Improving Event Definition Following For Zero-Shot Event Detection


Existing approaches on zero-shot event detection usually train models on datasets annotated with known event types, and prompt them with unseen event definitions. These approaches yield sporadic successes, yet generally fall short of expectations. In this work, we aim to improve zero-shot event detection by training models to better follow event definitions. We hypothesize that a diverse set of event types and definitions are the key for models to learn to follow event definitions while existing event extraction datasets focus on annotating many high-quality examples for a few event types. To verify our hypothesis, we construct an automatically generated Diverse Event Definition (DivED) dataset and conduct comparative studies. Our experiments reveal that a large number of event types (200) and diverse event definitions can significantly boost event extraction performance; on the other hand, the performance does not scale with over ten examples per event type. Beyond scaling, we incorporate event ontology information and hard-negative samples during training, further boosting the performance. Based on these findings, we fine-tuned a LLaMA-2-7B model on our DivED dataset, yielding performance that surpasses SOTA large language models like GPT-3.5 across three open benchmarks on zero-shot event detection.