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The Rediscovery Hypothesis: Language Models Need to Meet Linguistics

Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research

There is an ongoing debate in the NLP community whether modern language models contain linguistic knowledge, recovered through so-called probes. In this paper, we study whether linguistic knowledge is a necessary condition for the good performance of modern language models, which we call the rediscovery hypothesis. In the first place, we show that language models that are significantly compressed but perform well on their pretraining objectives retain good scores when probed for linguistic structures. This result supports the rediscovery hypothesis and leads to the second contribution of our paper: an information-theoretic framework that relates language modeling objectives with linguistic information. This framework also provides a metric to measure the impact of linguistic information on the word prediction task. We reinforce our analytical results with various experiments, both on synthetic and on real NLP tasks in English.


What BERT Based Language Models Learn in Spoken Transcripts: An Empirical Study

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

Language Models (LMs) have been ubiquitously leveraged in various tasks including spoken language understanding (SLU). Spoken language requires careful understanding of speaker interactions, dialog states and speech induced multimodal behaviors to generate a meaningful representation of the conversation. In this work, we propose to dissect SLU into three representative properties:conversational (disfluency, pause, overtalk), channel (speaker-type, turn-tasks) and ASR (insertion, deletion,substitution). We probe BERT based language models (BERT, RoBERTa) trained on spoken transcripts to investigate its ability to understand multifarious properties in absence of any speech cues. Empirical results indicate that LM is surprisingly good at capturing conversational properties such as pause prediction and overtalk detection from lexical tokens. On the downsides, the LM scores low on turn-tasks and ASR errors predictions. Additionally, pre-training the LM on spoken transcripts restrain its linguistic understanding. Finally, we establish the efficacy and transferability of the mentioned properties on two benchmark datasets: Switchboard Dialog Act and Disfluency datasets.


Probing Linguistic Information For Logical Inference In Pre-trained Language Models

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

Progress in pre-trained language models has led to a surge of impressive results on downstream tasks for natural language understanding. Recent work on probing pre-trained language models uncovered a wide range of linguistic properties encoded in their contextualized representations. However, it is unclear whether they encode semantic knowledge that is crucial to symbolic inference methods. We propose a methodology for probing linguistic information for logical inference in pre-trained language model representations. Our probing datasets cover a list of linguistic phenomena required by major symbolic inference systems. We find that (i) pre-trained language models do encode several types of linguistic information for inference, but there are also some types of information that are weakly encoded, (ii) language models can effectively learn missing linguistic information through fine-tuning. Overall, our findings provide insights into which aspects of linguistic information for logical inference do language models and their pre-training procedures capture. Moreover, we have demonstrated language models' potential as semantic and background knowledge bases for supporting symbolic inference methods.


Grounding Natural Language Instructions: Can Large Language Models Capture Spatial Information?

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

Models designed for intelligent process automation are required to be capable of grounding user interface elements. This task of interface element grounding is centred on linking instructions in natural language to their target referents. Even though BERT and similar pre-trained language models have excelled in several NLP tasks, their use has not been widely explored for the UI grounding domain. This work concentrates on testing and probing the grounding abilities of three different transformer-based models: BERT, RoBERTa and LayoutLM. Our primary focus is on these models' spatial reasoning skills, given their importance in this domain. We observe that LayoutLM has a promising advantage for applications in this domain, even though it was created for a different original purpose (representing scanned documents): the learned spatial features appear to be transferable to the UI grounding setting, especially as they demonstrate the ability to discriminate between target directions in natural language instructions.


Birds have four legs?! NumerSense: Probing Numerical Commonsense Knowledge of Pre-trained Language Models

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

Recent works show that pre-trained language models (PTLMs), such as BERT, possess certain commonsense and factual knowledge. They suggest that it is promising to use PTLMs as "neural knowledge bases" via predicting masked words. Surprisingly, we find that this may not work for numerical commonsense knowledge (e.g., a bird usually has two legs). In this paper, we investigate whether and to what extent we can induce numerical commonsense knowledge from PTLMs as well as the robustness of this process. To study this, we introduce a novel probing task with a diagnostic dataset, NumerSense, containing 13.6k masked-word-prediction probes (10.5k for fine-tuning and 3.1k for testing). Our analysis reveals that: (1) BERT and its stronger variant RoBERTa perform poorly on the diagnostic dataset prior to any fine-tuning; (2) fine-tuning with distant supervision brings some improvement; (3) the best supervised model still performs poorly as compared to human performance (54.06% vs 96.3% in accuracy).