Filip Ilievski


PaCo: Preconditions Attributed to Commonsense Knowledge
Ehsan Qasemi | Filip Ilievski | Muhao Chen | Pedro Szekely
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2022

Humans can seamlessly reason with circumstantial preconditions of commonsense knowledge. We understand that a glass is used for drinking water, unless the glass is broken or the water is toxic. Despite state-of-the-art (SOTA) language models’ (LMs) impressive performance on inferring commonsense knowledge, it is unclear whether they understand the circumstantial preconditions. To address this gap, we propose a novel challenge of reasoning with circumstantial preconditions. We collect a dataset, called PaCo, consisting of 12.4 thousand preconditions of commonsense statements expressed in natural language. Based on this dataset, we create three canonical evaluation tasks and use them to examine the capability of existing LMs to understand situational preconditions. Our results reveal a 10-30% gap between machine and human performance on our tasks, which shows that reasoning with preconditions is an open challenge.

Coalescing Global and Local Information for Procedural Text Understanding
Kaixin Ma | Filip Ilievski | Jonathan Francis | Eric Nyberg | Alessandro Oltramari
Proceedings of the 29th International Conference on Computational Linguistics

Procedural text understanding is a challenging language reasoning task that requires models to track entity states across the development of a narrative. We identify three core aspects required for modeling this task, namely the local and global view of the inputs, as well as the global view of outputs. Prior methods have considered a subset of these aspects, which leads to either low precision or low recall. In this paper, we propose a new model Coalescing Global and Local Information (CGLI), which builds entity- and timestep-aware input representations (local input) considering the whole context (global input), and we jointly model the entity states with a structured prediction objective (global output). Thus, CGLI simultaneously optimizes for both precision and recall. Moreover, we extend CGLI with additional output layers and integrate it into a story reasoning framework. Extensive experiments on a popular procedural text understanding dataset show that our model achieves state-of-the-art results, while experiments on a story reasoning benchmark show the positive impact of our model on downstream reasoning.


Exploring Strategies for Generalizable Commonsense Reasoning with Pre-trained Models
Kaixin Ma | Filip Ilievski | Jonathan Francis | Satoru Ozaki | Eric Nyberg | Alessandro Oltramari
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Commonsense reasoning benchmarks have been largely solved by fine-tuning language models. The downside is that fine-tuning may cause models to overfit to task-specific data and thereby forget their knowledge gained during pre-training. Recent works only propose lightweight model updates as models may already possess useful knowledge from past experience, but a challenge remains in understanding what parts and to what extent models should be refined for a given task. In this paper, we investigate what models learn from commonsense reasoning datasets. We measure the impact of three different adaptation methods on the generalization and accuracy of models. Our experiments with two models show that fine-tuning performs best, by learning both the content and the structure of the task, but suffers from overfitting and limited generalization to novel answers. We observe that alternative adaptation methods like prefix-tuning have comparable accuracy, but generalize better to unseen answers and are more robust to adversarial splits.

Numeracy enhances the Literacy of Language Models
Avijit Thawani | Jay Pujara | Filip Ilievski
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Specialized number representations in NLP have shown improvements on numerical reasoning tasks like arithmetic word problems and masked number prediction. But humans also use numeracy to make better sense of world concepts, e.g., you can seat 5 people in your ‘room’ but not 500. Does a better grasp of numbers improve a model’s understanding of other concepts and words? This paper studies the effect of using six different number encoders on the task of masked word prediction (MWP), as a proxy for evaluating literacy. To support this investigation, we develop Wiki-Convert, a 900,000 sentence dataset annotated with numbers and units, to avoid conflating nominal and ordinal number occurrences. We find a significant improvement in MWP for sentences containing numbers, that exponent embeddings are the best number encoders, yielding over 2 points jump in prediction accuracy over a BERT baseline, and that these enhanced literacy skills also generalize to contexts without annotated numbers. We release all code at

Do Language Models Perform Generalizable Commonsense Inference?
Peifeng Wang | Filip Ilievski | Muhao Chen | Xiang Ren
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL-IJCNLP 2021

Representing Numbers in NLP: a Survey and a Vision
Avijit Thawani | Jay Pujara | Filip Ilievski | Pedro Szekely
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

NLP systems rarely give special consideration to numbers found in text. This starkly contrasts with the consensus in neuroscience that, in the brain, numbers are represented differently from words. We arrange recent NLP work on numeracy into a comprehensive taxonomy of tasks and methods. We break down the subjective notion of numeracy into 7 subtasks, arranged along two dimensions: granularity (exact vs approximate) and units (abstract vs grounded). We analyze the myriad representational choices made by over a dozen previously published number encoders and decoders. We synthesize best practices for representing numbers in text and articulate a vision for holistic numeracy in NLP, comprised of design trade-offs and a unified evaluation.


Connecting the Dots: A Knowledgeable Path Generator for Commonsense Question Answering
Peifeng Wang | Nanyun Peng | Filip Ilievski | Pedro Szekely | Xiang Ren
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2020

Commonsense question answering (QA) requires background knowledge which is not explicitly stated in a given context. Prior works use commonsense knowledge graphs (KGs) to obtain this knowledge for reasoning. However, relying entirely on these KGs may not suffice, considering their limited coverage and the contextual dependence of their knowledge. In this paper, we augment a general commonsense QA framework with a knowledgeable path generator. By extrapolating over existing paths in a KG with a state-of-the-art language model, our generator learns to connect a pair of entities in text with a dynamic, and potentially novel, multi-hop relational path. Such paths can provide structured evidence for solving commonsense questions without fine-tuning the path generator. Experiments on two datasets show the superiority of our method over previous works which fully rely on knowledge from KGs (with up to 6% improvement in accuracy), across various amounts of training data. Further evaluation suggests that the generated paths are typically interpretable, novel, and relevant to the task.

Combining Conceptual and Referential Annotation to Study Variation in Framing
Marten Postma | Levi Remijnse | Filip Ilievski | Antske Fokkens | Sam Titarsolej | Piek Vossen
Proceedings of the International FrameNet Workshop 2020: Towards a Global, Multilingual FrameNet

We introduce an annotation tool whose purpose is to gain insights into variation of framing by combining FrameNet annotation with referential annotation. English FrameNet enables researchers to study variation in framing at the conceptual level as well through its packaging in language. We enrich FrameNet annotations in two ways. First, we introduce the referential aspect. Secondly, we annotate on complete texts to encode connections between mentions. As a result, we can analyze the variation of framing for one particular event across multiple mentions and (cross-lingual) documents. We can examine how an event is framed over time and how core frame elements are expressed throughout a complete text. The data model starts with a representation of an event type. Each event type has many incidents linked to it, and each incident has several reference texts describing it as well as structured data about the incident. The user can apply two types of annotations: 1) mappings from expressions to frames and frame elements, 2) reference relations from mentions to events and participants of the structured data.

Large-scale Cross-lingual Language Resources for Referencing and Framing
Piek Vossen | Filip Ilievski | Marten Postma | Antske Fokkens | Gosse Minnema | Levi Remijnse
Proceedings of the Twelfth Language Resources and Evaluation Conference

In this article, we lay out the basic ideas and principles of the project Framing Situations in the Dutch Language. We provide our first results of data acquisition, together with the first data release. We introduce the notion of cross-lingual referential corpora. These corpora consist of texts that make reference to exactly the same incidents. The referential grounding allows us to analyze the framing of these incidents in different languages and across different texts. During the project, we will use the automatically generated data to study linguistic framing as a phenomenon, build framing resources such as lexicons and corpora. We expect to capture larger variation in framing compared to traditional approaches for building such resources. Our first data release, which contains structured data about a large number of incidents and reference texts, can be found at


ReferenceNet: a semantic-pragmatic network for capturing reference relations.
Piek Vossen | Filip Ilievski | Marten Postrma
Proceedings of the 9th Global Wordnet Conference

In this paper, we present ReferenceNet: a semantic-pragmatic network of reference relations between synsets. Synonyms are assumed to be exchangeable in similar contexts and also word embeddings are based on sharing of local contexts represented as vectors. Co-referring words, however, tend to occur in the same topical context but in different local contexts. In addition, they may express different concepts related through topical coherence, and through author framing and perspective. In this paper, we describe how reference relations can be added to WordNet and how they can be acquired. We evaluate two methods of extracting event coreference relations using WordNet relations against a manual annotation of 38 documents within the same topical domain of gun violence. We conclude that precision is reasonable but recall is lower because the WordNet hierarchy does not sufficiently capture the required coherence and perspective relations.

Don’t Annotate, but Validate: a Data-to-Text Method for Capturing Event Data
Piek Vossen | Filip Ilievski | Marten Postma | Roxane Segers
Proceedings of the Eleventh International Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation (LREC 2018)

SemEval-2018 Task 5: Counting Events and Participants in the Long Tail
Marten Postma | Filip Ilievski | Piek Vossen
Proceedings of the 12th International Workshop on Semantic Evaluation

This paper discusses SemEval-2018 Task 5: a referential quantification task of counting events and participants in local, long-tail news documents with high ambiguity. The complexity of this task challenges systems to establish the meaning, reference and identity across documents. The task consists of three subtasks and spans across three domains. We detail the design of this referential quantification task, describe the participating systems, and present additional analysis to gain deeper insight into their performance.

Systematic Study of Long Tail Phenomena in Entity Linking
Filip Ilievski | Piek Vossen | Stefan Schlobach
Proceedings of the 27th International Conference on Computational Linguistics

State-of-the-art entity linkers achieve high accuracy scores with probabilistic methods. However, these scores should be considered in relation to the properties of the datasets they are evaluated on. Until now, there has not been a systematic investigation of the properties of entity linking datasets and their impact on system performance. In this paper we report on a series of hypotheses regarding the long tail phenomena in entity linking datasets, their interaction, and their impact on system performance. Our systematic study of these hypotheses shows that evaluation datasets mainly capture head entities and only incidentally cover data from the tail, thus encouraging systems to overfit to popular/frequent and non-ambiguous cases. We find the most difficult cases of entity linking among the infrequent candidates of ambiguous forms. With our findings, we hope to inspire future designs of both entity linking systems and evaluation datasets. To support this goal, we provide a list of recommended actions for better inclusion of tail cases.


Context-enhanced Adaptive Entity Linking
Filip Ilievski | Giuseppe Rizzo | Marieke van Erp | Julien Plu | Raphaël Troncy
Proceedings of the Tenth International Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation (LREC'16)

More and more knowledge bases are publicly available as linked data. Since these knowledge bases contain structured descriptions of real-world entities, they can be exploited by entity linking systems that anchor entity mentions from text to the most relevant resources describing those entities. In this paper, we investigate adaptation of the entity linking task using contextual knowledge. The key intuition is that entity linking can be customized depending on the textual content, as well as on the application that would make use of the extracted information. We present an adaptive approach that relies on contextual knowledge from text to enhance the performance of ADEL, a hybrid linguistic and graph-based entity linking system. We evaluate our approach on a domain-specific corpus consisting of annotated WikiNews articles.

Evaluating Entity Linking: An Analysis of Current Benchmark Datasets and a Roadmap for Doing a Better Job
Marieke van Erp | Pablo Mendes | Heiko Paulheim | Filip Ilievski | Julien Plu | Giuseppe Rizzo | Joerg Waitelonis
Proceedings of the Tenth International Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation (LREC'16)

Entity linking has become a popular task in both natural language processing and semantic web communities. However, we find that the benchmark datasets for entity linking tasks do not accurately evaluate entity linking systems. In this paper, we aim to chart the strengths and weaknesses of current benchmark datasets and sketch a roadmap for the community to devise better benchmark datasets.

The Predicate Matrix and the Event and Implied Situation Ontology: Making More of Events
Roxane Segers | Egoitz Laparra | Marco Rospocher | Piek Vossen | German Rigau | Filip Ilievski
Proceedings of the 8th Global WordNet Conference (GWC)

This paper presents the Event and Implied Situation Ontology (ESO), a resource which formalizes the pre and post situations of events and the roles of the entities affected by an event. The ontology reuses and maps across existing resources such as WordNet, SUMO, VerbNet, PropBank and FrameNet. We describe how ESO is injected into a new version of the Predicate Matrix and illustrate how these resources are used to detect information in large document collections that otherwise would have remained implicit. The model targets interpretations of situations rather than the semantics of verbs per se. The event is interpreted as a situation using RDF taking all event components into account. Hence, the ontology and the linked resources need to be considered from the perspective of this interpretation model.

Moving away from semantic overfitting in disambiguation datasets
Marten Postma | Filip Ilievski | Piek Vossen | Marieke van Erp
Proceedings of the Workshop on Uphill Battles in Language Processing: Scaling Early Achievements to Robust Methods

Semantic overfitting: what ‘world’ do we consider when evaluating disambiguation of text?
Filip Ilievski | Marten Postma | Piek Vossen
Proceedings of COLING 2016, the 26th International Conference on Computational Linguistics: Technical Papers

Semantic text processing faces the challenge of defining the relation between lexical expressions and the world to which they make reference within a period of time. It is unclear whether the current test sets used to evaluate disambiguation tasks are representative for the full complexity considering this time-anchored relation, resulting in semantic overfitting to a specific period and the frequent phenomena within. We conceptualize and formalize a set of metrics which evaluate this complexity of datasets. We provide evidence for their applicability on five different disambiguation tasks. To challenge semantic overfitting of disambiguation systems, we propose a time-based, metric-aware method for developing datasets in a systematic and semi-automated manner, as well as an event-based QA task.