Juraj Juraska


2021

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Athena 2.0: Contextualized Dialogue Management for an Alexa Prize SocialBot
Juraj Juraska | Kevin Bowden | Lena Reed | Vrindavan Harrison | Wen Cui | Omkar Patil | Rishi Rajasekaran | Angela Ramirez | Cecilia Li | Eduardo Zamora | Phillip Lee | Jeshwanth Bheemanpally | Rohan Pandey | Adwait Ratnaparkhi | Marilyn Walker
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing: System Demonstrations

Athena 2.0 is an Alexa Prize SocialBot that has been a finalist in the last two Alexa Prize Grand Challenges. One reason for Athena’s success is its novel dialogue management strategy, which allows it to dynamically construct dialogues and responses from component modules, leading to novel conversations with every interaction. Here we describe Athena’s system design and performance in the Alexa Prize during the 20/21 competition. A live demo of Athena as well as video recordings will provoke discussion on the state of the art in conversational AI.

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Attention Is Indeed All You Need: Semantically Attention-Guided Decoding for Data-to-Text NLG
Juraj Juraska | Marilyn Walker
Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Natural Language Generation

Ever since neural models were adopted in data-to-text language generation, they have invariably been reliant on extrinsic components to improve their semantic accuracy, because the models normally do not exhibit the ability to generate text that reliably mentions all of the information provided in the input. In this paper, we propose a novel decoding method that extracts interpretable information from encoder-decoder models’ cross-attention, and uses it to infer which attributes are mentioned in the generated text, which is subsequently used to rescore beam hypotheses. Using this decoding method with T5 and BART, we show on three datasets its ability to dramatically reduce semantic errors in the generated outputs, while maintaining their state-of-the-art quality.

2019

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ViGGO: A Video Game Corpus for Data-To-Text Generation in Open-Domain Conversation
Juraj Juraska | Kevin Bowden | Marilyn Walker
Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Natural Language Generation

The uptake of deep learning in natural language generation (NLG) led to the release of both small and relatively large parallel corpora for training neural models. The existing data-to-text datasets are, however, aimed at task-oriented dialogue systems, and often thus limited in diversity and versatility. They are typically crowdsourced, with much of the noise left in them. Moreover, current neural NLG models do not take full advantage of large training data, and due to their strong generalizing properties produce sentences that look template-like regardless. We therefore present a new corpus of 7K samples, which (1) is clean despite being crowdsourced, (2) has utterances of 9 generalizable and conversational dialogue act types, making it more suitable for open-domain dialogue systems, and (3) explores the domain of video games, which is new to dialogue systems despite having excellent potential for supporting rich conversations.

2018

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Characterizing Variation in Crowd-Sourced Data for Training Neural Language Generators to Produce Stylistically Varied Outputs
Juraj Juraska | Marilyn Walker
Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Natural Language Generation

One of the biggest challenges of end-to-end language generation from meaning representations in dialogue systems is making the outputs more natural and varied. Here we take a large corpus of 50K crowd-sourced utterances in the restaurant domain and develop text analysis methods that systematically characterize types of sentences in the training data. We then automatically label the training data to allow us to conduct two kinds of experiments with a neural generator. First, we test the effect of training the system with different stylistic partitions and quantify the effect of smaller, but more stylistically controlled training data. Second, we propose a method of labeling the style variants during training, and show that we can modify the style of the generated utterances using our stylistic labels. We contrast and compare these methods that can be used with any existing large corpus, showing how they vary in terms of semantic quality and stylistic control.

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A Deep Ensemble Model with Slot Alignment for Sequence-to-Sequence Natural Language Generation
Juraj Juraska | Panagiotis Karagiannis | Kevin Bowden | Marilyn Walker
Proceedings of the 2018 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies, Volume 1 (Long Papers)

Natural language generation lies at the core of generative dialogue systems and conversational agents. We describe an ensemble neural language generator, and present several novel methods for data representation and augmentation that yield improved results in our model. We test the model on three datasets in the restaurant, TV and laptop domains, and report both objective and subjective evaluations of our best model. Using a range of automatic metrics, as well as human evaluators, we show that our approach achieves better results than state-of-the-art models on the same datasets.