Learning to Detect Opinion Snippet for Aspect-Based Sentiment Analysis

Aspect-based sentiment analysis (ABSA) is to predict the sentiment polarity towards a particular aspect in a sentence. Recently, this task has been widely addressed by the neural attention mechanism, which computes attention weights to softly select words for generating aspect-specific sentence representations. The attention is expected to concentrate on opinion words for accurate sentiment prediction. However, attention is prone to be distracted by noisy or misleading words, or opinion words from other aspects. In this paper, we propose an alternative hard-selection approach, which determines the start and end positions of the opinion snippet, and selects the words between these two positions for sentiment prediction. Specifically, we learn deep associations between the sentence and aspect, and the long-term dependencies within the sentence by leveraging the pre-trained BERT model. We further detect the opinion snippet by self-critical reinforcement learning. Especially, experimental results demonstrate the effectiveness of our method and prove that our hard-selection approach outperforms soft-selection approaches when handling multi-aspect sentences.

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