Karin Sevegnani


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OTTers: One-turn Topic Transitions for Open-Domain Dialogue
Karin Sevegnani | David M. Howcroft | Ioannis Konstas | Verena Rieser
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)

Mixed initiative in open-domain dialogue requires a system to pro-actively introduce new topics. The one-turn topic transition task explores how a system connects two topics in a cooperative and coherent manner. The goal of the task is to generate a “bridging” utterance connecting the new topic to the topic of the previous conversation turn. We are especially interested in commonsense explanations of how a new topic relates to what has been mentioned before. We first collect a new dataset of human one-turn topic transitions, which we callOTTers. We then explore different strategies used by humans when asked to complete such a task, and notice that the use of a bridging utterance to connect the two topics is the approach used the most. We finally show how existing state-of-the-art text generation models can be adapted to this task and examine the performance of these baselines on different splits of the OTTers data.


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Automatic Quality Estimation for Natural Language Generation: Ranting (Jointly Rating and Ranking)
Ondřej Dušek | Karin Sevegnani | Ioannis Konstas | Verena Rieser
Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Natural Language Generation

We present a recurrent neural network based system for automatic quality estimation of natural language generation (NLG) outputs, which jointly learns to assign numerical ratings to individual outputs and to provide pairwise rankings of two different outputs. The latter is trained using pairwise hinge loss over scores from two copies of the rating network. We use learning to rank and synthetic data to improve the quality of ratings assigned by our system: We synthesise training pairs of distorted system outputs and train the system to rank the less distorted one higher. This leads to a 12% increase in correlation with human ratings over the previous benchmark. We also establish the state of the art on the dataset of relative rankings from the E2E NLG Challenge (Dusek et al., 2019), where synthetic data lead to a 4% accuracy increase over the base model.