Research papers and code for "Kristina Toutanova":
Recent work on open domain question answering (QA) assumes strong supervision of the supporting evidence and/or assumes a blackbox information retrieval (IR) system to retrieve evidence candidates. We argue that both are suboptimal, since gold evidence is not always available, and QA is fundamentally different from IR. We show for the first time that it is possible to jointly learn the retriever and reader from question-answer string pairs and without any IR system. In this setting, evidence retrieval from all of Wikipedia is treated as a latent variable. Since this is impractical to learn from scratch, we pre-train the retriever with an Inverse Cloze Task. We evaluate on open versions of five QA datasets. On datasets where the questioner already knows the answer, a traditional IR system such as BM25 is sufficient. On datasets where a user is genuinely seeking an answer, we show that learned retrieval is crucial, outperforming BM25 by up to 19 points in exact match.

* Accepted to ACL 2019
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Hierarchical neural architectures are often used to capture long-distance dependencies and have been applied to many document-level tasks such as summarization, document segmentation, and sentiment analysis. However, effective usage of such a large context can be difficult to learn, especially in the case where there is limited labeled data available. Building on the recent success of language model pretraining methods for learning flat representations of text, we propose algorithms for pre-training hierarchical document representations from unlabeled data. Unlike prior work, which has focused on pre-training contextual token representations or context-independent {sentence/paragraph} representations, our hierarchical document representations include fixed-length sentence/paragraph representations which integrate contextual information from the entire documents. Experiments on document segmentation, document-level question answering, and extractive document summarization demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed pre-training algorithms.

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We introduce a new language representation model called BERT, which stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. Unlike recent language representation models, BERT is designed to pre-train deep bidirectional representations by jointly conditioning on both left and right context in all layers. As a result, the pre-trained BERT representations can be fine-tuned with just one additional output layer to create state-of-the-art models for a wide range of tasks, such as question answering and language inference, without substantial task-specific architecture modifications. BERT is conceptually simple and empirically powerful. It obtains new state-of-the-art results on eleven natural language processing tasks, including pushing the GLUE benchmark to 80.4% (7.6% absolute improvement), MultiNLI accuracy to 86.7 (5.6% absolute improvement) and the SQuAD v1.1 question answering Test F1 to 93.2 (1.5% absolute improvement), outperforming human performance by 2.0%.

* 13 pages
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Past work in relation extraction has focused on binary relations in single sentences. Recent NLP inroads in high-value domains have sparked interest in the more general setting of extracting n-ary relations that span multiple sentences. In this paper, we explore a general relation extraction framework based on graph long short-term memory networks (graph LSTMs) that can be easily extended to cross-sentence n-ary relation extraction. The graph formulation provides a unified way of exploring different LSTM approaches and incorporating various intra-sentential and inter-sentential dependencies, such as sequential, syntactic, and discourse relations. A robust contextual representation is learned for the entities, which serves as input to the relation classifier. This simplifies handling of relations with arbitrary arity, and enables multi-task learning with related relations. We evaluate this framework in two important precision medicine settings, demonstrating its effectiveness with both conventional supervised learning and distant supervision. Cross-sentence extraction produced larger knowledge bases. and multi-task learning significantly improved extraction accuracy. A thorough analysis of various LSTM approaches yielded useful insight the impact of linguistic analysis on extraction accuracy.

* Transactions of the Association for Computational Linguistics (TACL) 2017, Vol 5
* Conditional accepted by TACL in December 2016; published in April 2017; presented at ACL in August 2017
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We present the zero-shot entity linking task, where mentions must be linked to unseen entities without in-domain labeled data. The goal is to enable robust transfer to highly specialized domains, and so no metadata or alias tables are assumed. In this setting, entities are only identified by text descriptions, and models must rely strictly on language understanding to resolve the new entities. First, we show that strong reading comprehension models pre-trained on large unlabeled data can be used to generalize to unseen entities. Second, we propose a simple and effective adaptive pre-training strategy, which we term domain-adaptive pre-training (DAP), to address the domain shift problem associated with linking unseen entities in a new domain. We present experiments on a new dataset that we construct for this task and show that DAP improves over strong pre-training baselines, including BERT. The data and code are available at https://github.com/lajanugen/zeshel.

* ACL 2019
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Grammatical error correction (GEC) systems strive to correct both global errors in word order and usage, and local errors in spelling and inflection. Further developing upon recent work on neural machine translation, we propose a new hybrid neural model with nested attention layers for GEC. Experiments show that the new model can effectively correct errors of both types by incorporating word and character-level information,and that the model significantly outperforms previous neural models for GEC as measured on the standard CoNLL-14 benchmark dataset. Further analysis also shows that the superiority of the proposed model can be largely attributed to the use of the nested attention mechanism, which has proven particularly effective in correcting local errors that involve small edits in orthography.

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In this paper we study yes/no questions that are naturally occurring --- meaning that they are generated in unprompted and unconstrained settings. We build a reading comprehension dataset, BoolQ, of such questions, and show that they are unexpectedly challenging. They often query for complex, non-factoid information, and require difficult entailment-like inference to solve. We also explore the effectiveness of a range of transfer learning baselines. We find that transferring from entailment data is more effective than transferring from paraphrase or extractive QA data, and that it, surprisingly, continues to be very beneficial even when starting from massive pre-trained language models such as BERT. Our best method trains BERT on MultiNLI and then re-trains it on our train set. It achieves 80.4% accuracy compared to 90% accuracy of human annotators (and 62% majority-baseline), leaving a significant gap for future work.

* In NAACL 2019
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We study approaches to improve fine-grained short answer Question Answering models by integrating coarse-grained data annotated for paragraph-level relevance and show that coarsely annotated data can bring significant performance gains. Experiments demonstrate that the standard multi-task learning approach of sharing representations is not the most effective way to leverage coarse-grained annotations. Instead, we can explicitly model the latent fine-grained short answer variables and optimize the marginal log-likelihood directly or use a newly proposed \emph{posterior distillation} learning objective. Since these latent-variable methods have explicit access to the relationship between the fine and coarse tasks, they result in significantly larger improvements from coarse supervision.

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