a novel symbiosis between the diffusion models and latent space EBMs in a variational learning framework, coined as the latent diffusion energy-based model. We develop a geometric clustering-based regularization jointly with the information bottleneck to further improve the quality of the learned latent space. Experiments on several challenging tasks demonstrate the superior performance of our model on interpretable text modeling over strong counterparts.

Tue 19 July 7:50 - 7:55 PDT

UNIREX: A Unified Learning Framework for Language Model Rationale Extraction

Aaron Chan · Maziar Sanjabi · Lambert Mathias · Liang Tan · Shaoliang Nie · Xiaochang Peng · Xiang Ren · Hamed Firooz

An extractive rationale explains a language model's (LM's) prediction on a given task instance by highlighting the text inputs that most influenced the prediction. Ideally, rationale extraction should be faithful (reflective of LM's actual behavior) and plausible (convincing to humans), without compromising the LM's (i.e., task model's) task performance. Although attribution algorithms and select-predict pipelines are commonly used in rationale extraction, they both rely on certain heuristics that hinder them from satisfying all three desiderata. In light of this, we propose UNIREX, a flexible learning framework which generalizes rationale extractor optimization as follows: (1) specify architecture for a learned rationale extractor; (2) select explainability objectives (\ie faithfulness and plausibility criteria); and (3) jointly train the task model and rationale extractor on the task using selected objectives. UNIREX enables replacing prior works' heuristic design choices with a generic learned rationale extractor in (1) and optimizing it for all three desiderata in (2)-(3). To facilitate comparison between methods w.r.t. multiple desiderata, we introduce the Normalized Relative Gain (NRG) metric. On five English text classification datasets, our best UNIREX configuration outperforms baselines by an average of 32.9% NRG.Plus, UNIREX rationale extractors' faithfulness can even generalize to unseen datasets and tasks.

Tue 19 July 7:55 - 8:00 PDT

Black-Box Tuning for Language-Model-as-a-Service

Tianxiang Sun · Yunfan Shao · Hong Qian · Xuanjing Huang · Xipeng Qiu

Extremely large pre-trained language models (PTMs) such as GPT-3 are usually released as a service. It allows users to design task-specific prompts to query the PTMs through some black-box APIs. In such a scenario, which we call Language-Model-as-a-Service (LMaaS), the gradients of PTMs are usually unavailable. Can we optimize the task prompts by only accessing the model inference APIs? This paper proposes the black-box tuning framework to optimize the continuous prompt prepended to the input text via derivative-free optimization. Instead of optimizing in the original high-dimensional prompt space, which is intractable for traditional derivative-free optimization, we perform optimization in a randomly generated subspace due to the low intrinsic dimensionality of large PTMs. The experimental results show that the black-box tuning with RoBERTa on a few labeled samples not only significantly outperforms manual prompt and GPT-3's in-context learning, but also surpasses the gradient-based counterparts, i.e., prompt tuning and full model tuning.

Tue 19 July 8:00 - 8:20 PDT

Outstanding Paper
Understanding Dataset Difficulty with $\mathcal{V}$-Usable Information

Kawin Ethayarajh · Yejin Choi · Swabha Swayamdipta

Estimating the difficulty of a dataset typically involves comparing state-of-the-art models to humans; the bigger the performance gap, the harder the dataset is said to be. However, this comparison provides little understanding of how difficult each instance in a given distribution is, or what attributes make the dataset difficult for a given model. To address these questions, we frame dataset difficulty---w.r.t. a model $\mathcal{V}$---as the lack of $\mathcal{V}$-usable information (Xu et al., 2019), where a lower value indicates a more difficult dataset for $\mathcal{V}$. We further introduce pointwise $\mathcal{V}$-information (PVI) for measuring the difficulty of individual instances w.r.t. a given distribution. While standard evaluation metrics typically only compare different models for the same dataset, $\mathcal{V}$-usable information and PVI also permit the converse: for a given model $\mathcal{V}$, we can compare different datasets, as well as different instances/slices of the same dataset. Furthermore, our framework allows for the interpretability of different input attributes via transformations of the input, which we use to discover annotation artefacts in widely-used NLP benchmarks.

Tue 19 July 8:20 - 8:25 PDT

Co-training Improves Prompt-based Learning for Large Language Models

Hunter Lang · Monica Agrawal · Yoon Kim · David Sontag

We demonstrate that co-training (Blum & Mitchell, 1998) can improve the performance of prompt-based learning by using unlabeled data. While prompting has emerged as a promising paradigm for few-shot and zero-shot learning, it is often brittle and requires much larger models compared to the standard supervised setup. We find that co-training makes it possible to improve the original prompt model and at the same time learn a smaller, downstream task-specific model. In the case where we only have partial access to a prompt model (e.g., output probabilities from GPT-3 (Brown et al., 2020)) we learn a calibration model over the prompt outputs. When we have full access to the prompt model's gradients but full finetuning remains prohibitively expensive (e.g., T0 (Sanh et al., 2021)), we learn a set of soft prompt continuous vectors to iteratively update the prompt model. We find that models trained in this manner can significantly improve performance on challenging datasets where there is currently a large gap between prompt-based learning and fully-supervised models.

Tue 19 July 8:25 - 8:30 PDT

Directed Acyclic Transformer for Non-Autoregressive Machine Translation

Fei Huang · Hao Zhou · Yang Liu · Hang Li · Minlie Huang

Non-autoregressive Transformers (NATs) significantly reduce the decoding latency by generating all tokens in parallel. However, such independent predictions prevent NATs from capturing the dependencies between the tokens for generating multiple possible translations. In this paper, we propose Directed Acyclic Transfomer (DA-Transformer), which represents the hidden states in a Directed Acyclic Graph (DAG), where each path of the DAG corresponds to a specific translation. The whole DAG simultaneously captures multiple translations and facilitates fast predictions in a non-autoregressive fashion. Experiments on the raw training data of WMT benchmark show that DA-Transformer substantially outperforms previous NATs by about 3 BLEU on average, which is the first NAT model that achieves competitive results with autoregressive Transformers without relying on knowledge distillation.

Tue 19 July 8:30 - 8:35 PDT

StreamingQA: A Benchmark for Adaptation to New Knowledge over Time in Question Answering Models

Adam Liska · Tomas Kocisky · Elena Gribovskaya · Tayfun Terzi · Eren Sezener · Devang Agrawal · Cyprien de Masson d'Autume · Tim Scholtes · Manzil Zaheer · Susannah Young · Ellen Gilsenan-McMahon · Sophia Austin · Phil Blunsom · Angeliki Lazaridou

Knowledge and language understanding of models evaluated through question answering (QA) has been usually studied on static snapshots of knowledge, like Wikipedia. However, our world is dynamic, evolves over time, and our models' knowledge becomes outdated. To study how semi-parametric QA models and their underlying parametric language models (LMs) adapt to evolving knowledge, we construct a new large-scale dataset, StreamingQA, with human written and generated questions asked on a given date, to be answered from 14 years of time-stamped news articles. We evaluate our models quarterly as they read new articles not seen in pre-training. We show that parametric models can be updated without full retraining, while avoiding catastrophic forgetting. For semi-parametric models, adding new articles into the search space allows for rapid adaptation, however, models with an outdated underlying LM under-perform those with a retrained LM. For questions about higher-frequency named entities, parametric updates are particularly beneficial. In our dynamic world, the StreamingQA dataset enables a more realistic evaluation of QA models, and our experiments highlight several promising directions for future research.

Tue 19 July 8:35 - 8:40 PDT

Unsupervised Detection of Contextualized Embedding Bias with Application to Ideology

Valentin Hofmann · Janet Pierrehumbert · Hinrich Sch├╝tze

We propose a fully unsupervised method to detect bias in contextualized embeddings. The method leverages the assortative information latently encoded by social networks and combines orthogonality regularization, structured sparsity learning, and graph neural networks to find the embedding subspace capturing this information. As a concrete example, we focus on the phenomenon of ideological bias: we introduce the concept of an ideological subspace, show how it can be found by applying our method to online discussion forums, and present techniques to probe it. Our experiments suggest that the ideological subspace encodes abstract evaluative semantics and reflects changes in the political left-right spectrum during the presidency of Donald Trump.

Tue 19 July 8:40 - 8:45 PDT

Generative Cooperative Networks for Natural Language Generation

Sylvain Lamprier · Thomas Scialom · Antoine Chaffin · Vincent Claveau · Ewa Kijak · Jacopo Staiano · Benjamin Piwowarski

Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) have known a tremendous success for many continuous generation tasks, especially in the field of image generation. However, for discrete outputs such as language, optimizing GANs remains an open problem with many instabilities, as no gradient can be properly back-propagated from the discriminator output to the generator parameters. An alternative is to learn the generator network via reinforcement learning, using the discriminator signal as a reward, but such a technique suffers from moving rewards and vanishing gradient problems. Finally, it often falls short compared to direct maximum-likelihood approaches. In this paper, we introduce Generative Cooperative Networks, in which the discriminator architecture is cooperatively used along with the generation policy to output samples of realistic texts for the task at hand. We give theoretical guarantees of convergence for our approach, and study various efficient decoding schemes to empirically achieve state-of-the-art results in two main NLG tasks.

Tue 19 July 8:45 - 8:50 PDT

What Language Model Architecture and Pretraining Objective Works Best for Zero-Shot Generalization?

Thomas Wang · Adam Roberts · Daniel Hesslow · Teven Le Scao · Hyung Won Chung · Iz Beltagy · Julien Launay · Colin Raffel

Large pretrained Transformer language models have been shown to exhibit zero-shot generalization, i.e. they can perform a wide variety of tasks that they were not explicitly trained on. However, the architectures and pretraining objectives used across state-of-the-art models differ significantly, and there has been limited systematic comparison of these factors. In this work, we present a large-scale evaluation of modeling choices and their impact on zero-shot generalization. In particular, we focus on text-to-text models and experiment with three model architectures (causal/non-causal decoder-only and encoder-decoder), trained with two different pretraining objectives (autoregressive and masked language modeling), and evaluated with and without multitask prompted finetuning. We train models with over 5 billion parameters for more than 168 billion tokens, thereby increasing the likelihood that our conclusions will transfer to even larger scales. Our experiments show that causal decoder-only models trained on an autoregressive language modeling objective exhibit the strongest zero-shot generalization after purely self-supervised pretraining. However, models with non-causal visibility on their input trained with a masked language modeling objective followed by multitask finetuning perform the best among our experiments. We therefore consider the adaptation of pretrained models across architectures and objectives. Code and checkpoints are available at workshop/architecture-objective.

Tue 19 July 8:50 - 8:55 PDT

Branchformer: Parallel MLP-Attention Architectures to Capture Local and Global Context for Speech Recognition and Understanding

Yifan Peng · Siddharth Dalmia · Ian Lane · Shinji Watanabe

Conformer has proven to be effective in many speech processing tasks. It combines the benefits of extracting local dependencies using convolutions and global dependencies using self-attention. Inspired by this, we propose a more flexible, interpretable and customizable encoder alternative, Branchformer, with parallel branches for modeling various ranged dependencies in end-to-end speech processing. In each encoder layer, one branch employs self-attention or its variant to capture long-range dependencies, while the other branch utilizes an MLP module with convolutional gating (cgMLP) to extract local relationships. We conduct experiments on several speech recognition and spoken language understanding benchmarks. Results show that our model outperforms both Transformer and cgMLP. It also matches with or outperforms state-of-the-art results achieved by Conformer. Furthermore, we show various strategies to reduce computation thanks to the two-branch architecture, including the ability to have variable inference complexity in a single trained model. The weights learned for merging branches indicate how local and global dependencies are utilized in different layers, which benefits model designing.

Tue 19 July 8:55 - 9:00 PDT

ROCK: Causal Inference Principles for Reasoning about Commonsense Causality

Jiayao Zhang · Hongming ZHANG · Weijie Su · Dan Roth

Commonsense causality reasoning (CCR) aims at identifying plausible causes and effects in natural language descriptions that are deemed reasonable by an average person. Although being of great academic and practical interest, this problem is still shadowed by the lack of a well-posed theoretical framework; existing work usually relies on deep language models wholeheartedly, and is potentially susceptible to confounding co-occurrences. Motivated by classical causal principles, we articulate the central question of CCR and draw parallels between human subjects in observational studies and natural languages to adopt CCR to the potential-outcomes framework, which is the first such attempt for commonsense tasks. We propose a novel framework, ROCK, to Reason O(A)bout Commonsense K(C)ausality, which utilizes temporal signals as incidental supervision, and balances confounding effects using temporal propensities that are analogous to propensity scores. The ROCK implementation is modular and zero-shot, and demonstrates good CCR capabilities.