Nora Kassner


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Are Pretrained Language Models Symbolic Reasoners over Knowledge?
Nora Kassner | Benno Krojer | Hinrich Schütze
Proceedings of the 24th Conference on Computational Natural Language Learning

How can pretrained language models (PLMs) learn factual knowledge from the training set? We investigate the two most important mechanisms: reasoning and memorization. Prior work has attempted to quantify the number of facts PLMs learn, but we present, using synthetic data, the first study that investigates the causal relation between facts present in training and facts learned by the PLM. For reasoning, we show that PLMs seem to learn to apply some symbolic reasoning rules correctly but struggle with others, including two-hop reasoning. Further analysis suggests that even the application of learned reasoning rules is flawed. For memorization, we identify schema conformity (facts systematically supported by other facts) and frequency as key factors for its success.

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Negated and Misprimed Probes for Pretrained Language Models: Birds Can Talk, But Cannot Fly
Nora Kassner | Hinrich Schütze
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Building on Petroni et al. 2019, we propose two new probing tasks analyzing factual knowledge stored in Pretrained Language Models (PLMs). (1) Negation. We find that PLMs do not distinguish between negated (‘‘Birds cannot [MASK]”) and non-negated (‘‘Birds can [MASK]”) cloze questions. (2) Mispriming. Inspired by priming methods in human psychology, we add “misprimes” to cloze questions (‘‘Talk? Birds can [MASK]”). We find that PLMs are easily distracted by misprimes. These results suggest that PLMs still have a long way to go to adequately learn human-like factual knowledge.

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Dirichlet-Smoothed Word Embeddings for Low-Resource Settings
Jakob Jungmaier | Nora Kassner | Benjamin Roth
Proceedings of the 12th Language Resources and Evaluation Conference

Nowadays, classical count-based word embeddings using positive pointwise mutual information (PPMI) weighted co-occurrence matrices have been widely superseded by machine-learning-based methods like word2vec and GloVe. But these methods are usually applied using very large amounts of text data. In many cases, however, there is not much text data available, for example for specific domains or low-resource languages. This paper revisits PPMI by adding Dirichlet smoothing to correct its bias towards rare words. We evaluate on standard word similarity data sets and compare to word2vec and the recent state of the art for low-resource settings: Positive and Unlabeled (PU) Learning for word embeddings. The proposed method outperforms PU-Learning for low-resource settings and obtains competitive results for Maltese and Luxembourgish.

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BERT-kNN: Adding a kNN Search Component to Pretrained Language Models for Better QA
Nora Kassner | Hinrich Schütze
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2020

Khandelwal et al. (2020) use a k-nearest-neighbor (kNN) component to improve language model performance. We show that this idea is beneficial for open-domain question answering (QA). To improve the recall of facts encountered during training, we combine BERT (Devlin et al., 2019) with a traditional information retrieval step (IR) and a kNN search over a large datastore of an embedded text collection. Our contributions are as follows: i) BERT-kNN outperforms BERT on cloze-style QA by large margins without any further training. ii) We show that BERT often identifies the correct response category (e.g., US city), but only kNN recovers the factually correct answer (e.g.,“Miami”). iii) Compared to BERT, BERT-kNN excels for rare facts. iv) BERT-kNN can easily handle facts not covered by BERT’s training set, e.g., recent events.