Mengzhou Xia


Structured Pruning Learns Compact and Accurate Models
Mengzhou Xia | Zexuan Zhong | Danqi Chen
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

The growing size of neural language models has led to increased attention in model compression. The two predominant approaches are pruning, which gradually removes weights from a pre-trained model, and distillation, which trains a smaller compact model to match a larger one. Pruning methods can significantly reduce the model size but hardly achieve large speedups as distillation. However, distillation methods require large amounts of unlabeled data and are expensive to train. In this work, we propose a task-specific structured pruning method CoFi (Coarse- and Fine-grained Pruning), which delivers highly parallelizable subnetworks and matches the distillation methods in both accuracy and latency, without resorting to any unlabeled data. Our key insight is to jointly prune coarse-grained (e.g., layers) and fine-grained (e.g., heads and hidden units) modules, which controls the pruning decision of each parameter with masks of different granularity. We also devise a layerwise distillation strategy to transfer knowledge from unpruned to pruned models during optimization. Our experiments on GLUE and SQuAD datasets show that CoFi yields models with over 10X speedups with a small accuracy drop, showing its effectiveness and efficiency compared to previous pruning and distillation approaches.

Don’t Prompt, Search! Mining-based Zero-Shot Learning with Language Models
Mozes van de Kar | Mengzhou Xia | Danqi Chen | Mikel Artetxe
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Masked language models like BERT can perform text classification in a zero-shot fashion by reformulating downstream tasks as text infilling. However, this approach is highly sensitive to the template used to prompt the model, yet practitioners are blind when designing them in strict zero-shot settings. In this paper, we propose an alternative mining-based approach for zero-shot learning. Instead of prompting language models, we use regular expressions to mine labeled examples from unlabeled corpora, which can optionally be filtered through prompting, and used to finetune a pretrained model. Our method is more flexible and interpretable than prompting, and outperforms it on a wide range of tasks when using comparable templates. Our results suggest that the success of prompting can partly be explained by the model being exposed to similar examples during pretraining, which can be directly retrieved through regular expressions.

MABEL: Attenuating Gender Bias using Textual Entailment Data
Jacqueline He | Mengzhou Xia | Christiane Fellbaum | Danqi Chen
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Pre-trained language models encode undesirable social biases, which are further exacerbated in downstream use. To this end, we propose MABEL (a Method for Attenuating Gender Bias using Entailment Labels), an intermediate pre-training approach for mitigating gender bias in contextualized representations. Key to our approach is the use of a contrastive learning objective on counterfactually augmented, gender-balanced entailment pairs from natural language inference (NLI) datasets. We also introduce an alignment regularizer that pulls identical entailment pairs along opposite gender directions closer. We extensively evaluate our approach on intrinsic and extrinsic metrics, and show that MABEL outperforms previous task-agnostic debiasing approaches in terms of fairness. It also preserves task performance after fine-tuning on downstream tasks. Together, these findings demonstrate the suitability of NLI data as an effective means of bias mitigation, as opposed to only using unlabeled sentences in the literature. Finally, we identify that existing approaches often use evaluation settings that are insufficient or inconsistent. We make an effort to reproduce and compare previous methods, and call for unifying the evaluation settings across gender debiasing methods for better future comparison.

Prompting ELECTRA: Few-Shot Learning with Discriminative Pre-Trained Models
Mengzhou Xia | Mikel Artetxe | Jingfei Du | Danqi Chen | Veselin Stoyanov
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Pre-trained masked language models successfully perform few-shot learning by formulating downstream tasks as text infilling. How- ever, as a strong alternative in full-shot settings, discriminative pre-trained models like ELECTRA do not fit into the paradigm. In this work, we adapt prompt-based few-shot learning to ELECTRA and show that it outperforms masked language models in a wide range of tasks. ELECTRA is pre-trained to distinguish if a token is generated or original. We naturally extend that to prompt-based few-shot learning by training to score the originality of the target options without introducing new parameters. Our method can be easily adapted to tasks involving multi-token predictions without extra computation overhead. Analysis shows that ELECTRA learns distributions that align better with downstream tasks.


MetaXL: Meta Representation Transformation for Low-resource Cross-lingual Learning
Mengzhou Xia | Guoqing Zheng | Subhabrata Mukherjee | Milad Shokouhi | Graham Neubig | Ahmed Hassan Awadallah
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

The combination of multilingual pre-trained representations and cross-lingual transfer learning is one of the most effective methods for building functional NLP systems for low-resource languages. However, for extremely low-resource languages without large-scale monolingual corpora for pre-training or sufficient annotated data for fine-tuning, transfer learning remains an understudied and challenging task. Moreover, recent work shows that multilingual representations are surprisingly disjoint across languages, bringing additional challenges for transfer onto extremely low-resource languages. In this paper, we propose MetaXL, a meta-learning based framework that learns to transform representations judiciously from auxiliary languages to a target one and brings their representation spaces closer for effective transfer. Extensive experiments on real-world low-resource languages – without access to large-scale monolingual corpora or large amounts of labeled data – for tasks like cross-lingual sentiment analysis and named entity recognition show the effectiveness of our approach. Code for MetaXL is publicly available at

Non-Parametric Few-Shot Learning for Word Sense Disambiguation
Howard Chen | Mengzhou Xia | Danqi Chen
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Word sense disambiguation (WSD) is a long-standing problem in natural language processing. One significant challenge in supervised all-words WSD is to classify among senses for a majority of words that lie in the long-tail distribution. For instance, 84% of the annotated words have less than 10 examples in the SemCor training data. This issue is more pronounced as the imbalance occurs in both word and sense distributions. In this work, we propose MetricWSD, a non-parametric few-shot learning approach to mitigate this data imbalance issue. By learning to compute distances among the senses of a given word through episodic training, MetricWSD transfers knowledge (a learned metric space) from high-frequency words to infrequent ones. MetricWSD constructs the training episodes tailored to word frequencies and explicitly addresses the problem of the skewed distribution, as opposed to mixing all the words trained with parametric models in previous work. Without resorting to any lexical resources, MetricWSD obtains strong performance against parametric alternatives, achieving a 75.1 F1 score on the unified WSD evaluation benchmark (Raganato et al., 2017b). Our analysis further validates that infrequent words and senses enjoy significant improvement.


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Demoting Racial Bias in Hate Speech Detection
Mengzhou Xia | Anjalie Field | Yulia Tsvetkov
Proceedings of the Eighth International Workshop on Natural Language Processing for Social Media

In the task of hate speech detection, there exists a high correlation between African American English (AAE) and annotators’ perceptions of toxicity in current datasets. This bias in annotated training data and the tendency of machine learning models to amplify it cause AAE text to often be mislabeled as abusive/offensive/hate speech (high false positive rate) by current hate speech classifiers. Here, we use adversarial training to mitigate this bias. Experimental results on one hate speech dataset and one AAE dataset suggest that our method is able to reduce the false positive rate for AAE text with only a minimal compromise on the performance of hate speech classification.

A Summary of the First Workshop on Language Technology for Language Documentation and Revitalization
Graham Neubig | Shruti Rijhwani | Alexis Palmer | Jordan MacKenzie | Hilaria Cruz | Xinjian Li | Matthew Lee | Aditi Chaudhary | Luke Gessler | Steven Abney | Shirley Anugrah Hayati | Antonios Anastasopoulos | Olga Zamaraeva | Emily Prud’hommeaux | Jennette Child | Sara Child | Rebecca Knowles | Sarah Moeller | Jeffrey Micher | Yiyuan Li | Sydney Zink | Mengzhou Xia | Roshan S Sharma | Patrick Littell
Proceedings of the 1st Joint Workshop on Spoken Language Technologies for Under-resourced languages (SLTU) and Collaboration and Computing for Under-Resourced Languages (CCURL)

Despite recent advances in natural language processing and other language technology, the application of such technology to language documentation and conservation has been limited. In August 2019, a workshop was held at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA, USA to attempt to bring together language community members, documentary linguists, and technologists to discuss how to bridge this gap and create prototypes of novel and practical language revitalization technologies. The workshop focused on developing technologies to aid language documentation and revitalization in four areas: 1) spoken language (speech transcription, phone to orthography decoding, text-to-speech and text-speech forced alignment), 2) dictionary extraction and management, 3) search tools for corpora, and 4) social media (language learning bots and social media analysis). This paper reports the results of this workshop, including issues discussed, and various conceived and implemented technologies for nine languages: Arapaho, Cayuga, Inuktitut, Irish Gaelic, Kidaw’ida, Kwak’wala, Ojibwe, San Juan Quiahije Chatino, and Seneca.

Predicting Performance for Natural Language Processing Tasks
Mengzhou Xia | Antonios Anastasopoulos | Ruochen Xu | Yiming Yang | Graham Neubig
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Given the complexity of combinations of tasks, languages, and domains in natural language processing (NLP) research, it is computationally prohibitive to exhaustively test newly proposed models on each possible experimental setting. In this work, we attempt to explore the possibility of gaining plausible judgments of how well an NLP model can perform under an experimental setting, without actually training or testing the model. To do so, we build regression models to predict the evaluation score of an NLP experiment given the experimental settings as input. Experimenting on~9 different NLP tasks, we find that our predictors can produce meaningful predictions over unseen languages and different modeling architectures, outperforming reasonable baselines as well as human experts. %we represent experimental settings using an array of features. Going further, we outline how our predictor can be used to find a small subset of representative experiments that should be run in order to obtain plausible predictions for all other experimental settings.


Domain Adaptation of Neural Machine Translation by Lexicon Induction
Junjie Hu | Mengzhou Xia | Graham Neubig | Jaime Carbonell
Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

It has been previously noted that neural machine translation (NMT) is very sensitive to domain shift. In this paper, we argue that this is a dual effect of the highly lexicalized nature of NMT, resulting in failure for sentences with large numbers of unknown words, and lack of supervision for domain-specific words. To remedy this problem, we propose an unsupervised adaptation method which fine-tunes a pre-trained out-of-domain NMT model using a pseudo-in-domain corpus. Specifically, we perform lexicon induction to extract an in-domain lexicon, and construct a pseudo-parallel in-domain corpus by performing word-for-word back-translation of monolingual in-domain target sentences. In five domains over twenty pairwise adaptation settings and two model architectures, our method achieves consistent improvements without using any in-domain parallel sentences, improving up to 14 BLEU over unadapted models, and up to 2 BLEU over strong back-translation baselines.

Choosing Transfer Languages for Cross-Lingual Learning
Yu-Hsiang Lin | Chian-Yu Chen | Jean Lee | Zirui Li | Yuyan Zhang | Mengzhou Xia | Shruti Rijhwani | Junxian He | Zhisong Zhang | Xuezhe Ma | Antonios Anastasopoulos | Patrick Littell | Graham Neubig
Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Cross-lingual transfer, where a high-resource transfer language is used to improve the accuracy of a low-resource task language, is now an invaluable tool for improving performance of natural language processing (NLP) on low-resource languages. However, given a particular task language, it is not clear which language to transfer from, and the standard strategy is to select languages based on ad hoc criteria, usually the intuition of the experimenter. Since a large number of features contribute to the success of cross-lingual transfer (including phylogenetic similarity, typological properties, lexical overlap, or size of available data), even the most enlightened experimenter rarely considers all these factors for the particular task at hand. In this paper, we consider this task of automatically selecting optimal transfer languages as a ranking problem, and build models that consider the aforementioned features to perform this prediction. In experiments on representative NLP tasks, we demonstrate that our model predicts good transfer languages much better than ad hoc baselines considering single features in isolation, and glean insights on what features are most informative for each different NLP tasks, which may inform future ad hoc selection even without use of our method.

Generalized Data Augmentation for Low-Resource Translation
Mengzhou Xia | Xiang Kong | Antonios Anastasopoulos | Graham Neubig
Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Low-resource language pairs with a paucity of parallel data pose challenges for machine translation in terms of both adequacy and fluency. Data augmentation utilizing a large amount of monolingual data is regarded as an effective way to alleviate the problem. In this paper, we propose a general framework of data augmentation for low-resource machine translation not only using target-side monolingual data, but also by pivoting through a related high-resource language. Specifically, we experiment with a two-step pivoting method to convert high-resource data to the low-resource language, making best use of available resources to better approximate the true distribution of the low-resource language. First, we inject low-resource words into high-resource sentences through an induced bilingual dictionary. Second, we further edit the high-resource data injected with low-resource words using a modified unsupervised machine translation framework. Extensive experiments on four low-resource datasets show that under extreme low-resource settings, our data augmentation techniques improve translation quality by up to 1.5 to 8 BLEU points compared to supervised back-translation baselines.