Collaborating Authors

Paraphrase Augmented Task-Oriented Dialog Generation Artificial Intelligence

Neural generative models have achieved promising performance on dialog generation tasks if given a huge data set. However, the lack of high-quality dialog data and the expensive data annotation process greatly limit their application in real-world settings. We propose a paraphrase augmented response generation (PARG) framework that jointly trains a paraphrase model and a response generation model to improve the dialog generation performance. We also design a method to automatically construct paraphrase training data set based on dialog state and dialog act labels. PARG is applicable to various dialog generation models, such as TSCP (Lei et al., 2018) and DAMD (Zhang et al., 2019). Experimental results show that the proposed framework improves these state-of-the-art dialog models further on CamRest676 and MultiWOZ. PARG also significantly outperforms other data augmentation methods in dialog generation tasks, especially under low resource settings.

A Deep Reinforcement Learning Chatbot (Short Version) Machine Learning

We present MILABOT: a deep reinforcement learning chatbot developed by the Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms (MILA) for the Amazon Alexa Prize competition. MILABOT is capable of conversing with humans on popular small talk topics through both speech and text. The system consists of an ensemble of natural language generation and retrieval models, including neural network and template-based models. By applying reinforcement learning to crowdsourced data and real-world user interactions, the system has been trained to select an appropriate response from the models in its ensemble. The system has been evaluated through A/B testing with real-world users, where it performed significantly better than other systems. The results highlight the potential of coupling ensemble systems with deep reinforcement learning as a fruitful path for developing real-world, open-domain conversational agents.

Tartan: A retrieval-based socialbot powered by a dynamic finite-state machine architecture Artificial Intelligence

This paper describes the Tartan conversational agent built for the 2018 Alexa Prize Competition. Tartan is a non-goal-oriented socialbot focused around providing users with an engaging and fluent casual conversation. Tartan's key features include an emphasis on structured conversation based on flexible finite-state models and an approach focused on understanding and using conversational acts. To provide engaging conversations, Tartan blends script-like yet dynamic responses with data-based generative and retrieval models. Unique to Tartan is that our dialog manager is modeled as a dynamic Finite State Machine. To our knowledge, no other conversational agent implementation has followed this specific structure.

Do Response Selection Models Really Know What's Next? Utterance Manipulation Strategies for Multi-turn Response Selection Artificial Intelligence

In this paper, we study the task of selecting optimal response given user and system utterance history in retrieval-based multi-turn dialog systems. Recently, pre-trained language models (e.g., BERT, RoBERTa, and ELECTRA) have shown significant improvements in various natural language processing tasks. This and similar response selection tasks can also be solved using such language models by formulating them as dialog-response binary classification tasks. Although existing works using this approach successfully obtained state-of-the-art results, we observe that language models trained in this manner tend to make predictions based on the relatedness of history and candidates, ignoring the sequential nature of multi-turn dialog systems. This suggests that the response selection task alone is insufficient in learning temporal dependencies between utterances. To this end, we propose utterance manipulation strategies (UMS) to address this problem. Specifically, UMS consist of several strategies (i.e., insertion, deletion, and search), which aid the response selection model towards maintaining dialog coherence. Further, UMS are self-supervised methods that do not require additional annotation and thus can be easily incorporated into existing approaches. Extensive evaluation across multiple languages and models shows that UMS are highly effective in teaching dialog consistency, which lead to models pushing the state-of-the-art with significant margins on multiple public benchmark datasets.

Multi-turn Dialogue Reading Comprehension with Pivot Turns and Knowledge Artificial Intelligence

Multi-turn dialogue reading comprehension aims to teach machines to read dialogue contexts and solve tasks such as response selection and answering questions. The major challenges involve noisy history contexts and especial prerequisites of commonsense knowledge that is unseen in the given material. Existing works mainly focus on context and response matching approaches. This work thus makes the first attempt to tackle the above two challenges by extracting substantially important turns as pivot utterances and utilizing external knowledge to enhance the representation of context. We propose a pivot-oriented deep selection model (PoDS) on top of the Transformer-based language models for dialogue comprehension. In detail, our model first picks out the pivot utterances from the conversation history according to the semantic matching with the candidate response or question, if any. Besides, knowledge items related to the dialogue context are extracted from a knowledge graph as external knowledge. Then, the pivot utterances and the external knowledge are combined with a well-designed mechanism for refining predictions. Experimental results on four dialogue comprehension benchmark tasks show that our proposed model achieves great improvements on baselines. A series of empirical comparisons are conducted to show how our selection strategies and the extra knowledge injection influence the results.