Refining Language Models with Compositional Explanations

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 34 pre-proceedings (NeurIPS 2021)

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Huihan Yao, Ying Chen, Qinyuan Ye, Xisen Jin, Xiang Ren


Pre-trained language models have been successful on text classification tasks, but are prone to learning spurious correlations from biased datasets, and are thus vulnerable when making inferences in a new domain. Prior work reveals such spurious patterns via post-hoc explanation algorithms which compute the importance of input features. Further, the model is regularized to align the importance scores with human knowledge, so that the unintended model behaviors are eliminated. However, such a regularization technique lacks flexibility and coverage, since only importance scores towards a pre-defined list of features are adjusted, while more complex human knowledge such as feature interaction and pattern generalization can hardly be incorporated. In this work, we propose to refine a learned language model for a target domain by collecting human-provided compositional explanations regarding observed biases. By parsing these explanations into executable logic rules, the human-specified refinement advice from a small set of explanations can be generalized to more training examples. We additionally introduce a regularization term allowing adjustments for both importance and interaction of features to better rectify model behavior. We demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed approach on two text classification tasks by showing improved performance in target domain as well as improved model fairness after refinement.