Planning with Learned Entity Prompts for Abstractive Summarization

Yao Zhao
Ryan McDonald
Transactions of the Association for Computational Linguistics, 9(2021), 1475–1492


We investigate Entity Chain -- a chain of related entities in the summary -- as an intermediate summary representation to better plan and ground the generation of abstractive summaries. In particular, we achieve this by augmenting the target by appending it with an entity chain extracted from the target. We experiment with Transformer-based encoder-decoder models; a transformer encoder first encodes the input and a transformer decoder generates an intermediate summary representation in the form of an entity chain and then continues generating the summary conditioned on the entity chain and the input. We evaluate our approach on a diverse set of text summarization tasks and show that Pegasus finetuned models with entity chains clearly outperform regular finetuning in terms of entity accuracy. We further demonstrate that our simple method can be easily used for pretraining summarization models to do entity-level content planning and summary generation. We see further gains with pretraining.