Does syntax matter? A strong baseline for Aspect-based Sentiment Analysis with RoBERTa

Aspect-based Sentiment Analysis (ABSA), aiming at predicting the polarities for aspects, is a fine-grained task in the field of sentiment analysis. Previous work showed syntactic information, e.g. dependency trees, can effectively improve the ABSA performance. Recently, pre-trained models (PTMs) also have shown their effectiveness on ABSA. Therefore, the question naturally arises whether PTMs contain sufficient syntactic information for ABSA so that we can obtain a good ABSA model only based on PTMs. In this paper, we firstly compare the induced trees from PTMs and the dependency parsing trees on several popular models for the ABSA task, showing that the induced tree from fine-tuned RoBERTa (FT-RoBERTa) outperforms the parser-provided tree. The further analysis experiments reveal that the FT-RoBERTa Induced Tree is more sentiment-word-oriented and could benefit the ABSA task. The experiments also show that the pure RoBERTa-based model can outperform or approximate to the previous SOTA performances on six datasets across four languages since it implicitly incorporates the task-oriented syntactic information.

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Task Dataset Model Metric Name Metric Value Global Rank Result Benchmark
Aspect-Based Sentiment Analysis SemEval 2014 Task 4 Sub Task 2 RoBERTa+MLP Restaurant (Acc) 87.37 # 5
Laptop (Acc) 83.78 # 2
Mean Acc (Restaurant + Laptop) 85.58 # 4