MultiQA: An Empirical Investigation of Generalization and Transfer in Reading Comprehension

ACL 2019  ·  Alon Talmor, Jonathan Berant ·

A large number of reading comprehension (RC) datasets has been created recently, but little analysis has been done on whether they generalize to one another, and the extent to which existing datasets can be leveraged for improving performance on new ones. In this paper, we conduct such an investigation over ten RC datasets, training on one or more source RC datasets, and evaluating generalization, as well as transfer to a target RC dataset. We analyze the factors that contribute to generalization, and show that training on a source RC dataset and transferring to a target dataset substantially improves performance, even in the presence of powerful contextual representations from BERT (Devlin et al., 2019). We also find that training on multiple source RC datasets leads to robust generalization and transfer, and can reduce the cost of example collection for a new RC dataset. Following our analysis, we propose MultiQA, a BERT-based model, trained on multiple RC datasets, which leads to state-of-the-art performance on five RC datasets. We share our infrastructure for the benefit of the research community.

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