Dilek Hakkani-Tur

Also published as: D. Hakkani-Tur, Dilek Hakkani-Tür, Dilek Zeynep Hakkani


2021

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Generative Conversational Networks
Alexandros Papangelis | Karthik Gopalakrishnan | Aishwarya Padmakumar | Seokhwan Kim | Gokhan Tur | Dilek Hakkani-Tur
Proceedings of the 22nd Annual Meeting of the Special Interest Group on Discourse and Dialogue

Inspired by recent work in meta-learning and generative teaching networks, we propose a framework called Generative Conversational Networks, in which conversational agents learn to generate their own labelled training data (given some seed data) and then train themselves from that data to perform a given task. We use reinforcement learning to optimize the data generation process where the reward signal is the agent’s performance on the task. The task can be any language-related task, from intent detection to full task-oriented conversations. In this work, we show that our approach is able to generalise from seed data and performs well in limited data and limited computation settings, with significant gains for intent detection and slot tagging across multiple datasets: ATIS, TOD, SNIPS, and Restaurants8k. We show an average improvement of 35% in intent detection and 21% in slot tagging over a baseline model trained from the seed data. We also conduct an analysis of the novelty of the generated data and provide generated examples for intent detection, slot tagging, and non-goal oriented conversations.

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Commonsense-Focused Dialogues for Response Generation: An Empirical Study
Pei Zhou | Karthik Gopalakrishnan | Behnam Hedayatnia | Seokhwan Kim | Jay Pujara | Xiang Ren | Yang Liu | Dilek Hakkani-Tur
Proceedings of the 22nd Annual Meeting of the Special Interest Group on Discourse and Dialogue

Smooth and effective communication requires the ability to perform latent or explicit commonsense inference. Prior commonsense reasoning benchmarks (such as SocialIQA and CommonsenseQA) mainly focus on the discriminative task of choosing the right answer from a set of candidates, and do not involve interactive language generation as in dialogue. Moreover, existing dialogue datasets do not explicitly focus on exhibiting commonsense as a facet. In this paper, we present an empirical study of commonsense in dialogue response generation. We first auto-extract commonsensical dialogues from existing dialogue datasets by leveraging ConceptNet, a commonsense knowledge graph. Furthermore, building on social contexts/situations in SocialIQA, we collect a new dialogue dataset with 25K dialogues aimed at exhibiting social commonsense in an interactive setting. We evaluate response generation models trained using these datasets and find that models trained on both extracted and our collected data produce responses that consistently exhibit more commonsense than baselines. Finally we propose an approach for automatic evaluation of commonsense that relies on features derived from ConceptNet and pre-trained language and dialog models, and show reasonable correlation with human evaluation of responses’ commonsense quality.

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Style Control for Schema-Guided Natural Language Generation
Alicia Tsai | Shereen Oraby | Vittorio Perera | Jiun-Yu Kao | Yuheng Du | Anjali Narayan-Chen | Tagyoung Chung | Dilek Hakkani-Tur
Proceedings of the 3rd Workshop on Natural Language Processing for Conversational AI

Natural Language Generation (NLG) for task-oriented dialogue systems focuses on communicating specific content accurately, fluently, and coherently. While these attributes are crucial for a successful dialogue, it is also desirable to simultaneously accomplish specific stylistic goals, such as response length, point-of-view, descriptiveness, sentiment, formality, and empathy. In this work, we focus on stylistic control and evaluation for schema-guided NLG, with joint goals of achieving both semantic and stylistic control. We experiment in detail with various controlled generation methods for large pretrained language models: specifically, conditional training, guided fine-tuning, and guided decoding. We discuss their advantages and limitations, and evaluate them with a broad range of automatic and human evaluation metrics. Our results show that while high style accuracy and semantic correctness are easier to achieve for more lexically-defined styles with conditional training, stylistic control is also achievable for more semantically complex styles using discriminator-based guided decoding methods. The results also suggest that methods that are more scalable (with less hyper-parameters tuning) and that disentangle context generation and stylistic variations are more effective at achieving semantic correctness and style accuracy.

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Think Before You Speak: Learning to Generate Implicit Knowledge for Response Generation by Self-Talk
Pei Zhou | Behnam Hedayatnia | Karthik Gopalakrishnan | Seokhwan Kim | Jay Pujara | Xiang Ren | Yang Liu | Dilek Hakkani-Tur
Proceedings of the 3rd Workshop on Natural Language Processing for Conversational AI

Humans make appropriate responses not only based on previous dialogue utterances but also on implicit background knowledge such as common sense. Although neural response generation models seem to produce human-like responses, they are mostly end-to-end and not generating intermediate grounds between a dialogue history and responses. This work aims to study if and how we can train an RG model that talks with itself to generate implicit knowledge before making responses. We further investigate can such models identify when to generate implicit background knowledge and when it is not necessary. Experimental results show that compared with models that directly generate responses given a dialogue history, self-talk models produce better-quality responses according to human evaluation on grammaticality, coherence, and engagingness. And models that are trained to identify when to self-talk further improves the response quality. Analysis on generated implicit knowledge shows that models mostly use the knowledge appropriately in the responses.

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Towards Zero and Few-shot Knowledge-seeking Turn Detection in Task-orientated Dialogue Systems
Di Jin | Shuyang Gao | Seokhwan Kim | Yang Liu | Dilek Hakkani-Tur
Proceedings of the 3rd Workshop on Natural Language Processing for Conversational AI

Most prior work on task-oriented dialogue systems is restricted to supporting domain APIs. However, users may have requests that are out of the scope of these APIs. This work focuses on identifying such user requests. Existing methods for this task mainly rely on fine-tuning pre-trained models on large annotated data. We propose a novel method, REDE, based on adaptive representation learning and density estimation. REDE can be applied to zero-shot cases, and quickly learns a high-performing detector with only a few shots by updating less than 3K parameters. We demonstrate REDE’s competitive performance on DSTC9 data and our newly collected test set.

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Semantic Aligned Multi-modal Transformer for Vision-LanguageUnderstanding: A Preliminary Study on Visual QA
Han Ding | Li Erran Li | Zhiting Hu | Yi Xu | Dilek Hakkani-Tur | Zheng Du | Belinda Zeng
Proceedings of the Third Workshop on Multimodal Artificial Intelligence

Recent vision-language understanding approaches adopt a multi-modal transformer pre-training and finetuning paradigm. Prior work learns representations of text tokens and visual features with cross-attention mechanisms and captures the alignment solely based on indirect signals. In this work, we propose to enhance the alignment mechanism by incorporating image scene graph structures as the bridge between the two modalities, and learning with new contrastive objectives. In our preliminary study on the challenging compositional visual question answering task, we show the proposed approach achieves improved results, demonstrating potentials to enhance vision-language understanding.

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Proceedings of the 2021 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies
Kristina Toutanova | Anna Rumshisky | Luke Zettlemoyer | Dilek Hakkani-Tur | Iz Beltagy | Steven Bethard | Ryan Cotterell | Tanmoy Chakraborty | Yichao Zhou
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

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Alexa Conversations: An Extensible Data-driven Approach for Building Task-oriented Dialogue Systems
Anish Acharya | Suranjit Adhikari | Sanchit Agarwal | Vincent Auvray | Nehal Belgamwar | Arijit Biswas | Shubhra Chandra | Tagyoung Chung | Maryam Fazel-Zarandi | Raefer Gabriel | Shuyang Gao | Rahul Goel | Dilek Hakkani-Tur | Jan Jezabek | Abhay Jha | Jiun-Yu Kao | Prakash Krishnan | Peter Ku | Anuj Goyal | Chien-Wei Lin | Qing Liu | Arindam Mandal | Angeliki Metallinou | Vishal Naik | Yi Pan | Shachi Paul | Vittorio Perera | Abhishek Sethi | Minmin Shen | Nikko Strom | Eddie Wang
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies: Demonstrations

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.

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Entity Resolution in Open-domain Conversations
Mingyue Shang | Tong Wang | Mihail Eric | Jiangning Chen | Jiyang Wang | Matthew Welch | Tiantong Deng | Akshay Grewal | Han Wang | Yue Liu | Yang Liu | Dilek Hakkani-Tur
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies: Industry Papers

In recent years, incorporating external knowledge for response generation in open-domain conversation systems has attracted great interest. To improve the relevancy of retrieved knowledge, we propose a neural entity linking (NEL) approach. Different from formal documents, such as news, conversational utterances are informal and multi-turn, which makes it more challenging to disambiguate the entities. Therefore, we present a context-aware named entity recognition model (NER) and entity resolution (ER) model to utilize dialogue context information. We conduct NEL experiments on three open-domain conversation datasets and validate that incorporating context information improves the performance of NER and ER models. The end-to-end NEL approach outperforms the baseline by 62.8% relatively in F1 metric. Furthermore, we verify that using external knowledge based on NEL benefits the neural response generation model.

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Few Shot Dialogue State Tracking using Meta-learning
Saket Dingliwal | Shuyang Gao | Sanchit Agarwal | Chien-Wei Lin | Tagyoung Chung | Dilek Hakkani-Tur
Proceedings of the 16th Conference of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Main Volume

Dialogue State Tracking (DST) forms a core component of automated chatbot based systems designed for specific goals like hotel, taxi reservation, tourist information etc. With the increasing need to deploy such systems in new domains, solving the problem of zero/few-shot DST has become necessary. There has been a rising trend for learning to transfer knowledge from resource-rich domains to unknown domains with minimal need for additional data. In this work, we explore the merits of meta-learning algorithms for this transfer and hence, propose a meta-learner D-REPTILE specific to the DST problem. With extensive experimentation, we provide clear evidence of benefits over conventional approaches across different domains, methods, base models and datasets with significant (5-25%) improvement over the baseline in a low-data setting. Our proposed meta-learner is agnostic of the underlying model and hence any existing state-of-the-art DST system can improve its performance on unknown domains using our training strategy.

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Can I Be of Further Assistance? Using Unstructured Knowledge Access to Improve Task-oriented Conversational Modeling
Di Jin | Seokhwan Kim | Dilek Hakkani-Tur
Proceedings of the 1st Workshop on Document-grounded Dialogue and Conversational Question Answering (DialDoc 2021)

Most prior work on task-oriented dialogue systems are restricted to limited coverage of domain APIs. However, users oftentimes have requests that are out of the scope of these APIs. This work focuses on responding to these beyond-API-coverage user turns by incorporating external, unstructured knowledge sources. Our approach works in a pipelined manner with knowledge-seeking turn detection, knowledge selection, and response generation in sequence. We introduce novel data augmentation methods for the first two steps and demonstrate that the use of information extracted from dialogue context improves the knowledge selection and end-to-end performances. Through experiments, we achieve state-of-the-art performance for both automatic and human evaluation metrics on the DSTC9 Track 1 benchmark dataset, validating the effectiveness of our contributions.

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Proceedings of the 1st Workshop on Meta Learning and Its Applications to Natural Language Processing
Hung-Yi Lee | Mitra Mohtarami | Shang-Wen Li | Di Jin | Mandy Korpusik | Shuyan Dong | Ngoc Thang Vu | Dilek Hakkani-Tur
Proceedings of the 1st Workshop on Meta Learning and Its Applications to Natural Language Processing

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Multi-Sentence Knowledge Selection in Open-Domain Dialogue
Mihail Eric | Nicole Chartier | Behnam Hedayatnia | Karthik Gopalakrishnan | Pankaj Rajan | Yang Liu | Dilek Hakkani-Tur
Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Natural Language Generation

Incorporating external knowledge sources effectively in conversations is a longstanding problem in open-domain dialogue research. The existing literature on open-domain knowledge selection is limited and makes certain brittle assumptions on knowledge sources to simplify the overall task, such as the existence of a single relevant knowledge sentence per context. In this work, we evaluate the existing state of open-domain conversation knowledge selection, showing where the existing methodologies regarding data and evaluation are flawed. We then improve on them by proposing a new framework for collecting relevant knowledge, and create an augmented dataset based on the Wizard of Wikipedia (WOW) corpus, which we call WOW++. WOW++ averages 8 relevant knowledge sentences per dialogue context, embracing the inherent ambiguity of open-domain dialogue knowledge selection. We then benchmark various knowledge ranking algorithms on this augmented dataset with both intrinsic evaluation and extrinsic measures of response quality, showing that neural rerankers that use WOW++ can outperform rankers trained on standard datasets.

2020

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Incorporating Commonsense Knowledge Graph in Pretrained Models for Social Commonsense Tasks
Ting-Yun Chang | Yang Liu | Karthik Gopalakrishnan | Behnam Hedayatnia | Pei Zhou | Dilek Hakkani-Tur
Proceedings of Deep Learning Inside Out (DeeLIO): The First Workshop on Knowledge Extraction and Integration for Deep Learning Architectures

Pretrained language models have excelled at many NLP tasks recently; however, their social intelligence is still unsatisfactory. To enable this, machines need to have a more general understanding of our complicated world and develop the ability to perform commonsense reasoning besides fitting the specific downstream tasks. External commonsense knowledge graphs (KGs), such as ConceptNet, provide rich information about words and their relationships. Thus, towards general commonsense learning, we propose two approaches to implicitly and explicitly infuse such KGs into pretrained language models. We demonstrate our proposed methods perform well on SocialIQA, a social commonsense reasoning task, in both limited and full training data regimes.

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Proceedings of the 2nd Workshop on Life-long Learning for Spoken Language Systems
William M. Campbell | Alex Waibel | Dilek Hakkani-Tur | Timothy J. Hazen | Kevin Kilgour | Eunah Cho | Varun Kumar | Hadrien Glaude
Proceedings of the 2nd Workshop on Life-long Learning for Spoken Language Systems

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Schema-Guided Natural Language Generation
Yuheng Du | Shereen Oraby | Vittorio Perera | Minmin Shen | Anjali Narayan-Chen | Tagyoung Chung | Anushree Venkatesh | Dilek Hakkani-Tur
Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Natural Language Generation

Neural network based approaches to data-to-text natural language generation (NLG) have gained popularity in recent years, with the goal of generating a natural language prompt that accurately realizes an input meaning representation. To facilitate the training of neural network models, researchers created large datasets of paired utterances and their meaning representations. However, the creation of such datasets is an arduous task and they mostly consist of simple meaning representations composed of slot and value tokens to be realized. These representations do not include any contextual information that an NLG system can use when trying to generalize, such as domain information and descriptions of slots and values. In this paper, we present the novel task of Schema-Guided Natural Language Generation (SG-NLG). Here, the goal is still to generate a natural language prompt, but in SG-NLG, the input MRs are paired with rich schemata providing contextual information. To generate a dataset for SG-NLG we re-purpose an existing dataset for another task: dialog state tracking, which includes a large and rich schema spanning multiple different attributes, including information about the domain, user intent, and slot descriptions. We train different state-of-the-art models for neural natural language generation on this dataset and show that in many cases, including rich schema information allows our models to produce higher quality outputs both in terms of semantics and diversity. We also conduct experiments comparing model performance on seen versus unseen domains, and present a human evaluation demonstrating high ratings for overall output quality.

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Policy-Driven Neural Response Generation for Knowledge-Grounded Dialog Systems
Behnam Hedayatnia | Karthik Gopalakrishnan | Seokhwan Kim | Yang Liu | Mihail Eric | Dilek Hakkani-Tur
Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Natural Language Generation

Open-domain dialog systems aim to generate relevant, informative and engaging responses. In this paper, we propose using a dialog policy to plan the content and style of target, open domain responses in the form of an action plan, which includes knowledge sentences related to the dialog context, targeted dialog acts, topic information, etc. For training, the attributes within the action plan are obtained by automatically annotating the publicly released Topical-Chat dataset. We condition neural response generators on the action plan which is then realized as target utterances at the turn and sentence levels. We also investigate different dialog policy models to predict an action plan given the dialog context. Through automated and human evaluation, we measure the appropriateness of the generated responses and check if the generation models indeed learn to realize the given action plans. We demonstrate that a basic dialog policy that operates at the sentence level generates better responses in comparison to turn level generation as well as baseline models with no action plan. Additionally the basic dialog policy has the added benefit of controllability.

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MultiWOZ 2.1: A Consolidated Multi-Domain Dialogue Dataset with State Corrections and State Tracking Baselines
Mihail Eric | Rahul Goel | Shachi Paul | Abhishek Sethi | Sanchit Agarwal | Shuyang Gao | Adarsh Kumar | Anuj Goyal | Peter Ku | Dilek Hakkani-Tur
Proceedings of the 12th Language Resources and Evaluation Conference

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.

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Learning from Mistakes: Combining Ontologies via Self-Training for Dialogue Generation
Lena Reed | Vrindavan Harrison | Shereen Oraby | Dilek Hakkani-Tur | Marilyn Walker
Proceedings of the 21th Annual Meeting of the Special Interest Group on Discourse and Dialogue

Natural language generators (NLGs) for task-oriented dialogue typically take a meaning representation (MR) as input, and are trained end-to-end with a corpus of MR/utterance pairs, where the MRs cover a specific set of dialogue acts and domain attributes. Creation of such datasets is labor intensive and time consuming. Therefore, dialogue systems for new domain ontologies would benefit from using data for pre-existing ontologies. Here we explore, for the first time, whether it is possible to train an NLG for a new larger ontology using existing training sets for the restaurant domain, where each set is based on a different ontology. We create a new, larger combined ontology, and then train an NLG to produce utterances covering it. For example, if one dataset has attributes for family friendly and rating information, and the other has attributes for decor and service, our aim is an NLG for the combined ontology that can produce utterances that realize values for family friendly, rating, decor and service. Initial experiments with a baseline neural sequence-to-sequence model show that this task is surprisingly challenging. We then develop a novel self-training method that identifies (errorful) model outputs, automatically constructs a corrected MR input to form a new (MR, utterance) training pair, and then repeatedly adds these new instances back into the training data. We then test the resulting model on a new test set. The result is a self-trained model whose performance is an absolute 75.4% improvement over the baseline model. We also report a human qualitative evaluation of the final model showing that it achieves high naturalness, semantic coherence and grammaticality.

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Beyond Domain APIs: Task-oriented Conversational Modeling with Unstructured Knowledge Access
Seokhwan Kim | Mihail Eric | Karthik Gopalakrishnan | Behnam Hedayatnia | Yang Liu | Dilek Hakkani-Tur
Proceedings of the 21th Annual Meeting of the Special Interest Group on Discourse and Dialogue

Most prior work on task-oriented dialogue systems are restricted to a limited coverage of domain APIs, while users oftentimes have domain related requests that are not covered by the APIs. In this paper, we propose to expand coverage of task-oriented dialogue systems by incorporating external unstructured knowledge sources. We define three sub-tasks: knowledge-seeking turn detection, knowledge selection, and knowledge-grounded response generation, which can be modeled individually or jointly. We introduce an augmented version of MultiWOZ 2.1, which includes new out-of-API-coverage turns and responses grounded on external knowledge sources. We present baselines for each sub-task using both conventional and neural approaches. Our experimental results demonstrate the need for further research in this direction to enable more informative conversational systems.

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From Machine Reading Comprehension to Dialogue State Tracking: Bridging the Gap
Shuyang Gao | Sanchit Agarwal | Di Jin | Tagyoung Chung | Dilek Hakkani-Tur
Proceedings of the 2nd Workshop on Natural Language Processing for Conversational AI

Dialogue state tracking (DST) is at the heart of task-oriented dialogue systems. However, the scarcity of labeled data is an obstacle to building accurate and robust state tracking systems that work across a variety of domains. Existing approaches generally require some dialogue data with state information and their ability to generalize to unknown domains is limited. In this paper, we propose using machine reading comprehension (RC) in state tracking from two perspectives: model architectures and datasets. We divide the slot types in dialogue state into categorical or extractive to borrow the advantages from both multiple-choice and span-based reading comprehension models. Our method achieves near the current state-of-the-art in joint goal accuracy on MultiWOZ 2.1 given full training data. More importantly, by leveraging machine reading comprehension datasets, our method outperforms the existing approaches by many a large margin in few-shot scenarios when the availability of in-domain data is limited. Lastly, even without any state tracking data, i.e., zero-shot scenario, our proposed approach achieves greater than 90% average slot accuracy in 12 out of 30 slots in MultiWOZ 2.1.

2019

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Robust Zero-Shot Cross-Domain Slot Filling with Example Values
Darsh Shah | Raghav Gupta | Amir Fayazi | Dilek Hakkani-Tur
Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Task-oriented dialog systems increasingly rely on deep learning-based slot filling models, usually needing extensive labeled training data for target domains. Often, however, little to no target domain training data may be available, or the training and target domain schemas may be misaligned, as is common for web forms on similar websites. Prior zero-shot slot filling models use slot descriptions to learn concepts, but are not robust to misaligned schemas. We propose utilizing both the slot description and a small number of examples of slot values, which may be easily available, to learn semantic representations of slots which are transferable across domains and robust to misaligned schemas. Our approach outperforms state-of-the-art models on two multi-domain datasets, especially in the low-data setting.

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Proceedings of the First Workshop on NLP for Conversational AI
Yun-Nung Chen | Tania Bedrax-Weiss | Dilek Hakkani-Tur | Anuj Kumar | Mike Lewis | Thang-Minh Luong | Pei-Hao Su | Tsung-Hsien Wen
Proceedings of the First Workshop on NLP for Conversational AI

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DeepCopy: Grounded Response Generation with Hierarchical Pointer Networks
Semih Yavuz | Abhinav Rastogi | Guan-Lin Chao | Dilek Hakkani-Tur
Proceedings of the 20th Annual SIGdial Meeting on Discourse and Dialogue

Recent advances in neural sequence-to-sequence models have led to promising results for several language generation-based tasks, including dialogue response generation, summarization, and machine translation. However, these models are known to have several problems, especially in the context of chit-chat based dialogue systems: they tend to generate short and dull responses that are often too generic. Furthermore, these models do not ground conversational responses on knowledge and facts, resulting in turns that are not accurate, informative and engaging for the users. In this paper, we propose and experiment with a series of response generation models that aim to serve in the general scenario where in addition to the dialogue context, relevant unstructured external knowledge in the form of text is also assumed to be available for models to harness. Our proposed approach extends pointer-generator networks (See et al., 2017) by allowing the decoder to hierarchically attend and copy from external knowledge in addition to the dialogue context. We empirically show the effectiveness of the proposed model compared to several baselines including (Ghazvininejadet al., 2018; Zhang et al., 2018) through both automatic evaluation metrics and human evaluation on ConvAI2 dataset.

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Learning Question-Guided Video Representation for Multi-Turn Video Question Answering
Guan-Lin Chao | Abhinav Rastogi | Semih Yavuz | Dilek Hakkani-Tur | Jindong Chen | Ian Lane
Proceedings of the 20th Annual SIGdial Meeting on Discourse and Dialogue

Understanding and conversing about dynamic scenes is one of the key capabilities of AI agents that navigate the environment and convey useful information to humans. Video question answering is a specific scenario of such AI-human interaction where an agent generates a natural language response to a question regarding the video of a dynamic scene. Incorporating features from multiple modalities, which often provide supplementary information, is one of the challenging aspects of video question answering. Furthermore, a question often concerns only a small segment of the video, hence encoding the entire video sequence using a recurrent neural network is not computationally efficient. Our proposed question-guided video representation module efficiently generates the token-level video summary guided by each word in the question. The learned representations are then fused with the question to generate the answer. Through empirical evaluation on the Audio Visual Scene-aware Dialog (AVSD) dataset, our proposed models in single-turn and multi-turn question answering achieve state-of-the-art performance on several automatic natural language generation evaluation metrics.

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Dialog State Tracking: A Neural Reading Comprehension Approach
Shuyang Gao | Abhishek Sethi | Sanchit Agarwal | Tagyoung Chung | Dilek Hakkani-Tur
Proceedings of the 20th Annual SIGdial Meeting on Discourse and Dialogue

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%**.

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Towards Coherent and Engaging Spoken Dialog Response Generation Using Automatic Conversation Evaluators
Sanghyun Yi | Rahul Goel | Chandra Khatri | Alessandra Cervone | Tagyoung Chung | Behnam Hedayatnia | Anu Venkatesh | Raefer Gabriel | Dilek Hakkani-Tur
Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Natural Language Generation

Encoder-decoder based neural architectures serve as the basis of state-of-the-art approaches in end-to-end open domain dialog systems. Since most of such systems are trained with a maximum likelihood (MLE) objective they suffer from issues such as lack of generalizability and the generic response problem, i.e., a system response that can be an answer to a large number of user utterances, e.g., “Maybe, I don’t know.” Having explicit feedback on the relevance and interestingness of a system response at each turn can be a useful signal for mitigating such issues and improving system quality by selecting responses from different approaches. Towards this goal, we present a system that evaluates chatbot responses at each dialog turn for coherence and engagement. Our system provides explicit turn-level dialog quality feedback, which we show to be highly correlated with human evaluation. To show that incorporating this feedback in the neural response generation models improves dialog quality, we present two different and complementary mechanisms to incorporate explicit feedback into a neural response generation model: reranking and direct modification of the loss function during training. Our studies show that a response generation model that incorporates these combined feedback mechanisms produce more engaging and coherent responses in an open-domain spoken dialog setting, significantly improving the response quality using both automatic and human evaluation.

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Natural Language Generation at Scale: A Case Study for Open Domain Question Answering
Alessandra Cervone | Chandra Khatri | Rahul Goel | Behnam Hedayatnia | Anu Venkatesh | Dilek Hakkani-Tur | Raefer Gabriel
Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Natural Language Generation

Current approaches to Natural Language Generation (NLG) for dialog mainly focus on domain-specific, task-oriented applications (e.g. restaurant booking) using limited ontologies (up to 20 slot types), usually without considering the previous conversation context. Furthermore, these approaches require large amounts of data for each domain, and do not benefit from examples that may be available for other domains. This work explores the feasibility of applying statistical NLG to scenarios requiring larger ontologies, such as multi-domain dialog applications or open-domain question answering (QA) based on knowledge graphs. We model NLG through an Encoder-Decoder framework using a large dataset of interactions between real-world users and a conversational agent for open-domain QA. First, we investigate the impact of increasing the number of slot types on the generation quality and experiment with different partitions of the QA data with progressively larger ontologies (up to 369 slot types). Second, we perform multi-task learning experiments between open-domain QA and task-oriented dialog, and benchmark our model on a popular NLG dataset. Moreover, we experiment with using the conversational context as an additional input to improve response generation quality. Our experiments show the feasibility of learning statistical NLG models for open-domain QA with larger ontologies.

2018

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Dialogue Learning with Human Teaching and Feedback in End-to-End Trainable Task-Oriented Dialogue Systems
Bing Liu | Gokhan Tür | Dilek Hakkani-Tür | Pararth Shah | Larry Heck
Proceedings of the 2018 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies, Volume 1 (Long Papers)

In this work, we present a hybrid learning method for training task-oriented dialogue systems through online user interactions. Popular methods for learning task-oriented dialogues include applying reinforcement learning with user feedback on supervised pre-training models. Efficiency of such learning method may suffer from the mismatch of dialogue state distribution between offline training and online interactive learning stages. To address this challenge, we propose a hybrid imitation and reinforcement learning method, with which a dialogue agent can effectively learn from its interaction with users by learning from human teaching and feedback. We design a neural network based task-oriented dialogue agent that can be optimized end-to-end with the proposed learning method. Experimental results show that our end-to-end dialogue agent can learn effectively from the mistake it makes via imitation learning from user teaching. Applying reinforcement learning with user feedback after the imitation learning stage further improves the agent’s capability in successfully completing a task.

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Bootstrapping a Neural Conversational Agent with Dialogue Self-Play, Crowdsourcing and On-Line Reinforcement Learning
Pararth Shah | Dilek Hakkani-Tür | Bing Liu | Gokhan Tür
Proceedings of the 2018 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies, Volume 3 (Industry Papers)

End-to-end neural models show great promise towards building conversational agents that are trained from data and on-line experience using supervised and reinforcement learning. However, these models require a large corpus of dialogues to learn effectively. For goal-oriented dialogues, such datasets are expensive to collect and annotate, since each task involves a separate schema and database of entities. Further, the Wizard-of-Oz approach commonly used for dialogue collection does not provide sufficient coverage of salient dialogue flows, which is critical for guaranteeing an acceptable task completion rate in consumer-facing conversational agents. In this paper, we study a recently proposed approach for building an agent for arbitrary tasks by combining dialogue self-play and crowd-sourcing to generate fully-annotated dialogues with diverse and natural utterances. We discuss the advantages of this approach for industry applications of conversational agents, wherein an agent can be rapidly bootstrapped to deploy in front of users and further optimized via interactive learning from actual users of the system.

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Deep Learning for Dialogue Systems
Yun-Nung Chen | Asli Celikyilmaz | Dilek Hakkani-Tür
Proceedings of the 27th International Conference on Computational Linguistics: Tutorial Abstracts

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Multi-task Learning for Joint Language Understanding and Dialogue State Tracking
Abhinav Rastogi | Raghav Gupta | Dilek Hakkani-Tur
Proceedings of the 19th Annual SIGdial Meeting on Discourse and Dialogue

This paper presents a novel approach for multi-task learning of language understanding (LU) and dialogue state tracking (DST) in task-oriented dialogue systems. Multi-task training enables the sharing of the neural network layers responsible for encoding the user utterance for both LU and DST and improves performance while reducing the number of network parameters. In our proposed framework, DST operates on a set of candidate values for each slot that has been mentioned so far. These candidate sets are generated using LU slot annotations for the current user utterance, dialogue acts corresponding to the preceding system utterance and the dialogue state estimated for the previous turn, enabling DST to handle slots with a large or unbounded set of possible values and deal with slot values not seen during training. Furthermore, to bridge the gap between training and inference, we investigate the use of scheduled sampling on LU output for the current user utterance as well as the DST output for the preceding turn.

2017

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Deep Learning for Dialogue Systems
Yun-Nung Chen | Asli Celikyilmaz | Dilek Hakkani-Tür
Proceedings of the 55th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Tutorial Abstracts

In the past decade, goal-oriented spoken dialogue systems have been the most prominent component in today's virtual personal assistants. The classic dialogue systems have rather complex and/or modular pipelines. The advance of deep learning technologies has recently risen the applications of neural models to dialogue modeling. However, how to successfully apply deep learning based approaches to a dialogue system is still challenging. Hence, this tutorial is designed to focus on an overview of the dialogue system development while describing most recent research for building dialogue systems and summarizing the challenges, in order to allow researchers to study the potential improvements of the state-of-the-art dialogue systems. The tutorial material is available at http://deepdialogue.miulab.tw.

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Sequential Dialogue Context Modeling for Spoken Language Understanding
Ankur Bapna | Gokhan Tür | Dilek Hakkani-Tür | Larry Heck
Proceedings of the 18th Annual SIGdial Meeting on Discourse and Dialogue

Spoken Language Understanding (SLU) is a key component of goal oriented dialogue systems that would parse user utterances into semantic frame representations. Traditionally SLU does not utilize the dialogue history beyond the previous system turn and contextual ambiguities are resolved by the downstream components. In this paper, we explore novel approaches for modeling dialogue context in a recurrent neural network (RNN) based language understanding system. We propose the Sequential Dialogue Encoder Network, that allows encoding context from the dialogue history in chronological order. We compare the performance of our proposed architecture with two context models, one that uses just the previous turn context and another that encodes dialogue context in a memory network, but loses the order of utterances in the dialogue history. Experiments with a multi-domain dialogue dataset demonstrate that the proposed architecture results in reduced semantic frame error rates.

2016

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AIMU: Actionable Items for Meeting Understanding
Yun-Nung Chen | Dilek Hakkani-Tür
Proceedings of the Tenth International Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation (LREC'16)

With emerging conversational data, automated content analysis is needed for better data interpretation, so that it is accurately understood and can be effectively integrated and utilized in various applications. ICSI meeting corpus is a publicly released data set of multi-party meetings in an organization that has been released over a decade ago, and has been fostering meeting understanding research since then. The original data collection includes transcription of participant turns as well as meta-data annotations, such as disfluencies and dialog act tags. This paper presents an extended set of annotations for the ICSI meeting corpus with a goal of deeply understanding meeting conversations, where participant turns are annotated by actionable items that could be performed by an automated meeting assistant. In addition to the user utterances that contain an actionable item, annotations also include the arguments associated with the actionable item. The set of actionable items are determined by aligning human-human interactions to human-machine interactions, where a data annotation schema designed for a virtual personal assistant (human-machine genre) is adapted to the meetings domain (human-human genre). The data set is formed by annotating participants’ utterances in meetings with potential intents/actions considering their contexts. The set of actions target what could be accomplished by an automated meeting assistant, such as taking a note of action items that a participant commits to, or finding emails or topic related documents that were mentioned during the meeting. A total of 10 defined intents/actions are considered as actionable items in meetings. Turns that include actionable intents were annotated for 22 public ICSI meetings, that include a total of 21K utterances, segmented by speaker turns. Participants’ spoken turns, possible actions along with associated arguments and their vector representations as computed by convolutional deep structured semantic models are included in the data set for future research. We present a detailed statistical analysis of the data set and analyze the performance of applying convolutional deep structured semantic models for an actionable item detection task. The data is available at http://research.microsoft.com/ projects/meetingunderstanding/.

2015

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Keynote: Graph-based Approaches for Spoken Language Understanding
Dilek Hakkani-Tur
Proceedings of the 16th Annual Meeting of the Special Interest Group on Discourse and Dialogue

2014

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Resolving Referring Expressions in Conversational Dialogs for Natural User Interfaces
Asli Celikyilmaz | Zhaleh Feizollahi | Dilek Hakkani-Tur | Ruhi Sarikaya
Proceedings of the 2014 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

2013

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Semi-Supervised Semantic Tagging of Conversational Understanding using Markov Topic Regression
Asli Celikyilmaz | Dilek Hakkani-Tur | Gokhan Tur | Ruhi Sarikaya
Proceedings of the 51st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

2012

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Mining Search Query Logs for Spoken Language Understanding
Dilek Hakkani-Tür | Gokhan Tür | Asli Celikyilmaz
NAACL-HLT Workshop on Future directions and needs in the Spoken Dialog Community: Tools and Data (SDCTD 2012)

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A Joint Model for Discovery of Aspects in Utterances
Asli Celikyilmaz | Dilek Hakkani-Tur
Proceedings of the 50th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

2011

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Discovery of Topically Coherent Sentences for Extractive Summarization
Asli Celikyilmaz | Dilek Hakkani-Tür
Proceedings of the 49th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

2010

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A Hybrid Hierarchical Model for Multi-Document Summarization
Asli Celikyilmaz | Dilek Hakkani-Tur
Proceedings of the 48th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

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LDA Based Similarity Modeling for Question Answering
Asli Celikyilmaz | Dilek Hakkani-Tur | Gokhan Tur
Proceedings of the NAACL HLT 2010 Workshop on Semantic Search

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A Graph-Based Semi-Supervised Learning for Question Semantic Labeling
Asli Celikyilmaz | Dilek Hakkani-Tur
Proceedings of the NAACL HLT 2010 Workshop on Semantic Search

2009

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Who, What, When, Where, Why? Comparing Multiple Approaches to the Cross-Lingual 5W Task
Kristen Parton | Kathleen R. McKeown | Bob Coyne | Mona T. Diab | Ralph Grishman | Dilek Hakkani-Tür | Mary Harper | Heng Ji | Wei Yun Ma | Adam Meyers | Sara Stolbach | Ang Sun | Gokhan Tur | Wei Xu | Sibel Yaman
Proceedings of the Joint Conference of the 47th Annual Meeting of the ACL and the 4th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing of the AFNLP

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Anchored Speech Recognition for Question Answering
Sibel Yaman | Gokhan Tur | Dimitra Vergyri | Dilek Hakkani-Tur | Mary Harper | Wen Wang
Proceedings of Human Language Technologies: The 2009 Annual Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics, Companion Volume: Short Papers

2005

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Using Semantic and Syntactic Graphs for Call Classification
Dilek Hakkani-Tür | Gokhan Tur | Ananlada Chotimongkol
Proceedings of the ACL Workshop on Feature Engineering for Machine Learning in Natural Language Processing

2004

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Bootstrapping Spoken Dialog Systems with Data Reuse
Guiseppe Di Fabbrizio | Gokhan Tur | Dilek Hakkani-Tür
Proceedings of the 5th SIGdial Workshop on Discourse and Dialogue at HLT-NAACL 2004

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Mining Spoken Dialogue Corpora for System Evaluation and Modelin
Frederic Bechet | Giuseppe Riccardi | Dilek Hakkani-Tur
Proceedings of the 2004 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

2001

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Integrating Prosodic and Lexical Cues for Automatic Topic Segmentation
G. Tur | D. Hakkani-Tur | A. Stolcke | E. Shriberg
Computational Linguistics, Volume 27, Number 1, March 2001

1996

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Tactical Generation in a Free Constituent Order Language
Dilek Zeynep Hakkani | Kemal Oflazer | Ilyas Cicekli
Eighth International Natural Language Generation Workshop

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