More than Classification: A Unified Framework for Event Temporal Relation Extraction

by   Quzhe Huang, et al.

Event temporal relation extraction (ETRE) is usually formulated as a multi-label classification task, where each type of relation is simply treated as a one-hot label. This formulation ignores the meaning of relations and wipes out their intrinsic dependency. After examining the relation definitions in various ETRE tasks, we observe that all relations can be interpreted using the start and end time points of events. For example, relation Includes could be interpreted as event 1 starting no later than event 2 and ending no earlier than event 2. In this paper, we propose a unified event temporal relation extraction framework, which transforms temporal relations into logical expressions of time points and completes the ETRE by predicting the relations between certain time point pairs. Experiments on TB-Dense and MATRES show significant improvements over a strong baseline and outperform the state-of-the-art model by 0.3% on both datasets. By representing all relations in a unified framework, we can leverage the relations with sufficient data to assist the learning of other relations, thus achieving stable improvement in low-data scenarios. When the relation definitions are changed, our method can quickly adapt to the new ones by simply modifying the logic expressions that map time points to new event relations. The code is released at <>.


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