RESEARCH

NLP

Autoregressive Entity Retrieval

May 29, 2021

Abstract

Entities are at the center of how we represent and aggregate knowledge. For instance, Encyclopedias such as Wikipedia are structured by entities (e.g., one per Wikipedia article). The ability to retrieve such entities given a query is fundamental for knowledge-intensive tasks such as entity linking and open-domain question answering. Current approaches can be understood as classifiers among atomic labels, one for each entity. Their weight vectors are dense entity representations produced by encoding entity meta information such as their descriptions. This approach has several shortcomings: (i) context and entity affinity is mainly captured through a vector dot product, potentially missing fine-grained interactions; (ii) a large memory footprint is needed to store dense representations when considering large entity sets; (iii) an appropriately hard set of negative data has to be subsampled at training time. In this work, we propose GENRE, the first system that retrieves entities by generating their unique names, left to right, token-by-token in an autoregressive fashion. This mitigates the aforementioned technical issues since: (i) the autoregressive formulation directly captures relations between context and entity name, effectively cross encoding both; (ii) the memory footprint is greatly reduced because the parameters of our encoder-decoder architecture scale with vocabulary size, not entity count; (iii) the softmax loss is computed without subsampling negative data. We experiment with more than 20 datasets on entity disambiguation, end-to-end entity linking and document retrieval tasks, achieving new state-of-the-art or very competitive results while using a tiny fraction of the memory footprint of competing systems. Finally, we demonstrate that new entities can be added by simply specifying their names. Code and pre-trained models Here

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AUTHORS

Written by

Nicola De Cao

Gautier Izacard

Sebastian Riedel Fabio Petroni

Publisher

ICLR 2021

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