Wenqiang Lei


GCPG: A General Framework for Controllable Paraphrase Generation
Kexin Yang | Dayiheng Liu | Wenqiang Lei | Baosong Yang | Haibo Zhang | Xue Zhao | Wenqing Yao | Boxing Chen
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2022

Controllable paraphrase generation (CPG) incorporates various external conditions to obtain desirable paraphrases. However, existing works only highlight a special condition under two indispensable aspects of CPG (i.e., lexically and syntactically CPG) individually, lacking a unified circumstance to explore and analyze their effectiveness. In this paper, we propose a general controllable paraphrase generation framework (GCPG), which represents both lexical and syntactical conditions as text sequences and uniformly processes them in an encoder-decoder paradigm. Under GCPG, we reconstruct commonly adopted lexical condition (i.e., Keywords) and syntactical conditions (i.e., Part-Of-Speech sequence, Constituent Tree, Masked Template and Sentential Exemplar) and study the combination of the two types. In particular, for Sentential Exemplar condition, we propose a novel exemplar construction method — Syntax-Similarity based Exemplar (SSE). SSE retrieves a syntactically similar but lexically different sentence as the exemplar for each target sentence, avoiding exemplar-side words copying problem. Extensive experiments demonstrate that GCPG with SSE achieves state-of-the-art performance on two popular benchmarks. In addition, the combination of lexical and syntactical conditions shows the significant controllable ability of paraphrase generation, and these empirical results could provide novel insight to user-oriented paraphrasing.

Reconciliation of Pre-trained Models and Prototypical Neural Networks in Few-shot Named Entity Recognition
Youcheng Huang | Wenqiang Lei | Jie Fu | Jiancheng Lv
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2022

Incorporating large-scale pre-trained models with the prototypical neural networks is a de-facto paradigm in few-shot named entity recognition. Existing methods, unfortunately, are not aware of the fact that embeddings from pre-trained models contain a prominently large amount of information regarding word frequencies, biasing prototypical neural networks against learning word entities. This discrepancy constrains the two models’ synergy. Thus, we propose a one-line-code normalization method to reconcile such a mismatch with empirical and theoretical grounds. Our experiments based on nine benchmark datasets show the superiority of our method over the counterpart models and are comparable to the state-of-the-art methods. In addition to the model enhancement, our work also provides an analytical viewpoint for addressing the general problems in few-shot name entity recognition or other tasks that rely on pre-trained models or prototypical neural networks.

ConReader: Exploring Implicit Relations in Contracts for Contract Clause Extraction
Weiwen Xu | Yang Deng | Wenqiang Lei | Wenlong Zhao | Tat-Seng Chua | Wai Lam
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

We study automatic Contract Clause Extraction (CCE) by modeling implicit relations in legal contracts. Existing CCE methods mostly treat contracts as plain text, creating a substantial barrier to understanding contracts of high complexity. In this work, we first comprehensively analyze the complexity issues of contracts and distill out three implicit relations commonly found in contracts, namely, 1) Long-range Context Relation that captures the correlations of distant clauses; 2) Term-Definition Relation that captures the relation between important terms with their corresponding definitions, and 3) Similar Clause Relation that captures the similarities between clauses of the same type. Then we propose a novel framework ConReader to exploit the above three relations for better contract understanding and improving CCE. Experimental results show that ConReader makes the prediction more interpretable and achieves new state-of-the-art on two CCE tasks in both conventional and zero-shot settings.

PACIFIC: Towards Proactive Conversational Question Answering over Tabular and Textual Data in Finance
Yang Deng | Wenqiang Lei | Wenxuan Zhang | Wai Lam | Tat-Seng Chua
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

To facilitate conversational question answering (CQA) over hybrid contexts in finance, we present a new dataset, named PACIFIC. Compared with existing CQA datasets, PACIFIC exhibits three key features: (i) proactivity, (ii) numerical reasoning, and (iii) hybrid context of tables and text. A new task is defined accordingly to study Proactive Conversational Question Answering (PCQA), which combines clarification question generation and CQA. In addition, we propose a novel method, namely UniPCQA, to adapt a hybrid format of input and output content in PCQA into the Seq2Seq problem, including the reformulation of the numerical reasoning process as code generation. UniPCQA performs multi-task learning over all sub-tasks in PCQA and incorporates a simple ensemble strategy to alleviate the error propagation issue in the multi-task learning by cross-validating top-k sampled Seq2Seq outputs. We benchmark the PACIFIC dataset with extensive baselines and provide comprehensive evaluations on each sub-task of PCQA.

Alibaba-Translate China’s Submission for WMT2022 Metrics Shared Task
Yu Wan | Keqin Bao | Dayiheng Liu | Baosong Yang | Derek F. Wong | Lidia S. Chao | Wenqiang Lei | Jun Xie
Proceedings of the Seventh Conference on Machine Translation (WMT)

In this report, we present our submission to the WMT 2022 Metrics Shared Task. We build our system based on the core idea of UNITE (Unified Translation Evaluation), which unifies source-only, reference-only, and source- reference-combined evaluation scenarios into one single model. Specifically, during the model pre-training phase, we first apply the pseudo-labeled data examples to continuously pre-train UNITE. Notably, to reduce the gap between pre-training and fine-tuning, we use data cropping and a ranking-based score normalization strategy. During the fine-tuning phase, we use both Direct Assessment (DA) and Multidimensional Quality Metrics (MQM) data from past years’ WMT competitions. Specially, we collect the results from models with different pre-trained language model backbones, and use different ensembling strategies for involved translation directions.

Alibaba-Translate China’s Submission for WMT 2022 Quality Estimation Shared Task
Keqin Bao | Yu Wan | Dayiheng Liu | Baosong Yang | Wenqiang Lei | Xiangnan He | Derek F. Wong | Jun Xie
Proceedings of the Seventh Conference on Machine Translation (WMT)

In this paper, we present our submission to the sentence-level MQM benchmark at Quality Estimation Shared Task, named UniTE (Unified Translation Evaluation). Specifically, our systems employ the framework of UniTE, which combined three types of input formats during training with a pre-trained language model. First, we apply the pseudo-labeled data examples for the continuously pre-training phase. Notably, to reduce the gap between pre-training and fine-tuning, we use data cropping and a ranking-based score normalization strategy. For the fine-tuning phase, we use both Direct Assessment (DA) and Multidimensional Quality Metrics (MQM) data from past years’ WMT competitions. Finally, we collect the source-only evaluation results, and ensemble the predictions generated by two UniTE models, whose backbones are XLM-R and~{textsc{infoXLM}, respectively. Results show that our models reach 1st overall ranking in the Multilingual and English-Russian settings, and 2nd overall ranking in English-German and Chinese-English settings, showing relatively strong performances in this year’s quality estimation competition.


GMH: A General Multi-hop Reasoning Model for KG Completion
Yao Zhang | Hongru Liang | Adam Jatowt | Wenqiang Lei | Xin Wei | Ning Jiang | Zhenglu Yang
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Knowledge graphs are essential for numerous downstream natural language processing applications, but are typically incomplete with many facts missing. This results in research efforts on multi-hop reasoning task, which can be formulated as a search process and current models typically perform short distance reasoning. However, the long-distance reasoning is also vital with the ability to connect the superficially unrelated entities. To the best of our knowledge, there lacks a general framework that approaches multi-hop reasoning in mixed long-short distance reasoning scenarios. We argue that there are two key issues for a general multi-hop reasoning model: i) where to go, and ii) when to stop. Therefore, we propose a general model which resolves the issues with three modules: 1) the local-global knowledge module to estimate the possible paths, 2) the differentiated action dropout module to explore a diverse set of paths, and 3) the adaptive stopping search module to avoid over searching. The comprehensive results on three datasets demonstrate the superiority of our model with significant improvements against baselines in both short and long distance reasoning scenarios.

Dialogue State Tracking with Incremental Reasoning
Lizi Liao | Le Hong Long | Yunshan Ma | Wenqiang Lei | Tat-Seng Chua
Transactions of the Association for Computational Linguistics, Volume 9

Abstract Tracking dialogue states to better interpret user goals and feed downstream policy learning is a bottleneck in dialogue management. Common practice has been to treat it as a problem of classifying dialogue content into a set of pre-defined slot-value pairs, or generating values for different slots given the dialogue history. Both have limitations on considering dependencies that occur on dialogues, and are lacking of reasoning capabilities. This paper proposes to track dialogue states gradually with reasoning over dialogue turns with the help of the back-end data. Empirical results demonstrate that our method outperforms the state-of-the-art methods in terms of joint belief accuracy for MultiWOZ 2.1, a large-scale human–human dialogue dataset across multiple domains.

TAT-QA: A Question Answering Benchmark on a Hybrid of Tabular and Textual Content in Finance
Fengbin Zhu | Wenqiang Lei | Youcheng Huang | Chao Wang | Shuo Zhang | Jiancheng Lv | Fuli Feng | Tat-Seng Chua
Proceedings of the 59th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 11th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Hybrid data combining both tabular and textual content (e.g., financial reports) are quite pervasive in the real world. However, Question Answering (QA) over such hybrid data is largely neglected in existing research. In this work, we extract samples from real financial reports to build a new large-scale QA dataset containing both Tabular And Textual data, named TAT-QA, where numerical reasoning is usually required to infer the answer, such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, counting, comparison/sorting, and the compositions. We further propose a novel QA model termed TAGOP, which is capable of reasoning over both tables and text. It adopts sequence tagging to extract relevant cells from the table along with relevant spans from the text to infer their semantics, and then applies symbolic reasoning over them with a set of aggregation operators to arrive at the final answer. TAGOP achieves 58.0% inF1, which is an 11.1% absolute increase over the previous best baseline model, according to our experiments on TAT-QA. But this result still lags far behind performance of expert human, i.e.90.8% in F1. It is demonstrated that our TAT-QA is very challenging and can serve as a benchmark for training and testing powerful QA models that address hybrid form data.

POS-Constrained Parallel Decoding for Non-autoregressive Generation
Kexin Yang | Wenqiang Lei | Dayiheng Liu | Weizhen Qi | Jiancheng Lv
Proceedings of the 59th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 11th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (Volume 1: Long Papers)

The multimodality problem has become a major challenge of existing non-autoregressive generation (NAG) systems. A common solution often resorts to sequence-level knowledge distillation by rebuilding the training dataset through autoregressive generation (hereinafter known as “teacher AG”). The success of such methods may largely depend on a latent assumption, i.e., the teacher AG is superior to the NAG model. However, in this work, we experimentally reveal that this assumption does not always hold for the text generation tasks like text summarization and story ending generation. To provide a feasible solution to the multimodality problem of NAG, we propose incorporating linguistic structure (Part-of-Speech sequence in particular) into NAG inference instead of relying on teacher AG. More specifically, the proposed POS-constrained Parallel Decoding (POSPD) method aims at providing a specific POS sequence to constrain the NAG model during decoding. Our experiments demonstrate that POSPD consistently improves NAG models on four text generation tasks to a greater extent compared to knowledge distillation. This observation validates the necessity of exploring the alternatives for sequence-level knowledge distillation.


Molweni: A Challenge Multiparty Dialogues-based Machine Reading Comprehension Dataset with Discourse Structure
Jiaqi Li | Ming Liu | Min-Yen Kan | Zihao Zheng | Zekun Wang | Wenqiang Lei | Ting Liu | Bing Qin
Proceedings of the 28th International Conference on Computational Linguistics

Research into the area of multiparty dialog has grown considerably over recent years. We present the Molweni dataset, a machine reading comprehension (MRC) dataset with discourse structure built over multiparty dialog. Molweni’s source samples from the Ubuntu Chat Corpus, including 10,000 dialogs comprising 88,303 utterances. We annotate 30,066 questions on this corpus, including both answerable and unanswerable questions. Molweni also uniquely contributes discourse dependency annotations in a modified Segmented Discourse Representation Theory (SDRT; Asher et al., 2016) style for all of its multiparty dialogs, contributing large-scale (78,245 annotated discourse relations) data to bear on the task of multiparty dialog discourse parsing. Our experiments show that Molweni is a challenging dataset for current MRC models: BERT-wwm, a current, strong SQuAD 2.0 performer, achieves only 67.7% F1 on Molweni’s questions, a 20+% significant drop as compared against its SQuAD 2.0 performance.

Re-examining the Role of Schema Linking in Text-to-SQL
Wenqiang Lei | Weixin Wang | Zhixin Ma | Tian Gan | Wei Lu | Min-Yen Kan | Tat-Seng Chua
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

In existing sophisticated text-to-SQL models, schema linking is often considered as a simple, minor component, belying its importance. By providing a schema linking corpus based on the Spider text-to-SQL dataset, we systematically study the role of schema linking. We also build a simple BERT-based baseline, called Schema-Linking SQL (SLSQL) to perform a data-driven study. We find when schema linking is done well, SLSQL demonstrates good performance on Spider despite its structural simplicity. Many remaining errors are attributable to corpus noise. This suggests schema linking is the crux for the current text-to-SQL task. Our analytic studies provide insights on the characteristics of schema linking for future developments of text-to-SQL tasks.


Revisit Automatic Error Detection for Wrong and Missing Translation – A Supervised Approach
Wenqiang Lei | Weiwen Xu | Ai Ti Aw | Yuanxin Xiang | Tat Seng Chua
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing and the 9th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (EMNLP-IJCNLP)

While achieving great fluency, current machine translation (MT) techniques are bottle-necked by adequacy issues. To have a closer study of these issues and accelerate model development, we propose automatic detecting adequacy errors in MT hypothesis for MT model evaluation. To do that, we annotate missing and wrong translations, the two most prevalent issues for current neural machine translation model, in 15000 Chinese-English translation pairs. We build a supervised alignment model for translation error detection (AlignDet) based on a simple Alignment Triangle strategy to set the benchmark for automatic error detection task. We also discuss the difficulties of this task and the benefits of this task for existing evaluation metrics.


Sequicity: Simplifying Task-oriented Dialogue Systems with Single Sequence-to-Sequence Architectures
Wenqiang Lei | Xisen Jin | Min-Yen Kan | Zhaochun Ren | Xiangnan He | Dawei Yin
Proceedings of the 56th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Existing solutions to task-oriented dialogue systems follow pipeline designs which introduces architectural complexity and fragility. We propose a novel, holistic, extendable framework based on a single sequence-to-sequence (seq2seq) model which can be optimized with supervised or reinforcement learning. A key contribution is that we design text spans named belief spans to track dialogue believes, allowing task-oriented dialogue systems to be modeled in a seq2seq way. Based on this, we propose a simplistic Two Stage CopyNet instantiation which emonstrates good scalability: significantly reducing model complexity in terms of number of parameters and training time by a magnitude. It significantly outperforms state-of-the-art pipeline-based methods on large datasets and retains a satisfactory entity match rate on out-of-vocabulary (OOV) cases where pipeline-designed competitors totally fail.