Balaji Vasan Srinivasan


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Towards Transparent and Explainable Attention Models
Akash Kumar Mohankumar | Preksha Nema | Sharan Narasimhan | Mitesh M. Khapra | Balaji Vasan Srinivasan | Balaraman Ravindran
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Recent studies on interpretability of attention distributions have led to notions of faithful and plausible explanations for a model’s predictions. Attention distributions can be considered a faithful explanation if a higher attention weight implies a greater impact on the model’s prediction. They can be considered a plausible explanation if they provide a human-understandable justification for the model’s predictions. In this work, we first explain why current attention mechanisms in LSTM based encoders can neither provide a faithful nor a plausible explanation of the model’s predictions. We observe that in LSTM based encoders the hidden representations at different time-steps are very similar to each other (high conicity) and attention weights in these situations do not carry much meaning because even a random permutation of the attention weights does not affect the model’s predictions. Based on experiments on a wide variety of tasks and datasets, we observe attention distributions often attribute the model’s predictions to unimportant words such as punctuation and fail to offer a plausible explanation for the predictions. To make attention mechanisms more faithful and plausible, we propose a modified LSTM cell with a diversity-driven training objective that ensures that the hidden representations learned at different time steps are diverse. We show that the resulting attention distributions offer more transparency as they (i) provide a more precise importance ranking of the hidden states (ii) are better indicative of words important for the model’s predictions (iii) correlate better with gradient-based attribution methods. Human evaluations indicate that the attention distributions learned by our model offer a plausible explanation of the model’s predictions. Our code has been made publicly available at

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Incorporating Stylistic Lexical Preferences in Generative Language Models
Hrituraj Singh | Gaurav Verma | Balaji Vasan Srinivasan
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2020

While recent advances in language modeling has resulted in powerful generation models, their generation style remains implicitly dependent on the training data and can not emulate a specific target style. Leveraging the generative capabilities of a transformer-based language models, we present an approach to induce certain target-author attributes by incorporating continuous multi-dimensional lexical preferences of an author into generative language models. We introduce rewarding strategies in a reinforcement learning framework that encourages the use of words across multiple categorical dimensions, to varying extents. Our experiments demonstrate that the proposed approach can generate text that distinctively aligns with a given target author’s lexical style. We conduct quantitative and qualitative comparisons with competitive and relevant baselines to illustrate the benefits of the proposed approach.


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Let’s Ask Again: Refine Network for Automatic Question Generation
Preksha Nema | Akash Kumar Mohankumar | Mitesh M. Khapra | Balaji Vasan Srinivasan | Balaraman Ravindran
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing and the 9th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (EMNLP-IJCNLP)

In this work, we focus on the task of Automatic Question Generation (AQG) where given a passage and an answer the task is to generate the corresponding question. It is desired that the generated question should be (i) grammatically correct (ii) answerable from the passage and (iii) specific to the given answer. An analysis of existing AQG models shows that they produce questions which do not adhere to one or more of the above-mentioned qualities. In particular, the generated questions look like an incomplete draft of the desired question with a clear scope for refinement. To alleviate this shortcoming, we propose a method which tries to mimic the human process of generating questions by first creating an initial draft and then refining it. More specifically, we propose Refine Network (RefNet) which contains two decoders. The second decoder uses a dual attention network which pays attention to both (i) the original passage and (ii) the question (initial draft) generated by the first decoder. In effect, it refines the question generated by the first decoder, thereby making it more correct and complete. We evaluate RefNet on three datasets, viz., SQuAD, HOTPOT-QA, and DROP, and show that it outperforms existing state-of-the-art methods by 7-16% on all of these datasets. Lastly, we show that we can improve the quality of the second decoder on specific metrics, such as, fluency and answerability by explicitly rewarding revisions that improve on the corresponding metric during training. The code has been made publicly available .

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Generating Formality-Tuned Summaries Using Input-Dependent Rewards
Kushal Chawla | Balaji Vasan Srinivasan | Niyati Chhaya
Proceedings of the 23rd Conference on Computational Natural Language Learning (CoNLL)

Abstractive text summarization aims at generating human-like summaries by understanding and paraphrasing the given input content. Recent efforts based on sequence-to-sequence networks only allow the generation of a single summary. However, it is often desirable to accommodate the psycho-linguistic preferences of the intended audience while generating the summaries. In this work, we present a reinforcement learning based approach to generate formality-tailored summaries for an input article. Our novel input-dependent reward function aids in training the model with stylistic feedback on sampled and ground-truth summaries together. Once trained, the same model can generate formal and informal summary variants. Our automated and qualitative evaluations show the viability of the proposed framework.


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Generating Topic-Oriented Summaries Using Neural Attention
Kundan Krishna | Balaji Vasan Srinivasan
Proceedings of the 2018 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies, Volume 1 (Long Papers)

Summarizing a document requires identifying the important parts of the document with an objective of providing a quick overview to a reader. However, a long article can span several topics and a single summary cannot do justice to all the topics. Further, the interests of readers can vary and the notion of importance can change across them. Existing summarization algorithms generate a single summary and are not capable of generating multiple summaries tuned to the interests of the readers. In this paper, we propose an attention based RNN framework to generate multiple summaries of a single document tuned to different topics of interest. Our method outperforms existing baselines and our results suggest that the attention of generative networks can be successfully biased to look at sentences relevant to a topic and effectively used to generate topic-tuned summaries.

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When science journalism meets artificial intelligence : An interactive demonstration
Raghuram Vadapalli | Bakhtiyar Syed | Nishant Prabhu | Balaji Vasan Srinivasan | Vasudeva Varma
Proceedings of the 2018 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing: System Demonstrations

We present an online interactive tool that generates titles of blog titles and thus take the first step toward automating science journalism. Science journalism aims to transform jargon-laden scientific articles into a form that the common reader can comprehend while ensuring that the underlying meaning of the article is retained. In this work, we present a tool, which, given the title and abstract of a research paper will generate a blog title by mimicking a human science journalist. The tool makes use of a model trained on a corpus of 87,328 pairs of research papers and their corresponding blogs, built from two science news aggregators. The architecture of the model is a two-stage mechanism which generates blog titles. Evaluation using standard metrics indicate the viability of the proposed system.

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Vocabulary Tailored Summary Generation
Kundan Krishna | Aniket Murhekar | Saumitra Sharma | Balaji Vasan Srinivasan
Proceedings of the 27th International Conference on Computational Linguistics

Neural sequence-to-sequence models have been successfully extended for summary generation.However, existing frameworks generate a single summary for a given input and do not tune the summaries towards any additional constraints/preferences. Such a tunable framework is desirable to account for linguistic preferences of the specific audience who will consume the summary. In this paper, we propose a neural framework to generate summaries constrained to a vocabulary-defined linguistic preferences of a target audience. The proposed method accounts for the generation context by tuning the summary words at the time of generation. Our evaluations indicate that the proposed approach tunes summaries to the target vocabulary while still maintaining a superior summary quality against a state-of-the-art word embedding based lexical substitution algorithm, suggesting the feasibility of the proposed approach. We demonstrate two applications of the proposed approach - to generate understandable summaries with simpler words, and readable summaries with shorter words.

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Corpus-based Content Construction
Balaji Vasan Srinivasan | Pranav Maneriker | Kundan Krishna | Natwar Modani
Proceedings of the 27th International Conference on Computational Linguistics

Enterprise content writers are engaged in writing textual content for various purposes. Often, the text being written may already be present in the enterprise corpus in the form of past articles and can be re-purposed for the current needs. In the absence of suitable tools, authors manually curate/create such content (sometimes from scratch) which reduces their productivity. To address this, we propose an automatic approach to generate an initial version of the author’s intended text based on an input content snippet. Starting with a set of extracted textual fragments related to the snippet based on the query words in it, the proposed approach builds the desired text from these fragment by simultaneously optimizing the information coverage, relevance, diversity and coherence in the generated content. Evaluations on standard datasets shows improved performance against existing baselines on several metrics.