Adina Williams


2020

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Information-Theoretic Probing for Linguistic Structure
Tiago Pimentel | Josef Valvoda | Rowan Hall Maudslay | Ran Zmigrod | Adina Williams | Ryan Cotterell
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

The success of neural networks on a diverse set of NLP tasks has led researchers to question how much these networks actually “know” about natural language. Probes are a natural way of assessing this. When probing, a researcher chooses a linguistic task and trains a supervised model to predict annotations in that linguistic task from the network’s learned representations. If the probe does well, the researcher may conclude that the representations encode knowledge related to the task. A commonly held belief is that using simpler models as probes is better; the logic is that simpler models will identify linguistic structure, but not learn the task itself. We propose an information-theoretic operationalization of probing as estimating mutual information that contradicts this received wisdom: one should always select the highest performing probe one can, even if it is more complex, since it will result in a tighter estimate, and thus reveal more of the linguistic information inherent in the representation. The experimental portion of our paper focuses on empirically estimating the mutual information between a linguistic property and BERT, comparing these estimates to several baselines. We evaluate on a set of ten typologically diverse languages often underrepresented in NLP research—plus English—totalling eleven languages. Our implementation is available in https://github.com/rycolab/info-theoretic-probing.

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Adversarial NLI: A New Benchmark for Natural Language Understanding
Yixin Nie | Adina Williams | Emily Dinan | Mohit Bansal | Jason Weston | Douwe Kiela
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

We introduce a new large-scale NLI benchmark dataset, collected via an iterative, adversarial human-and-model-in-the-loop procedure. We show that training models on this new dataset leads to state-of-the-art performance on a variety of popular NLI benchmarks, while posing a more difficult challenge with its new test set. Our analysis sheds light on the shortcomings of current state-of-the-art models, and shows that non-expert annotators are successful at finding their weaknesses. The data collection method can be applied in a never-ending learning scenario, becoming a moving target for NLU, rather than a static benchmark that will quickly saturate.

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Predicting Declension Class from Form and Meaning
Adina Williams | Tiago Pimentel | Hagen Blix | Arya D. McCarthy | Eleanor Chodroff | Ryan Cotterell
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

The noun lexica of many natural languages are divided into several declension classes with characteristic morphological properties. Class membership is far from deterministic, but the phonological form of a noun and/or its meaning can often provide imperfect clues. Here, we investigate the strength of those clues. More specifically, we operationalize this by measuring how much information, in bits, we can glean about declension class from knowing the form and/or meaning of nouns. We know that form and meaning are often also indicative of grammatical gender—which, as we quantitatively verify, can itself share information with declension class—so we also control for gender. We find for two Indo-European languages (Czech and German) that form and meaning respectively share significant amounts of information with class (and contribute additional information above and beyond gender). The three-way interaction between class, form, and meaning (given gender) is also significant. Our study is important for two reasons: First, we introduce a new method that provides additional quantitative support for a classic linguistic finding that form and meaning are relevant for the classification of nouns into declensions. Secondly, we show not only that individual declensions classes vary in the strength of their clues within a language, but also that these variations themselves vary across languages.

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A Tale of a Probe and a Parser
Rowan Hall Maudslay | Josef Valvoda | Tiago Pimentel | Adina Williams | Ryan Cotterell
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Measuring what linguistic information is encoded in neural models of language has become popular in NLP. Researchers approach this enterprise by training “probes”—supervised models designed to extract linguistic structure from another model’s output. One such probe is the structural probe (Hewitt and Manning, 2019), designed to quantify the extent to which syntactic information is encoded in contextualised word representations. The structural probe has a novel design, unattested in the parsing literature, the precise benefit of which is not immediately obvious. To explore whether syntactic probes would do better to make use of existing techniques, we compare the structural probe to a more traditional parser with an identical lightweight parameterisation. The parser outperforms structural probe on UUAS in seven of nine analysed languages, often by a substantial amount (e.g. by 11.1 points in English). Under a second less common metric, however, there is the opposite trend—the structural probe outperforms the parser. This begs the question: which metric should we prefer?

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Are Natural Language Inference Models IMPPRESsive? Learning IMPlicature and PRESupposition
Paloma Jeretic | Alex Warstadt | Suvrat Bhooshan | Adina Williams
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Natural language inference (NLI) is an increasingly important task for natural language understanding, which requires one to infer whether a sentence entails another. However, the ability of NLI models to make pragmatic inferences remains understudied. We create an IMPlicature and PRESupposition diagnostic dataset (IMPPRES), consisting of 32K semi-automatically generated sentence pairs illustrating well-studied pragmatic inference types. We use IMPPRES to evaluate whether BERT, InferSent, and BOW NLI models trained on MultiNLI (Williams et al., 2018) learn to make pragmatic inferences. Although MultiNLI appears to contain very few pairs illustrating these inference types, we find that BERT learns to draw pragmatic inferences. It reliably treats scalar implicatures triggered by “some” as entailments. For some presupposition triggers like “only”, BERT reliably recognizes the presupposition as an entailment, even when the trigger is embedded under an entailment canceling operator like negation. BOW and InferSent show weaker evidence of pragmatic reasoning. We conclude that NLI training encourages models to learn some, but not all, pragmatic inferences.

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Intrinsic Probing through Dimension Selection
Lucas Torroba Hennigen | Adina Williams | Ryan Cotterell
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

Most modern NLP systems make use of pre-trained contextual representations that attain astonishingly high performance on a variety of tasks. Such high performance should not be possible unless some form of linguistic structure inheres in these representations, and a wealth of research has sprung up on probing for it. In this paper, we draw a distinction between intrinsic probing, which examines how linguistic information is structured within a representation, and the extrinsic probing popular in prior work, which only argues for the presence of such information by showing that it can be successfully extracted. To enable intrinsic probing, we propose a novel framework based on a decomposable multivariate Gaussian probe that allows us to determine whether the linguistic information in word embeddings is dispersed or focal. We then probe fastText and BERT for various morphosyntactic attributes across 36 languages. We find that most attributes are reliably encoded by only a few neurons, with fastText concentrating its linguistic structure more than BERT.

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Multi-Dimensional Gender Bias Classification
Emily Dinan | Angela Fan | Ledell Wu | Jason Weston | Douwe Kiela | Adina Williams
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

Machine learning models are trained to find patterns in data. NLP models can inadvertently learn socially undesirable patterns when training on gender biased text. In this work, we propose a novel, general framework that decomposes gender bias in text along several pragmatic and semantic dimensions: bias from the gender of the person being spoken about, bias from the gender of the person being spoken to, and bias from the gender of the speaker. Using this fine-grained framework, we automatically annotate eight large scale datasets with gender information. In addition, we collect a new, crowdsourced evaluation benchmark. Distinguishing between gender bias along multiple dimensions enables us to train better and more fine-grained gender bias classifiers. We show our classifiers are valuable for a variety of applications, like controlling for gender bias in generative models, detecting gender bias in arbitrary text, and classifying text as offensive based on its genderedness.

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Pareto Probing: Trading Off Accuracy for Complexity
Tiago Pimentel | Naomi Saphra | Adina Williams | Ryan Cotterell
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

The question of how to probe contextual word representations in a way that is principled and useful has seen significant recent attention. In our contribution to this discussion, we argue, first, for a probe metric that reflects the trade-off between probe complexity and performance: the Pareto hypervolume. To measure complexity, we present a number of parametric and non-parametric metrics. Our experiments with such metrics show that probe’s performance curves often fail to align with widely accepted rankings between language representations (with, e.g., non-contextual representations outperforming contextual ones). These results lead us to argue, second, that common simplistic probe tasks such as POS labeling and dependency arc labeling, are inadequate to evaluate the properties encoded in contextual word representations. We propose full dependency parsing as an example probe task, and demonstrate it with the Pareto hypervolume. In support of our arguments, the results of this illustrative experiment conform closer to accepted rankings among contextual word representations.

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Measuring the Similarity of Grammatical Gender Systems by Comparing Partitions
Arya D. McCarthy | Adina Williams | Shijia Liu | David Yarowsky | Ryan Cotterell
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

A grammatical gender system divides a lexicon into a small number of relatively fixed grammatical categories. How similar are these gender systems across languages? To quantify the similarity, we define gender systems extensionally, thereby reducing the problem of comparisons between languages’ gender systems to cluster evaluation. We borrow a rich inventory of statistical tools for cluster evaluation from the field of community detection (Driver and Kroeber, 1932; Cattell, 1945), that enable us to craft novel information theoretic metrics for measuring similarity between gender systems. We first validate our metrics, then use them to measure gender system similarity in 20 languages. We then ask whether our gender system similarities alone are sufficient to reconstruct historical relationships between languages. Towards this end, we make phylogenetic predictions on the popular, but thorny, problem from historical linguistics of inducing a phylogenetic tree over extant Indo-European languages. Of particular interest, languages on the same branch of our phylogenetic tree are notably similar, whereas languages from separate branches are no more similar than chance.

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Queens are Powerful too: Mitigating Gender Bias in Dialogue Generation
Emily Dinan | Angela Fan | Adina Williams | Jack Urbanek | Douwe Kiela | Jason Weston
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

Social biases present in data are often directly reflected in the predictions of models trained on that data. We analyze gender bias in dialogue data, and examine how this bias is not only replicated, but is also amplified in subsequent generative chit-chat dialogue models. We measure gender bias in six existing dialogue datasets before selecting the most biased one, the multi-player text-based fantasy adventure dataset LIGHT, as a testbed for bias mitigation techniques. We consider three techniques to mitigate gender bias: counterfactual data augmentation, targeted data collection, and bias controlled training. We show that our proposed techniques mitigate gender bias by balancing the genderedness of generated dialogue utterances, and find that they are particularly effective in combination. We evaluate model performance with a variety of quantitative methods—including the quantity of gendered words, a dialogue safety classifier, and human assessments—all of which show that our models generate less gendered, but equally engaging chit-chat responses.

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SIGMORPHON 2020 Shared Task 0: Typologically Diverse Morphological Inflection
Ekaterina Vylomova | Jennifer White | Elizabeth Salesky | Sabrina J. Mielke | Shijie Wu | Edoardo Maria Ponti | Rowan Hall Maudslay | Ran Zmigrod | Josef Valvoda | Svetlana Toldova | Francis Tyers | Elena Klyachko | Ilya Yegorov | Natalia Krizhanovsky | Paula Czarnowska | Irene Nikkarinen | Andrew Krizhanovsky | Tiago Pimentel | Lucas Torroba Hennigen | Christo Kirov | Garrett Nicolai | Adina Williams | Antonios Anastasopoulos | Hilaria Cruz | Eleanor Chodroff | Ryan Cotterell | Miikka Silfverberg | Mans Hulden
Proceedings of the 17th SIGMORPHON Workshop on Computational Research in Phonetics, Phonology, and Morphology

A broad goal in natural language processing (NLP) is to develop a system that has the capacity to process any natural language. Most systems, however, are developed using data from just one language such as English. The SIGMORPHON 2020 shared task on morphological reinflection aims to investigate systems’ ability to generalize across typologically distinct languages, many of which are low resource. Systems were developed using data from 45 languages and just 5 language families, fine-tuned with data from an additional 45 languages and 10 language families (13 in total), and evaluated on all 90 languages. A total of 22 systems (19 neural) from 10 teams were submitted to the task. All four winning systems were neural (two monolingual transformers and two massively multilingual RNN-based models with gated attention). Most teams demonstrate utility of data hallucination and augmentation, ensembles, and multilingual training for low-resource languages. Non-neural learners and manually designed grammars showed competitive and even superior performance on some languages (such as Ingrian, Tajik, Tagalog, Zarma, Lingala), especially with very limited data. Some language families (Afro-Asiatic, Niger-Congo, Turkic) were relatively easy for most systems and achieved over 90% mean accuracy while others were more challenging.

2019

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Quantifying the Semantic Core of Gender Systems
Adina Williams | Damian Blasi | Lawrence Wolf-Sonkin | Hanna Wallach | Ryan Cotterell
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing and the 9th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (EMNLP-IJCNLP)

Many of the world’s languages employ grammatical gender on the lexeme. For instance, in Spanish, house “casa” is feminine, whereas the word for paper “papel” is masculine. To a speaker of a genderless language, this categorization seems to exist with neither rhyme nor reason. But, is the association of nouns to gender classes truly arbitrary? In this work, we present the first large-scale investigation of the arbitrariness of gender assignment that uses canonical correlation analysis as a method for correlating the gender of inanimate nouns with their lexical semantic meaning. We find that the gender systems of 18 languages exhibit a significant correlation with an externally grounded definition of lexical semantics.

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Verb Argument Structure Alternations in Word and Sentence Embeddings
Katharina Kann | Alex Warstadt | Adina Williams | Samuel R. Bowman
Proceedings of the Society for Computation in Linguistics (SCiL) 2019

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On the Idiosyncrasies of the Mandarin Chinese Classifier System
Shijia Liu | Hongyuan Mei | Adina Williams | Ryan Cotterell
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies, Volume 1 (Long and Short Papers)

While idiosyncrasies of the Chinese classifier system have been a richly studied topic among linguists (Adams and Conklin, 1973; Erbaugh, 1986; Lakoff, 1986), not much work has been done to quantify them with statistical methods. In this paper, we introduce an information-theoretic approach to measuring idiosyncrasy; we examine how much the uncertainty in Mandarin Chinese classifiers can be reduced by knowing semantic information about the nouns that the classifiers modify. Using the empirical distribution of classifiers from the parsed Chinese Gigaword corpus (Graff et al., 2005), we compute the mutual information (in bits) between the distribution over classifiers and distributions over other linguistic quantities. We investigate whether semantic classes of nouns and adjectives differ in how much they reduce uncertainty in classifier choice, and find that it is not fully idiosyncratic; while there are no obvious trends for the majority of semantic classes, shape nouns reduce uncertainty in classifier choice the most.

2018

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A Broad-Coverage Challenge Corpus for Sentence Understanding through Inference
Adina Williams | Nikita Nangia | Samuel Bowman
Proceedings of the 2018 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies, Volume 1 (Long Papers)

This paper introduces the Multi-Genre Natural Language Inference (MultiNLI) corpus, a dataset designed for use in the development and evaluation of machine learning models for sentence understanding. At 433k examples, this resource is one of the largest corpora available for natural language inference (a.k.a. recognizing textual entailment), improving upon available resources in both its coverage and difficulty. MultiNLI accomplishes this by offering data from ten distinct genres of written and spoken English, making it possible to evaluate systems on nearly the full complexity of the language, while supplying an explicit setting for evaluating cross-genre domain adaptation. In addition, an evaluation using existing machine learning models designed for the Stanford NLI corpus shows that it represents a substantially more difficult task than does that corpus, despite the two showing similar levels of inter-annotator agreement.

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XNLI: Evaluating Cross-lingual Sentence Representations
Alexis Conneau | Ruty Rinott | Guillaume Lample | Adina Williams | Samuel Bowman | Holger Schwenk | Veselin Stoyanov
Proceedings of the 2018 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

State-of-the-art natural language processing systems rely on supervision in the form of annotated data to learn competent models. These models are generally trained on data in a single language (usually English), and cannot be directly used beyond that language. Since collecting data in every language is not realistic, there has been a growing interest in cross-lingual language understanding (XLU) and low-resource cross-language transfer. In this work, we construct an evaluation set for XLU by extending the development and test sets of the Multi-Genre Natural Language Inference Corpus (MultiNLI) to 14 languages, including low-resource languages such as Swahili and Urdu. We hope that our dataset, dubbed XNLI, will catalyze research in cross-lingual sentence understanding by providing an informative standard evaluation task. In addition, we provide several baselines for multilingual sentence understanding, including two based on machine translation systems, and two that use parallel data to train aligned multilingual bag-of-words and LSTM encoders. We find that XNLI represents a practical and challenging evaluation suite, and that directly translating the test data yields the best performance among available baselines.

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Do latent tree learning models identify meaningful structure in sentences?
Adina Williams | Andrew Drozdov | Samuel R. Bowman
Transactions of the Association for Computational Linguistics, Volume 6

Recent work on the problem of latent tree learning has made it possible to train neural networks that learn to both parse a sentence and use the resulting parse to interpret the sentence, all without exposure to ground-truth parse trees at training time. Surprisingly, these models often perform better at sentence understanding tasks than models that use parse trees from conventional parsers. This paper aims to investigate what these latent tree learning models learn. We replicate two such models in a shared codebase and find that (i) only one of these models outperforms conventional tree-structured models on sentence classification, (ii) its parsing strategies are not especially consistent across random restarts, (iii) the parses it produces tend to be shallower than standard Penn Treebank (PTB) parses, and (iv) they do not resemble those of PTB or any other semantic or syntactic formalism that the authors are aware of.

2017

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The RepEval 2017 Shared Task: Multi-Genre Natural Language Inference with Sentence Representations
Nikita Nangia | Adina Williams | Angeliki Lazaridou | Samuel Bowman
Proceedings of the 2nd Workshop on Evaluating Vector Space Representations for NLP

This paper presents the results of the RepEval 2017 Shared Task, which evaluated neural network sentence representation learning models on the Multi-Genre Natural Language Inference corpus (MultiNLI) recently introduced by Williams et al. (2017). All of the five participating teams beat the bidirectional LSTM (BiLSTM) and continuous bag of words baselines reported in Williams et al. The best single model used stacked BiLSTMs with residual connections to extract sentence features and reached 74.5% accuracy on the genre-matched test set. Surprisingly, the results of the competition were fairly consistent across the genre-matched and genre-mismatched test sets, and across subsets of the test data representing a variety of linguistic phenomena, suggesting that all of the submitted systems learned reasonably domain-independent representations for sentence meaning.