Collaborating Authors


Crossing the Conversational Chasm: A Primer on Natural Language Processing for Multilingual Task-Oriented Dialogue Systems

Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research

In task-oriented dialogue (ToD), a user holds a conversation with an artificial agent  with the aim of completing a concrete task. Although this technology represents one of  the central objectives of AI and has been the focus of ever more intense research and  development efforts, it is currently limited to a few narrow domains (e.g., food ordering,  ticket booking) and a handful of languages (e.g., English, Chinese). This work provides an  extensive overview of existing methods and resources in multilingual ToD as an entry point  to this exciting and emerging field. We find that the most critical factor preventing the  creation of truly multilingual ToD systems is the lack of datasets in most languages for  both training and evaluation. In fact, acquiring annotations or human feedback for each  component of modular systems or for data-hungry end-to-end systems is expensive and  tedious. Hence, state-of-the-art approaches to multilingual ToD mostly rely on (zero- or  few-shot) cross-lingual transfer from resource-rich languages (almost exclusively English),  either by means of (i) machine translation or (ii) multilingual representations. These  approaches are currently viable only for typologically similar languages and languages with  parallel / monolingual corpora available. On the other hand, their effectiveness beyond these  boundaries is doubtful or hard to assess due to the lack of linguistically diverse benchmarks  (especially for natural language generation and end-to-end evaluation). To overcome this  limitation, we draw parallels between components of the ToD pipeline and other NLP tasks,  which can inspire solutions for learning in low-resource scenarios. Finally, we list additional  challenges that multilinguality poses for related areas (such as speech, fluency in generated  text, and human-centred evaluation), and indicate future directions that hold promise to  further expand language coverage and dialogue capabilities of current ToD systems. 

Neural Natural Language Generation: A Survey on Multilinguality, Multimodality, Controllability and Learning

Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research

Developing artificial learning systems that can understand and generate natural language has been one of the long-standing goals of artificial intelligence. Recent decades have witnessed an impressive progress on both of these problems, giving rise to a new family of approaches. Especially, the advances in deep learning over the past couple of years have led to neural approaches to natural language generation (NLG). These methods combine generative language learning techniques with neural-networks based frameworks. With a wide range of applications in natural language processing, neural NLG (NNLG) is a new and fast growing field of research. In this state-of-the-art report, we investigate the recent developments and applications of NNLG in its full extent from a multidimensional view, covering critical perspectives such as multimodality, multilinguality, controllability and learning strategies. We summarize the fundamental building blocks of NNLG approaches from these aspects and provide detailed reviews of commonly used preprocessing steps and basic neural architectures. This report also focuses on the seminal applications of these NNLG models such as machine translation, description generation, automatic speech recognition, abstractive summarization, text simplification, question answering and generation, and dialogue generation. Finally, we conclude with a thorough discussion of the described frameworks by pointing out some open research directions.

FedQAS: Privacy-aware machine reading comprehension with federated learning Artificial Intelligence

Machine reading comprehension (MRC) of text data is one important task in Natural Language Understanding. It is a complex NLP problem with a lot of ongoing research fueled by the release of the Stanford Question Answering Dataset (SQuAD) and Conversational Question Answering (CoQA). It is considered to be an effort to teach computers how to "understand" a text, and then to be able to answer questions about it using deep learning. However, until now large-scale training on private text data and knowledge sharing has been missing for this NLP task. Hence, we present FedQAS, a privacy-preserving machine reading system capable of leveraging large-scale private data without the need to pool those datasets in a central location. The proposed approach combines transformer models and federated learning technologies. The system is developed using the FEDn framework and deployed as a proof-of-concept alliance initiative. FedQAS is flexible, language-agnostic, and allows intuitive participation and execution of local model training. In addition, we present the architecture and implementation of the system, as well as provide a reference evaluation based on the SQUAD dataset, to showcase how it overcomes data privacy issues and enables knowledge sharing between alliance members in a Federated learning setting.

Formal Mathematics Statement Curriculum Learning Artificial Intelligence

We explore the use of expert iteration in the context of language modeling applied to formal mathematics. We show that at same compute budget, expert iteration, by which we mean proof search interleaved with learning, dramatically outperforms proof search only. We also observe that when applied to a collection of formal statements of sufficiently varied difficulty, expert iteration is capable of finding and solving a curriculum of increasingly difficult problems, without the need for associated ground-truth proofs. Finally, by applying this expert iteration to a manually curated set of problem statements, we achieve state-of-the-art on the miniF2F benchmark, automatically solving multiple challenging problems drawn from high school olympiads.

NL-Augmenter: A Framework for Task-Sensitive Natural Language Augmentation Artificial Intelligence

Data augmentation is an important component in the robustness evaluation of models in natural language processing (NLP) and in enhancing the diversity of the data they are trained on. In this paper, we present NL-Augmenter, a new participatory Python-based natural language augmentation framework which supports the creation of both transformations (modifications to the data) and filters (data splits according to specific features). We describe the framework and an initial set of 117 transformations and 23 filters for a variety of natural language tasks. We demonstrate the efficacy of NL-Augmenter by using several of its transformations to analyze the robustness of popular natural language models. The infrastructure, datacards and robustness analysis results are available publicly on the NL-Augmenter repository (\url{}).

Multi-Task Learning in Natural Language Processing: An Overview Artificial Intelligence

Deep learning approaches have achieved great success in the field of Natural Language Processing (NLP). However, deep neural models often suffer from overfitting and data scarcity problems that are pervasive in NLP tasks. In recent years, Multi-Task Learning (MTL), which can leverage useful information of related tasks to achieve simultaneous performance improvement on multiple related tasks, has been used to handle these problems. In this paper, we give an overview of the use of MTL in NLP tasks. We first review MTL architectures used in NLP tasks and categorize them into four classes, including the parallel architecture, hierarchical architecture, modular architecture, and generative adversarial architecture. Then we present optimization techniques on loss construction, data sampling, and task scheduling to properly train a multi-task model. After presenting applications of MTL in a variety of NLP tasks, we introduce some benchmark datasets. Finally, we make a conclusion and discuss several possible research directions in this field.

Trends in Integration of Vision and Language Research: A Survey of Tasks, Datasets, and Methods

Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research

Interest in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its applications has seen unprecedented growth in the last few years. This success can be partly attributed to the advancements made in the sub-fields of AI such as machine learning, computer vision, and natural language processing. Much of the growth in these fields has been made possible with deep learning, a sub-area of machine learning that uses artificial neural networks. This has created significant interest in the integration of vision and language. In this survey, we focus on ten prominent tasks that integrate language and vision by discussing their problem formulation, methods, existing datasets, evaluation measures, and compare the results obtained with corresponding state-of-the-art methods. Our efforts go beyond earlier surveys which are either task-specific or concentrate only on one type of visual content, i.e., image or video. Furthermore, we also provide some potential future directions in this field of research with an anticipation that this survey stimulates innovative thoughts and ideas to address the existing challenges and build new applications.

On the Opportunities and Risks of Foundation Models Artificial Intelligence

AI is undergoing a paradigm shift with the rise of models (e.g., BERT, DALL-E, GPT-3) that are trained on broad data at scale and are adaptable to a wide range of downstream tasks. We call these models foundation models to underscore their critically central yet incomplete character. This report provides a thorough account of the opportunities and risks of foundation models, ranging from their capabilities (e.g., language, vision, robotics, reasoning, human interaction) and technical principles(e.g., model architectures, training procedures, data, systems, security, evaluation, theory) to their applications (e.g., law, healthcare, education) and societal impact (e.g., inequity, misuse, economic and environmental impact, legal and ethical considerations). Though foundation models are based on standard deep learning and transfer learning, their scale results in new emergent capabilities,and their effectiveness across so many tasks incentivizes homogenization. Homogenization provides powerful leverage but demands caution, as the defects of the foundation model are inherited by all the adapted models downstream. Despite the impending widespread deployment of foundation models, we currently lack a clear understanding of how they work, when they fail, and what they are even capable of due to their emergent properties. To tackle these questions, we believe much of the critical research on foundation models will require deep interdisciplinary collaboration commensurate with their fundamentally sociotechnical nature.

Bi-Bimodal Modality Fusion for Correlation-Controlled Multimodal Sentiment Analysis Artificial Intelligence

Multimodal sentiment analysis aims to extract and integrate semantic information collected from multiple modalities to recognize the expressed emotions and sentiment in multimodal data. This research area's major concern lies in developing an extraordinary fusion scheme that can extract and integrate key information from various modalities. However, one issue that may restrict previous work to achieve a higher level is the lack of proper modeling for the dynamics of the competition between the independence and relevance among modalities, which could deteriorate fusion outcomes by causing the collapse of modality-specific feature space or introducing extra noise. To mitigate this, we propose the Bi-Bimodal Fusion Network (BBFN), a novel end-to-end network that performs fusion (relevance increment) and separation (difference increment) on pairwise modality representations. The two parts are trained simultaneously such that the combat between them is simulated. The model takes two bimodal pairs as input due to the known information imbalance among modalities. In addition, we leverage a gated control mechanism in the Transformer architecture to further improve the final output. Experimental results on three datasets (CMU-MOSI, CMU-MOSEI, and UR-FUNNY) verifies that our model significantly outperforms the SOTA. The implementation of this work is available at

Pre-train, Prompt, and Predict: A Systematic Survey of Prompting Methods in Natural Language Processing Artificial Intelligence

This paper surveys and organizes research works in a new paradigm in natural language processing, which we dub "prompt-based learning". Unlike traditional supervised learning, which trains a model to take in an input x and predict an output y as P(y|x), prompt-based learning is based on language models that model the probability of text directly. To use these models to perform prediction tasks, the original input x is modified using a template into a textual string prompt x' that has some unfilled slots, and then the language model is used to probabilistically fill the unfilled information to obtain a final string x, from which the final output y can be derived. This framework is powerful and attractive for a number of reasons: it allows the language model to be pre-trained on massive amounts of raw text, and by defining a new prompting function the model is able to perform few-shot or even zero-shot learning, adapting to new scenarios with few or no labeled data. In this paper we introduce the basics of this promising paradigm, describe a unified set of mathematical notations that can cover a wide variety of existing work, and organize existing work along several dimensions, e.g.the choice of pre-trained models, prompts, and tuning strategies. To make the field more accessible to interested beginners, we not only make a systematic review of existing works and a highly structured typology of prompt-based concepts, but also release other resources, e.g., a website including constantly-updated survey, and paperlist.