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Peter Shaw

Peter Shaw

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    Preview abstract Formulating selective information needs results in queries that implicitly specify set operations, such as intersection, union, and difference. For instance, one might search for "shorebirds that are not sandpipers" or "science-fiction films shot in England". To study the ability of retrieval systems to meet such information needs, we construct QUEST, a dataset of 3357 natural language queries with implicit set operations, that map to a set of entities corresponding to Wikipedia documents. The dataset challenges models to match multiple constraints mentioned in queries with corresponding evidence in documents and correctly perform various set operations. The dataset is constructed semi-automatically using Wikipedia category names. Queries are automatically composed from individual categories, then paraphrased and further validated for naturalness and fluency by crowdworkers. Crowdworkers also assess the relevance of entities based on their documents and highlight attribution of query constraints to spans of document text. We analyze several modern retrieval systems, finding that they often struggle on such queries. Queries involving negation and conjunction are particularly challenging and systems are further challenged with combinations of these operations. View details
    Generate-and-Retrieve: use your predictions to improve retrieval for semantic parsing
    Ice Pasupat
    Joshua Ainslie
    Linlu Qiu
    Michiel de Jong
    Yury Zemlyanskiy
    Proceedings of COLING (2022)
    Preview abstract A common recent approach to semantic parsing augments sequence-to-sequence models by retrieving and appending a set of training samples, called exemplars. The effectiveness of this recipe is limited by the ability to retrieve informative exemplars that help produce the correct parse, which is especially challenging in low-resource settings. Existing retrieval is commonly based on similarity of query and exemplar inputs. We propose GandR, a retrieval procedure that retrieves exemplars for which outputs are also similar. GandR first generates a preliminary prediction with input-based retrieval. Then, it retrieves exemplars with outputs similar to the preliminary prediction which are used to generate a final prediction. GandR sets the state of the art on multiple low-resource semantic parsing tasks. View details
    Preview abstract Sequence-to-sequence models excel at handling natural language variation, but have been shown to struggle with out-of-distribution compositional generalization. This has motivated new specialized architectures with stronger compositional biases, but most of these approaches have only been evaluated on synthetically-generated datasets, which are not representative of natural language variation. In this work we ask: can we develop a semantic parsing approach that handles both natural language variation and compositional generalization? To better assess this capability, we propose new train and test splits of non-synthetic datasets. We demonstrate that strong existing semantic parsing approaches do not yet perform well across a broad set of evaluations. We also propose NQG-T5, a hybrid model that combines a high-precision grammar-based approach with a pre-trained sequence-to-sequence model. It outperforms existing approaches across several compositional generalization challenges, while also being competitive with the state-of-the-art on standard evaluations, but is still far from solving this challenge. Our study highlights the importance of diverse evaluations and the open challenge of handling both compositional generalization and natural language variation in semantic parsing. View details
    Preview abstract Pre-trained seq2seq models are prevalent in semantic parsing, but have been found to struggle at out-of-distribution compositional generalization. In contrast, specialized model architectures have been proposed to address this issue, often at the cost of generality and in-distribution performance. In this paper, we propose a simple strategy to unlock compositionality of pre-trained seq2seq models through intermediate representations, without changing the model architectures at all. We identify several effective strategies for designing reversible and lossy intermediate representations that reduce the structural mismatch between inputs and outputs. We then apply either deterministic transformations or a second seq2seq to map the intermediate form to the original executable form. We find that the combination of our proposed transformations and pre-trained models is surprisingly effective, obtaining a new state-of-the-art on CFQ (+11.9 accuracy points) and on the template-splits of three text-to-SQL datasets (+15.0 to +19.4 accuracy points). This work highlights that intermediate representations provide an important (and potentially overlooked) degree of freedom for improving the compositional generalization abilities of pre-trained seq2seq models. View details
    Preview abstract We study the task of cross-database semantic parsing (XSP), where a system that maps natural language utterances to executable SQL queries is evaluated on databases unseen during training. Recently, several datasets, including Spider, were proposed to support development of XSP systems. We propose a challenging evaluation setup for cross-database semantic parsing, focusing on variation across database schemas and in-domain language use. We re-purpose eight semantic parsing datasets that have been well-studied in the setting where in-domain training data is available, and instead use them as additional evaluation data for XSP systems instead. We build a system that performs well on Spider, and find that it struggles to generalize to our re-purposed set. Our setup uncovers several generalization challenges for cross-database semantic parsing, demonstrating the need to use and develop diverse training and evaluation datasets. View details
    Preview abstract Semantic parsing maps natural language utterances into structured meaning representations. We present an approach that uses a Graph Neural Network (GNN) architecture to incorporate information about relevant entities and their relations during parsing. Combined with a decoder copy mechanism, this approach also provides a conceptually simple mechanism to generate logical forms with entities. We demonstrate that this approach is competitive with state-of-the-art across several tasks without pre-training, and outperforms existing approaches when combined with BERT pre-training. View details
    Answering Conversational Questions on Structured Data without Logical Forms
    Thomas Müller
    Proceedings of the 2019 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing, Association for Computational Linguistics (2019)
    Preview abstract We present a novel approach to answering sequential questions based on structured objects such as knowledge bases or tables without using a logical form as an intermediate representation. We encode tables as graphs using a graph neural network model based on the Transformer architecture. The answers are then selected from the encoded graph using a pointer network. This model is appropriate for processing conversations around structured data, where the attention mechanism that selects the answer to a question can also be used to resolve conversational references. We demonstrate the validity of this approach with competitive results on the Sequential Question Answering task (SQA) (Iyyer et al., 2017). View details
    Self-Attention with Relative Position Representations
    Jakob Uszkoreit
    Ashish Vaswani
    NAACL-HLT (2018)
    Preview abstract Relying entirely on an attention mechanism, the Transformer introduced by Vaswani et al. (2017) achieves state-of-the-art results for machine translation. In contrast to recurrent and convolutional neural networks, it does not explicitly model relative or absolute position information in its structure. Instead, it requires adding representations of absolute positions to its inputs. In this work we present an alternative approach, extending the self-attention mechanism to efficiently consider representations of the relative positions, or distances between sequence elements. On the WMT 2014 English-to-German and English-to-French translation tasks, this approach yields improvements of 1.3 BLEU and 0.3 BLEU over absolute position representations, respectively. Notably, we observe that combining relative and absolute position representations yields no further improvement in translation quality. We describe an efficient implementation of our method and cast it as an instance of relation-aware self-attention mechanisms that can generalize to arbitrary graph-labeled inputs. View details
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