Wei-Jen Ko


Discourse Comprehension: A Question Answering Framework to Represent Sentence Connections
Wei-Jen Ko | Cutter Dalton | Mark Simmons | Eliza Fisher | Greg Durrett | Junyi Jessy Li
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

While there has been substantial progress in text comprehension through simple factoid question answering, more holistic comprehension of a discourse still presents a major challenge (Dunietz et al., 2020). Someone critically reflecting on a text as they read it will pose curiosity-driven, often open-ended questions, which reflect deep understanding of the content and require complex reasoning to answer (Ko et al., 2020; Westera et al., 2020). A key challenge in building and evaluating models for this type of discourse comprehension is the lack of annotated data, especially since collecting answers to such questions requires high cognitive load for annotators.This paper presents a novel paradigm that enables scalable data collection targeting the comprehension of news documents, viewing these questions through the lens of discourse. The resulting corpus, DCQA (Discourse Comprehension by Question Answering), captures both discourse and semantic links between sentences in the form of free-form, open-ended questions. On an evaluation set that we annotated on questions from Ko et al. (2020), we show that DCQA provides valuable supervision for answering open-ended questions. We additionally design pre-training methods utilizing existing question-answering resources, and use synthetic data to accommodate unanswerable questions.


Adapting High-resource NMT Models to Translate Low-resource Related Languages without Parallel Data
Wei-Jen Ko | Ahmed El-Kishky | Adithya Renduchintala | Vishrav Chaudhary | Naman Goyal | Francisco Guzmán | Pascale Fung | Philipp Koehn | Mona Diab
Proceedings of the 59th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 11th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (Volume 1: Long Papers)

The scarcity of parallel data is a major obstacle for training high-quality machine translation systems for low-resource languages. Fortunately, some low-resource languages are linguistically related or similar to high-resource languages; these related languages may share many lexical or syntactic structures. In this work, we exploit this linguistic overlap to facilitate translating to and from a low-resource language with only monolingual data, in addition to any parallel data in the related high-resource language. Our method, NMT-Adapt, combines denoising autoencoding, back-translation and adversarial objectives to utilize monolingual data for low-resource adaptation. We experiment on 7 languages from three different language families and show that our technique significantly improves translation into low-resource language compared to other translation baselines.


Assessing Discourse Relations in Language Generation from GPT-2
Wei-Jen Ko | Junyi Jessy Li
Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Natural Language Generation

Recent advances in NLP have been attributed to the emergence of large-scale pre-trained language models. GPT-2, in particular, is suited for generation tasks given its left-to-right language modeling objective, yet the linguistic quality of its generated text has largely remain unexplored. Our work takes a step in understanding GPT-2’s outputs in terms of discourse coherence. We perform a comprehensive study on the validity of explicit discourse relations in GPT-2’s outputs under both organic generation and fine-tuned scenarios. Results show GPT-2 does not always generate text containing valid discourse relations; nevertheless, its text is more aligned with human expectation in the fine-tuned scenario. We propose a decoupled strategy to mitigate these problems and highlight the importance of explicitly modeling discourse information.

Generating Dialogue Responses from a Semantic Latent Space
Wei-Jen Ko | Avik Ray | Yilin Shen | Hongxia Jin
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

Existing open-domain dialogue generation models are usually trained to mimic the gold response in the training set using cross-entropy loss on the vocabulary. However, a good response does not need to resemble the gold response, since there are multiple possible responses to a given prompt. In this work, we hypothesize that the current models are unable to integrate information from multiple semantically similar valid responses of a prompt, resulting in the generation of generic and uninformative responses. To address this issue, we propose an alternative to the end-to-end classification on vocabulary. We learn the pair relationship between the prompts and responses as a regression task on a latent space instead. In our novel dialog generation model, the representations of semantically related sentences are close to each other on the latent space. Human evaluation showed that learning the task on a continuous space can generate responses that are both relevant and informative.

Inquisitive Question Generation for High Level Text Comprehension
Wei-Jen Ko | Te-yuan Chen | Yiyan Huang | Greg Durrett | Junyi Jessy Li
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

Inquisitive probing questions come naturally to humans in a variety of settings, but is a challenging task for automatic systems. One natural type of question to ask tries to fill a gap in knowledge during text comprehension, like reading a news article: we might ask about background information, deeper reasons behind things occurring, or more. Despite recent progress with data-driven approaches, generating such questions is beyond the range of models trained on existing datasets. We introduce INQUISITIVE, a dataset of ~19K questions that are elicited while a person is reading through a document. Compared to existing datasets, INQUISITIVE questions target more towards high-level (semantic and discourse) comprehension of text. We show that readers engage in a series of pragmatic strategies to seek information. Finally, we evaluate question generation models based on GPT-2 and show that our model is able to generate reasonable questions although the task is challenging, and highlight the importance of context to generate INQUISITIVE questions.


Linguistically-Informed Specificity and Semantic Plausibility for Dialogue Generation
Wei-Jen Ko | Greg Durrett | Junyi Jessy Li
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)

Sequence-to-sequence models for open-domain dialogue generation tend to favor generic, uninformative responses. Past work has focused on word frequency-based approaches to improving specificity, such as penalizing responses with only common words. In this work, we examine whether specificity is solely a frequency-related notion and find that more linguistically-driven specificity measures are better suited to improving response informativeness. However, we find that forcing a sequence-to-sequence model to be more specific can expose a host of other problems in the responses, including flawed discourse and implausible semantics. We rerank our model’s outputs using externally-trained classifiers targeting each of these identified factors. Experiments show that our final model using linguistically motivated specificity and plausibility reranking improves the informativeness, reasonableness, and grammatically of responses.