Discovering Latent Concepts Learned in BERTDownload PDF

Sep 29, 2021 (edited Mar 15, 2022)ICLR 2022 PosterReaders: Everyone
  • Keywords: interpretation, BERT, NLP
  • Abstract: A large number of studies that analyze deep neural network models and their ability to encode various linguistic and non-linguistic concepts provide an interpretation of the inner mechanics of these models. The scope of the analyses is limited to pre-defined concepts that reinforce the traditional linguistic knowledge and do not reflect on how novel concepts are learned by the model. We address this limitation by discovering and analyzing latent concepts learned in neural network models in an unsupervised fashion and provide interpretations from the model's perspective. In this work, we study: i) what latent concepts exist in the pre-trained BERT model, ii) how the discovered latent concepts align or diverge from classical linguistic hierarchy and iii) how the latent concepts evolve across layers. Our findings show: i) a model learns novel concepts (e.g. animal categories and demographic groups), which do not strictly adhere to any pre-defined categorization (e.g. POS, semantic tags), ii) several latent concepts are based on multiple properties which may include semantics, syntax, and morphology, iii) the lower layers in the model dominate in learning shallow lexical concepts while the higher layers learn semantic relations and iv) the discovered latent concepts highlight potential biases learned in the model. We also release a novel BERT ConceptNet dataset consisting of 174 concept labels and 1M annotated instances.
  • One-sentence Summary: We approach interpretability from a model’s perspective by discovering and analyzing latent concepts learned in pre-trained models in an unsupervised fashion.
  • Supplementary Material: zip
17 Replies