Jiannan Xiang


Investigating Data Variance in Evaluations of Automatic Machine Translation Metrics
Jiannan Xiang | Huayang Li | Yahui Liu | Lemao Liu | Guoping Huang | Defu Lian | Shuming Shi
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2022

Current practices in metric evaluation focus on one single dataset, e.g., Newstest dataset in each year’s WMT Metrics Shared Task. However, in this paper, we qualitatively and quantitatively show that the performances of metrics are sensitive to data. The ranking of metrics varies when the evaluation is conducted on different datasets. Then this paper further investigates two potential hypotheses, i.e., insignificant data points and the deviation of i.i.d assumption, which may take responsibility for the issue of data variance. In conclusion, our findings suggest that when evaluating automatic translation metrics, researchers should take data variance into account and be cautious to report the results on unreliable datasets, because it may leads to inconsistent results with most of the other datasets.

Visualizing the Relationship Between Encoded Linguistic Information and Task Performance
Jiannan Xiang | Huayang Li | Defu Lian | Guoping Huang | Taro Watanabe | Lemao Liu
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2022

Probing is popular to analyze whether linguistic information can be captured by a well-trained deep neural model, but it is hard to answer how the change of the encoded linguistic information will affect task performance. To this end, we study the dynamic relationship between the encoded linguistic information and task performance from the viewpoint of Pareto Optimality. Its key idea is to obtain a set of models which are Pareto-optimal in terms of both objectives. From this viewpoint, we propose a method to optimize the Pareto-optimal models by formalizing it as a multi-objective optimization problem. We conduct experiments on two popular NLP tasks, i.e., machine translation and language modeling, and investigate the relationship between several kinds of linguistic information and task performances. Experimental results demonstrate that the proposed method is better than a baseline method. Our empirical findings suggest that some syntactic information is helpful for NLP tasks whereas encoding more syntactic information does not necessarily lead to better performance, because the model architecture is also an important factor.

ASDOT: Any-Shot Data-to-Text Generation with Pretrained Language Models
Jiannan Xiang | Zhengzhong Liu | Yucheng Zhou | Eric Xing | Zhiting Hu
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2022

Data-to-text generation is challenging due to the great variety of the input data in terms of domains (e.g., finance vs sports) or schemata (e.g., diverse predicates). Recent end-to-end neural methods thus require substantial training examples to learn to disambiguate and describe the data. Yet, real-world data-to-text problems often suffer from various data-scarce issues: one may have access to only a handful of or no training examples, and/or have to rely on examples in a different domain or schema. To fill this gap, we propose Any-Shot Data-to-Text (ASDOT), a new approach flexibly applicable to diverse settings by making efficient use of any given (or no) examples. ASDOT consists of two steps, data disambiguation and sentence fusion, both of which are amenable to be solved with off-the-shelf pretrained language models (LMs) with optional finetuning. In the data disambiguation stage, we employ the prompted GPT-3 model to understand possibly ambiguous triples from the input data and convert each into a short sentence with reduced ambiguity. The sentence fusion stage then uses an LM like T5 to fuse all the resulting sentences into a coherent paragraph as the final description. We evaluate extensively on various datasets in different scenarios, including the zero-/few-/full-shot settings, and generalization to unseen predicates and out-of-domain data. Experimental results show that ASDOT consistently achieves significant improvement over baselines, e.g., a 30.81 BLEU gain on the DART dataset under the zero-shot setting.


Assessing Dialogue Systems with Distribution Distances
Jiannan Xiang | Yahui Liu | Deng Cai | Huayang Li | Defu Lian | Lemao Liu
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL-IJCNLP 2021


Learning to Stop: A Simple yet Effective Approach to Urban Vision-Language Navigation
Jiannan Xiang | Xin Wang | William Yang Wang
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2020

Vision-and-Language Navigation (VLN) is a natural language grounding task where an agent learns to follow language instructions and navigate to specified destinations in real-world environments. A key challenge is to recognize and stop at the correct location, especially for complicated outdoor environments. Existing methods treat the STOP action equally as other actions, which results in undesirable behaviors that the agent often fails to stop at the destination even though it might be on the right path. Therefore, we propose Learning to Stop (L2Stop), a simple yet effective policy module that differentiates STOP and other actions. Our approach achieves the new state of the art on a challenging urban VLN dataset Touchdown, outperforming the baseline by 6.89% (absolute improvement) on Success weighted by Edit Distance (SED).