Putting Words in BERT's Mouth: Navigating Contextualized Vector Spaces with Pseudowords

23 Sep 2021  ·  Taelin Karidi, Yichu Zhou, Nathan Schneider, Omri Abend, Vivek Srikumar ·

We present a method for exploring regions around individual points in a contextualized vector space (particularly, BERT space), as a way to investigate how these regions correspond to word senses. By inducing a contextualized "pseudoword" as a stand-in for a static embedding in the input layer, and then performing masked prediction of a word in the sentence, we are able to investigate the geometry of the BERT-space in a controlled manner around individual instances. Using our method on a set of carefully constructed sentences targeting ambiguous English words, we find substantial regularity in the contextualized space, with regions that correspond to distinct word senses; but between these regions there are occasionally "sense voids" -- regions that do not correspond to any intelligible sense.

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