Language to Network: Conditional Parameter Adaptation with Natural Language Descriptions
Transfer learning using ImageNet pre-trained models has been the de facto approach in a wide range of computer vision tasks. However, fine-tuning still requires task-specific training data. In this paper, we propose N3 (Neural Networks from Natural Language) - a new paradigm of synthesizing task-specific neural networks from language descriptions and a generic pre-trained model. N3 leverages language descriptions to generate parameter adaptations as well as a new task-specific classification layer for a pre-trained neural network, effectively “fine-tuning” the network for a new task using only language descriptions as input. To the best of our knowledge, N3 is the first method to synthesize entire neural networks from natural language. Experimental results show that N3 can out-perform previous natural-language based zero-shot learning methods across 4 different zero-shot image classification benchmarks. We also demonstrate a simple method to help identify keywords in language descriptions leveraged by N3 when synthesizing model parameters.
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Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10169263
Journal Name:
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
6994 - 7007
National Science Foundation
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4. Abstract Background

Natural language processing (NLP) tasks in the health domain often deal with limited amount of labeled data due to high annotation costs and naturally rare observations. To compensate for the lack of training data, health NLP researchers often have to leverage knowledge and resources external to a task at hand. Recently, pretrained large-scale language models such as the Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (BERT) have been proven to be a powerful way of learning rich linguistic knowledge from massive unlabeled text and transferring that knowledge to downstream tasks. However, previous downstream tasks often used training data at such a large scale that is unlikely to obtain in the health domain. In this work, we aim to study whether BERT can still benefit downstream tasks when training data are relatively small in the context of health NLP.

Method

We conducted a learning curve analysis to study the behavior of BERT and baseline models as training data size increases. We observed the classification performance of these models on two disease diagnosis data sets, where some diseases are naturally rare and have very limited observations (fewer than 2 out of 10,000). The baselines included commonly used text classification models such as sparse andmore »

Results

On the task of classifying all diseases, the learning curves of BERT were consistently above all baselines, significantly outperforming them across the spectrum of training data sizes. But under extreme situations where only one or two training documents per disease were available, BERT was outperformed by linear classifiers with carefully engineered bag-of-words features.

Conclusion

As long as the amount of training documents is not extremely few, fine-tuning a pretrained BERT model is a highly effective approach to health NLP tasks like disease classification. However, in extreme cases where each class has only one or two training documents and no more will be available, simple linear models using bag-of-words features shall be considered.

5. (Ed.)
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