Breaking down a document or a conversation into multiple contiguous segments based on its semantic structure is an important and challenging problem in NLP, which can assist many downstream tasks. However, current works on topic segmentation often focus on segmentation of structured texts. In this paper, we comprehensively analyze the generalization capabilities of state-of-the-art topic segmentation models on unstructured texts. We find that: (a) Current strategies of pre-training on a large corpus of structured text such as Wiki-727K do not help in transferability to unstructured conversational data. (b) Training from scratch with only a relatively small-sized dataset of the target unstructured domain improves the segmentation results by a significant margin. We stress-test our proposed Topic Segmentation approach by experimenting with multiple loss functions, in order to mitigate effects of imbalance in unstructured conversational datasets. Our empirical evaluation indicates that Focal Loss function is a robust alternative to Cross-Entropy and re-weighted Cross-Entropy loss function when segmenting unstructured and semi-structured chats.
Fine-tuning all the layers of a pre-trained neural language encoder (either using all the parameters or using parameter-efficient methods) is often the de-facto way of adapting it to a new task. We show evidence that for different downstream language tasks, fine-tuning only a subset of layers is sufficient to obtain performance that is close to and often better than fine-tuning all the layers in the language encoder. We propose an efficient metric based on the diagonal of the Fisher information matrix (FIM score), to select the candidate layers for selective fine-tuning. We show, empirically on GLUE and SuperGLUE tasks and across distinct language encoders, that this metric can effectively select layers leading to a strong downstream performance. Our work highlights that task-specific information corresponding to a given downstream task is often localized within a few layers, and tuning only those is sufficient for strong performance. Additionally, we demonstrate the robustness of the FIM score to rank layers in a manner that remains constant during the optimization process.
Breaking down a document or a conversation into multiple contiguous segments based on its semantic structure is an important and challenging problem in NLP, which can assist many downstream tasks. However, current works on topic segmentation often focus on segmentation of structured texts. In this paper, we comprehensively analyze the generalization capabilities of state-of-the-art topic segmentation models on unstructured texts. We find that: (a) Current strategies of pre-training on a large corpus of structured text such as Wiki-727K do not help in transferability to unstructured texts. (b) Training from scratch with only a relatively small-sized dataset of the target unstructured domain improves the segmentation results by a significant margin.
We present SLATE, a sequence labeling approach for extracting tasks from free-form content such as digitally handwritten (or "inked") notes on a virtual whiteboard. Our approach allows us to create a single, low-latency model to simultaneously perform sentence segmentation and classification of these sentences into task/non-task sentences. SLATE greatly outperforms a baseline two-model (sentence segmentation followed by classification model) approach, achieving a task F1 score of 84.4%, a sentence segmentation (boundary similarity) score of 88.4% and three times lower latency compared to the baseline. Furthermore, we provide insights into tackling challenges of performing NLP on the inking domain. We release both our code and dataset for this novel task.
Shared autonomy refers to approaches for enabling an autonomous agent to collaborate with a human with the aim of improving human performance. However, besides improving performance, it may often also be beneficial that the agent concurrently accounts for preserving the user's experience or satisfaction of collaboration. In order to address this additional goal, we examine approaches for improving the user experience by constraining the number of interventions by the autonomous agent. We propose two model-free reinforcement learning methods that can account for both hard and soft constraints on the number of interventions. We show that not only does our method outperform the existing baseline, but also eliminates the need to manually tune a black-box hyperparameter for controlling the level of assistance. We also provide an in-depth analysis of intervention scenarios in order to further illuminate system understanding.
Optimizing resource allocation for analytical workloads is vital for reducing costs of cloud-data services. At the same time, it is incredibly hard for users to allocate resources per query in serverless processing systems, and they frequently misallocate by orders of magnitude. Unfortunately, prior work focused on predicting peak allocation while ignoring aggressive trade-offs between resource allocation and run-time. Additionally, these methods fail to predict allocation for queries that have not been observed in the past. In this paper, we tackle both these problems. We introduce a system for optimal resource allocation that can predict performance with aggressive trade-offs, for both new and past observed queries. We introduce the notion of a performance characteristic curve (PCC) as a parameterized representation that can compactly capture the relationship between resources and performance. To tackle training data sparsity, we introduce a novel data augmentation technique to efficiently synthesize the entire PCC using a single run of the query. Lastly, we demonstrate the advantages of a constrained loss function coupled with GNNs, over traditional ML methods, for capturing the domain specific behavior through an extensive experimental evaluation over SCOPE big data workloads at Microsoft.
Microsoft Azure is dedicated to guarantee high quality of service to its customers, in particular, during periods of high customer activity, while controlling cost. We employ a Data Science (DS) driven solution to predict user load and leverage these predictions to optimize resource allocation. To this end, we built the Seagull infrastructure that processes per-server telemetry, validates the data, trains and deploys ML models. The models are used to predict customer load per server (24h into the future), and optimize service operations. Seagull continually re-evaluates accuracy of predictions, fallback to previously known good models and triggers alerts as appropriate. We deployed this infrastructure in production for PostgreSQL and MySQL servers across all Azure regions, and applied it to the problem of scheduling server backups during low-load time. This minimizes interference with user-induced load and improves customer experience.