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Proceedings of the Fourth Italian Conference on Computational Linguistics CLiC-it 2017

 | 
Roberto Basili
, 
Malvina Nissim
, 
Giorgio Satta

Bi-directional LSTM-CNNs-CRF for Italian Sequence Labeling

Pierpaolo Basile, Giovanni Semeraro et Pierluigi Cassotti

Résumé

In this paper, we propose a Deep Learning architecture for sequence labeling based on a state of the art model that exploits both word- and character-level representations through the combination of bidirectional LSTM, CNN and CRF. We evaluate the proposed method on three Natural Language Processing tasks for Italian: PoS-tagging of tweets, Named Entity Recognition and Super-Sense Tagging. Results show that the system is able to achieve state of the art performance in all the tasks and in some cases overcomes the best systems previously developed for the Italian.

In questo lavoro viene descritta un’architettura di Deep Learning per l’etichettatura di sequenze basata su un modello allo stato dell’arte che utilizza rappresentazioni sia a livello di carattere che di parola attraverso la combinazione di LSTM, CNN e CRF. Il metodo è stato valutato in tre task di elaborazione del linguaggio naturale per la lingua italiana: il PoS-tagging di tweet, il riconoscimento di entità e il Super-Sense Tagging. I risultati ottenuti dimostrano che il sistema è in grado di raggiungere prestazioni allo stato dell’arte in tutti i task e in alcuni casi riesce a superare i sistemi precedentemente sviluppati per la lingua italiana.

Texte intégral

1 Background and Motivation

1Deep Learning (DL) gained a lot of attention in last years for its capacity to generalize models without the need of feature engineering and its ability to provide good performance. On the other hand good performance can be achieved by accurately designing the architecture used to perform the learning task. In Natural Language Processing (NLP) several DL architectures have been proposed to solve many tasks, ranging from speech recognition to parsing. Some typical NLP tasks can be solved as sequence labeling problem, such as part-of-speech (PoS) tagging and Named Entity Recognition (NER). Traditional high performance NLP methods for sequence labeling are linear statistical models, including Conditional Random Fields (CRF) and Hidden Markov Models (HMM) (Ratinov and Roth, 2009; Passos et al., 2014; Luo et al., 2015), which rely on hand-crafted features and task/language specific resources. However, developing such task/language specific resources has a cost, moreover it makes difficult to adapt the model to new tasks, new domains or new languages. In (Ma and Hovy, 2016), the authors propose a state of the art sequence labeling method based on a neural network architecture that benefits from both word- and character-level representations through the combination of bidirectional LSTM, CNN and CRF. The method is able to achieve state of the art performance in sequence labeling tasks for the English without the use of hand-crafted features.

2In this paper, we exploit the aforementioned architecture for solving three NLP tasks in Italian: PoS-tagging of tweets, NER and Super Sense Tagging (SST). Our research question is to prove the effectiveness of the DL architecture in a different language, in this case Italian, without using language specific features. The results of the evaluation prove that our approach is able to achieve state of the art performance and in some cases it is able to overcome the best systems developed for the Italian without the usage of specific language resources.

3The paper is structured as follows: Section 2 provides details about our methodology and summarizes the DL architecture proposed in (Ma and Hovy, 2016), while Section 3 shows the results of the evaluation. Final remarks are reported in Section 4.

2 Methodology

  • 1 Generally, the NER task uses the IOB2 schema for data annotation.

4Our approach relies on the DL architecture proposed in (Ma and Hovy, 2016), where the authors combine two aspects previously exploited separately: 1) the use of a character-level representation (Chiu and Nichols, 2015); 2) the addition of an output layer based on CRF (Huang et al., 2015). The architecture is sketched in Figure 1: the input level of the Convolution Neural Network is represented by the character-level representation. A dropout layer (Srivastava et al., 2014) is applied before feeding the CNN with character embeddings. Then the character embeddings are concatenated with the word embeddings to form the input for the Bi-directional LSTM layer. The dropout layer is also applied to output vectors from the LSTM layer. The output layer is based on Conditional Random Fields and it modifies the output vectors of the LSTM in order to find the best output sequence. The CRF layer is useful for learning correlations between labels in neighborhoods, for example generally a noun follows an article in PoS-tagging, or the I-ORG tag1cannot follow the I-PER tag in the NER task.

Figure 1: The DL architecture for the sequence labeling

Figure 1: The DL architecture for the sequence labeling

5The aforementioned architecture can be easily adapted to other languages since it does not rely on language dependent features. The only components outside the architecture are the word embeddings that can be built by relying on a corpus of documents of the specific language. In Section 3, we provide details about the setup of the architecture parameters and the building of word embeddings for Italian, in particular we adopt two different word embeddings: ones for PoS-tagging and ones for NER and SST. Moreover, we reimplement2 the architecture by using the Keras3 framework and Tensorflow4 as back-end.

3 Evaluation

6We provide an evaluation in the context of three sequence labeling tasks: 1) PoS tagging of Italian tweets; 2) NER of Italian news and 3) Super Sense Tagging. All tasks are performed using Italian datasets, in particular we exploit data coming from the last edition (2016) of EVALITA5 (Basile et al., 2016) and previous ones (2009 (Magnini and Cappelli, 2009) and 20116). EVALITA7 is a periodic evaluation campaign of Natural Language Processing (NLP) and speech tools for the Italian language. The usage of a standard benchmark allows to compare our system with the state of the art approaches for the Italian language.

7Each task has its specific parameters, but there are some ones that are in common as reported in Table 1. We do not perform any parameters optimization and we use the values proposed in the English evaluation (Ma and Hovy, 2016). We choose this strategy in order to not reduce the training set since validation set is not provided in all the tasks.

3.1 PoS tagging of Tweets

8The goal of the task is to perform PoS-tagging of tweets. The task is more challenging with respect to the classical PoS-tagging due to the short and noisy nature of tweets. For the evaluation we adopt the dataset used during the EVALITA 2016 PoSTWITA task (Bosco et al., 2016) in order to compare our system with the other EVALITA participants. The dataset contains 6,438 tweets (114,967 tokens) for training and 300 tweets (4,759 tokens) for test. The metric used for the evaluation is the classical tagging accuracy: it is defined as the number of correct PoS tag assignment divided by the total number of tokens in the test set. Participants can predict only one tag for each token.

Table 1: Parameters’ values.

Parameter

Value

Framework

Keras 2.0.1

Back-end

Tensorflow 1.1.0

Char embed. dimension

30

Word embed. dimension

300

Window size

3

LTSM dimension

200 (bi-LTSM 400)

Optimization

Adadelta

Gradient clipping

5.0

Epochs

100 (PoS), 60 (NER and SST)

Table 2: Results for the PoSTWITA task.

System

Accuracy

UNIBA-twita

.9334

UNIBA-itwiki

.9199

UNIBA-random300

.8790

ILC-CNR

.9319

UniDuisburg

.9286

UniBologna UnOFF

.9279

9All the top-performing PoSTWITA systems are based on Deep Neural Networks and, in particular, on LSTM, moreover most systems use word or character embeddings as inputs for their systems. This makes other systems more similar to the one proposed in this paper.

10Results of the evaluation are reported in Table 2, our best approach (UNIBA-twita) is able to overcome the first three PoSTWITA participants. (UNIBA-twita) exploits a corpus of 70M tweets randomly extracted from Twita, a collection of about 800M tweets, for building the word embeddings. It is important to underline that the best system (ILC-CNR) (Cimino and Dell’orletta, 2016) in PoSTWITA uses a biLSTM and a RNN by exploiting both word and char embeddings, moreover it use further features based on morpho-syntactic category and spell checker. The good performance of our system probably depends by the CRF layer and the corpus used for building the word embeddings. This hypothesis is supported by the fact that the configuration (UNIBA-itwiki) based on word embeddings extracted from Wikipedia obtains the worst result. The configuration UNIBA-random300 adopts random embeddings, we report this result in order to underline the importance of pre-trained word embeddings. Moreover, the second best system (UniDuisburg) (Horsmann and Zesch, 2016) in PoSTWITA exploits a CRF classifier using several features without a DL architecture, while the system UniBologna UnOFF (Tamburini, 2016) uses a BiLSTM with a CRF layer by exploiting word embeddings and additional morphological features.

3.2 NER Task

11Three tasks about named entities have been organized during the EVALITA evaluation campaigns, respectively in 2007 (Speranza, 2007), 2009 (Speranza, 2009), and 2011 (Lenzi et al., 2013). In this paper we take into account the 2009 edition since the I-CAB dataset8 used in the evaluation is the same adopted in 2009. In 2007 a different version of I-CAB was used, while in 2011 the task was focused on data transcribed by an ASR system. The I-CAB dataset consists of a set of news manually annotated with four kinds of entities: GPE (geo-political), LOC (location), ORG (organization) and PER (person). The dataset contains 525 news for training and 180 for testing for a total number of 11,410 annotated entities for training and 4,966 ones for testing. The dataset is provided in the IOB2 format.

12We build word embeddings by exploiting the Italian version of Wikipedia. Word2vec is used for creating embeddings with a dimension of 300, we remove all words that have less than 40 occurrences in Wikipedia, for the other parameters we adopt the standard values provided by word2vec.

13Results of the evaluation are reported in Table 3 and Table 4. Table 3 reports precision (P), recall (R) and F1-measure (F1) for different configurations of the system. In particular: no-case-sensitive does not perform lowercase of words for both word embeddings and the lookup table, while case-sensitive does it. The random configuration randomly initializes embeddings without using pre-trained embeddings, while no char does not adopt char embeddings. The results show that the best performance is obtained by applying lowercase, moreover the contribution of char embeddings is significant.

Table 3: Results for the Italian NER task using different configurations.

Configuration

P

ALL

R

F1

GPE

F1

LOC

F1

ORG

F1

PER

F1

no-case-sensitive

.8286

.8182

.8234

.8561

.6220

.6587

.9239

case-sensitive

.8220

.8084

.8151

.8444

.6305

.6421

.9178

random

.7153

.6885

.7017

.7564

.4809

.5209

.8037

no char

.8305

.7426

.7841

.8492

.6200

.5945

.8714

Table 4: Results for the Italian NER task compared with other EVALITA 2009 participants.

System

P

ALL

R

F1

GPE

F1

LOC

F1

ORG

F1

PER

F1

UNIBA

.8286

.8182

.8234

.8561

.6220

.6587

.9239

FBK_ZanoliPianta

.8407

.8002

.8200

.8513

.5124

.7056

.8831

UniGen_Gesmundo_r2

.8606

.7733

.8146

.8336

.5081

.7108

.8741

UniTN-FBK-RGB_r2

.8320

.7908

.8109

.8525

.5224

.6961

.8689

14Table 4 reports the result of our best configuration (no-case-sensitive) with respect to the other EVALITA 2009 participants. The system is able to outperform the first three EVALITA participants thanks to the best performance in recall. All the first three participants adopt classical classification methods: the first system (Zanoli et al., 2009) combines two classifiers (HMM and CRF), the second participant (Gesmundo, 2009) uses a Perceptron algorithm, while the third participant (Mehdad et al., 2009) adopts Support Vector Machine and feature selection. We can conclude that the DL architecture is more effective in the model generalization and in tackling the data sparsity problem. This behavior is supported by the good performance in recognizing LOC entities, in fact the LOC class represents about the 3% of annotated entities in both training and test. Other two systems (Nguyen and Moschitti, 2012; Bonadiman et al., 2015) able to overcome the EVALITA 2009 participants have been proposed in the literature. The former (Nguyen and Moschitti, 2012) achieves the 84.33% of F1 by using re-ranking techniques and the combination of two state-of-the-art NER learning algorithms: conditional random fields and support vector machines. The latter (Bonadiman et al., 2015) exploits a Deep Neural Network with a log-likelihood cost function and a recurrent feedback mechanism to ensure the dependencies between the output tags. This system is able to achieves the 82.81% of F1, a performance comparable with our DL architecture.

3.3 Super Sense Tagging

15The Super-Sense Tagging (SST) task (Dei Rossi et al., 2011) consists in annotating each significant entity in a text, like nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs, within a general semantic taxonomy defined by the WordNet lexicographer classes (called super-senses, for a total of 45 senses). SST can be considered as a task half-way between NER and Word Sense Disambiguation (WSD): it is an extension of NER, since it uses a larger set of semantic categories, and it is an easier and more practical task with respect to WSD. The dataset has been tagged using the IOB2 format as for the NER task and contains about 276,000 tokens for training and about 50,000 for testing. The metric adopted for the evaluation is the F1, results of the evaluation are reported in Table 5. As word embeddings we use the same ones adopted for the NER task and built upon Wikipedia with lowercase.

System

F1

UNIBA-pos-Adagrad

.7871

UNIBA-pos

.7787

UNIBA

.7453

UNIBA-SVMcat

.7866

UNIPI-run3

.7827

16Table 5: Results for the Super-Sense Tagging task.

17The best performance (UNIBA-pos-Adagrad) is obtained using Adagrad instead of Adadelta (UNIBA-pos) as optimization method. Moreover, we exploits PoS-tags as additional features, while UNIBA uses only tokens and word/char embeddings. The difference in performance between UNIBA-pos and UNIBA proves the effectiveness of the PoS-tag in this task. The best system in EVALITA 2011 SST task, UNIBA-SVMcat (Basile, 2013, 2011), is very close to our best configuration. This system combines lexical and distributional features through an SVM classifier, while the second system (UNIPI-run3) (Attardi et al., 2011) exploits lexical features and a Maximum Entropy classifier.

4 Conclusions and Future Work

18We propose an evaluation of a state of the art DL architecture for sequence labeling in the context of the Italian language. In particular, we consider three tasks: PoS-tagging of tweets, Named Entity Recognition and Super-Sense tagging. All tasks exploit data coming from EVALITA a standard benchmark for the evaluation of Italian NLP systems. Our system is able to achieve good performance in all the tasks without using hand-crafted features. Analyzing the results, we observe the importance of building word embeddings on appropriate corpora and we note that the system in the SST task is not able to generalize a good model without the pos-tag feature, this underline the importance of this kind of feature in the SST task. As future work, we plan to perform a parameters optimization by reducing the training set and using a portion as validation set. Using less data for training could affect the final performance and it could be interesting to have insights on the trade-off between training on more examples versus the parameters optimization.

Acknowledgments

19This work is partially supported by the project “Multilingual Entity Liking” funded by the Apulia Region under the program FutureInResearch.

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Table des illustrations

Titre Figure 1: The DL architecture for the sequence labeling
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Auteurs

Department of Computer Science, University of Bari Aldo Moro Via, E. Orabona, 4 - 70125 Bari (Italy) – pierpaolo.basile@uniba.it

Department of Computer Science, University of Bari Aldo Moro Via, E. Orabona, 4 - 70125 Bari (Italy) – giovanni.semeraro@uniba.it

Department of Computer Science, University of Bari Aldo Moro Via, E. Orabona, 4 - 70125 Bari (Italy) – pierluigicassotti@gmail.com

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