Section: New Results
Domain Adaptation for Sequence Labeling using Hidden Markov Models
Participants : Edouard Grave [correspondent] , Guillaume Obozinski, Francis Bach.
Most natural language processing systems based on machine learning are not robust to domain shift. For example, a state-of-the-art syntactic dependency parser trained on Wall Street Journal sentences has an absolute drop in performance of more than ten points when tested on textual data from the Web. An efficient solution to make these methods more robust to domain shift is to first learn a word representation using large amounts of unlabeled data from both domains, and then use this representation as features in a supervised learning algorithm. In this paper, we propose to use hidden Markov models to learn word representations for part-of-speech tagging. In particular, we study the influence of using data from the source, the target or both domains to learn the representation and the different ways to represent words using an HMM.
Nowadays, most natural language processing systems are based on supervised machine learning. Despite the great successes obtained by those techniques, they unfortunately still suffer from important limitations. One of them is their sensitivity to domain shift: for example, a state-of-the-art part-of-speech tagger trained on the Wall Street Journal section of the Penn treebank achieves an accuracy of when tested on sentences from the Wall Street Journal, but only when tested on textual data from the Web. This drop in performance can also be observed for other tasks such as syntactic parsing or named entity recognition.
One of the explanations for this drop in performance is the big lexical difference that exists accross domains. This results in a lot of out-of-vocabulary words (OOV) in the test data, i.e., words of the test data that were not observed in the training set. For example, more than of the tokens of the test data from the Web corpus are unobserved in the training data from the WSJ. By comparison, only of the tokens of the test data from the WSJ are unobserved in the training data from the WSJ. Part-of-speech taggers make most of their errors on those out-of-vocabulary words.
Labeling enough data to obtain a high accuracy for each new domain is not a viable solution. Indeed, it is expensive to label data for natural language processing, because it requires expert knowledge in linguistics. Thus, there is an important need for transfer learning, and more precisely for domain adaptation, in computational linguistics. A common solution consists in using large quantities of unlabeled data, from both source and target domains, in order to learn a good word representation. This representation is then used as features to train a supervised classifier that is more robust to domain shift. Depending on how much data from the source and the target domains are used, this method can be viewed as performing semi-supervised learning or domain adaptation. The goal is to reduce the impact of out-of-vocabulary words on performance. This scheme was first proposed to reduce data sparsity for named entity recognition, before being applied to domain adaptation for part-of-speech tagging or syntactic parsing.
Hidden Markov models have already been considered in previous work to learn word representations for domain adaptation or semi-supervised learning. Our contributions in  are mostly experimental: we compare different word representations that can be obtained from an HMM and study the effect of training the unsupervised HMM on source, target or both domains. While previous work mostly use Viterbi decoding to obtain word representations from an HMM, we empirically show that posterior distributions over latent classes give better results.