Prefer to Classify: Improving Text Classifiers via Auxiliary Preference Learning
Proceedings of the 40th International Conference on Machine Learning, PMLR 202:16807-16828, 2023.
The development of largely human-annotated benchmarks has driven the success of deep neural networks in various NLP tasks. To enhance the effectiveness of existing benchmarks, collecting new additional input-output pairs is often too costly and challenging, particularly considering their marginal impact on improving the current model accuracy. Instead, additional or complementary annotations on the existing input texts in the benchmarks can be preferable as an efficient way to pay the additional human cost. In this paper, we investigate task-specific preferences between pairs of input texts as a new alternative way for such auxiliary data annotation. From pair-wise comparisons with respect to the task, the auxiliary preference learning enables the model to learn an additional informative training signal that cannot be captured with instance-wise task labels. To this end, we propose a novel multi-task learning framework, called prefer-to-classify (P2C), which can enjoy the cooperative effect of learning both the given classification task and the auxiliary preferences. Here, we provide three different ways to collect preference signals in practice: (a) implicitly extracting from annotation records (for free, but often unavailable), (b) collecting explicitly from crowd workers (high paid), or (c) pre-trained large language models such as GPT-3 (low paid). Given existing classification NLP benchmarks, we demonstrate that the proposed auxiliary preference learning via P2C on them is effective in improving text classifiers. Our codes are publicly available.