Modular Representation Underlies Systematic Generalization in Neural Natural Language Inference Models

04/30/2020 ∙ by Atticus Geiger, et al. ∙ 0

In adversarial (challenge) testing, we pose hard generalization tasks in order to gain insights into the solutions found by our models. What properties must a system have in order to succeed at these hard tasks? In this paper, we argue that an essential factor is the ability to form modular representations. Our central contribution is a definition of what it means for a representation to be modular and an experimental method for assessing the extent to which a system's solution is modular in this general sense. Our work is grounded empirically in a new challenge Natural Language Inference dataset designed to assess systems on their ability to reason about entailment and negation. We find that a BERT model with fine-tuning is strikingly successful at the hard generalization tasks we pose using this dataset, and our active manipulations help us to understand why: despite the densely interconnected nature of the BERT architecture, the learned model embeds modular, general theories of lexical entailment relations.

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