In recent years, there have been amazing advances in deep learning methods for machine reading. In machine reading, the machine reader has to extract the answer from the given ground truth paragraph. Recently, the state-of-the-art machine reading models achieve human level performance in SQuAD which is a reading comprehension-style question answering (QA) task. The success of machine reading has inspired researchers to combine information retrieval with machine reading to tackle open-domain QA. However, these systems perform poorly compared to reading comprehension-style QA because it is difficult to retrieve the pieces of paragraphs that contain the answer to the question. In this study, we propose two neural network rankers that assign scores to different passages based on their likelihood of containing the answer to a given question. Additionally, we analyze the relative importance of semantic similarity and word level relevance matching in open-domain QA.

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自动问答(Question Answering, QA)是指利用计算机自动回答用户所提出的问题以满足用户知识需求的任务。不同于现有搜索引擎,问答系统是信息服务的一种高级形式,系统返回用户的不再是基于关键词匹配排序的文档列表,而是精准的自然语言答案。近年来,随着人工智能的飞速发展,自动问答已经成为倍受关注且发展前景广泛的研究方向。

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We demonstrate an end-to-end question answering system that integrates BERT with the open-source Anserini information retrieval toolkit. In contrast to most question answering and reading comprehension models today, which operate over small amounts of input text, our system integrates best practices from IR with a BERT-based reader to identify answers from a large corpus of Wikipedia articles in an end-to-end fashion. We report large improvements over previous results on a standard benchmark test collection, showing that fine-tuning pretrained BERT with SQuAD is sufficient to achieve high accuracy in identifying answer spans.

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Question Answering has recently received high attention from artificial intelligence communities due to the advancements in learning technologies. Early question answering models used rule-based approaches and moved to the statistical approach to address the vastly available information. However, statistical approaches are shown to underperform in handling the dynamic nature and the variation of language. Therefore, learning models have shown the capability of handling the dynamic nature and variations in language. Many deep learning methods have been introduced to question answering. Most of the deep learning approaches have shown to achieve higher results compared to machine learning and statistical methods. The dynamic nature of language has profited from the nonlinear learning in deep learning. This has created prominent success and a spike in work on question answering. This paper discusses the successes and challenges in question answering question answering systems and techniques that are used in these challenges.

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Although neural network approaches achieve remarkable success on a variety of NLP tasks, many of them struggle to answer questions that require commonsense knowledge. We believe the main reason is the lack of commonsense connections between concepts. To remedy this, we provide a simple and effective method that leverages external commonsense knowledge base such as ConceptNet. We pre-train direct and indirect relational functions between concepts, and show that these pre-trained functions could be easily added to existing neural network models. Results show that incorporating commonsense-based function improves the state-of-the-art on two question answering tasks that require commonsense reasoning. Further analysis shows that our system discovers and leverages useful evidences from an external commonsense knowledge base, which is missing in existing neural network models and help derive the correct answer.

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One of the main challenges in ranking is embedding the query and document pairs into a joint feature space, which can then be fed to a learning-to-rank algorithm. To achieve this representation, the conventional state of the art approaches perform extensive feature engineering that encode the similarity of the query-answer pair. Recently, deep-learning solutions have shown that it is possible to achieve comparable performance, in some settings, by learning the similarity representation directly from data. Unfortunately, previous models perform poorly on longer texts, or on texts with significant portion of irrelevant information, or which are grammatically incorrect. To overcome these limitations, we propose a novel ranking algorithm for question answering, QARAT, which uses an attention mechanism to learn on which words and phrases to focus when building the mutual representation. We demonstrate superior ranking performance on several real-world question-answer ranking datasets, and provide visualization of the attention mechanism to otter more insights into how our models of attention could benefit ranking for difficult question answering challenges.

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Recently, Visual Question Answering (VQA) has emerged as one of the most significant tasks in multimodal learning as it requires understanding both visual and textual modalities. Existing methods mainly rely on extracting image and question features to learn their joint feature embedding via multimodal fusion or attention mechanism. Some recent studies utilize external VQA-independent models to detect candidate entities or attributes in images, which serve as semantic knowledge complementary to the VQA task. However, these candidate entities or attributes might be unrelated to the VQA task and have limited semantic capacities. To better utilize semantic knowledge in images, we propose a novel framework to learn visual relation facts for VQA. Specifically, we build up a Relation-VQA (R-VQA) dataset based on the Visual Genome dataset via a semantic similarity module, in which each data consists of an image, a corresponding question, a correct answer and a supporting relation fact. A well-defined relation detector is then adopted to predict visual question-related relation facts. We further propose a multi-step attention model composed of visual attention and semantic attention sequentially to extract related visual knowledge and semantic knowledge. We conduct comprehensive experiments on the two benchmark datasets, demonstrating that our model achieves state-of-the-art performance and verifying the benefit of considering visual relation facts.

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A popular recent approach to answering open-domain questions is to first search for question-related passages and then apply reading comprehension models to extract answers. Existing methods usually extract answers from single passages independently. But some questions require a combination of evidence from across different sources to answer correctly. In this paper, we propose two models which make use of multiple passages to generate their answers. Both use an answer-reranking approach which reorders the answer candidates generated by an existing state-of-the-art QA model. We propose two methods, namely, strength-based re-ranking and coverage-based re-ranking, to make use of the aggregated evidence from different passages to better determine the answer. Our models have achieved state-of-the-art results on three public open-domain QA datasets: Quasar-T, SearchQA and the open-domain version of TriviaQA, with about 8 percentage points of improvement over the former two datasets.

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Recent success of deep learning models for the task of extractive Question Answering (QA) is hinged on the availability of large annotated corpora. However, large domain specific annotated corpora are limited and expensive to construct. In this work, we envision a system where the end user specifies a set of base documents and only a few labelled examples. Our system exploits the document structure to create cloze-style questions from these base documents; pre-trains a powerful neural network on the cloze style questions; and further fine-tunes the model on the labeled examples. We evaluate our proposed system across three diverse datasets from different domains, and find it to be highly effective with very little labeled data. We attain more than 50% F1 score on SQuAD and TriviaQA with less than a thousand labelled examples. We are also releasing a set of 3.2M cloze-style questions for practitioners to use while building QA systems.

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We propose the inverse problem of Visual question answering (iVQA), and explore its suitability as a benchmark for visuo-linguistic understanding. The iVQA task is to generate a question that corresponds to a given image and answer pair. Since the answers are less informative than the questions, and the questions have less learnable bias, an iVQA model needs to better understand the image to be successful than a VQA model. We pose question generation as a multi-modal dynamic inference process and propose an iVQA model that can gradually adjust its focus of attention guided by both a partially generated question and the answer. For evaluation, apart from existing linguistic metrics, we propose a new ranking metric. This metric compares the ground truth question's rank among a list of distractors, which allows the drawbacks of different algorithms and sources of error to be studied. Experimental results show that our model can generate diverse, grammatically correct and content correlated questions that match the given answer.

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Neural network models recently proposed for question answering (QA) primarily focus on capturing the passage-question relation. However, they have minimal capability to link relevant facts distributed across multiple sentences which is crucial in achieving deeper understanding, such as performing multi-sentence reasoning, co-reference resolution, etc. They also do not explicitly focus on the question and answer type which often plays a critical role in QA. In this paper, we propose a novel end-to-end question-focused multi-factor attention network for answer extraction. Multi-factor attentive encoding using tensor-based transformation aggregates meaningful facts even when they are located in multiple sentences. To implicitly infer the answer type, we also propose a max-attentional question aggregation mechanism to encode a question vector based on the important words in a question. During prediction, we incorporate sequence-level encoding of the first wh-word and its immediately following word as an additional source of question type information. Our proposed model achieves significant improvements over the best prior state-of-the-art results on three large-scale challenging QA datasets, namely NewsQA, TriviaQA, and SearchQA.

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