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Author ORCID Identifier


Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Computer Science

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Andrew McCallum

Subject Categories

Artificial Intelligence and Robotics


Natural language processing (NLP) has come of age. For example, semantic role labeling (SRL), which automatically annotates sentences with a labeled graph representing who did what to whom, has in the past ten years seen nearly 40% reduction in error, bringing it to useful accuracy. As a result, a myriad of practitioners now want to deploy NLP systems on billions of documents across many domains. However, state-of-the-art NLP systems are typically not optimized for cross-domain robustness nor computational efficiency. In this dissertation I develop machine learning methods to facilitate fast and robust inference across many common NLP tasks.

First, I describe paired learning and inference algorithms for dynamic feature selection which accelerate inference in linear classifiers, the heart of the fastest NLP models, by 5-10 times. I then present iterated dilated convolutional neural networks (ID-CNNs), a distinct combination of network structure, parameter sharing and training procedures that increase inference speed by 14-20 times with accuracy matching bidirectional LSTMs, the most accurate models for NLP sequence labeling. Finally, I describe linguistically-informed self-attention (LISA), a neural network model that combines multi-head self-attention with multi-task learning to facilitate improved generalization to new domains. We show that incorporating linguistic structure in this way leads to substantial improvements over the previous state-of-the-art (syntax-free) neural network models for SRL, especially when evaluating out-of-domain. I conclude with a brief discussion of potential future directions stemming from my thesis work.


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.