Data balancing is a known technique for improving the performance of classification tasks. In this work we define a novel balancing-viageneration framework termed BalaGen. BalaGen consists of a flexible balancing policy coupled with a text generation mechanism. Combined, these two techniques can be used to augment a dataset for more balanced distribution. We evaluate BalaGen on three publicly available semantic utterance classification (SUC) datasets. One of these is a new COVID-19 Q&A dataset published here for the first time. Our work demonstrates that optimal balancing policies can significantly improve classifier performance, while augmenting just part of the classes and under-sampling others. Furthermore, capitalizing on the advantages of balancing, we show its usefulness in all relevant BalaGen framework components. We validate the superiority of BalaGen on ten semantic utterance datasets taken from real-life goaloriented dialogue systems. Based on our results we encourage using data balancing prior to training for text classification tasks.
We focus on the task of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) retrieval. A given user query can be matched against the questions and/or the answers in the FAQ. We present a fully unsupervised method that exploits the FAQ pairs to train two BERT models. The two models match user queries to FAQ answers and questions, respectively. We alleviate the missing labeled data of the latter by automatically generating high-quality question paraphrases. We show that our model is on par and even outperforms supervised models on existing datasets.