Clippers 9/14: Willy Cheung leads discussion of Yu and Ettinger’s (EMNLP-20) paper

Willy Cheung will lead a discussion of Yu and Ettinger’s (EMNLP-20) paper to help prepare for Allyson Ettinger’s upcoming invited talk on September 24:

Assessing Phrasal Representation and Composition in Transformers
Lang Yu, Allyson Ettinger


Deep transformer models have pushed performance on NLP tasks to new limits, suggesting sophisticated treatment of complex linguistic inputs, such as phrases. However, we have limited understanding of how these models handle representation of phrases, and whether this reflects sophisticated composition of phrase meaning like that done by humans. In this paper, we present systematic analysis of phrasal representations in state-of-the-art pre-trained transformers. We use tests leveraging human judgments of phrase similarity and meaning shift, and compare results before and after control of word overlap, to tease apart lexical effects versus composition effects. We find that phrase representation in these models relies heavily on word content, with little evidence of nuanced composition. We also identify variations in phrase representation quality across models, layers, and representation types, and make corresponding recommendations for usage of representations from these models.