UHH-LT at SemEval-2019 Task 6: Supervised vs. Unsupervised Transfer Learning for Offensive Language Detection

We present a neural network based approach of transfer learning for offensive language detection. For our system, we compare two types of knowledge transfer: supervised and unsupervised pre-training. Supervised pre-training of our bidirectional GRU-3-CNN architecture is performed as multi-task learning of parallel training of five different tasks. The selected tasks are supervised classification problems from public NLP resources with some overlap to offensive language such as sentiment detection, emoji classification, and aggressive language classification. Unsupervised transfer learning is performed with a thematic clustering of 40M unlabeled tweets via LDA. Based on this dataset, pre-training is performed by predicting the main topic of a tweet. Results indicate that unsupervised transfer from large datasets performs slightly better than supervised training on small {`}near target category{'} datasets. In the SemEval Task, our system ranks 14 out of 103 participants.

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