Lifelong Event Detection with Knowledge Transfer

EMNLP 2021  ·  Pengfei Yu, Heng Ji, Prem Natarajan ·

Traditional supervised Information Extraction (IE) methods can extract structured knowledge elements from unstructured data, but it is limited to a pre-defined target ontology. In reality, the ontology of interest may change over time, adding emergent new types or more fine-grained subtypes. We propose a new lifelong learning framework to address this challenge. We focus on lifelong event detection as an exemplar case and propose a new problem formulation that is also generalizable to other IE tasks. In event detection and more general IE tasks, rich correlations or semantic relatedness exist among hierarchical knowledge element types. In our proposed framework, knowledge is being transferred between learned old event types and new event types. Specifically, we update old knowledge with new event types’ mentions using a self-training loss. In addition, we aggregate old event types’ representations based on their similarities with new event types to initialize the new event types’ representations. Experimental results show that our framework outperforms competitive baselines with a 5.1% absolute gain in the F1 score. Moreover, our proposed framework can boost the F1 score for over 30% absolute gain on some new long-tail rare event types with few training instances. Our knowledge transfer module improves performance on both learned event types and new event types under the lifelong learning setting, showing that it helps consolidate old knowledge and improve novel knowledge acquisition.

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