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"Topic": models, code, and papers

Characterizing Interconnections and Linguistic Patterns in Twitter

Mar 30, 2018
Johnnatan Messias

Social media is considered a democratic space in which people connect and interact with each other regardless of their gender, race, or any other demographic aspect. Despite numerous efforts that explore demographic aspects in social media, it is still unclear whether social media perpetuates old inequalities from the offline world. In this dissertation, we attempt to identify gender and race of Twitter users located in the United States using advanced image processing algorithms from Face++. We investigate how different demographic groups connect with each other and differentiate them regarding linguistic styles and also their interests. We quantify to what extent one group follows and interacts with each other and the extent to which these connections and interactions reflect in inequalities in Twitter. We also extract linguistic features from six categories (affective attributes, cognitive attributes, lexical density and awareness, temporal references, social and personal concerns, and interpersonal focus) in order to identify the similarities and the differences in the messages they share in Twitter. Furthermore, we extract the absolute ranking difference of top phrases between demographic groups. As a dimension of diversity, we use the topics of interest that we retrieve from each user. Our analysis shows that users identified as white and male tend to attain higher positions, in terms of the number of followers and number of times in another user's lists, in Twitter. There are clear differences in the way of writing across different demographic groups in both gender and race domains as well as in the topic of interest. We hope our effort can stimulate the development of new theories of demographic information in the online space. Finally, we developed a Web-based system that leverages the demographic aspects of users to provide transparency to the Twitter trending topics system.

* This is a dissertation presented to the Graduate Program in Computer Science of the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master in Computer Science. 

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Large Scale Analysis of Open MOOC Reviews to Support Learners' Course Selection

Jan 11, 2022
Manuel J. Gomez, Mario Calderón, Victor Sánchez, Félix J. García Clemente, José A. Ruipérez-Valiente

The recent pandemic has changed the way we see education. It is not surprising that children and college students are not the only ones using online education. Millions of adults have signed up for online classes and courses during last years, and MOOC providers, such as Coursera or edX, are reporting millions of new users signing up in their platforms. However, students do face some challenges when choosing courses. Though online review systems are standard among many verticals, no standardized or fully decentralized review systems exist in the MOOC ecosystem. In this vein, we believe that there is an opportunity to leverage available open MOOC reviews in order to build simpler and more transparent reviewing systems, allowing users to really identify the best courses out there. Specifically, in our research we analyze 2.4 million reviews (which is the largest MOOC reviews dataset used until now) from five different platforms in order to determine the following: (1) if the numeric ratings provide discriminant information to learners, (2) if NLP-driven sentiment analysis on textual reviews could provide valuable information to learners, (3) if we can leverage NLP-driven topic finding techniques to infer themes that could be important for learners, and (4) if we can use these models to effectively characterize MOOCs based on the open reviews. Results show that numeric ratings are clearly biased (63\% of them are 5-star ratings), and the topic modeling reveals some interesting topics related with course advertisements, the real applicability, or the difficulty of the different courses. We expect our study to shed some light on the area and promote a more transparent approach in online education reviews, which are becoming more and more popular as we enter the post-pandemic era.

* 36 pages, 8 figures 

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Solving Machine Learning Problems

Jul 02, 2021
Sunny Tran, Pranav Krishna, Ishan Pakuwal, Prabhakar Kafle, Nikhil Singh, Jayson Lynch, Iddo Drori

Can a machine learn Machine Learning? This work trains a machine learning model to solve machine learning problems from a University undergraduate level course. We generate a new training set of questions and answers consisting of course exercises, homework, and quiz questions from MIT's 6.036 Introduction to Machine Learning course and train a machine learning model to answer these questions. Our system demonstrates an overall accuracy of 96% for open-response questions and 97% for multiple-choice questions, compared with MIT students' average of 93%, achieving grade A performance in the course, all in real-time. Questions cover all 12 topics taught in the course, excluding coding questions or questions with images. Topics include: (i) basic machine learning principles; (ii) perceptrons; (iii) feature extraction and selection; (iv) logistic regression; (v) regression; (vi) neural networks; (vii) advanced neural networks; (viii) convolutional neural networks; (ix) recurrent neural networks; (x) state machines and MDPs; (xi) reinforcement learning; and (xii) decision trees. Our system uses Transformer models within an encoder-decoder architecture with graph and tree representations. An important aspect of our approach is a data-augmentation scheme for generating new example problems. We also train a machine learning model to generate problem hints. Thus, our system automatically generates new questions across topics, answers both open-response questions and multiple-choice questions, classifies problems, and generates problem hints, pushing the envelope of AI for STEM education.

* 38 pages, 29 figures 

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Semantics for Robotic Mapping, Perception and Interaction: A Survey

Jan 02, 2021
Sourav Garg, Niko SĂĽnderhauf, Feras Dayoub, Douglas Morrison, Akansel Cosgun, Gustavo Carneiro, Qi Wu, Tat-Jun Chin, Ian Reid, Stephen Gould, Peter Corke, Michael Milford

For robots to navigate and interact more richly with the world around them, they will likely require a deeper understanding of the world in which they operate. In robotics and related research fields, the study of understanding is often referred to as semantics, which dictates what does the world "mean" to a robot, and is strongly tied to the question of how to represent that meaning. With humans and robots increasingly operating in the same world, the prospects of human-robot interaction also bring semantics and ontology of natural language into the picture. Driven by need, as well as by enablers like increasing availability of training data and computational resources, semantics is a rapidly growing research area in robotics. The field has received significant attention in the research literature to date, but most reviews and surveys have focused on particular aspects of the topic: the technical research issues regarding its use in specific robotic topics like mapping or segmentation, or its relevance to one particular application domain like autonomous driving. A new treatment is therefore required, and is also timely because so much relevant research has occurred since many of the key surveys were published. This survey therefore provides an overarching snapshot of where semantics in robotics stands today. We establish a taxonomy for semantics research in or relevant to robotics, split into four broad categories of activity, in which semantics are extracted, used, or both. Within these broad categories we survey dozens of major topics including fundamentals from the computer vision field and key robotics research areas utilizing semantics, including mapping, navigation and interaction with the world. The survey also covers key practical considerations, including enablers like increased data availability and improved computational hardware, and major application areas where...

* Foundations and Trends in Robotics: Vol. 8: No. 1-2, pp 1-224 (2020) 
* 81 pages, 1 figure, published in Foundations and Trends in Robotics, 2020 

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Large-Scale Validation of Hypothesis Generation Systems via Candidate Ranking

Oct 19, 2018
Justin Sybrandt, Micheal Shtutman, Ilya Safro

The first step of many research projects is to define and rank a short list of candidates for study. In the modern rapidity of scientific progress, some turn to automated hypothesis generation (HG) systems to aid this process. These systems can identify implicit or overlooked connections within a large scientific corpus, and while their importance grows alongside the pace of science, they lack thorough validation. Without any standard numerical evaluation method, many validate general-purpose HG systems by rediscovering a handful of historical findings, and some wishing to be more thorough may run laboratory experiments based on automatic suggestions. These methods are expensive, time consuming, and cannot scale. Thus, we present a numerical evaluation framework for the purpose of validating HG systems that leverages thousands of validation hypotheses. This method evaluates a HG system by its ability to rank hypotheses by plausibility; a process reminiscent of human candidate selection. Because HG systems do not produce a ranking criteria, specifically those that produce topic models, we additionally present novel metrics to quantify the plausibility of hypotheses given topic model system output. Finally, we demonstrate that our proposed validation method aligns with real-world research goals by deploying our method within Moliere, our recent topic-driven HG system, in order to automatically generate a set of candidate genes related to HIV-associated neurodegenerative disease (HAND). By performing laboratory experiments based on this candidate set, we discover a new connection between HAND and Dead Box RNA Helicase 3 (DDX3). Reproducibility: code, validation data, and results can be found at

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Predicting In-game Actions From the Language of NBA Players

Oct 25, 2019
Nadav Oved, Amir Feder, Roi Reichart

Sports competitions are widely researched in computer and social science, with the goal of understanding how players act under uncertainty. While there is an abundance of computational work on player metrics prediction based on past performance, very few attempts to incorporate out-of-game signals have been made. Specifically, it was previously unclear whether linguistic signals gathered from players' interviews can add information which does not appear in performance metrics. To bridge that gap, we define text classification tasks of predicting deviations from mean in NBA players' in-game actions, which are associated with strategic choices, player behavior and risk, using their choice of language prior to the game. We collected a dataset of transcripts from key NBA players' pre-game interviews and their in-game performance metrics, totaling in 5,226 interview-metric pairs. We design neural models for players' action prediction based on increasingly more complex aspects of the language signals in their open-ended interviews. Our models can make their predictions based on the textual signal alone, or on a combination with signals from past-performance metrics. Our text-based models outperform strong baselines trained on performance metrics only, demonstrating the importance of language usage for action prediction. Moreover, the models that employ both textual input and past-performance metrics produced the best results. Finally, as neural networks are notoriously difficult to interpret, we propose a method for gaining further insight into what our models have learned. Particularly, we present an LDA-based analysis, where we interpret model predictions in terms of correlated topics. We find that our best performing textual model is most associated with topics that are intuitively related to each prediction task and that better models yield higher correlation with more informative topics.

* First two authors contributed equally. Under review for the Computational Linguistics journal 

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On Neural Differential Equations

Feb 04, 2022
Patrick Kidger

The conjoining of dynamical systems and deep learning has become a topic of great interest. In particular, neural differential equations (NDEs) demonstrate that neural networks and differential equation are two sides of the same coin. Traditional parameterised differential equations are a special case. Many popular neural network architectures, such as residual networks and recurrent networks, are discretisations. NDEs are suitable for tackling generative problems, dynamical systems, and time series (particularly in physics, finance, ...) and are thus of interest to both modern machine learning and traditional mathematical modelling. NDEs offer high-capacity function approximation, strong priors on model space, the ability to handle irregular data, memory efficiency, and a wealth of available theory on both sides. This doctoral thesis provides an in-depth survey of the field. Topics include: neural ordinary differential equations (e.g. for hybrid neural/mechanistic modelling of physical systems); neural controlled differential equations (e.g. for learning functions of irregular time series); and neural stochastic differential equations (e.g. to produce generative models capable of representing complex stochastic dynamics, or sampling from complex high-dimensional distributions). Further topics include: numerical methods for NDEs (e.g. reversible differential equations solvers, backpropagation through differential equations, Brownian reconstruction); symbolic regression for dynamical systems (e.g. via regularised evolution); and deep implicit models (e.g. deep equilibrium models, differentiable optimisation). We anticipate this thesis will be of interest to anyone interested in the marriage of deep learning with dynamical systems, and hope it will provide a useful reference for the current state of the art.

* Doctoral thesis, Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford. 231 pages 

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Deep Sentence Embedding Using Long Short-Term Memory Networks: Analysis and Application to Information Retrieval

Jan 16, 2016
Hamid Palangi, Li Deng, Yelong Shen, Jianfeng Gao, Xiaodong He, Jianshu Chen, Xinying Song, Rabab Ward

This paper develops a model that addresses sentence embedding, a hot topic in current natural language processing research, using recurrent neural networks with Long Short-Term Memory (LSTM) cells. Due to its ability to capture long term memory, the LSTM-RNN accumulates increasingly richer information as it goes through the sentence, and when it reaches the last word, the hidden layer of the network provides a semantic representation of the whole sentence. In this paper, the LSTM-RNN is trained in a weakly supervised manner on user click-through data logged by a commercial web search engine. Visualization and analysis are performed to understand how the embedding process works. The model is found to automatically attenuate the unimportant words and detects the salient keywords in the sentence. Furthermore, these detected keywords are found to automatically activate different cells of the LSTM-RNN, where words belonging to a similar topic activate the same cell. As a semantic representation of the sentence, the embedding vector can be used in many different applications. These automatic keyword detection and topic allocation abilities enabled by the LSTM-RNN allow the network to perform document retrieval, a difficult language processing task, where the similarity between the query and documents can be measured by the distance between their corresponding sentence embedding vectors computed by the LSTM-RNN. On a web search task, the LSTM-RNN embedding is shown to significantly outperform several existing state of the art methods. We emphasize that the proposed model generates sentence embedding vectors that are specially useful for web document retrieval tasks. A comparison with a well known general sentence embedding method, the Paragraph Vector, is performed. The results show that the proposed method in this paper significantly outperforms it for web document retrieval task.

* To appear in IEEE/ACM Transactions on Audio, Speech, and Language Processing 

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Taming the Beast: Learning to Control Neural Conversational Models

Aug 24, 2021
Andrea Madotto

This thesis investigates the controllability of deep learning-based, end-to-end, generative dialogue systems in both task-oriented and chit-chat scenarios. In particular, we study the different aspects of controlling generative dialogue systems, including controlling styles and topics and continuously adding and combining dialogue skills. In the three decades since the first dialogue system was commercialized, the basic architecture of such systems has remained substantially unchanged, consisting of four pipelined basic components, namely, natural language understanding (NLU), dialogue state tracking (DST), a dialogue manager (DM) and natural language generation (NLG). The dialogue manager, which is the critical component of the modularized system, controls the response content and style. This module is usually programmed by rules and is designed to be highly controllable and easily extendable. With the emergence of powerful "deep learning" architectures, end-to-end generative dialogue systems have been proposed to optimize overall system performance and simplify training. However, these systems cannot be easily controlled and extended as the modularized dialogue manager can. This is because a single neural system is used, which is usually a large pre-trained language model (e.g., GPT-2), and thus it is hard to surgically change desirable attributes (e.g., style, topics, etc.). More importantly, uncontrollable dialogue systems can generate offensive and even toxic responses. Therefore, in this thesis, we study controllable methods for end-to-end generative dialogue systems in task-oriented and chit-chat scenarios. Throughout the chapters, we describe 1) how to control the style and topics of chit-chat models, 2) how to continuously control and extend task-oriented dialogue systems, and 3) how to compose and control multi-skill dialogue models.

* PhD thesis 

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