Lars Liden


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Knowledge-Grounded Dialogue Generation with a Unified Knowledge Representation
Yu Li | Baolin Peng | Yelong Shen | Yi Mao | Lars Liden | Zhou Yu | Jianfeng Gao
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Knowledge-grounded dialogue systems are challenging to build due to the lack of training data and heterogeneous knowledge sources. Existing systems perform poorly on unseen topics due to limited topics covered in the training data. In addition, it is challenging to generalize to the domains that require different types of knowledge sources. To address the above challenges, we present PLUG, a language model that homogenizes different knowledge sources to a unified knowledge representation for knowledge-grounded dialogue generation tasks. We first retrieve relevant information from heterogeneous knowledge sources (e.g., wiki, dictionary, or knowledge graph); Then the retrieved knowledge is transformed into text and concatenated with dialogue history to feed into the language model for generating responses. PLUG is pre-trained on a large-scale knowledge-grounded dialogue corpus. The empirical evaluation on two benchmarks shows that PLUG generalizes well across different knowledge-grounded dialogue tasks. It achieves comparable performance with state-of-the-art methods in the fully-supervised setting and significantly outperforms other approaches in zero-shot and few-shot settings.


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Soloist: Building Task Bots at Scale with Transfer Learning and Machine Teaching
Baolin Peng | Chunyuan Li | Jinchao Li | Shahin Shayandeh | Lars Liden | Jianfeng Gao
Transactions of the Association for Computational Linguistics, Volume 9

Abstract We present a new method, Soloist,1 that uses transfer learning and machine teaching to build task bots at scale. We parameterize classical modular task-oriented dialog systems using a Transformer-based auto-regressive language model, which subsumes different dialog modules into a single neural model. We pre-train, on heterogeneous dialog corpora, a task-grounded response generation model, which can generate dialog responses grounded in user goals and real-world knowledge for task completion. The pre-trained model can be efficiently adapted to accomplish new tasks with a handful of task-specific dialogs via machine teaching, where training samples are generated by human teachers interacting with the system. Experiments show that (i)Soloist creates new state-of-the-art on well-studied task-oriented dialog benchmarks, including CamRest676 and MultiWOZ; (ii) in the few-shot fine-tuning settings, Soloist significantly outperforms existing methods; and (iii) the use of machine teaching substantially reduces the labeling cost of fine-tuning. The pre-trained models and codes are available at


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Conversation Learner - A Machine Teaching Tool for Building Dialog Managers for Task-Oriented Dialog Systems
Swadheen Shukla | Lars Liden | Shahin Shayandeh | Eslam Kamal | Jinchao Li | Matt Mazzola | Thomas Park | Baolin Peng | Jianfeng Gao
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics: System Demonstrations

Traditionally, industry solutions for building a task-oriented dialog system have relied on helping dialog authors define rule-based dialog managers, represented as dialog flows. While dialog flows are intuitively interpretable and good for simple scenarios, they fall short of performance in terms of the flexibility needed to handle complex dialogs. On the other hand, purely machine-learned models can handle complex dialogs, but they are considered to be black boxes and require large amounts of training data. In this demonstration, we showcase Conversation Learner, a machine teaching tool for building dialog managers. It combines the best of both approaches by enabling dialog authors to create a dialog flow using familiar tools, converting the dialog flow into a parametric model (e.g., neural networks), and allowing dialog authors to improve the dialog manager (i.e., the parametric model) over time by leveraging user-system dialog logs as training data through a machine teaching interface.


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Unsupervised Dialogue Spectrum Generation for Log Dialogue Ranking
Xinnuo Xu | Yizhe Zhang | Lars Liden | Sungjin Lee
Proceedings of the 20th Annual SIGdial Meeting on Discourse and Dialogue

Although the data-driven approaches of some recent bot building platforms make it possible for a wide range of users to easily create dialogue systems, those platforms don’t offer tools for quickly identifying which log dialogues contain problems. This is important since corrections to log dialogues provide a means to improve performance after deployment. A log dialogue ranker, which ranks problematic dialogues higher, is an essential tool due to the sheer volume of log dialogues that could be generated. However, training a ranker typically requires labelling a substantial amount of data, which is not feasible for most users. In this paper, we present a novel unsupervised approach for dialogue ranking using GANs and release a corpus of labelled dialogues for evaluation and comparison with supervised methods. The evaluation result shows that our method compares favorably to supervised methods without any labelled data.


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Demonstration of interactive teaching for end-to-end dialog control with hybrid code networks
Jason D. Williams | Lars Liden
Proceedings of the 18th Annual SIGdial Meeting on Discourse and Dialogue

This is a demonstration of interactive teaching for practical end-to-end dialog systems driven by a recurrent neural network. In this approach, a developer teaches the network by interacting with the system and providing on-the-spot corrections. Once a system is deployed, a developer can also correct mistakes in logged dialogs. This demonstration shows both of these teaching methods applied to dialog systems in three domains: pizza ordering, restaurant information, and weather forecasts.