Communication is a cooperative effort that requires reaching mutual understanding among the participants. Humans use commonsense reasoning implicitly to produce natural and logically-coherent responses. As a step towards fluid human-AI communication, we study if response generation (RG) models can emulate human reasoning process and use common sense to help produce better-quality responses. We aim to tackle two research questions: how to formalize conversational common sense and how to examine RG models capability to use common sense? We first propose a task, CEDAR: Causal common sEnse in DiAlogue Response generation, that concretizes common sense as textual explanations for what might lead to the response and evaluates RG models behavior by comparing the modeling loss given a valid explanation with an invalid one. Then we introduce a process that automatically generates such explanations and ask humans to verify them. Finally, we design two probing settings for RG models targeting two reasoning capabilities using verified explanations. We find that RG models have a hard time determining the logical validity of explanations but can identify grammatical naturalness of the explanation easily.
Recent advances in deep learning have resulted in a resurgence in the popularity of natural language generation (NLG). Many deep learning based models, including recurrent neural networks and generative adversarial networks, have been proposed and applied to generating various types of text. Despite the fast development of methods, how to better evaluate the quality of these natural language generators remains a significant challenge. We conduct an in-depth empirical study to evaluate the existing evaluation methods for natural language generation. We compare human-based evaluators with a variety of automated evaluation procedures, including discriminative evaluators that measure how well the generated text can be distinguished from human-written text, as well as text overlap metrics that measure how similar the generated text is to human-written references. We measure to what extent these different evaluators agree on the ranking of a dozen of state-of-the-art generators for online product reviews. We find that human evaluators do not correlate well with discriminative evaluators, leaving a bigger question of whether adversarial accuracy is the correct objective for natural language generation. In general, distinguishing machine-generated text is a challenging task even for human evaluators, and their decisions tend to correlate better with text overlap metrics. We also find that diversity is an intriguing metric that is indicative of the assessments of different evaluators.
In response generation task, proper sentimental expressions can obviously improve the human-like level of the responses. However, for real application in online systems, high QPS (queries per second, an indicator of the flow capacity of on-line systems) is required, and a dynamic vocabulary mechanism has been proved available in improving speed of generative models. In this paper, we proposed an emotion-controlled dialog response generation model based on the dynamic vocabulary mechanism, and the experimental results show the benefit of this model.
Reinforcement learning (RL) is an effective approach to learn an optimal dialog policy for task-oriented visual dialog systems. A common practice is to apply RL on a neural sequence-to-sequence (seq2seq) framework with the action space being the output vocabulary in the decoder. However, it is difficult to design a reward function that can achieve a balance between learning an effective policy and generating a natural dialog response. This paper proposes a novel framework that alternatively trains a RL policy for image guessing and a supervised seq2seq model to improve dialog generation quality. We evaluate our framework on the GuessWhich task and the framework achieves the state-of-the-art performance in both task completion and dialog quality.
In comparison to the interpretation of classification models, the explanation of sequence generation models is also an important problem, however it has seen little attention. In this work, we study model-agnostic explanations of a representative text generation task -- dialogue response generation. Dialog response generation is challenging with its open-ended sentences and multiple acceptable responses. To gain insights into the reasoning process of a generation model, we propose anew method, local explanation of response generation (LERG) that regards the explanations as the mutual interaction of segments in input and output sentences. LERG views the sequence prediction as uncertainty estimation of a human response and then creates explanations by perturbing the input and calculating the certainty change over the human response. We show that LERG adheres to desired properties of explanations for text generation including unbiased approximation, consistency and cause identification. Empirically, our results show that our method consistently improves other widely used methods on proposed automatic- and human- evaluation metrics for this new task by 4.4-12.8%. Our analysis demonstrates that LERG can extract both explicit and implicit relations between input and output segments.