Unsupervised Pre-training for Biomedical Question Answering

09/27/2020
by   Vaishnavi Kommaraju, et al.
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We explore the suitability of unsupervised representation learning methods on biomedical text – BioBERT, SciBERT, and BioSentVec – for biomedical question answering. To further improve unsupervised representations for biomedical QA, we introduce a new pre-training task from unlabeled data designed to reason about biomedical entities in the context. Our pre-training method consists of corrupting a given context by randomly replacing some mention of a biomedical entity with a random entity mention and then querying the model with the correct entity mention in order to locate the corrupted part of the context. This de-noising task enables the model to learn good representations from abundant, unlabeled biomedical text that helps QA tasks and minimizes the train-test mismatch between the pre-training task and the downstream QA tasks by requiring the model to predict spans. Our experiments show that pre-training BioBERT on the proposed pre-training task significantly boosts performance and outperforms the previous best model from the 7th BioASQ Task 7b-Phase B challenge.

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