Kelong Mao


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Search-Oriented Conversational Query Editing
Kelong Mao | Zhicheng Dou | Bang Liu | Hongjin Qian | Fengran Mo | Xiangli Wu | Xiaohua Cheng | Zhao Cao
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2023

Conversational query rewriting (CQR) realizes conversational search by reformulating the search dialogue into a standalone rewrite. However, existing CQR models either are not learned toward improving the downstream search performance or inefficiently generate the rewrite token-by-token from scratch while neglecting the fact that the search dialogue often has a large overlap with the rewrite. In this paper, we propose EdiRCS, a new text editing-based CQR model tailored for conversational search. In EdiRCS, most of the rewrite tokens are selected from the dialogue in a non-autoregressive fashion and only a few new tokens are generated to supplement the final rewrite, which makes EdiRCS highly efficient. In particular, the learning of EdiRCS is augmented with two search-oriented objectives, including contrastive ranking augmentation and contextualization knowledge transfer, which effectively improve it to select and generate more useful tokens from the view of retrieval. We show that EdiRCS outperforms state-of-the-art CQR models on three conversational search benchmarks while having low rewriting latency, and is robust to out-of-domain search dialogues and long dialogue contexts.

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Large Language Models Know Your Contextual Search Intent: A Prompting Framework for Conversational Search
Kelong Mao | Zhicheng Dou | Fengran Mo | Jiewen Hou | Haonan Chen | Hongjin Qian
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2023

Precisely understanding users’ contextual search intent has been an important challenge for conversational search. As conversational search sessions are much more diverse and long-tailed, existing methods trained on limited data still show unsatisfactory effectiveness and robustness to handle real conversational search scenarios. Recently, large language models (LLMs) have demonstrated amazing capabilities for text generation and conversation understanding. In this work, we present a simple yet effective prompting framework, called LLM4CS, to leverage LLMs as a text-based search intent interpreter to help conversational search. Under this framework, we explore three prompting methods to generate multiple query rewrites and hypothetical responses, and propose to aggregate them into an integrated representation that can robustly represent the user’s real contextual search intent. Extensive automatic evaluations and human evaluations on three widely used conversational search benchmarks, including CAsT-19, CAsT-20, and CAsT-21, demonstrate the remarkable performance of our simple LLM4CS framework compared with existing methods and even using human rewrites. Our findings provide important evidence to better understand and leverage LLMs for conversational search.

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ConvGQR: Generative Query Reformulation for Conversational Search
Fengran Mo | Kelong Mao | Yutao Zhu | Yihong Wu | Kaiyu Huang | Jian-Yun Nie
Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

In conversational search, the user’s real search intent for the current conversation turn is dependent on the previous conversation history. It is challenging to determine a good search query from the whole conversation context. To avoid the expensive re-training of the query encoder, most existing methods try to learn a rewriting model to de-contextualize the current query by mimicking the manual query rewriting. However, manually rewritten queries are not always the best search queries. Thus, training a rewriting model on them would lead to sub-optimal queries. Another useful information to enhance the search query is the potential answer to the question. In this paper, we propose ConvGQR, a new framework to reformulate conversational queries based on generative pre-trained language models (PLMs), one for query rewriting and another for generating potential answers. By combining both, ConvGQR can produce better search queries. In addition, to relate query reformulation to the retrieval task, we propose a knowledge infusion mechanism to optimize both query reformulation and retrieval. Extensive experiments on four conversational search datasets demonstrate the effectiveness of ConvGQR.


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ConvTrans: Transforming Web Search Sessions for Conversational Dense Retrieval
Kelong Mao | Zhicheng Dou | Hongjin Qian | Fengran Mo | Xiaohua Cheng | Zhao Cao
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Conversational search provides users with a natural and convenient new search experience. Recently, conversational dense retrieval has shown to be a promising technique for realizing conversational search. However, as conversational search systems have not been widely deployed, it is hard to get large-scale real conversational search sessions and relevance labels to support the training of conversational dense retrieval. To tackle this data scarcity problem, previous methods focus on developing better few-shot learning approaches or generating pseudo relevance labels, but the data they use for training still heavily rely on manual generation. In this paper, we present ConvTrans, a data augmentation method that can automatically transform easily-accessible web search sessions into conversational search sessions to fundamentally alleviate the data scarcity problem for conversational dense retrieval. ConvTrans eliminates the gaps between these two types of sessions in terms of session quality and query form to achieve effective session transformation. Extensive evaluations on two widely used conversational search benchmarks, i.e., CAsT-19 and CAsT-20, demonstrate that the same model trained on the data generated by ConvTrans can achieve comparable retrieval performance as it trained on high-quality but expensive artificial conversational search data.