UPER: Boosting Multi-Document Summarization with an Unsupervised Prompt-based Extractor

Multi-Document Summarization (MDS) commonly employs the 2-stage extract-then-abstract paradigm, which first extracts a relatively short meta-document, then feeds it into the deep neural networks to generate an abstract. Previous work usually takes the ROUGE score as the label for training a scoring model to evaluate source documents. However, the trained scoring model is prone to under-fitting for low-resource settings, as it relies on the training data. To extract documents effectively, we construct prompting templates that invoke the underlying knowledge in Pre-trained Language Model (PLM) to calculate the document and keyword’s perplexity, which can assess the document’s semantic salience. Our unsupervised approach can be applied as a plug-in to boost other metrics for evaluating a document’s salience, thus improving the subsequent abstract generation. We get positive results on 2 MDS datasets, 2 data settings, and 2 abstractive backbone models, showing our method’s effectiveness. Our code is available at https://github.com/THU-KEG/UPER

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