Jason Crowley


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Entity Contrastive Learning in a Large-Scale Virtual Assistant System
Jonathan Rubin | Jason Crowley | George Leung | Morteza Ziyadi | Maria Minakova
Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 5: Industry Track)

Conversational agents are typically made up of domain (DC) and intent classifiers (IC) that identify the general subject an utterance belongs to and the specific action a user wishes to achieve. In addition, named entity recognition (NER) performs per token labeling to identify specific entities of interest in a spoken utterance. We investigate improving joint IC and NER models using entity contrastive learning that attempts to cluster similar entities together in a learned representation space. We compare a full virtual assistant system trained using entity contrastive learning to a production baseline system that does not use contrastive learning. We present both offline results, using retrospective test sets, as well as live online results from an A/B test that compared the two systems. In both the offline and online settings, entity contrastive training improved overall performance against production baselines. Furthermore, we provide a detailed analysis of learned entity embeddings, including both qualitative analysis via dimensionality-reduced visualizations and quantitative analysis by computing alignment and uniformity metrics. We show that entity contrastive learning improves alignment metrics and produces well-formed embedding clusters in representation space.