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Barbara Plank

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Universal NER: A Gold-Standard Multilingual Named Entity Recognition Benchmark

Nov 15, 2023
Stephen Mayhew, Terra Blevins, Shuheng Liu, Marek Šuppa, Hila Gonen, Joseph Marvin Imperial, Börje F. Karlsson, Peiqin Lin, Nikola Ljubešić, LJ Miranda, Barbara Plank, Arij Riabi, Yuval Pinter

We introduce Universal NER (UNER), an open, community-driven project to develop gold-standard NER benchmarks in many languages. The overarching goal of UNER is to provide high-quality, cross-lingually consistent annotations to facilitate and standardize multilingual NER research. UNER v1 contains 18 datasets annotated with named entities in a cross-lingual consistent schema across 12 diverse languages. In this paper, we detail the dataset creation and composition of UNER; we also provide initial modeling baselines on both in-language and cross-lingual learning settings. We release the data, code, and fitted models to the public.

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Subspace Chronicles: How Linguistic Information Emerges, Shifts and Interacts during Language Model Training

Oct 25, 2023
Max Müller-Eberstein, Rob van der Goot, Barbara Plank, Ivan Titov

Representational spaces learned via language modeling are fundamental to Natural Language Processing (NLP), however there has been limited understanding regarding how and when during training various types of linguistic information emerge and interact. Leveraging a novel information theoretic probing suite, which enables direct comparisons of not just task performance, but their representational subspaces, we analyze nine tasks covering syntax, semantics and reasoning, across 2M pre-training steps and five seeds. We identify critical learning phases across tasks and time, during which subspaces emerge, share information, and later disentangle to specialize. Across these phases, syntactic knowledge is acquired rapidly after 0.5% of full training. Continued performance improvements primarily stem from the acquisition of open-domain knowledge, while semantics and reasoning tasks benefit from later boosts to long-range contextualization and higher specialization. Measuring cross-task similarity further reveals that linguistically related tasks share information throughout training, and do so more during the critical phase of learning than before or after. Our findings have implications for model interpretability, multi-task learning, and learning from limited data.

* Accepted at EMNLP 2023 (Findings) 
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From Dissonance to Insights: Dissecting Disagreements in Rationale Construction for Case Outcome Classification

Oct 24, 2023
Shanshan Xu, T. Y. S. S Santosh, Oana Ichim, Isabella Risini, Barbara Plank, Matthias Grabmair

In legal NLP, Case Outcome Classification (COC) must not only be accurate but also trustworthy and explainable. Existing work in explainable COC has been limited to annotations by a single expert. However, it is well-known that lawyers may disagree in their assessment of case facts. We hence collect a novel dataset RAVE: Rationale Variation in ECHR1, which is obtained from two experts in the domain of international human rights law, for whom we observe weak agreement. We study their disagreements and build a two-level task-independent taxonomy, supplemented with COC-specific subcategories. To our knowledge, this is the first work in the legal NLP that focuses on human label variation. We quantitatively assess different taxonomy categories and find that disagreements mainly stem from underspecification of the legal context, which poses challenges given the typically limited granularity and noise in COC metadata. We further assess the explainablility of SOTA COC models on RAVE and observe limited agreement between models and experts. Overall, our case study reveals hitherto underappreciated complexities in creating benchmark datasets in legal NLP that revolve around identifying aspects of a case's facts supposedly relevant to its outcome.

* Accepted to EMNLP 2023 
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Establishing Trustworthiness: Rethinking Tasks and Model Evaluation

Oct 23, 2023
Robert Litschko, Max Müller-Eberstein, Rob van der Goot, Leon Weber, Barbara Plank

Figure 1 for Establishing Trustworthiness: Rethinking Tasks and Model Evaluation

Language understanding is a multi-faceted cognitive capability, which the Natural Language Processing (NLP) community has striven to model computationally for decades. Traditionally, facets of linguistic intelligence have been compartmentalized into tasks with specialized model architectures and corresponding evaluation protocols. With the advent of large language models (LLMs) the community has witnessed a dramatic shift towards general purpose, task-agnostic approaches powered by generative models. As a consequence, the traditional compartmentalized notion of language tasks is breaking down, followed by an increasing challenge for evaluation and analysis. At the same time, LLMs are being deployed in more real-world scenarios, including previously unforeseen zero-shot setups, increasing the need for trustworthy and reliable systems. Therefore, we argue that it is time to rethink what constitutes tasks and model evaluation in NLP, and pursue a more holistic view on language, placing trustworthiness at the center. Towards this goal, we review existing compartmentalized approaches for understanding the origins of a model's functional capacity, and provide recommendations for more multi-faceted evaluation protocols.

* Accepted at EMNLP 2023 (Main Conference), camera-ready 
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ACTOR: Active Learning with Annotator-specific Classification Heads to Embrace Human Label Variation

Oct 23, 2023
Xinpeng Wang, Barbara Plank

Label aggregation such as majority voting is commonly used to resolve annotator disagreement in dataset creation. However, this may disregard minority values and opinions. Recent studies indicate that learning from individual annotations outperforms learning from aggregated labels, though they require a considerable amount of annotation. Active learning, as an annotation cost-saving strategy, has not been fully explored in the context of learning from disagreement. We show that in the active learning setting, a multi-head model performs significantly better than a single-head model in terms of uncertainty estimation. By designing and evaluating acquisition functions with annotator-specific heads on two datasets, we show that group-level entropy works generally well on both datasets. Importantly, it achieves performance in terms of both prediction and uncertainty estimation comparable to full-scale training from disagreement, while saving up to 70% of the annotation budget.

* EMNLP 2023 Main 
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LoHoRavens: A Long-Horizon Language-Conditioned Benchmark for Robotic Tabletop Manipulation

Oct 23, 2023
Shengqiang Zhang, Philipp Wicke, Lütfi Kerem Şenel, Luis Figueredo, Abdeldjallil Naceri, Sami Haddadin, Barbara Plank, Hinrich Schütze

The convergence of embodied agents and large language models (LLMs) has brought significant advancements to embodied instruction following. Particularly, the strong reasoning capabilities of LLMs make it possible for robots to perform long-horizon tasks without expensive annotated demonstrations. However, public benchmarks for testing the long-horizon reasoning capabilities of language-conditioned robots in various scenarios are still missing. To fill this gap, this work focuses on the tabletop manipulation task and releases a simulation benchmark, \textit{LoHoRavens}, which covers various long-horizon reasoning aspects spanning color, size, space, arithmetics and reference. Furthermore, there is a key modality bridging problem for long-horizon manipulation tasks with LLMs: how to incorporate the observation feedback during robot execution for the LLM's closed-loop planning, which is however less studied by prior work. We investigate two methods of bridging the modality gap: caption generation and learnable interface for incorporating explicit and implicit observation feedback to the LLM, respectively. These methods serve as the two baselines for our proposed benchmark. Experiments show that both methods struggle to solve some tasks, indicating long-horizon manipulation tasks are still challenging for current popular models. We expect the proposed public benchmark and baselines can help the community develop better models for long-horizon tabletop manipulation tasks.

* 6 pages, 4 figures. The video and code of LoHoRavens are available at 
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Donkii: Can Annotation Error Detection Methods Find Errors in Instruction-Tuning Datasets?

Sep 04, 2023
Leon Weber-Genzel, Robert Litschko, Ekaterina Artemova, Barbara Plank

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Instruction-tuning has become an integral part of training pipelines for Large Language Models (LLMs) and has been shown to yield strong performance gains. In an orthogonal line of research, Annotation Error Detection (AED) has emerged as a tool for detecting quality issues of gold-standard labels. But so far, the application of AED methods is limited to discriminative settings. It is an open question how well AED methods generalize to generative settings which are becoming widespread via generative LLMs. In this work, we present a first and new benchmark for AED on instruction-tuning data: Donkii. It encompasses three instruction-tuning datasets enriched with annotations by experts and semi-automatic methods. We find that all three datasets contain clear-cut errors that sometimes directly propagate into instruction-tuned LLMs. We propose four AED baselines for the generative setting and evaluate them comprehensively on the newly introduced dataset. Our results demonstrate that choosing the right AED method and model size is indeed crucial, thereby deriving practical recommendations. To gain insights, we provide a first case-study to examine how the quality of the instruction-tuning datasets influences downstream performance.

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