Ignatius Ezeani


2020

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Infrastructure for Semantic Annotation in the Genomics Domain
Mahmoud El-Haj | Nathan Rutherford | Matthew Coole | Ignatius Ezeani | Sheryl Prentice | Nancy Ide | Jo Knight | Scott Piao | John Mariani | Paul Rayson | Keith Suderman
Proceedings of the 12th Language Resources and Evaluation Conference

We describe a novel super-infrastructure for biomedical text mining which incorporates an end-to-end pipeline for the collection, annotation, storage, retrieval and analysis of biomedical and life sciences literature, combining NLP and corpus linguistics methods. The infrastructure permits extreme-scale research on the open access PubMed Central archive. It combines an updatable Gene Ontology Semantic Tagger (GOST) for entity identification and semantic markup in the literature, with a NLP pipeline scheduler (Buster) to collect and process the corpus, and a bespoke columnar corpus database (LexiDB) for indexing. The corpus database is distributed to permit fast indexing, and provides a simple web front-end with corpus linguistics methods for sub-corpus comparison and retrieval. GOST is also connected as a service in the Language Application (LAPPS) Grid, in which context it is interoperable with other NLP tools and data in the Grid and can be combined with them in more complex workflows. In a literature based discovery setting, we have created an annotated corpus of 9,776 papers with 5,481,543 words.

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Participatory Research for Low-resourced Machine Translation: A Case Study in African Languages
Wilhelmina Nekoto | Vukosi Marivate | Tshinondiwa Matsila | Timi Fasubaa | Taiwo Fagbohungbe | Solomon Oluwole Akinola | Shamsuddeen Muhammad | Salomon Kabongo Kabenamualu | Salomey Osei | Freshia Sackey | Rubungo Andre Niyongabo | Ricky Macharm | Perez Ogayo | Orevaoghene Ahia | Musie Meressa Berhe | Mofetoluwa Adeyemi | Masabata Mokgesi-Selinga | Lawrence Okegbemi | Laura Martinus | Kolawole Tajudeen | Kevin Degila | Kelechi Ogueji | Kathleen Siminyu | Julia Kreutzer | Jason Webster | Jamiil Toure Ali | Jade Abbott | Iroro Orife | Ignatius Ezeani | Idris Abdulkadir Dangana | Herman Kamper | Hady Elsahar | Goodness Duru | Ghollah Kioko | Murhabazi Espoir | Elan van Biljon | Daniel Whitenack | Christopher Onyefuluchi | Chris Chinenye Emezue | Bonaventure F. P. Dossou | Blessing Sibanda | Blessing Bassey | Ayodele Olabiyi | Arshath Ramkilowan | Alp Öktem | Adewale Akinfaderin | Abdallah Bashir
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2020

Research in NLP lacks geographic diversity, and the question of how NLP can be scaled to low-resourced languages has not yet been adequately solved. ‘Low-resourced’-ness is a complex problem going beyond data availability and reflects systemic problems in society. In this paper, we focus on the task of Machine Translation (MT), that plays a crucial role for information accessibility and communication worldwide. Despite immense improvements in MT over the past decade, MT is centered around a few high-resourced languages. As MT researchers cannot solve the problem of low-resourcedness alone, we propose participatory research as a means to involve all necessary agents required in the MT development process. We demonstrate the feasibility and scalability of participatory research with a case study on MT for African languages. Its implementation leads to a collection of novel translation datasets, MT benchmarks for over 30 languages, with human evaluations for a third of them, and enables participants without formal training to make a unique scientific contribution. Benchmarks, models, data, code, and evaluation results are released at https://github.com/masakhane-io/masakhane-mt.

2019

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Leveraging Pre-Trained Embeddings for Welsh Taggers
Ignatius Ezeani | Scott Piao | Steven Neale | Paul Rayson | Dawn Knight
Proceedings of the 4th Workshop on Representation Learning for NLP (RepL4NLP-2019)

While the application of word embedding models to downstream Natural Language Processing (NLP) tasks has been shown to be successful, the benefits for low-resource languages is somewhat limited due to lack of adequate data for training the models. However, NLP research efforts for low-resource languages have focused on constantly seeking ways to harness pre-trained models to improve the performance of NLP systems built to process these languages without the need to re-invent the wheel. One such language is Welsh and therefore, in this paper, we present the results of our experiments on learning a simple multi-task neural network model for part-of-speech and semantic tagging for Welsh using a pre-trained embedding model from FastText. Our model’s performance was compared with those of the existing rule-based stand-alone taggers for part-of-speech and semantic taggers. Despite its simplicity and capacity to perform both tasks simultaneously, our tagger compared very well with the existing taggers.

2018

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Igbo Diacritic Restoration using Embedding Models
Ignatius Ezeani | Mark Hepple | Ikechukwu Onyenwe | Enemouh Chioma
Proceedings of the 2018 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Student Research Workshop

Igbo is a low-resource language spoken by approximately 30 million people worldwide. It is the native language of the Igbo people of south-eastern Nigeria. In Igbo language, diacritics - orthographic and tonal - play a huge role in the distinguishing the meaning and pronunciation of words. Omitting diacritics in texts often leads to lexical ambiguity. Diacritic restoration is a pre-processing task that replaces missing diacritics on words from which they have been removed. In this work, we applied embedding models to the diacritic restoration task and compared their performances to those of n-gram models. Although word embedding models have been successfully applied to various NLP tasks, it has not been used, to our knowledge, for diacritic restoration. Two classes of word embeddings models were used: those projected from the English embedding space; and those trained with Igbo bible corpus (≈ 1m). Our best result, 82.49%, is an improvement on the baseline n-gram models.

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Transferred Embeddings for Igbo Similarity, Analogy, and Diacritic Restoration Tasks
Ignatius Ezeani | Ikechukwu Onyenwe | Mark Hepple
Proceedings of the Third Workshop on Semantic Deep Learning

Existing NLP models are mostly trained with data from well-resourced languages. Most minority languages face the challenge of lack of resources - data and technologies - for NLP research. Building these resources from scratch for each minority language will be very expensive, time-consuming and amount largely to unnecessarily re-inventing the wheel. In this paper, we applied transfer learning techniques to create Igbo word embeddings from a variety of existing English trained embeddings. Transfer learning methods were also used to build standard datasets for Igbo word similarity and analogy tasks for intrinsic evaluation of embeddings. These projected embeddings were also applied to diacritic restoration task. Our results indicate that the projected models not only outperform the trained ones on the semantic-based tasks of analogy, word-similarity, and odd-word identifying, but they also achieve enhanced performance on the diacritic restoration with learned diacritic embeddings.

2017

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Lexical Disambiguation of Igbo using Diacritic Restoration
Ignatius Ezeani | Mark Hepple | Ikechukwu Onyenwe
Proceedings of the 1st Workshop on Sense, Concept and Entity Representations and their Applications

Properly written texts in Igbo, a low-resource African language, are rich in both orthographic and tonal diacritics. Diacritics are essential in capturing the distinctions in pronunciation and meaning of words, as well as in lexical disambiguation. Unfortunately, most electronic texts in diacritic languages are written without diacritics. This makes diacritic restoration a necessary step in corpus building and language processing tasks for languages with diacritics. In our previous work, we built some n-gram models with simple smoothing techniques based on a closed-world assumption. However, as a classification task, diacritic restoration is well suited for and will be more generalisable with machine learning. This paper, therefore, presents a more standard approach to dealing with the task which involves the application of machine learning algorithms.

2015

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Use of Transformation-Based Learning in Annotation Pipeline of Igbo, an African Language
Ikechukwu Onyenwe | Mark Hepple | Chinedu Uchechukwu | Ignatius Ezeani
Proceedings of the Joint Workshop on Language Technology for Closely Related Languages, Varieties and Dialects