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SPECTRA: Sparse Structured Text Rationalization

Guerreiro, N. ; Martins, A.

SPECTRA: Sparse Structured Text Rationalization, Proc Empirical Methods in Language Processing - EMNLP, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, Vol. , pp. - , November, 2021.

Digital Object Identifier: 10.18653

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Selective rationalization aims to produce decisions along with rationales (e.g., text highlights or word alignments between two sentences). Commonly, rationales are modeled as stochastic binary masks, requiring sampling-based gradient estimators, which complicates training and requires careful hyperparameter tuning. Sparse attention mechanisms are a deterministic alternative, but they lack a way to regularize the rationale extraction (e.g., to control the sparsity of a text highlight or the number of alignments). In this paper, we present a unified framework for deterministic extraction of structured explanations via constrained inference on a factor graph, forming a differentiable layer. Our approach greatly eases training and rationale regularization, generally outperforming previous work on what comes to performance and plausibility of the extracted rationales. We further provide a comparative study of stochastic and deterministic methods for rationale extraction for classification and natural language inference tasks, jointly assessing their predictive power, quality of the explanations, and model variability.