Chongyang Tao


2022

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ProphetChat: Enhancing Dialogue Generation with Simulation of Future Conversation
Chang Liu | Xu Tan | Chongyang Tao | Zhenxin Fu | Dongyan Zhao | Tie-Yan Liu | Rui Yan
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Typical generative dialogue models utilize the dialogue history to generate the response. However, since one dialogue utterance can often be appropriately answered by multiple distinct responses, generating a desired response solely based on the historical information is not easy. Intuitively, if the chatbot can foresee in advance what the user would talk about (i.e., the dialogue future) after receiving its response, it could possibly provide a more informative response. Accordingly, we propose a novel dialogue generation framework named ProphetChat that utilizes the simulated dialogue futures in the inference phase to enhance response generation. To enable the chatbot to foresee the dialogue future, we design a beam-search-like roll-out strategy for dialogue future simulation using a typical dialogue generation model and a dialogue selector. With the simulated futures, we then utilize the ensemble of a history-to-response generator and a future-to-response generator to jointly generate a more informative response. Experiments on two popular open-domain dialogue datasets demonstrate that ProphetChat can generate better responses over strong baselines, which validates the advantages of incorporating the simulated dialogue futures.

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Multi-Granularity Structural Knowledge Distillation for Language Model Compression
Chang Liu | Chongyang Tao | Jiazhan Feng | Dongyan Zhao
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Transferring the knowledge to a small model through distillation has raised great interest in recent years. Prevailing methods transfer the knowledge derived from mono-granularity language units (e.g., token-level or sample-level), which is not enough to represent the rich semantics of a text and may lose some vital knowledge. Besides, these methods form the knowledge as individual representations or their simple dependencies, neglecting abundant structural relations among intermediate representations. To overcome the problems, we present a novel knowledge distillation framework that gathers intermediate representations from multiple semantic granularities (e.g., tokens, spans and samples) and forms the knowledge as more sophisticated structural relations specified as the pair-wise interactions and the triplet-wise geometric angles based on multi-granularity representations. Moreover, we propose distilling the well-organized multi-granularity structural knowledge to the student hierarchically across layers. Experimental results on GLUE benchmark demonstrate that our method outperforms advanced distillation methods.

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There Are a Thousand Hamlets in a Thousand People’s Eyes: Enhancing Knowledge-grounded Dialogue with Personal Memory
Tingchen Fu | Xueliang Zhao | Chongyang Tao | Ji-Rong Wen | Rui Yan
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Knowledge-grounded conversation (KGC) shows great potential in building an engaging and knowledgeable chatbot, and knowledge selection is a key ingredient in it. However, previous methods for knowledge selection only concentrate on the relevance between knowledge and dialogue context, ignoring the fact that age, hobby, education and life experience of an interlocutor have a major effect on his or her personal preference over external knowledge. Without taking the personalization issue into account, it is difficult for existing dialogue systems to select the proper knowledge and generate persona-consistent responses.In this work, we introduce personal memory into knowledge selection in KGC to address the personalization issue. We propose a variational method to model the underlying relationship between one’s personal memory and his or her selection of knowledge, and devise a learning scheme in which the forward mapping from personal memory to knowledge and its inverse mapping is included in a closed loop so that they could teach each other. Experiment results show that our methods outperform existing KGC methods significantly on both automatic evaluation and human evaluation.

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PromDA: Prompt-based Data Augmentation for Low-Resource NLU Tasks
Yufei Wang | Can Xu | Qingfeng Sun | Huang Hu | Chongyang Tao | Xiubo Geng | Daxin Jiang
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

This paper focuses on the Data Augmentation for low-resource Natural Language Understanding (NLU) tasks. We propose Prompt-based Data Augmentation model (PromDA) which only trains small-scale Soft Prompt (i.e., a set of trainable vectors) in the frozen Pre-trained Language Models (PLMs). This avoids human effort in collecting unlabeled in-domain data and maintains the quality of generated synthetic data. In addition, PromDA generates synthetic data via two different views and filters out the low-quality data using NLU models. Experiments on four benchmarks show that synthetic data produced by PromDA successfully boost up the performance of NLU models which consistently outperform several competitive baseline models, including a state-of-the-art semi-supervised model using unlabeled in-domain data. The synthetic data from PromDA are also complementary with unlabeled in-domain data. The NLU models can be further improved when they are combined for training.

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HeterMPC: A Heterogeneous Graph Neural Network for Response Generation in Multi-Party Conversations
Jia-Chen Gu | Chao-Hong Tan | Chongyang Tao | Zhen-Hua Ling | Huang Hu | Xiubo Geng | Daxin Jiang
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Recently, various response generation models for two-party conversations have achieved impressive improvements, but less effort has been paid to multi-party conversations (MPCs) which are more practical and complicated. Compared with a two-party conversation where a dialogue context is a sequence of utterances, building a response generation model for MPCs is more challenging, since there exist complicated context structures and the generated responses heavily rely on both interlocutors (i.e., speaker and addressee) and history utterances. To address these challenges, we present HeterMPC, a heterogeneous graph-based neural network for response generation in MPCs which models the semantics of utterances and interlocutors simultaneously with two types of nodes in a graph. Besides, we also design six types of meta relations with node-edge-type-dependent parameters to characterize the heterogeneous interactions within the graph. Through multi-hop updating, HeterMPC can adequately utilize the structural knowledge of conversations for response generation. Experimental results on the Ubuntu Internet Relay Chat (IRC) channel benchmark show that HeterMPC outperforms various baseline models for response generation in MPCs.

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TegTok: Augmenting Text Generation via Task-specific and Open-world Knowledge
Chao-Hong Tan | Jia-Chen Gu | Chongyang Tao | Zhen-Hua Ling | Can Xu | Huang Hu | Xiubo Geng | Daxin Jiang
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2022

Generating natural and informative texts has been a long-standing problem in NLP. Much effort has been dedicated into incorporating pre-trained language models (PLMs) with various open-world knowledge, such as knowledge graphs or wiki pages. However, their ability to access and manipulate the task-specific knowledge is still limited on downstream tasks, as this type of knowledge is usually not well covered in PLMs and is hard to acquire. To address the problem, we propose augmenting TExt Generation via Task-specific and Open-world Knowledge (TegTok) in a unified framework. Our model selects knowledge entries from two types of knowledge sources through dense retrieval and then injects them into the input encoding and output decoding stages respectively on the basis of PLMs. With the help of these two types of knowledge, our model can learn what and how to generate. Experiments on two text generation tasks of dialogue generation and question generation, and on two datasets show that our method achieves better performance than various baseline models.

2021

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Learning to Organize a Bag of Words into Sentences with Neural Networks: An Empirical Study
Chongyang Tao | Shen Gao | Juntao Li | Yansong Feng | Dongyan Zhao | Rui Yan
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Sequential information, a.k.a., orders, is assumed to be essential for processing a sequence with recurrent neural network or convolutional neural network based encoders. However, is it possible to encode natural languages without orders? Given a bag of words from a disordered sentence, humans may still be able to understand what those words mean by reordering or reconstructing them. Inspired by such an intuition, in this paper, we perform a study to investigate how “order” information takes effects in natural language learning. By running comprehensive comparisons, we quantitatively compare the ability of several representative neural models to organize sentences from a bag of words under three typical scenarios, and summarize some empirical findings and challenges, which can shed light on future research on this line of work.

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MPC-BERT: A Pre-Trained Language Model for Multi-Party Conversation Understanding
Jia-Chen Gu | Chongyang Tao | Zhenhua Ling | Can Xu | Xiubo Geng | Daxin Jiang
Proceedings of the 59th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 11th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Recently, various neural models for multi-party conversation (MPC) have achieved impressive improvements on a variety of tasks such as addressee recognition, speaker identification and response prediction. However, these existing methods on MPC usually represent interlocutors and utterances individually and ignore the inherent complicated structure in MPC which may provide crucial interlocutor and utterance semantics and would enhance the conversation understanding process. To this end, we present MPC-BERT, a pre-trained model for MPC understanding that considers learning who says what to whom in a unified model with several elaborated self-supervised tasks. Particularly, these tasks can be generally categorized into (1) interlocutor structure modeling including reply-to utterance recognition, identical speaker searching and pointer consistency distinction, and (2) utterance semantics modeling including masked shared utterance restoration and shared node detection. We evaluate MPC-BERT on three downstream tasks including addressee recognition, speaker identification and response selection. Experimental results show that MPC-BERT outperforms previous methods by large margins and achieves new state-of-the-art performance on all three downstream tasks at two benchmarks.

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A Pre-training Strategy for Zero-Resource Response Selection in Knowledge-Grounded Conversations
Chongyang Tao | Changyu Chen | Jiazhan Feng | Ji-Rong Wen | Rui Yan
Proceedings of the 59th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 11th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Recently, many studies are emerging towards building a retrieval-based dialogue system that is able to effectively leverage background knowledge (e.g., documents) when conversing with humans. However, it is non-trivial to collect large-scale dialogues that are naturally grounded on the background documents, which hinders the effective and adequate training of knowledge selection and response matching. To overcome the challenge, we consider decomposing the training of the knowledge-grounded response selection into three tasks including: 1) query-passage matching task; 2) query-dialogue history matching task; 3) multi-turn response matching task, and joint learning all these tasks in a unified pre-trained language model. The former two tasks could help the model in knowledge selection and comprehension, while the last task is designed for matching the proper response with the given query and background knowledge (dialogue history). By this means, the model can be learned to select relevant knowledge and distinguish proper response, with the help of ad-hoc retrieval corpora and a large number of ungrounded multi-turn dialogues. Experimental results on two benchmarks of knowledge-grounded response selection indicate that our model can achieve comparable performance with several existing methods that rely on crowd-sourced data for training.

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Maria: A Visual Experience Powered Conversational Agent
Zujie Liang | Huang Hu | Can Xu | Chongyang Tao | Xiubo Geng | Yining Chen | Fan Liang | Daxin Jiang
Proceedings of the 59th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 11th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Arguably, the visual perception of conversational agents to the physical world is a key way for them to exhibit the human-like intelligence. Image-grounded conversation is thus proposed to address this challenge. Existing works focus on exploring the multimodal dialog models that ground the conversation on a given image. In this paper, we take a step further to study image-grounded conversation under a fully open-ended setting where no paired dialog and image are assumed available. Specifically, we present Maria, a neural conversation agent powered by the visual world experiences which are retrieved from a large-scale image index. Maria consists of three flexible components, i.e., text-to-image retriever, visual concept detector and visual-knowledge-grounded response generator. The retriever aims to retrieve a correlated image to the dialog from an image index, while the visual concept detector extracts rich visual knowledge from the image. Then, the response generator is grounded on the extracted visual knowledge and dialog context to generate the target response. Extensive experiments demonstrate Maria outperforms previous state-of-the-art methods on automatic metrics and human evaluation, and can generate informative responses that have some visual commonsense of the physical world.

2020

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Knowledge-Grounded Dialogue Generation with Pre-trained Language Models
Xueliang Zhao | Wei Wu | Can Xu | Chongyang Tao | Dongyan Zhao | Rui Yan
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

We study knowledge-grounded dialogue generation with pre-trained language models. To leverage the redundant external knowledge under capacity constraint, we propose equipping response generation defined by a pre-trained language model with a knowledge selection module, and an unsupervised approach to jointly optimizing knowledge selection and response generation with unlabeled dialogues. Empirical results on two benchmarks indicate that our model can significantly outperform state-of-the-art methods in both automatic evaluation and human judgment.

2019

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Sampling Matters! An Empirical Study of Negative Sampling Strategies for Learning of Matching Models in Retrieval-based Dialogue Systems
Jia Li | Chongyang Tao | Wei Wu | Yansong Feng | Dongyan Zhao | Rui Yan
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing and the 9th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (EMNLP-IJCNLP)

We study how to sample negative examples to automatically construct a training set for effective model learning in retrieval-based dialogue systems. Following an idea of dynamically adapting negative examples to matching models in learning, we consider four strategies including minimum sampling, maximum sampling, semi-hard sampling, and decay-hard sampling. Empirical studies on two benchmarks with three matching models indicate that compared with the widely used random sampling strategy, although the first two strategies lead to performance drop, the latter two ones can bring consistent improvement to the performance of all the models on both benchmarks.

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One Time of Interaction May Not Be Enough: Go Deep with an Interaction-over-Interaction Network for Response Selection in Dialogues
Chongyang Tao | Wei Wu | Can Xu | Wenpeng Hu | Dongyan Zhao | Rui Yan
Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Currently, researchers have paid great attention to retrieval-based dialogues in open-domain. In particular, people study the problem by investigating context-response matching for multi-turn response selection based on publicly recognized benchmark data sets. State-of-the-art methods require a response to interact with each utterance in a context from the beginning, but the interaction is performed in a shallow way. In this work, we let utterance-response interaction go deep by proposing an interaction-over-interaction network (IoI). The model performs matching by stacking multiple interaction blocks in which residual information from one time of interaction initiates the interaction process again. Thus, matching information within an utterance-response pair is extracted from the interaction of the pair in an iterative fashion, and the information flows along the chain of the blocks via representations. Evaluation results on three benchmark data sets indicate that IoI can significantly outperform state-of-the-art methods in terms of various matching metrics. Through further analysis, we also unveil how the depth of interaction affects the performance of IoI.

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Learning a Matching Model with Co-teaching for Multi-turn Response Selection in Retrieval-based Dialogue Systems
Jiazhan Feng | Chongyang Tao | Wei Wu | Yansong Feng | Dongyan Zhao | Rui Yan
Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

We study learning of a matching model for response selection in retrieval-based dialogue systems. The problem is equally important with designing the architecture of a model, but is less explored in existing literature. To learn a robust matching model from noisy training data, we propose a general co-teaching framework with three specific teaching strategies that cover both teaching with loss functions and teaching with data curriculum. Under the framework, we simultaneously learn two matching models with independent training sets. In each iteration, one model transfers the knowledge learned from its training set to the other model, and at the same time receives the guide from the other model on how to overcome noise in training. Through being both a teacher and a student, the two models learn from each other and get improved together. Evaluation results on two public data sets indicate that the proposed learning approach can generally and significantly improve the performance of existing matching models.

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Neural Response Generation with Meta-words
Can Xu | Wei Wu | Chongyang Tao | Huang Hu | Matt Schuerman | Ying Wang
Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

We present open domain dialogue generation with meta-words. A meta-word is a structured record that describes attributes of a response, and thus allows us to explicitly model the one-to-many relationship within open domain dialogues and perform response generation in an explainable and controllable manner. To incorporate meta-words into generation, we propose a novel goal-tracking memory network that formalizes meta-word expression as a goal in response generation and manages the generation process to achieve the goal with a state memory panel and a state controller. Experimental results from both automatic evaluation and human judgment on two large-scale data sets indicate that our model can significantly outperform state-of-the-art generation models in terms of response relevance, response diversity, and accuracy of meta-word expression.

2018

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Playing 20 Question Game with Policy-Based Reinforcement Learning
Huang Hu | Xianchao Wu | Bingfeng Luo | Chongyang Tao | Can Xu | Wei Wu | Zhan Chen
Proceedings of the 2018 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

The 20 Questions (Q20) game is a well known game which encourages deductive reasoning and creativity. In the game, the answerer first thinks of an object such as a famous person or a kind of animal. Then the questioner tries to guess the object by asking 20 questions. In a Q20 game system, the user is considered as the answerer while the system itself acts as the questioner which requires a good strategy of question selection to figure out the correct object and win the game. However, the optimal policy of question selection is hard to be derived due to the complexity and volatility of the game environment. In this paper, we propose a novel policy-based Reinforcement Learning (RL) method, which enables the questioner agent to learn the optimal policy of question selection through continuous interactions with users. To facilitate training, we also propose to use a reward network to estimate the more informative reward. Compared to previous methods, our RL method is robust to noisy answers and does not rely on the Knowledge Base of objects. Experimental results show that our RL method clearly outperforms an entropy-based engineering system and has competitive performance in a noisy-free simulation environment.

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Iterative Document Representation Learning Towards Summarization with Polishing
Xiuying Chen | Shen Gao | Chongyang Tao | Yan Song | Dongyan Zhao | Rui Yan
Proceedings of the 2018 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

In this paper, we introduce Iterative Text Summarization (ITS), an iteration-based model for supervised extractive text summarization, inspired by the observation that it is often necessary for a human to read an article multiple times in order to fully understand and summarize its contents. Current summarization approaches read through a document only once to generate a document representation, resulting in a sub-optimal representation. To address this issue we introduce a model which iteratively polishes the document representation on many passes through the document. As part of our model, we also introduce a selective reading mechanism that decides more accurately the extent to which each sentence in the model should be updated. Experimental results on the CNN/DailyMail and DUC2002 datasets demonstrate that our model significantly outperforms state-of-the-art extractive systems when evaluated by machines and by humans.