Text Classification Using Label Names Only: A Language Model Self-Training Approach
Current text classification methods typically require a good number of human-labeled documents as training data, which can be costly and difficult to obtain in real applications. Hu-mans can perform classification without seeing any labeled examples but only based on a small set of words describing the categories to be classified. In this paper, we explore the potential of only using the label name of each class to train classification models on un-labeled data, without using any labeled documents. We use pre-trained neural language models both as general linguistic knowledge sources for category understanding and as representation learning models for document classification. Our method (1) associates semantically related words with the label names, (2) finds category-indicative words and trains the model to predict their implied categories, and (3) generalizes the model via self-training. We show that our model achieves around 90% ac-curacy on four benchmark datasets including topic and sentiment classification without using any labeled documents but learning from unlabeled data supervised by at most 3 words (1 in most cases) per class as the label name1.
Authors:
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Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10279818
Journal Name:
EMNLP'20: 2020 Conf. on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing, Nov. 2020
Volume:
2020
Issue:
1
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
9006 to 9017
National Science Foundation
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3. 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.

4. (Ed.)
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