How “Multi” is Multi-Document Summarization?

Ruben Wolhandler, Arie Cattan, Ori Ernst, Ido Dagan

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


The task of multi-document summarization (MDS) aims at models that, given multiple documents as input, are able to generate a summary that combines disperse information, originally spread across these documents. Accordingly, it is expected that both reference summaries in MDS datasets, as well as system summaries, would indeed be based on such dispersed information. In this paper, we argue for quantifying and assessing this expectation. To that end, we propose an automated measure for evaluating the degree to which a summary is “disperse”, in the sense of the number of source documents needed to cover its content. We apply our measure to empirically analyze several popular MDS datasets, with respect to their reference summaries, as well as the output of state-of-the-art systems. Our results show that certain MDS datasets barely require combining information from multiple documents, where a single document often covers the full summary content. Overall, we advocate using our metric for assessing and improving the degree to which summarization datasets require combining multi-document information, and similarly how summarization models actually meet this challenge.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
StatePublished - 2022
Event2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing, EMNLP 2022 - Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Duration: 7 Dec 202211 Dec 2022


Conference2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing, EMNLP 2022
Country/TerritoryUnited Arab Emirates
CityAbu Dhabi

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computational Theory and Mathematics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Information Systems


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