Exploiting Feature Hierarchy for Transfer Learning in Named Entity Recognition

Andrew Arnold
Ramesh Nallapati
William W. Cohen
46th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies (ACL:HLT)(2008)


We present a novel hierarchical prior structure for supervised transfer learning in named entity recognition, motivated by the common structure of feature spaces for this task across natural language data sets. The problem of transfer learning, where information gained in one learning task is used to improve performance in another related task, is an important new area of research. In the subproblem of domain adaptation, a model trained over a source domain is generalized to perform well on a related target domain, where the two domains’ data are distributed similarly, but not identically. We introduce the concept of groups of closely-related domains, called genres, and show how inter-genre adaptation is related to domain adaptation. We also examine multitask learning, where two domains may be related, but where the concept to be learned in each case is distinct. We show that our prior conveys useful information across domains, genres and tasks, while remaining robust to spurious signals not related to the target domain and concept. We further show that our model generalizes a class of similar hierarchical priors, smoothed to varying degrees, and lay the groundwork for future exploration in this area.

Research Areas