Few-Shot Named Entity Recognition via Meta-Learning

Jing LI, Billy CHIU, Shanshan FENG, Hao WANG

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

8 Citations (SciVal)


Few-shot learning under the N-way K-shot setting (i.e., K annotated samples for each of N classes) has been widely studied in relation extraction (e.g., FewRel) and image classification (e.g., Mini-ImageNet). Named entity recognition (NER) is typically framed as a sequence labeling problem where the entity classes are inherently entangled together because the entity number and classes in a sentence are not known in advance, leaving the N-way K-shot NER problem so far unexplored. In this paper, we first formally define a more suitable N-way K-shot setting for NER. Then we propose FewNER, a novel meta-learning approach for few-shot NER. FewNER separates the entire network into a task-independent part and a task-specific part. During training in FewNER, the task-independent part is meta-learned across multiple tasks and a task-specific part is learned for each single task in a low-dimensional space. At test time, FewNER keeps the task-independent part fixed and adapts to a new task via gradient descent by updating only the task-specific part, resulting in it being less prone to overfitting and more computationally efficient. The results demonstrate that FewNER achieves state-of-the-art performance against nine baseline methods by significant margins on three adaptation experiments.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Transactions on Knowledge and Data Engineering
Publication statusPublished - 17 Nov 2020
Externally publishedYes


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