Modeling Event Background for If-Then Commonsense Reasoning Using Context-aware Variational Autoencoder

IJCNLP 2019  ·  Li Du, Xiao Ding, Ting Liu, Zhongyang Li ·

Understanding event and event-centered commonsense reasoning are crucial for natural language processing (NLP). Given an observed event, it is trivial for human to infer its intents and effects, while this type of If-Then reasoning still remains challenging for NLP systems. To facilitate this, a If-Then commonsense reasoning dataset Atomic is proposed, together with an RNN-based Seq2Seq model to conduct such reasoning. However, two fundamental problems still need to be addressed: first, the intents of an event may be multiple, while the generations of RNN-based Seq2Seq models are always semantically close; second, external knowledge of the event background may be necessary for understanding events and conducting the If-Then reasoning. To address these issues, we propose a novel context-aware variational autoencoder effectively learning event background information to guide the If-Then reasoning. Experimental results show that our approach improves the accuracy and diversity of inferences compared with state-of-the-art baseline methods.

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