Machine-learning based dialogue managers are able to learn complex behaviors in order to complete a task, but it is not straightforward to extend their capabilities to new domains. We investigate different policies' ability to handle uncooperative user behavior, and how well expertise in completing one task (such as restaurant reservations) can be reapplied when learning a new one (e.g. booking a hotel). We introduce the Recurrent Embedding Dialogue Policy (REDP), which embeds system actions and dialogue states in the same vector space. REDP contains a memory component and attention mechanism based on a modified Neural Turing Machine, and significantly outperforms a baseline LSTM classifier on this task. We also show that both our architecture and baseline solve the bAbI dialogue task, achieving 100% test accuracy.
One of the major drawbacks of modularized task-completion dialogue systems is that each module is trained individually, which presents several challenges. For example, downstream modules are affected by earlier modules, and the performance of the entire system is not robust to the accumulated errors. This paper presents a novel end-to-end learning framework for task-completion dialogue systems to tackle such issues. Our neural dialogue system can directly interact with a structured database to assist users in accessing information and accomplishing certain tasks. The reinforcement learning based dialogue manager offers robust capabilities to handle noises caused by other components of the dialogue system. Our experiments in a movie-ticket booking domain show that our end-to-end system not only outperforms modularized dialogue system baselines for both objective and subjective evaluation, but also is robust to noises as demonstrated by several systematic experiments with different error granularity and rates specific to the language understanding module.
This paper presents a Discriminative Deep Dyna-Q (D3Q) approach to improving the effectiveness and robustness of Deep Dyna-Q (DDQ), a recently proposed framework that extends the Dyna-Q algorithm to integrate planning for task-completion dialogue policy learning. To obviate DDQ's high dependency on the quality of simulated experiences, we incorporate an RNN-based discriminator in D3Q to differentiate simulated experience from real user experience in order to control the quality of training data. Experiments show that D3Q significantly outperforms DDQ by controlling the quality of simulated experience used for planning. The effectiveness and robustness of D3Q is further demonstrated in a domain extension setting, where the agent's capability of adapting to a changing environment is tested.
We present a new algorithm that significantly improves the efficiency of exploration for deep Q-learning agents in dialogue systems. Our agents explore via Thompson sampling, drawing Monte Carlo samples from a Bayes-by-Backprop neural network. Our algorithm learns much faster than common exploration strategies such as $\epsilon$-greedy, Boltzmann, bootstrapping, and intrinsic-reward-based ones. Additionally, we show that spiking the replay buffer with experiences from just a few successful episodes can make Q-learning feasible when it might otherwise fail.
User Simulators are one of the major tools that enable offline training of task-oriented dialogue systems. For this task the Agenda-Based User Simulator (ABUS) is often used. The ABUS is based on hand-crafted rules and its output is in semantic form. Issues arise from both properties such as limited diversity and the inability to interface a text-level belief tracker. This paper introduces the Neural User Simulator (NUS) whose behaviour is learned from a corpus and which generates natural language, hence needing a less labelled dataset than simulators generating a semantic output. In comparison to much of the past work on this topic, which evaluates user simulators on corpus-based metrics, we use the NUS to train the policy of a reinforcement learning based Spoken Dialogue System. The NUS is compared to the ABUS by evaluating the policies that were trained using the simulators. Cross-model evaluation is performed i.e. training on one simulator and testing on the other. Furthermore, the trained policies are tested on real users. In both evaluation tasks the NUS outperformed the ABUS.