Unsupervised Learning of Discourse Structures using a Tree Autoencoder


  • Patrick Huber University of British Columbia
  • Giuseppe Carenini University of British Columbia




Discourse, Pragmatics & Argument Mining


Discourse information, as postulated by popular discourse theories, such as RST and PDTB, has been shown to improve an increasing number of downstream NLP tasks, showing positive effects and synergies of discourse with important real-world applications. While methods for incorporating discourse become more and more sophisticated, the growing need for robust and general discourse structures has not been sufficiently met by current discourse parsers, usually trained on small scale datasets in a strictly limited number of domains. This makes the prediction for arbitrary tasks noisy and unreliable. The overall resulting lack of high-quality, high-quantity discourse trees poses a severe limitation to further progress. In order the alleviate this shortcoming, we propose a new strategy to generate tree structures in a task-agnostic, unsupervised fashion by extending a latent tree induction framework with an auto-encoding objective. The proposed approach can be applied to any tree-structured objective, such as syntactic parsing, discourse parsing and others. However, due to the especially difficult annotation process to generate discourse trees, we initially develop a method to generate larger and more diverse discourse treebanks. In this paper we are inferring general tree structures of natural text in multiple domains, showing promising results on a diverse set of tasks.




How to Cite

Huber, P., & Carenini, G. (2021). Unsupervised Learning of Discourse Structures using a Tree Autoencoder. Proceedings of the AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, 35(14), 13107-13115. https://doi.org/10.1609/aaai.v35i14.17549



AAAI Technical Track on Speech and Natural Language Processing I