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Daniel Fried

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Asking More Informative Questions for Grounded Retrieval

Nov 14, 2023
Sedrick Keh, Justin T. Chiu, Daniel Fried

When a model is trying to gather information in an interactive setting, it benefits from asking informative questions. However, in the case of a grounded multi-turn image identification task, previous studies have been constrained to polar yes/no questions, limiting how much information the model can gain in a single turn. We present an approach that formulates more informative, open-ended questions. In doing so, we discover that off-the-shelf visual question answering (VQA) models often make presupposition errors, which standard information gain question selection methods fail to account for. To address this issue, we propose a method that can incorporate presupposition handling into both question selection and belief updates. Specifically, we use a two-stage process, where the model first filters out images which are irrelevant to a given question, then updates its beliefs about which image the user intends. Through self-play and human evaluations, we show that our method is successful in asking informative open-ended questions, increasing accuracy over the past state-of-the-art by 14%, while resulting in 48% more efficient games in human evaluations.

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Generating Pragmatic Examples to Train Neural Program Synthesizers

Nov 09, 2023
Saujas Vaduguru, Daniel Fried, Yewen Pu

Programming-by-example is the task of synthesizing a program that is consistent with a set of user-provided input-output examples. As examples are often an under-specification of one's intent, a good synthesizer must choose the intended program from the many that are consistent with the given set of examples. Prior work frames program synthesis as a cooperative game between a listener (that synthesizes programs) and a speaker (a user choosing examples), and shows that models of computational pragmatic inference are effective in choosing the user intended programs. However, these models require counterfactual reasoning over a large set of programs and examples, which is infeasible in realistic program spaces. In this paper, we propose a novel way to amortize this search with neural networks. We sample pairs of programs and examples via self-play between listener and speaker models, and use pragmatic inference to choose informative training examples from this sample.We then use the informative dataset to train models to improve the synthesizer's ability to disambiguate user-provided examples without human supervision. We validate our method on the challenging task of synthesizing regular expressions from example strings, and find that our method (1) outperforms models trained without choosing pragmatic examples by 23% (a 51% relative increase) (2) matches the performance of supervised learning on a dataset of pragmatic examples provided by humans, despite using no human data in training.

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Comparative Knowledge Distillation

Nov 03, 2023
Alex Wilf, Alex Tianyi Xu, Paul Pu Liang, Alexander Obolenskiy, Daniel Fried, Louis-Philippe Morency

In the era of large scale pretrained models, Knowledge Distillation (KD) serves an important role in transferring the wisdom of computationally heavy teacher models to lightweight, efficient student models while preserving performance. Traditional KD paradigms, however, assume readily available access to teacher models for frequent inference -- a notion increasingly at odds with the realities of costly, often proprietary, large scale models. Addressing this gap, our paper considers how to minimize the dependency on teacher model inferences in KD in a setting we term Few Teacher Inference Knowledge Distillation (FTI KD). We observe that prevalent KD techniques and state of the art data augmentation strategies fall short in this constrained setting. Drawing inspiration from educational principles that emphasize learning through comparison, we propose Comparative Knowledge Distillation (CKD), which encourages student models to understand the nuanced differences in a teacher model's interpretations of samples. Critically, CKD provides additional learning signals to the student without making additional teacher calls. We also extend the principle of CKD to groups of samples, enabling even more efficient learning from limited teacher calls. Empirical evaluation across varied experimental settings indicates that CKD consistently outperforms state of the art data augmentation and KD techniques.

* arXiv admin note: text overlap with arXiv:2310.13011 
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Data Augmentation for Code Translation with Comparable Corpora and Multiple References

Nov 01, 2023
Yiqing Xie, Atharva Naik, Daniel Fried, Carolyn Rose

One major challenge of translating code between programming languages is that parallel training data is often limited. To overcome this challenge, we present two data augmentation techniques, one that builds comparable corpora (i.e., code pairs with similar functionality), and another that augments existing parallel data with multiple reference translations. Specifically, we build and analyze multiple types of comparable corpora, including programs generated from natural language documentation using a code generation model. Furthermore, to reduce overfitting to a single reference translation, we automatically generate additional translation references for available parallel data and filter the translations by unit tests, which increases variation in target translations. Experiments show that our data augmentation techniques significantly improve CodeT5 for translation between Java, Python, and C++ by an average of 7.5% Computational Accuracy (CA@1), which verifies the correctness of translations by execution. The code is available at

* EMNLP 2023 Findings 
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Symbolic Planning and Code Generation for Grounded Dialogue

Oct 26, 2023
Justin T. Chiu, Wenting Zhao, Derek Chen, Saujas Vaduguru, Alexander M. Rush, Daniel Fried

Large language models (LLMs) excel at processing and generating both text and code. However, LLMs have had limited applicability in grounded task-oriented dialogue as they are difficult to steer toward task objectives and fail to handle novel grounding. We present a modular and interpretable grounded dialogue system that addresses these shortcomings by composing LLMs with a symbolic planner and grounded code execution. Our system consists of a reader and planner: the reader leverages an LLM to convert partner utterances into executable code, calling functions that perform grounding. The translated code's output is stored to track dialogue state, while a symbolic planner determines the next appropriate response. We evaluate our system's performance on the demanding OneCommon dialogue task, involving collaborative reference resolution on abstract images of scattered dots. Our system substantially outperforms the previous state-of-the-art, including improving task success in human evaluations from 56% to 69% in the most challenging setting.

* Accepted to EMNLP 2023 
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API-Assisted Code Generation for Question Answering on Varied Table Structures

Oct 23, 2023
Yihan Cao, Shuyi Chen, Ryan Liu, Zhiruo Wang, Daniel Fried

A persistent challenge to table question answering (TableQA) by generating executable programs has been adapting to varied table structures, typically requiring domain-specific logical forms. In response, this paper introduces a unified TableQA framework that: (1) provides a unified representation for structured tables as multi-index Pandas data frames, (2) uses Python as a powerful querying language, and (3) uses few-shot prompting to translate NL questions into Python programs, which are executable on Pandas data frames. Furthermore, to answer complex relational questions with extended program functionality and external knowledge, our framework allows customized APIs that Python programs can call. We experiment with four TableQA datasets that involve tables of different structures -- relational, multi-table, and hierarchical matrix shapes -- and achieve prominent improvements over past state-of-the-art systems. In ablation studies, we (1) show benefits from our multi-index representation and APIs over baselines that use only an LLM, and (2) demonstrate that our approach is modular and can incorporate additional APIs.

* EMNLP 2023 camera ready, 13 pages, 11 figures 
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SOTOPIA: Interactive Evaluation for Social Intelligence in Language Agents

Oct 18, 2023
Xuhui Zhou, Hao Zhu, Leena Mathur, Ruohong Zhang, Haofei Yu, Zhengyang Qi, Louis-Philippe Morency, Yonatan Bisk, Daniel Fried, Graham Neubig, Maarten Sap

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Humans are social beings; we pursue social goals in our daily interactions, which is a crucial aspect of social intelligence. Yet, AI systems' abilities in this realm remain elusive. We present SOTOPIA, an open-ended environment to simulate complex social interactions between artificial agents and evaluate their social intelligence. In our environment, agents role-play and interact under a wide variety of scenarios; they coordinate, collaborate, exchange, and compete with each other to achieve complex social goals. We simulate the role-play interaction between LLM-based agents and humans within this task space and evaluate their performance with a holistic evaluation framework called SOTOPIA-Eval. With SOTOPIA, we find significant differences between these models in terms of their social intelligence, and we identify a subset of SOTOPIA scenarios, SOTOPIA-hard, that is generally challenging for all models. We find that on this subset, GPT-4 achieves a significantly lower goal completion rate than humans and struggles to exhibit social commonsense reasoning and strategic communication skills. These findings demonstrate SOTOPIA's promise as a general platform for research on evaluating and improving social intelligence in artificial agents.

* Preprint, 43 pages. The first two authors contribute equally 
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Amortizing Pragmatic Program Synthesis with Rankings

Sep 01, 2023
Yewen Pu, Saujas Vaduguru, Priyan Vaithilingam, Elena Glassman, Daniel Fried

In program synthesis, an intelligent system takes in a set of user-generated examples and returns a program that is logically consistent with these examples. The usage of Rational Speech Acts (RSA) framework has been successful in building \emph{pragmatic} program synthesizers that return programs which -- in addition to being logically consistent -- account for the fact that a user chooses their examples informatively. However, the computational burden of running the RSA algorithm has restricted the application of pragmatic program synthesis to domains with a small number of possible programs. This work presents a novel method of amortizing the RSA algorithm by leveraging a \emph{global pragmatic ranking} -- a single, total ordering of all the hypotheses. We prove that for a pragmatic synthesizer that uses a single demonstration, our global ranking method exactly replicates RSA's ranked responses. We further empirically show that global rankings effectively approximate the full pragmatic synthesizer in an online, multi-demonstration setting. Experiments on two program synthesis domains using our pragmatic ranking method resulted in orders of magnitudes of speed ups compared to the RSA synthesizer, while outperforming the standard, non-pragmatic synthesizer.

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WebArena: A Realistic Web Environment for Building Autonomous Agents

Jul 25, 2023
Shuyan Zhou, Frank F. Xu, Hao Zhu, Xuhui Zhou, Robert Lo, Abishek Sridhar, Xianyi Cheng, Yonatan Bisk, Daniel Fried, Uri Alon, Graham Neubig

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With generative AI advances, the exciting potential for autonomous agents to manage daily tasks via natural language commands has emerged. However, cur rent agents are primarily created and tested in simplified synthetic environments, substantially limiting real-world scenario representation. In this paper, we build an environment for agent command and control that is highly realistic and reproducible. Specifically, we focus on agents that perform tasks on websites, and we create an environment with fully functional websites from four common domains: e-commerce, social forum discussions, collaborative software development, and content management. Our environment is enriched with tools (e.g., a map) and external knowledge bases (e.g., user manuals) to encourage human-like task-solving. Building upon our environment, we release a set of benchmark tasks focusing on evaluating the functional correctness of task completions. The tasks in our benchmark are diverse, long-horizon, and are designed to emulate tasks that humans routinely perform on the internet. We design and implement several autonomous agents, integrating recent techniques such as reasoning before acting. The results demonstrate that solving complex tasks is challenging: our best GPT-4-based agent only achieves an end-to-end task success rate of 10.59%. These results highlight the need for further development of robust agents, that current state-of-the-art LMs are far from perfect performance in these real-life tasks, and that WebArena can be used to measure such progress. Our code, data, environment reproduction resources, and video demonstrations are publicly available at

* Work in progress 
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Pragmatic Inference with a CLIP Listener for Contrastive Captioning

Jun 15, 2023
Jiefu Ou, Benno Krojer, Daniel Fried

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We propose a simple yet effective and robust method for contrastive captioning: generating discriminative captions that distinguish target images from very similar alternative distractor images. Our approach is built on a pragmatic inference procedure that formulates captioning as a reference game between a speaker, which produces possible captions describing the target, and a listener, which selects the target given the caption. Unlike previous methods that derive both speaker and listener distributions from a single captioning model, we leverage an off-the-shelf CLIP model to parameterize the listener. Compared with captioner-only pragmatic models, our method benefits from rich vision language alignment representations from CLIP when reasoning over distractors. Like previous methods for discriminative captioning, our method uses a hyperparameter to control the tradeoff between the informativity (how likely captions are to allow a human listener to discriminate the target image) and the fluency of the captions. However, we find that our method is substantially more robust to the value of this hyperparameter than past methods, which allows us to automatically optimize the captions for informativity - outperforming past methods for discriminative captioning by 11% to 15% accuracy in human evaluations

* Findings of ACL 2023, fixed some references 
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