Explaining Interactions Between Text Spans


Reasoning over spans of tokens from different parts of the input is essential for natural language understanding (NLU) tasks such as fact-checking (FC), machine reading comprehension (MRC) or natural language inference (NLI). However, existing highlight-based explanations primarily focus on identifying individual important tokens or interactions only between adjacent tokens or tuples of tokens. Most notably, there is a lack of annotations capturing the human decision-making process w.r.t. the necessary interactions for informed decision-making in such tasks. To bridge this gap, we introduce SpanEx, a multi-annotator dataset of human span interaction explanations for two NLU tasks: NLI and FC. We then investigate the decision-making processes of multiple fine-tuned large language models in terms of the employed connections between spans in separate parts of the input and compare them to the human reasoning processes. Finally, we present a novel community detection based unsupervised method to extract such interaction explanations from a model’s inner workings.

Proceedings of the 2023 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing