MultiQA: An Empirical Investigation of Generalization and Transfer in Reading Comprehension
A large number of reading comprehension (RC) datasets has been created recently, but little analysis has been done on whether they generalize to one another, and the extent to which existing datasets can be leveraged for improving performance on new ones. In this paper, we conduct such an investigation over ten RC datasets, training on one or more source RC datasets, and evaluating generalization, as well as transfer to a target RC dataset. We analyze the factors that contribute to generalization, and show that training on a source RC dataset and transferring to a target dataset substantially improves performance, even in the presence of powerful contextual representations from BERT (Devlin et al., 2019). We also find that training on multiple source RC datasets leads to robust generalization and transfer, and can reduce the cost of example collection for a new RC dataset. Following our analysis, we propose MultiQA, a BERT-based model, trained on multiple RC datasets, which leads to state-of-the-art performance on five RC datasets. We share our infrastructure for the benefit of the research community.
COMMONSENSEQA: A QUESTION ANSWERING CHALLENGE TARGETING COMMONSENSE KNOWLEDGE
When answering a question, people often draw upon their rich world knowledge in addition to the particular context. Recent work has focused primarily on answering questions given some relevant document or context, and required very little general background. To investigate question answering with prior knowledge, we present CommonsenseQA: a challenging new dataset for commonsense question answering. To capture common sense beyond associations, we extract from ConceptNet (Speer et al., 2017) multiple target concepts that have the same semantic relation to a single source concept. Crowd-workers are asked to author multiple-choice questions that mention the source concept and discriminate in turn between each of the target concepts. This encourages workers to create questions with complex semantics that often require prior knowledge. We create 12,247 questions through this procedure and demonstrate the difficulty of our task with a large number of strong baselines. Our best baseline is based on BERT-large (Devlin et al., 2018) and obtains 56% accuracy, well below human performance, which is 89%.
THE WEB AS A KNOWLEDGE-BASE FOR ANSWERING COMPLEX QUESTIONS
Answering complex questions is a time-consuming activity for humans that requires reasoning and integration of information. Recent work on reading comprehension made headway in answering simple questions, but tackling complex questions is still an ongoing research challenge. Conversely, semantic parsers have been successful at handling compositionality, but only when the information resides in a target knowledge-base. In this paper, we present a novel framework for answering broad and complex questions, assuming answering simple questions is possible using a search engine and a reading comprehension model. We propose to decompose complex questions into a sequence of simple questions, and compute the final answer from the sequence of answers. To illustrate the viability of our approach, we create a new dataset of complex questions, ComplexWebQuestions, and present a model that decomposes questions and interacts with the web to compute an answer. We empirically demonstrate that question decomposition improves performance from 20.8 precision@1 to 27.5 precision@1 on this new dataset.
EVALUATING SEMANTIC PARSING AGAINST A SIMPLE WEB-BASED QUESTION ANSWERING MODEL
Semantic parsing shines at analyzing complex natural language that involves composition and computation over multiple pieces of evidence. However, datasets for semantic parsing contain many factoid questions that can be answered from a single web document. In this paper, we propose to evaluate semantic parsing-based question answering models by comparing them to a question answering baseline that queries the web and extracts the answer only from web snippets, without access to the target knowledge-base. We investigate this approach on COMPLEXQUESTIONS, a dataset designed to focus on compositional language, and find that our model obtains reasonable performance (35 F1 compared to 41 F1 of state-of-the-art). We find in our analysis that our model performs well on complex questions involving conjunctions, but struggles on questions that involve relation composition and superlatives.