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Effective Sequence-to-Sequence Dialogue State Tracking

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

Sequence-to-sequence models have been applied to a wide variety of NLP tasks, but how to properly use them for dialogue state tracking has not been systematically investigated. In this paper, we study this problem from the perspectives of pre-training objectives as well as the formats of context representations. We demonstrate that the choice of pre-training objective makes a significant difference to the state tracking quality. In particular, we find that masked span prediction is more effective than auto-regressive language modeling. We also explore using Pegasus, a span prediction-based pre-training objective for text summarization, for the state tracking model. We found that pre-training for the seemingly distant summarization task works surprisingly well for dialogue state tracking. In addition, we found that while recurrent state context representation works also reasonably well, the model may have a hard time recovering from earlier mistakes. We conducted experiments on the MultiWOZ 2.1-2.4, WOZ 2.0, and DSTC2 datasets with consistent observations.


Dual Slot Selector via Local Reliability Verification for Dialogue State Tracking

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

The goal of dialogue state tracking (DST) is to predict the current dialogue state given all previous dialogue contexts. Existing approaches generally predict the dialogue state at every turn from scratch. However, the overwhelming majority of the slots in each turn should simply inherit the slot values from the previous turn. Therefore, the mechanism of treating slots equally in each turn not only is inefficient but also may lead to additional errors because of the redundant slot value generation. To address this problem, we devise the two-stage DSS-DST which consists of the Dual Slot Selector based on the current turn dialogue, and the Slot Value Generator based on the dialogue history. The Dual Slot Selector determines each slot whether to update slot value or to inherit the slot value from the previous turn from two aspects: (1) if there is a strong relationship between it and the current turn dialogue utterances; (2) if a slot value with high reliability can be obtained for it through the current turn dialogue. The slots selected to be updated are permitted to enter the Slot Value Generator to update values by a hybrid method, while the other slots directly inherit the values from the previous turn. Empirical results show that our method achieves 56.93%, 60.73%, and 58.04% joint accuracy on MultiWOZ 2.0, MultiWOZ 2.1, and MultiWOZ 2.2 datasets respectively and achieves a new state-of-the-art performance with significant improvements.


AuGPT: Dialogue with Pre-trained Language Models and Data Augmentation

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

Attention-based pre-trained language models such as GPT-2 brought considerable progress to end-to-end dialogue modelling. However, they also present considerable risks for task-oriented dialogue, such as lack of knowledge grounding or diversity. To address these issues, we introduce modified training objectives for language model finetuning, and we employ massive data augmentation via back-translation to increase the diversity of the training data. We further examine the possibilities of combining data from multiples sources to improve performance on the target dataset. We carefully evaluate our contributions with both human and automatic methods. Our model achieves state-of-the-art performance on the MultiWOZ data and shows competitive performance in human evaluation.


Slot Self-Attentive Dialogue State Tracking

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

An indispensable component in task-oriented dialogue systems is the dialogue state tracker, which keeps track of users' intentions in the course of conversation. The typical approach towards this goal is to fill in multiple pre-defined slots that are essential to complete the task. Although various dialogue state tracking methods have been proposed in recent years, most of them predict the value of each slot separately and fail to consider the correlations among slots. In this paper, we propose a slot self-attention mechanism that can learn the slot correlations automatically. Specifically, a slot-token attention is first utilized to obtain slot-specific features from the dialogue context. Then a stacked slot self-attention is applied on these features to learn the correlations among slots. We conduct comprehensive experiments on two multi-domain task-oriented dialogue datasets, including MultiWOZ 2.0 and MultiWOZ 2.1. The experimental results demonstrate that our approach achieves state-of-the-art performance on both datasets, verifying the necessity and effectiveness of taking slot correlations into consideration.


Multi-Domain Dialogue State Tracking -- A Purely Transformer-Based Generative Approach

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

We investigate the problem of multi-domain Dialogue State Tracking (DST) with open vocabulary. Existing approaches exploit BERT encoder and copy-based RNN decoder, where the encoder first predicts the state operation, and then the decoder generates new slot values. However, in this stacked encoder-decoder structure, the operation prediction objective only affects the BERT encoder and the value generation objective mainly affects the RNN decoder. In this paper, we propose a purely Transformer-based framework that uses BERT as both encoder and decoder. In so doing, the operation prediction objective and the value generation objective can jointly optimize our model for DST. At the decoding step, we re-use the hidden states of the encoder in the self-attention mechanism of the corresponding decoder layer to construct a flat model structure for effective parameter updating. Experimental results show that our approach substantially outperforms the existing state-of-the-art framework, and it also achieves very competitive performance to the best ontology-based approaches.


Multi-Domain Dialogue State Tracking based on State Graph

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

We investigate the problem of multi-domain Dialogue State Tracking (DST) with open vocabulary, which aims to extract the state from the dialogue. Existing approaches usually concatenate previous dialogue state with dialogue history as the input to a bi-directional Transformer encoder. They rely on the self-attention mechanism of Transformer to connect tokens in them. However, attention may be paid to spurious connections, leading to wrong inference. In this paper, we propose to construct a dialogue state graph in which domains, slots and values from the previous dialogue state are connected properly. Through training, the graph node and edge embeddings can encode co-occurrence relations between domain-domain, slot-slot and domain-slot, reflecting the strong transition paths in general dialogue. The state graph, encoded with relational-GCN, is fused into the Transformer encoder. Experimental results show that our approach achieves a new state of the art on the task while remaining efficient. It outperforms existing open-vocabulary DST approaches.


GraphDialog: Integrating Graph Knowledge into End-to-End Task-Oriented Dialogue Systems

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

End-to-end task-oriented dialogue systems aim to generate system responses directly from plain text inputs. There are two challenges for such systems: one is how to effectively incorporate external knowledge bases (KBs) into the learning framework; the other is how to accurately capture the semantics of dialogue history. In this paper, we address these two challenges by exploiting the graph structural information in the knowledge base and in the dependency parsing tree of the dialogue. To effectively leverage the structural information in dialogue history, we propose a new recurrent cell architecture which allows representation learning on graphs. To exploit the relations between entities in KBs, the model combines multi-hop reasoning ability based on the graph structure. Experimental results show that the proposed model achieves consistent improvement over state-of-the-art models on two different task-oriented dialogue datasets.


MinTL: Minimalist Transfer Learning for Task-Oriented Dialogue Systems

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

In this paper, we propose Minimalist Transfer Learning (MinTL) to simplify the system design process of task-oriented dialogue systems and alleviate the over-dependency on annotated data. MinTL is a simple yet effective transfer learning framework, which allows us to plug-and-play pre-trained seq2seq models, and jointly learn dialogue state tracking and dialogue response generation. Unlike previous approaches, which use a copy mechanism to "carryover" the old dialogue states to the new one, we introduce Levenshtein belief spans (Lev), that allows efficient dialogue state tracking with a minimal generation length. We instantiate our learning framework with two pre-trained backbones: T5 and BART, and evaluate them on MultiWOZ. Extensive experiments demonstrate that: 1) our systems establish new state-of-the-art results on end-to-end response generation, 2) MinTL-based systems are more robust than baseline methods in the low resource setting, and they achieve competitive results with only 20\% training data, and 3) Lev greatly improves the inference efficiency.


Modelling Hierarchical Structure between Dialogue Policy and Natural Language Generator with Option Framework for Task-oriented Dialogue System

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

Designing task-oriented dialogue systems is a challenging research topic, since it needs not only to generate utterances fulfilling user requests but also to guarantee the comprehensibility. Many previous works trained end-to-end (E2E) models with supervised learning (SL), however, the bias in annotated system utterances remains as a bottleneck. Reinforcement learning (RL) deals with the problem through using non-differentiable evaluation metrics (e.g., the success rate) as rewards. Nonetheless, existing works with RL showed that the comprehensibility of generated system utterances could be corrupted when improving the performance on fulfilling user requests. In our work, we (1) propose modelling the hierarchical structure between dialogue policy and natural language generator (NLG) with the option framework, called HDNO; (2) train HDNO with hierarchical reinforcement learning (HRL), as well as suggest alternating updates between dialogue policy and NLG during HRL inspired by fictitious play, to preserve the comprehensibility of generated system utterances while improving fulfilling user requests; and (3) propose using a discriminator modelled with language models as an additional reward to further improve the comprehensibility. We test HDNO on MultiWoz 2.0 and MultiWoz 2.1, the datasets on multi-domain dialogues, in comparison with word-level E2E model trained with RL, LaRL and HDSA, showing a significant improvement on the total performance evaluated with automatic metrics.


MultiWOZ 2.2 : A Dialogue Dataset with Additional Annotation Corrections and State Tracking Baselines

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

MultiWOZ is a well-known task-oriented dialogue dataset containing over 10,000 annotated dialogues spanning 8 domains. It is extensively used as a benchmark for dialogue state tracking. However, recent works have reported presence of substantial noise in the dialogue state annotations. MultiWOZ 2.1 identified and fixed many of these erroneous annotations and user utterances, resulting in an improved version of this dataset. This work introduces MultiWOZ 2.2, which is a yet another improved version of this dataset. Firstly, we identify and fix dialogue state annotation errors across 17.3% of the utterances on top of MultiWOZ 2.1. Secondly, we redefine the ontology by disallowing vocabularies of slots with a large number of possible values (e.g., restaurant name, time of booking). In addition, we introduce slot span annotations for these slots to standardize them across recent models, which previously used custom string matching heuristics to generate them. We also benchmark a few state of the art dialogue state tracking models on the corrected dataset to facilitate comparison for future work. In the end, we discuss best practices for dialogue data collection that can help avoid annotation errors.