Aleksander Ficek


How to tackle an emerging topic? Combining strong and weak labels for Covid news NER
Aleksander Ficek | Fangyu Liu | Nigel Collier
Proceedings of the 2nd Conference of the Asia-Pacific Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 12th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (Volume 2: Short Papers)

Being able to train Named Entity Recognition (NER) models for emerging topics is crucial for many real-world applications especially in the medical domain where new topics are continuously evolving out of the scope of existing models and datasets. For a realistic evaluation setup, we introduce a novel COVID-19 news NER dataset (COVIDNEWS-NER) and release 3000 entries of hand annotated strongly labelled sentences and 13000 auto-generated weakly labelled sentences. Besides the dataset, we propose CONTROSTER, a recipe to strategically combine weak and strong labels in improving NER in an emerging topic through transfer learning. We show the effectiveness of CONTROSTER on COVIDNEWS-NER while providing analysis on combining weak and strong labels for training. Our key findings are: (1) Using weak data to formulate an initial backbone before tuning on strong data outperforms methods trained on only strong or weak data. (2) A combination of out-of-domain and in-domain weak label training is crucial and can overcome saturation when being training on weak labels from a single source.