The recent explosion of performance of large language models (LLMs) has changed the field of Natural Language Processing (NLP) more abruptly and seismically than any other shift in the field's 80-year history. This has resulted in concerns that the field will become homogenized and resource-intensive. The new status quo has put many academic researchers, especially PhD students, at a disadvantage. This paper aims to define a new NLP playground by proposing 20+ PhD-dissertation-worthy research directions, covering theoretical analysis, new and challenging problems, learning paradigms, and interdisciplinary applications.
Large language models with instruction-following capabilities open the door to a wider group of users. However, when it comes to information extraction - a classic task in natural language processing - most task-specific systems cannot align well with long-tail ad hoc extraction use cases for non-expert users. To address this, we propose a novel paradigm, termed On-Demand Information Extraction, to fulfill the personalized demands of real-world users. Our task aims to follow the instructions to extract the desired content from the associated text and present it in a structured tabular format. The table headers can either be user-specified or inferred contextually by the model. To facilitate research in this emerging area, we present a benchmark named InstructIE, inclusive of both automatically generated training data, as well as the human-annotated test set. Building on InstructIE, we further develop an On-Demand Information Extractor, ODIE. Comprehensive evaluations on our benchmark reveal that ODIE substantially outperforms the existing open-source models of similar size. Our code and dataset are released on https://github.com/yzjiao/On-Demand-IE.
Event schemas are a form of world knowledge about the typical progression of events. Recent methods for event schema induction use information extraction systems to construct a large number of event graph instances from documents, and then learn to generalize the schema from such instances. In contrast, we propose to treat event schemas as a form of commonsense knowledge that can be derived from large language models (LLMs). This new paradigm greatly simplifies the schema induction process and allows us to handle both hierarchical relations and temporal relations between events in a straightforward way. Since event schemas have complex graph structures, we design an incremental prompting and verification method to break down the construction of a complex event graph into three stages: event skeleton construction, event expansion, and event-event relation verification. Compared to directly using LLMs to generate a linearized graph, our method can generate large and complex schemas with 7.2% F1 improvement in temporal relations and 31.0% F1 improvement in hierarchical relations. In addition, compared to the previous state-of-the-art closed-domain schema induction model, human assessors were able to cover $\sim$10% more events when translating the schemas into coherent stories and rated our schemas 1.3 points higher (on a 5-point scale) in terms of readability.
Open-vocabulary state tracking is a more practical version of state tracking that aims to track state changes of entities throughout a process without restricting the state space and entity space. OpenPI is to date the only dataset annotated for open-vocabulary state tracking. However, we identify issues with the dataset quality and evaluation metric. For the dataset, we categorize 3 types of problems on the procedure level, step level and state change level respectively, and build a clean dataset OpenPI-C using multiple rounds of human judgment. For the evaluation metric, we propose a cluster-based metric to fix the original metric's preference for repetition. Model-wise, we enhance the seq2seq generation baseline by reinstating two key properties for state tracking: temporal dependency and entity awareness. The state of the world after an action is inherently dependent on the previous state. We model this dependency through a dynamic memory bank and allow the model to attend to the memory slots during decoding. On the other hand, the state of the world is naturally a union of the states of involved entities. Since the entities are unknown in the open-vocabulary setting, we propose a two-stage model that refines the state change prediction conditioned on entities predicted from the first stage. Empirical results show the effectiveness of our proposed model especially on the cluster-based metric. The code and data are released at https://github.com/shirley-wu/openpi-c
Online resources such as WikiHow compile a wide range of scripts for performing everyday tasks, which can assist models in learning to reason about procedures. However, the scripts are always presented in a linear manner, which does not reflect the flexibility displayed by people executing tasks in real life. For example, in the CrossTask Dataset, 64.5% of consecutive step pairs are also observed in the reverse order, suggesting their ordering is not fixed. In addition, each step has an average of 2.56 frequent next steps, demonstrating "branching". In this paper, we propose the new challenging task of non-sequential graph script induction, aiming to capture optional and interchangeable steps in procedural planning. To automate the induction of such graph scripts for given tasks, we propose to take advantage of loosely aligned videos of people performing the tasks. In particular, we design a multimodal framework to ground procedural videos to WikiHow textual steps and thus transform each video into an observed step path on the latent ground truth graph script. This key transformation enables us to train a script knowledge model capable of both generating explicit graph scripts for learnt tasks and predicting future steps given a partial step sequence. Our best model outperforms the strongest pure text/vision baselines by 17.52% absolute gains on F1@3 for next step prediction and 13.8% absolute gains on Acc@1 for partial sequence completion. Human evaluation shows our model outperforming the WikiHow linear baseline by 48.76% absolute gains in capturing sequential and non-sequential step relationships.
Action knowledge involves the understanding of textual, visual, and temporal aspects of actions. We introduce the Action Dynamics Benchmark (ActionBench) containing two carefully designed probing tasks: Action Antonym and Video Reversal, which targets multimodal alignment capabilities and temporal understanding skills of the model, respectively. Despite recent video-language models' (VidLM) impressive performance on various benchmark tasks, our diagnostic tasks reveal their surprising deficiency (near-random performance) in action knowledge, suggesting that current models rely on object recognition abilities as a shortcut for action understanding. To remedy this, we propose a novel framework, Paxion, along with a new Discriminative Video Dynamics Modeling (DVDM) objective. The Paxion framework utilizes a Knowledge Patcher network to encode new action knowledge and a Knowledge Fuser component to integrate the Patcher into frozen VidLMs without compromising their existing capabilities. Due to limitations of the widely-used Video-Text Contrastive (VTC) loss for learning action knowledge, we introduce the DVDM objective to train the Knowledge Patcher. DVDM forces the model to encode the correlation between the action text and the correct ordering of video frames. Our extensive analyses show that Paxion and DVDM together effectively fill the gap in action knowledge understanding (~50% to 80%), while maintaining or improving performance on a wide spectrum of both object- and action-centric downstream tasks.
The development of event extraction systems has been hindered by the absence of wide-coverage, large-scale datasets. To make event extraction systems more accessible, we build a general-purpose event detection dataset GLEN, which covers 3,465 different event types, making it over 20x larger in ontology than any current dataset. GLEN is created by utilizing the DWD Overlay, which provides a mapping between Wikidata Qnodes and PropBank rolesets. This enables us to use the abundant existing annotation for PropBank as distant supervision. In addition, we also propose a new multi-stage event detection model specifically designed to handle the large ontology size and partial labels in GLEN. We show that our model exhibits superior performance (~10% F1 gain) compared to both conventional classification baselines and newer definition-based models. Finally, we perform error analysis and show that label noise is still the largest challenge for improving performance.
Schema induction builds a graph representation explaining how events unfold in a scenario. Existing approaches have been based on information retrieval (IR) and information extraction(IE), often with limited human curation. We demonstrate a human-in-the-loop schema induction system powered by GPT-3. We first describe the different modules of our system, including prompting to generate schematic elements, manual edit of those elements, and conversion of those into a schema graph. By qualitatively comparing our system to previous ones, we show that our system not only transfers to new domains more easily than previous approaches, but also reduces efforts of human curation thanks to our interactive interface.