Existing solutions to zero-shot text classification either conduct prompting with pre-trained language models, which is sensitive to the choices of templates, or rely on large-scale annotated data of relevant tasks for meta-tuning. In this work, we propose a new paradigm based on self-supervised learning to solve zero-shot text classification tasks by tuning the language models with unlabeled data, called self-supervised tuning. By exploring the inherent structure of free texts, we propose a new learning objective called first sentence prediction to bridge the gap between unlabeled data and text classification tasks. After tuning the model to learn to predict the first sentence in a paragraph based on the rest, the model is able to conduct zero-shot inference on unseen tasks such as topic classification and sentiment analysis. Experimental results show that our model outperforms the state-of-the-art baselines on 7 out of 10 tasks. Moreover, the analysis reveals that our model is less sensitive to the prompt design. Our code and pre-trained models are publicly available at https://github.com/DAMO-NLP-SG/SSTuning .
Conventional approaches to text classification typically assume the existence of a fixed set of predefined labels to which a given text can be classified. However, in real-world applications, there exists an infinite label space for describing a given text. In addition, depending on the aspect (sentiment, topic, etc.) and domain of the text (finance, legal, etc.), the interpretation of the label can vary greatly. This makes the task of text classification, particularly in the zero-shot scenario, extremely challenging. In this paper, we investigate the task of zero-shot text classification with the aim of improving the ability of pre-trained language models (PLMs) to generalize to both seen and unseen data across varying aspects and domains. To solve this we introduce two new simple yet effective pre-training strategies, Implicit and Explicit pre-training. These methods inject aspect-level understanding into the model at train time with the goal of conditioning the model to build task-level understanding. To evaluate this, we construct and release UTCD, a new benchmark dataset for evaluating text classification in zero-shot settings. Experimental results on UTCD show that our approach achieves improved zero-shot generalization on a suite of challenging datasets across an array of zero-shot formalizations.
We present PESCO, a novel contrastive learning framework that substantially improves the performance of zero-shot text classification. We formulate text classification as a neural text matching problem where each document is treated as a query, and the system learns the mapping from each query to the relevant class labels by (1) adding prompts to enhance label matching, and (2) using retrieved labels to enrich the training set in a self-training loop of contrastive learning. PESCO achieves state-of-the-art performance on four benchmark text classification datasets. On DBpedia, we achieve 98.5\% accuracy without any labeled data, which is close to the fully-supervised result. Extensive experiments and analyses show all the components of PESCO are necessary for improving the performance of zero-shot text classification.
Despite the remarkable success of large-scale Language Models (LLMs) such as GPT-3, their performances still significantly underperform fine-tuned models in the task of text classification. This is due to (1) the lack of reasoning ability in addressing complex linguistic phenomena (e.g., intensification, contrast, irony etc); (2) limited number of tokens allowed in in-context learning. In this paper, we introduce Clue And Reasoning Prompting (CARP). CARP adopts a progressive reasoning strategy tailored to addressing the complex linguistic phenomena involved in text classification: CARP first prompts LLMs to find superficial clues (e.g., keywords, tones, semantic relations, references, etc), based on which a diagnostic reasoning process is induced for final decisions. To further address the limited-token issue, CARP uses a fine-tuned model on the supervised dataset for $k$NN demonstration search in the in-context learning, allowing the model to take the advantage of both LLM's generalization ability and the task-specific evidence provided by the full labeled dataset. Remarkably, CARP yields new SOTA performances on 4 out of 5 widely-used text-classification benchmarks, 97.39 (+1.24) on SST-2, 96.40 (+0.72) on AGNews, 98.78 (+0.25) on R8 and 96.95 (+0.6) on R52, and a performance comparable to SOTA on MR (92.39 v.s. 93.3). More importantly, we find that CARP delivers impressive abilities on low-resource and domain-adaptation setups. Specifically, using 16 examples per class, CARP achieves comparable performances to supervised models with 1,024 examples per class.
In this paper, we provide a holistic analysis of the different sources of bias, Upstream, Sample and Overampflication biases, in NLP models. We investigate how they impact the fairness of the task of text classification. We also investigate the impact of removing these biases using different debiasing techniques on the fairness of text classification. We found that overamplification bias is the most impactful bias on the fairness of text classification. And that removing overamplification bias by fine-tuning the LM models on a dataset with balanced representations of the different identity groups leads to fairer text classification models. Finally, we build on our findings and introduce practical guidelines on how to have a fairer text classification model.
State-of-the-art weakly supervised text classification methods, while significantly reduced the required human supervision, still requires the supervision to cover all the classes of interest. This is never easy to meet in practice when human explore new, large corpora without complete pictures. In this paper, we work on a novel yet important problem of weakly supervised open-world text classification, where supervision is only needed for a few examples from a few known classes and the machine should handle both known and unknown classes in test time. General open-world classification has been studied mostly using image classification; however, existing methods typically assume the availability of sufficient known-class supervision and strong unknown-class prior knowledge (e.g., the number and/or data distribution). We propose a novel framework WOT-Class that lifts those strong assumptions. Specifically, it follows an iterative process of (a) clustering text to new classes, (b) mining and ranking indicative words for each class, and (c) merging redundant classes by using the overlapped indicative words as a bridge. Extensive experiments on 7 popular text classification datasets demonstrate that WOT-Class outperforms strong baselines consistently with a large margin, attaining 23.33% greater average absolute macro-F1 over existing approaches across all datasets. Such competent accuracy illuminates the practical potential of further reducing human effort for text classification.
Due to the complex label hierarchy and intensive labeling cost in practice, the hierarchical text classification (HTC) suffers a poor performance especially when low-resource or few-shot settings are considered. Recently, there is a growing trend of applying prompts on pre-trained language models (PLMs), which has exhibited effectiveness in the few-shot flat text classification tasks. However, limited work has studied the paradigm of prompt-based learning in the HTC problem when the training data is extremely scarce. In this work, we define a path-based few-shot setting and establish a strict path-based evaluation metric to further explore few-shot HTC tasks. To address the issue, we propose the hierarchical verbalizer ("HierVerb"), a multi-verbalizer framework treating HTC as a single- or multi-label classification problem at multiple layers and learning vectors as verbalizers constrained by hierarchical structure and hierarchical contrastive learning. In this manner, HierVerb fuses label hierarchy knowledge into verbalizers and remarkably outperforms those who inject hierarchy through graph encoders, maximizing the benefits of PLMs. Extensive experiments on three popular HTC datasets under the few-shot settings demonstrate that prompt with HierVerb significantly boosts the HTC performance, meanwhile indicating an elegant way to bridge the gap between the large pre-trained model and downstream hierarchical classification tasks. Our code and few-shot dataset are publicly available at https://github.com/1KE-JI/HierVerb.
In text classification, the traditional attention mechanisms usually focus too much on frequent words, and need extensive labeled data in order to learn. This paper proposes a perturbation-based self-supervised attention approach to guide attention learning without any annotation overhead. Specifically, we add as much noise as possible to all the words in the sentence without changing their semantics and predictions. We hypothesize that words that tolerate more noise are less significant, and we can use this information to refine the attention distribution. Experimental results on three text classification tasks show that our approach can significantly improve the performance of current attention-based models, and is more effective than existing self-supervised methods. We also provide a visualization analysis to verify the effectiveness of our approach.
Multi-label text classification (MLC) is a challenging task in settings of large label sets, where label support follows a Zipfian distribution. In this paper, we address this problem through retrieval augmentation, aiming to improve the sample efficiency of classification models. Our approach closely follows the standard MLC architecture of a Transformer-based encoder paired with a set of classification heads. In our case, however, the input document representation is augmented through cross-attention to similar documents retrieved from the training set and represented in a task-specific manner. We evaluate this approach on four datasets from the legal and biomedical domains, all of which feature highly skewed label distributions. Our experiments show that retrieval augmentation substantially improves model performance on the long tail of infrequent labels especially so for lower-resource training scenarios and more challenging long-document data scenarios.