Traditional goal-oriented dialogue systems rely on various components such as natural language understanding, dialogue state tracking, policy learning and response generation. Training each component requires annotations which are hard to obtain for every new domain, limiting scalability of such systems. Similarly, rule-based dialogue systems require extensive writing and maintenance of rules and do not scale either. End-to-End dialogue systems, on the other hand, do not require module-specific annotations but need a large amount of data for training. To overcome these problems, in this demo, we present Alexa Conversations, a new approach for building goal-oriented dialogue systems that is scalable, extensible as well as data efficient. The components of this system are trained in a data-driven manner, but instead of collecting annotated conversations for training, we generate them using a novel dialogue simulator based on a few seed dialogues and specifications of APIs and entities provided by the developer. Our approach provides out-of-the-box support for natural conversational phenomenon like entity sharing across turns or users changing their mind during conversation without requiring developers to provide any such dialogue flows. We exemplify our approach using a simple pizza ordering task and showcase its value in reducing the developer burden for creating a robust experience. Finally, we evaluate our system using a typical movie ticket booking task integrated with live APIs and show that the dialogue simulator is an essential component of the system that leads to over 50% improvement in turn-level action signature prediction accuracy.
MultiWOZ 2.0 (Budzianowski et al., 2018) is a recently released multi-domain dialogue dataset spanning 7 distinct domains and containing over 10,000 dialogues. Though immensely useful and one of the largest resources of its kind to-date, MultiWOZ 2.0 has a few shortcomings. Firstly, there are substantial noise in the dialogue state annotations and dialogue utterances which negatively impact the performance of state-tracking models. Secondly, follow-up work (Lee et al., 2019) has augmented the original dataset with user dialogue acts. This leads to multiple co-existent versions of the same dataset with minor modifications. In this work we tackle the aforementioned issues by introducing MultiWOZ 2.1. To fix the noisy state annotations, we use crowdsourced workers to re-annotate state and utterances based on the original utterances in the dataset. This correction process results in changes to over 32% of state annotations across 40% of the dialogue turns. In addition, we fix 146 dialogue utterances by canonicalizing slot values in the utterances to the values in the dataset ontology. To address the second problem, we combined the contributions of the follow-up works into MultiWOZ 2.1. Hence, our dataset also includes user dialogue acts as well as multiple slot descriptions per dialogue state slot. We then benchmark a number of state-of-the-art dialogue state tracking models on the MultiWOZ 2.1 dataset and show the joint state tracking performance on the corrected state annotations. We are publicly releasing MultiWOZ 2.1 to the community, hoping that this dataset resource will allow for more effective models across various dialogue subproblems to be built in the future.
Dialog state tracking is used to estimate the current belief state of a dialog given all the preceding conversation. Machine reading comprehension, on the other hand, focuses on building systems that read passages of text and answer questions that require some understanding of passages. We formulate dialog state tracking as a reading comprehension task to answer the question what is the state of the current dialog? after reading conversational context. In contrast to traditional state tracking methods where the dialog state is often predicted as a distribution over a closed set of all the possible slot values within an ontology, our method uses a simple attention-based neural network to point to the slot values within the conversation. Experiments on MultiWOZ-2.0 cross-domain dialog dataset show that our simple system can obtain similar accuracies compared to the previous more complex methods. By exploiting recent advances in contextual word embeddings, adding a model that explicitly tracks whether a slot value should be carried over to the next turn, and combining our method with a traditional joint state tracking method that relies on closed set vocabulary, we can obtain a joint-goal accuracy of 47.33% on the standard test split, exceeding current state-of-the-art by 11.75%**.
Data availability is a bottleneck during early stages of development of new capabilities for intelligent artificial agents. We investigate the use of text generation techniques to augment the training data of a popular commercial artificial agent across categories of functionality, with the goal of faster development of new functionality. We explore a variety of encoder-decoder generative models for synthetic training data generation and propose using conditional variational auto-encoders. Our approach requires only direct optimization, works well with limited data and significantly outperforms the previous controlled text generation techniques. Further, the generated data are used as additional training samples in an extrinsic intent classification task, leading to improved performance by up to 5% absolute f-score in low-resource cases, validating the usefulness of our approach.
This paper reports team IITPB’s participation in the SemEval 2017 Task 5 on ‘Fine-grained sentiment analysis on financial microblogs and news’. We developed 2 systems for the two tracks. One system was based on an ensemble of Support Vector Classifier and Logistic Regression. This system relied on Distributional Thesaurus (DT), word embeddings and lexicon features to predict a floating sentiment value between -1 and +1. The other system was based on Support Vector Regression using word embeddings, lexicon features, and PMI scores as features. The system was ranked 5th in track 1 and 8th in track 2.