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Uncertainty Estimation in Structured Prediction

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Uncertainty estimation is important for ensuring safety and robustness of AI systems, especially for high-risk applications. While much progress has recently been made in this area, most research has focused on un-structured prediction, such as image classification and regression tasks. However, while task-specific forms of confidence score estimation have been investigated by the speech and machine translation communities, limited work has investigated general uncertainty estimation approaches for structured prediction. Thus, this work aims to investigate uncertainty estimation for structured prediction tasks within a single unified and interpretable probabilistic ensemble-based framework. We consider uncertainty estimation for sequence data at the token-level and complete sequence-level, provide interpretations for, and applications of, various measures of uncertainty and discuss the challenges associated with obtaining them. This work also explores the practical challenges associated with obtaining uncertainty estimates for structured predictions tasks and provides baselines for token-level error detection, sequence-level prediction rejection, and sequence-level out-of-domain input detection using ensembles of auto-regressive transformer models trained on the WMT ’14 English-French and WMT ’17 English-German translation and LibriSpeech speech recognition datasets.

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