Using large language models (LMs) for query or document expansion can improve generalization in information retrieval. However, it is unknown whether these techniques are universally beneficial or only effective in specific settings, such as for particular retrieval models, dataset domains, or query types. To answer this, we conduct the first comprehensive analysis of LM-based expansion. We find that there exists a strong negative correlation between retriever performance and gains from expansion: expansion improves scores for weaker models, but generally harms stronger models. We show this trend holds across a set of eleven expansion techniques, twelve datasets with diverse distribution shifts, and twenty-four retrieval models. Through qualitative error analysis, we hypothesize that although expansions provide extra information (potentially improving recall), they add additional noise that makes it difficult to discern between the top relevant documents (thus introducing false positives). Our results suggest the following recipe: use expansions for weaker models or when the target dataset significantly differs from training corpus in format; otherwise, avoid expansions to keep the relevance signal clear.
To foster the development of new models for collaborative AI-assisted report generation, we introduce MegaWika, consisting of 13 million Wikipedia articles in 50 diverse languages, along with their 71 million referenced source materials. We process this dataset for a myriad of applications, going beyond the initial Wikipedia citation extraction and web scraping of content, including translating non-English articles for cross-lingual applications and providing FrameNet parses for automated semantic analysis. MegaWika is the largest resource for sentence-level report generation and the only report generation dataset that is multilingual. We manually analyze the quality of this resource through a semantically stratified sample. Finally, we provide baseline results and trained models for crucial steps in automated report generation: cross-lingual question answering and citation retrieval.
Large Language Models (LLMs) may hallucinate and generate fake information, despite pre-training on factual data. Inspired by the journalistic device of "according to sources", we propose according-to prompting: directing LLMs to ground responses against previously observed text. To quantify this grounding, we propose a novel evaluation metric (QUIP-Score) that measures the extent to which model-produced answers are directly found in underlying text corpora. We illustrate with experiments on Wikipedia that these prompts improve grounding under our metrics, with the additional benefit of often improving end-task performance. Furthermore, prompts that ask the model to decrease grounding (or to ground to other corpora) decrease grounding, indicating the ability of language models to increase or decrease grounded generations on request.
Negation is a common everyday phenomena and has been a consistent area of weakness for language models (LMs). Although the Information Retrieval (IR) community has adopted LMs as the backbone of modern IR architectures, there has been little to no research in understanding how negation impacts neural IR. We therefore construct a straightforward benchmark on this theme: asking IR models to rank two documents that differ only by negation. We show that the results vary widely according to the type of IR architecture: cross-encoders perform best, followed by late-interaction models, and in last place are bi-encoder and sparse neural architectures. We find that most current information retrieval models do not consider negation, performing similarly or worse than randomly ranking. We show that although the obvious approach of continued fine-tuning on a dataset of contrastive documents containing negations increases performance (as does model size), there is still a large gap between machine and human performance.
A key stumbling block for neural cross-language information retrieval (CLIR) systems has been the paucity of training data. The appearance of the MS MARCO monolingual training set led to significant advances in the state of the art in neural monolingual retrieval. By translating the MS MARCO documents into other languages using machine translation, this resource has been made useful to the CLIR community. Yet such translation suffers from a number of problems. While MS MARCO is a large resource, it is of fixed size; its genre and domain of discourse are fixed; and the translated documents are not written in the language of a native speaker of the language, but rather in translationese. To address these problems, we introduce the JH-POLO CLIR training set creation methodology. The approach begins by selecting a pair of non-English passages. A generative large language model is then used to produce an English query for which the first passage is relevant and the second passage is not relevant. By repeating this process, collections of arbitrary size can be created in the style of MS MARCO but using naturally-occurring documents in any desired genre and domain of discourse. This paper describes the methodology in detail, shows its use in creating new CLIR training sets, and describes experiments using the newly created training data.
Answering complex questions often requires multi-step reasoning in order to obtain the final answer. Most research into decompositions of complex questions involves open-domain systems, which have shown success in using these decompositions for improved retrieval. In the machine reading setting, however, work to understand when decompositions are helpful is understudied. We conduct experiments on decompositions in machine reading to unify recent work in this space, using a range of models and datasets. We find that decompositions can be helpful in the few-shot case, giving several points of improvement in exact match scores. However, we also show that when models are given access to datasets with around a few hundred or more examples, decompositions are not helpful (and can actually be detrimental). Thus, our analysis implies that models can learn decompositions implicitly even with limited data.
Recent work in open-domain question answering (ODQA) has shown that adversarial poisoning of the input contexts can cause large drops in accuracy for production systems. However, little to no work has proposed methods to defend against these attacks. To do so, we introduce a new method that uses query augmentation to search for a diverse set of retrieved passages that could answer the original question. We integrate these new passages into the model through the design of a novel confidence method, comparing the predicted answer to its appearance in the retrieved contexts (what we call Confidence from Answer Redundancy, e.g. CAR). Together these methods allow for a simple but effective way to defend against poisoning attacks and provide gains of 5-20% exact match across varying levels of data poisoning.
Since the advent of Federated Learning (FL), research has applied these methods to natural language processing (NLP) tasks. Despite a plethora of papers in FL for NLP, no previous works have studied how multilingual text impacts FL algorithms. Furthermore, multilingual text provides an interesting avenue to examine the impact of non-IID text (e.g. different languages) on FL in naturally occurring data. We explore three multilingual language tasks, language modeling, machine translation, and text classification using differing federated and non-federated learning algorithms. Our results show that using pretrained models reduces the negative effects of FL, helping them to perform near or better than centralized (no privacy) learning, even when using non-IID partitioning.
Transfer learning (TL) in natural language processing (NLP) has seen a surge of interest in recent years, as pre-trained models have shown an impressive ability to transfer to novel tasks. Three main strategies have emerged for making use of multiple supervised datasets during fine-tuning: training on an intermediate task before training on the target task (STILTs), using multi-task learning (MTL) to train jointly on a supplementary task and the target task (pairwise MTL), or simply using MTL to train jointly on all available datasets (MTL-ALL). In this work, we compare all three TL methods in a comprehensive analysis on the GLUE dataset suite. We find that there is a simple heuristic for when to use one of these techniques over the other: pairwise MTL is better than STILTs when the target task has fewer instances than the supporting task and vice versa. We show that this holds true in more than 92% of applicable cases on the GLUE dataset and validate this hypothesis with experiments varying dataset size. The simplicity and effectiveness of this heuristic is surprising and warrants additional exploration by the TL community. Furthermore, we find that MTL-ALL is worse than the pairwise methods in almost every case. We hope this study will aid others as they choose between TL methods for NLP tasks.
Code switching (CS) refers to the phenomenon of interchangeably using words and phrases from different languages. CS can pose significant accuracy challenges to NLP, due to the often monolingual nature of the underlying systems. In this work, we focus on CS in the context of English/Spanish conversations for the task of speech translation (ST), generating and evaluating both transcript and translation. To evaluate model performance on this task, we create a novel ST corpus derived from existing public data sets. We explore various ST architectures across two dimensions: cascaded (transcribe then translate) vs end-to-end (jointly transcribe and translate) and unidirectional (source -> target) vs bidirectional (source <-> target). We show that our ST architectures, and especially our bidirectional end-to-end architecture, perform well on CS speech, even when no CS training data is used.