Alexander Spangher


NewsEdits: A News Article Revision Dataset and a Novel Document-Level Reasoning Challenge
Alexander Spangher | Xiang Ren | Jonathan May | Nanyun Peng
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

News article revision histories provide clues to narrative and factual evolution in news articles. To facilitate analysis of this evolution, we present the first publicly available dataset of news revision histories, NewsEdits. Our dataset is large-scale and multilingual; it contains 1.2 million articles with 4.6 million versions from over 22 English- and French-language newspaper sources based in three countries, spanning 15 years of coverage (2006-2021).We define article-level edit actions: Addition, Deletion, Edit and Refactor, and develop a high-accuracy extraction algorithm to identify these actions. To underscore the factual nature of many edit actions, we conduct analyses showing that added and deleted sentences are more likely to contain updating events, main content and quotes than unchanged sentences. Finally, to explore whether edit actions are predictable, we introduce three novel tasks aimed at predicting actions performed during version updates. We show that these tasks are possible for expert humans but are challenging for large NLP models. We hope this can spur research in narrative framing and help provide predictive tools for journalists chasing breaking news.

Sequentially Controlled Text Generation
Alexander Spangher | Yao Ming | Xinyu Hua | Nanyun Peng
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2022

While GPT-2 generates sentences that are remarkably human-like, longer documents can ramble and do not follow human-like writing structure. We study the problem of imposing structure on long-range text. We propose a novel controlled text generation task, sequentially controlled text generation, and identify a dataset, NewsDiscourse as a starting point for this task. We develop a sequential controlled text generation pipeline with generation and editing. We test different degrees of structural awareness and show that, in general, more structural awareness results in higher control- accuracy, grammaticality, coherency and topicality, approaching human-level writing performance.


Multitask Semi-Supervised Learning for Class-Imbalanced Discourse Classification
Alexander Spangher | Jonathan May | Sz-Rung Shiang | Lingjia Deng
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

As labeling schemas evolve over time, small differences can render datasets following older schemas unusable. This prevents researchers from building on top of previous annotation work and results in the existence, in discourse learning in particular, of many small class-imbalanced datasets. In this work, we show that a multitask learning approach can combine discourse datasets from similar and diverse domains to improve discourse classification. We show an improvement of 4.9% Micro F1-score over current state-of-the-art benchmarks on the NewsDiscourse dataset, one of the largest discourse datasets recently published, due in part to label correlations across tasks, which improve performance for underrepresented classes. We also offer an extensive review of additional techniques proposed to address resource-poor problems in NLP, and show that none of these approaches can improve classification accuracy in our setting.


Enabling Low-Resource Transfer Learning across COVID-19 Corpora by Combining Event-Extraction and Co-Training
Alexander Spangher | Nanyun Peng | Jonathan May | Emilio Ferrara
Proceedings of the 1st Workshop on NLP for COVID-19 at ACL 2020