Spatial sound reasoning is a fundamental human skill, enabling us to navigate and interpret our surroundings based on sound. In this paper we present BAT, which combines the spatial sound perception ability of a binaural acoustic scene analysis model with the natural language reasoning capabilities of a large language model (LLM) to replicate this innate ability. To address the lack of existing datasets of in-the-wild spatial sounds, we synthesized a binaural audio dataset using AudioSet and SoundSpaces 2.0. Next, we developed SpatialSoundQA, a spatial sound-based question-answering dataset, offering a range of QA tasks that train BAT in various aspects of spatial sound perception and reasoning. The acoustic front end encoder of BAT is a novel spatial audio encoder named Spatial Audio Spectrogram Transformer, or Spatial-AST, which by itself achieves strong performance across sound event detection, spatial localization, and distance estimation. By integrating Spatial-AST with LLaMA-2 7B model, BAT transcends standard Sound Event Localization and Detection (SELD) tasks, enabling the model to reason about the relationships between the sounds in its environment. Our experiments demonstrate BAT's superior performance on both spatial sound perception and reasoning, showcasing the immense potential of LLMs in navigating and interpreting complex spatial audio environments.
In-context learning has been applied to knowledge-rich tasks such as question answering. In such scenarios, in-context examples are used to trigger a behaviour in the language model: namely, it should surface information stored in its parametric knowledge. We study the construction of in-context example sets, with a focus on the parametric knowledge of the model regarding in-context examples. We identify 'known' examples, where models can correctly answer from its parametric knowledge, and 'unknown' ones. Our experiments show that prompting with 'unknown' examples decreases the performance, potentially as it encourages hallucination rather than searching its parametric knowledge. Constructing an in-context example set that presents both known and unknown information performs the best across diverse settings. We perform analysis on three multi-answer question answering datasets, which allows us to further study answer set ordering strategies based on the LM's knowledge about each answer. Together, our study sheds lights on how to best construct in-context example sets for knowledge-rich tasks.
Resolving ambiguities through interaction is a hallmark of natural language, and modeling this behavior is a core challenge in crafting AI assistants. In this work, we study such behavior in LMs by proposing a task-agnostic framework for resolving ambiguity by asking users clarifying questions. Our framework breaks down this objective into three subtasks: (1) determining when clarification is needed, (2) determining what clarifying question to ask, and (3) responding accurately with the new information gathered through clarification. We evaluate systems across three NLP applications: question answering, machine translation and natural language inference. For the first subtask, we present a novel uncertainty estimation approach, intent-sim, that determines the utility of querying for clarification by estimating the entropy over user intents. Our method consistently outperforms existing uncertainty estimation approaches at identifying predictions that will benefit from clarification. When only allowed to ask for clarification on 10% of examples, our system is able to double the performance gains over randomly selecting examples to clarify. Furthermore, we find that intent-sim is robust, demonstrating improvements across a wide range of NLP tasks and LMs. Together, our work lays foundation for studying clarifying interactions with LMs.
We present a study of retrieval-augmented language models (LMs) on long-form question answering. We analyze how retrieval augmentation impacts different LMs, by comparing answers generated from models while using the same evidence documents, and how differing quality of retrieval document set impacts the answers generated from the same LM. We study various attributes of generated answers (e.g., fluency, length, variance) with an emphasis on the attribution of generated long-form answers to in-context evidence documents. We collect human annotations of answer attribution and evaluate methods for automatically judging attribution. Our study provides new insights on how retrieval augmentation impacts long, knowledge-rich text generation of LMs. We further identify attribution patterns for long text generation and analyze the main culprits of attribution errors. Together, our analysis reveals how retrieval augmentation impacts long knowledge-rich text generation and provide directions for future work.
Retrieving documents and prepending them in-context at inference time improves performance of language model (LMs) on a wide range of tasks. However, these documents, often spanning hundreds of words, make inference substantially more expensive. We propose compressing the retrieved documents into textual summaries prior to in-context integration. This not only reduces the computational costs but also relieves the burden of LMs to identify relevant information in long retrieved documents. We present two compressors -- an extractive compressor which selects useful sentences from retrieved documents and an abstractive compressor which generates summaries by synthesizing information from multiple documents. Both compressors are trained to improve LMs' performance on end tasks when the generated summaries are prepended to the LMs' input, while keeping the summary concise.If the retrieved documents are irrelevant to the input or offer no additional information to LM, our compressor can return an empty string, implementing selective augmentation.We evaluate our approach on language modeling task and open domain question answering task. We achieve a compression rate of as low as 6% with minimal loss in performance for both tasks, significantly outperforming the off-the-shelf summarization models. We show that our compressors trained for one LM can transfer to other LMs on the language modeling task and provide summaries largely faithful to the retrieved documents.
In collaboration with Postpartum Support International (PSI), a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting caregivers with postpartum mood and anxiety disorders, we developed three chatbots to provide context-specific empathetic support to postpartum caregivers, leveraging both rule-based and generative models. We present and evaluate the performance of our chatbots using both machine-based metrics and human-based questionnaires. Overall, our rule-based model achieves the best performance, with outputs that are close to ground truth reference and contain the highest levels of empathy. Human users prefer the rule-based chatbot over the generative chatbot for its context-specific and human-like replies. Our generative chatbot also produced empathetic responses and was described by human users as engaging. However, limitations in the training dataset often result in confusing or nonsensical responses. We conclude by discussing practical benefits of rule-based vs. generative models for supporting individuals with mental health challenges. In light of the recent surge of ChatGPT and BARD, we also discuss the possibilities and pitfalls of large language models for digital mental healthcare.
Modern language models have the capacity to store and use immense amounts of knowledge about real-world entities, but it remains unclear how to update their implicit "knowledge bases.'' While prior methods for updating knowledge in LMs successfully inject facts, updated LMs then fail to make inferences based on these injected facts. In this work, we demonstrate that a context distillation-based approach can both impart knowledge about entities and propagate that knowledge to enable broader inferences. Our approach consists of two stages: transfer set generation and distillation on the transfer set. We first generate a transfer set by simply prompting a language model to generate a continuation from the entity definition. Then, we update the model parameters so that the distribution of the LM (the student) matches the distribution of the LM conditioned on the definition (the teacher) on the transfer set. Our experiments demonstrate that this approach is more effective in propagating knowledge updates compared to fine-tuning and other gradient-based knowledge-editing methods without compromising performance in other contexts, even when injecting the definitions of up to 150 entities at once.
We present the first unified study of the efficiency of self-attention-based Transformer variants spanning text, speech and vision. We identify input length thresholds (tipping points) at which efficient Transformer variants become more efficient than vanilla models, using a variety of efficiency metrics (latency, throughput, and memory). To conduct this analysis for speech, we introduce L-HuBERT, a novel local-attention variant of a self-supervised speech model. We observe that these thresholds are (a) much higher than typical dataset sequence lengths and (b) dependent on the metric and modality, showing that choosing the right model depends on modality, task type (long-form vs. typical context) and resource constraints (time vs. memory). By visualising the breakdown of the computational costs for transformer components, we also show that non-self-attention components exhibit significant computational costs. We release our profiling toolkit at https://github.com/ajd12342/profiling-transformers .
Long-form question answering systems provide rich information by presenting paragraph-level answers, often containing optional background or auxiliary information. While such comprehensive answers are helpful, not all information is required to answer the question (e.g. users with domain knowledge do not need an explanation of background). Can we provide a concise version of the answer by summarizing it, while still addressing the question? We conduct a user study on summarized answers generated from state-of-the-art models and our newly proposed extract-and-decontextualize approach. We find a large proportion of long-form answers (over 90%) in the ELI5 domain can be adequately summarized by at least one system, while complex and implicit answers are challenging to compress. We observe that decontextualization improves the quality of the extractive summary, exemplifying its potential in the summarization task. To promote future work, we provide an extractive summarization dataset covering 1K long-form answers and our user study annotations. Together, we present the first study on summarizing long-form answers, taking a step forward for QA agents that can provide answers at multiple granularities.
Long-form question answering (LFQA) enables answering a wide range of questions, but its flexibility poses enormous challenges for evaluation. We perform the first targeted study of the evaluation of long-form answers, covering both human and automatic evaluation practices. We hire domain experts in seven areas to provide preference judgments over pairs of answers, along with free-form justifications for their choices. We present a careful analysis of experts' evaluation, which focuses on new aspects such as the comprehensiveness of the answer. Next, we examine automatic text generation metrics, finding that no existing metrics are predictive of human preference judgments. However, some metrics correlate with fine-grained aspects of answers (e.g., coherence). We encourage future work to move away from a single "overall score" of the answer and adopt a multi-faceted evaluation, targeting aspects such as factuality and completeness. We publicly release all of our annotations and code to spur future work into LFQA evaluation.