Mark Riedl


2024

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Creating Suspenseful Stories: Iterative Planning with Large Language Models
Kaige Xie | Mark Riedl
Proceedings of the 18th Conference of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Automated story generation has been one of the long-standing challenges in NLP. Among all dimensions of stories, *suspense* is very common in human-written stories but relatively under-explored in AI-generated stories. While recent advances in large language models (LLMs) have greatly promoted language generation in general, state-of-the-art LLMs are still unreliable when it comes to suspenseful story generation. We propose a novel iterative-prompting-based planning method that is grounded in two theoretical foundations of story suspense from cognitive psychology and narratology. This theory-grounded method works in a fully zero-shot manner and does not rely on any supervised story corpora. To the best of our knowledge, this paper is the first attempt at suspenseful story generation with LLMs. Extensive human evaluations of the generated suspenseful stories demonstrate the effectiveness of our method.

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Few-Shot Dialogue Summarization via Skeleton-Assisted Prompt Transfer in Prompt Tuning
Kaige Xie | Tong Yu | Haoliang Wang | Junda Wu | Handong Zhao | Ruiyi Zhang | Kanak Mahadik | Ani Nenkova | Mark Riedl
Proceedings of the 18th Conference of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

In real-world scenarios, labeled samples for dialogue summarization are usually limited (i.e., few-shot) due to high annotation costs for high-quality dialogue summaries. To efficiently learn from few-shot samples, previous works have utilized massive annotated data from other downstream tasks and then performed prompt transfer in prompt tuning so as to enable cross-task knowledge transfer. However, existing general-purpose prompt transfer techniques lack consideration for dialogue-specific information. In this paper, we focus on improving the prompt transfer from dialogue state tracking to dialogue summarization and propose Skeleton-Assisted Prompt Transfer (SAPT), which leverages skeleton generation as extra supervision that functions as a medium connecting the distinct source and target task and resulting in the model’s better consumption of dialogue state information. To automatically extract dialogue skeletons as supervised training data for skeleton generation, we design a novel approach with perturbation-based probes requiring neither annotation effort nor domain knowledge. Training the model on such skeletons can also help preserve model capability during prompt transfer. Our method significantly outperforms existing baselines. In-depth analyses demonstrate the effectiveness of our method in facilitating cross-task knowledge transfer in few-shot dialogue summarization.

2022

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Situated Dialogue Learning through Procedural Environment Generation
Prithviraj Ammanabrolu | Renee Jia | Mark Riedl
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

We teach goal-driven agents to interactively act and speak in situated environments by training on generated curriculums. Our agents operate in LIGHT (Urbanek et al. 2019)—a large-scale crowd-sourced fantasy text adventure game wherein an agent perceives and interacts with the world through textual natural language. Goals in this environment take the form of character-based quests, consisting of personas and motivations. We augment LIGHT by learning to procedurally generate additional novel textual worlds and quests to create a curriculum of steadily increasing difficulty for training agents to achieve such goals. In particular, we measure curriculum difficulty in terms of the rarity of the quest in the original training distribution—an easier environment is one that is more likely to have been found in the unaugmented dataset. An ablation study shows that this method of learning from the tail of a distribution results in significantly higher generalization abilities as measured by zero-shot performance on never-before-seen quests.

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Calibrating Trust of Multi-Hop Question Answering Systems with Decompositional Probes
Kaige Xie | Sarah Wiegreffe | Mark Riedl
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2022

Multi-hop Question Answering (QA) is a challenging task since it requires an accurate aggregation of information from multiple context paragraphs and a thorough understanding of the underlying reasoning chains. Recent work in multi-hop QA has shown that performance can be boosted by first decomposing the questions into simpler, single-hop questions. In this paper, we explore one additional utility of the multi-hop decomposition from the perspective of explainable NLP: to create explanation by probing a neural QA model with them. We hypothesize that in doing so, users will be better able to predict when the underlying QA system will give the correct answer. Through human participant studies, we verify that exposing the decomposition probes and answers to the probes to users can increase their ability to predict system performance on a question instance basis. We show that decomposition is an effective form of probing QA systems as well as a promising approach to explanation generation. In-depth analyses show the need for improvements in decomposition systems.

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Inferring the Reader: Guiding Automated Story Generation with Commonsense Reasoning
Xiangyu Peng | Siyan Li | Sarah Wiegreffe | Mark Riedl
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2022

Transformer-based language model approaches to automated story generation currently provide state-of-the-art results. However, they still suffer from plot incoherence when generatingnarratives over time, and critically lack basiccommonsense reasoning. Furthermore, existing methods generally focus only on single-character stories, or fail to track charactersat all. To improve the coherence of generated narratives and to expand the scope ofcharacter-centric narrative generation, we introduce Commonsense-inference Augmentedneural StoryTelling (CAST), a framework forintroducing commonsense reasoning into thegeneration process with the option to model theinteraction between multiple characters. Wefind that our CAST method produces significantly more coherent, on-topic, enjoyable andfluent stories than existing models in both thesingle-character and two-character settings inthree storytelling domains.

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Guiding Neural Story Generation with Reader Models
Xiangyu Peng | Kaige Xie | Amal Alabdulkarim | Harshith Kayam | Samihan Dani | Mark Riedl
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2022

Automated storytelling has long captured the attention of researchers for the ubiquity of narratives in everyday life. However, it is challenging to maintain coherence and stay on-topictoward a specific ending when generating narratives with neural language models. In this paper, we introduce Story generation with ReaderModels (StoRM), a framework in which areader model is used to reason about the storyshould progress. A reader model infers whata human reader believes about the concepts,entities, and relations about the fictional storyworld. We show how an explicit reader modelrepresented as a knowledge graph affords the storycoherence and provides controllability in theform of achieving a given story world stategoal. Experiments show that our model produces significantly more coherent and on-topicstories, outperforming baselines in dimensionsincluding plot plausibility and staying on topic

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Reframing Human-AI Collaboration for Generating Free-Text Explanations
Sarah Wiegreffe | Jack Hessel | Swabha Swayamdipta | Mark Riedl | Yejin Choi
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Large language models are increasingly capable of generating fluent-appearing text with relatively little task-specific supervision. But can these models accurately explain classification decisions? We consider the task of generating free-text explanations using human-written examples in a few-shot manner. We find that (1) authoring higher quality prompts results in higher quality generations; and (2) surprisingly, in a head-to-head comparison, crowdworkers often prefer explanations generated by GPT-3 to crowdsourced explanations in existing datasets. Our human studies also show, however, that while models often produce factual, grammatical, and sufficient explanations, they have room to improve along axes such as providing novel information and supporting the label. We create a pipeline that combines GPT-3 with a supervised filter that incorporates binary acceptability judgments from humans in the loop. Despite the intrinsic subjectivity of acceptability judgments, we demonstrate that acceptability is partially correlated with various fine-grained attributes of explanations. Our approach is able to consistently filter GPT-3-generated explanations deemed acceptable by humans.

2021

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Telling Stories through Multi-User Dialogue by Modeling Character Relations
Wai Man Si | Prithviraj Ammanabrolu | Mark Riedl
Proceedings of the 22nd Annual Meeting of the Special Interest Group on Discourse and Dialogue

This paper explores character-driven story continuation, in which the story emerges through characters’ first- and second-person narration as well as dialogue—requiring models to select language that is consistent with a character’s persona and their relationships with other characters while following and advancing the story. We hypothesize that a multi-task model that trains on character dialogue plus character relationship information improves transformer-based story continuation. To this end, we extend the Critical Role Dungeons and Dragons Dataset (Rameshkumar and Bailey, 2020)—consisting of dialogue transcripts of people collaboratively telling a story while playing the role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons—with automatically extracted relationships between each pair of interacting characters as well as their personas. A series of ablations lend evidence to our hypothesis, showing that our multi-task model using character relationships improves story continuation accuracy over strong baselines.

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Plug-and-Blend: A Framework for Controllable Story Generation with Blended Control Codes
Zhiyu Lin | Mark Riedl
Proceedings of the Third Workshop on Narrative Understanding

We describe a Plug-and-Play controllable language generation framework, Plug-and-Blend, that allows a human user to input multiple control codes (topics). In the context of automated story generation, this allows a human user lose or fine grained control of the topics that will appear in the generated story, and can even allow for overlapping, blended topics. We show that our framework, working with different generation models, controls the generation towards given continuous-weighted control codes while keeping the generated sentences fluent, demonstrating strong blending capability.

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Fabula Entropy Indexing: Objective Measures of Story Coherence
Louis Castricato | Spencer Frazier | Jonathan Balloch | Mark Riedl
Proceedings of the Third Workshop on Narrative Understanding

Automated story generation remains a difficult area of research because it lacks strong objective measures. Generated stories may be linguistically sound, but in many cases suffer poor narrative coherence required for a compelling, logically-sound story. To address this, we present Fabula Entropy Indexing (FEI), an evaluation method to assess story coherence by measuring the degree to which human participants agree with each other when answering true/false questions about stories. We devise two theoretically grounded measures of reader question-answering entropy, the entropy of world coherence (EWC), and the entropy of transitional coherence (ETC), focusing on global and local coherence, respectively. We evaluate these metrics by testing them on human-written stories and comparing against the same stories that have been corrupted to introduce incoherencies. We show that in these controlled studies, our entropy indices provide a reliable objective measure of story coherence.

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Just Say No: Analyzing the Stance of Neural Dialogue Generation in Offensive Contexts
Ashutosh Baheti | Maarten Sap | Alan Ritter | Mark Riedl
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Dialogue models trained on human conversations inadvertently learn to generate toxic responses. In addition to producing explicitly offensive utterances, these models can also implicitly insult a group or individual by aligning themselves with an offensive statement. To better understand the dynamics of contextually offensive language, we investigate the stance of dialogue model responses in offensive Reddit conversations. Specifically, we create ToxiChat, a crowd-annotated dataset of 2,000 Reddit threads and model responses labeled with offensive language and stance. Our analysis reveals that 42% of human responses agree with toxic comments, whereas only 13% agree with safe comments. This undesirable behavior is learned by neural dialogue models, such as DialoGPT, which we show are two times more likely to agree with offensive comments. To enable automatic detection of offensive language, we fine-tuned transformer-based classifiers on ToxiChat that achieve 0.71 F1 for offensive labels and 0.53 Macro-F1 for stance labels. Finally, we quantify the effectiveness of controllable text generation (CTG) methods to mitigate the tendency of neural dialogue models to agree with offensive comments. Compared to the baseline, our best CTG model achieves a 19% reduction in agreement with offensive comments and produces 29% fewer offensive replies. Our work highlights the need for further efforts to characterize and analyze inappropriate behavior in dialogue models, in order to help make them safer.

2020

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Reducing Non-Normative Text Generation from Language Models
Xiangyu Peng | Siyan Li | Spencer Frazier | Mark Riedl
Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Natural Language Generation

Large-scale, transformer-based language models such as GPT-2 are pretrained on diverse corpora scraped from the internet. Consequently, they are prone to generating non-normative text (i.e. in violation of social norms). We introduce a technique for fine-tuning GPT-2, using a policy gradient reinforcement learning technique and a normative text classifier to produce reward and punishment values. We evaluate our technique on five data sets using automated and human participant experiments. The normative text classifier is 81-90% accurate when compared to gold-standard human judgements of normative and non-normative generated text. Our normative fine-tuning technique is able to reduce non-normative text by 27-61%, depending on the data set.

2019

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Toward Automated Quest Generation in Text-Adventure Games
Prithviraj Ammanabrolu | William Broniec | Alex Mueller | Jeremy Paul | Mark Riedl
Proceedings of the 4th Workshop on Computational Creativity in Language Generation

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Playing Text-Adventure Games with Graph-Based Deep Reinforcement Learning
Prithviraj Ammanabrolu | Mark Riedl
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies, Volume 1 (Long and Short Papers)

Text-based adventure games provide a platform on which to explore reinforcement learning in the context of a combinatorial action space, such as natural language. We present a deep reinforcement learning architecture that represents the game state as a knowledge graph which is learned during exploration. This graph is used to prune the action space, enabling more efficient exploration. The question of which action to take can be reduced to a question-answering task, a form of transfer learning that pre-trains certain parts of our architecture. In experiments using the TextWorld framework, we show that our proposed technique can learn a control policy faster than baseline alternatives. We have also open-sourced our code at https://github.com/rajammanabrolu/KG-DQN.

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Guided Neural Language Generation for Automated Storytelling
Prithviraj Ammanabrolu | Ethan Tien | Wesley Cheung | Zhaochen Luo | William Ma | Lara Martin | Mark Riedl
Proceedings of the Second Workshop on Storytelling

Neural network based approaches to automated story plot generation attempt to learn how to generate novel plots from a corpus of natural language plot summaries. Prior work has shown that a semantic abstraction of sentences called events improves neural plot generation and and allows one to decompose the problem into: (1) the generation of a sequence of events (event-to-event) and (2) the transformation of these events into natural language sentences (event-to-sentence). However, typical neural language generation approaches to event-to-sentence can ignore the event details and produce grammatically-correct but semantically-unrelated sentences. We present an ensemble-based model that generates natural language guided by events. Our method outperforms the baseline sequence-to-sequence model. Additionally, we provide results for a full end-to-end automated story generation system, demonstrating how our model works with existing systems designed for the event-to-event problem.

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Transfer in Deep Reinforcement Learning Using Knowledge Graphs
Prithviraj Ammanabrolu | Mark Riedl
Proceedings of the Thirteenth Workshop on Graph-Based Methods for Natural Language Processing (TextGraphs-13)

Text adventure games, in which players must make sense of the world through text descriptions and declare actions through text descriptions, provide a stepping stone toward grounding action in language. Prior work has demonstrated that using a knowledge graph as a state representation and question-answering to pre-train a deep Q-network facilitates faster control policy learning. In this paper, we explore the use of knowledge graphs as a representation for domain knowledge transfer for training text-adventure playing reinforcement learning agents. Our methods are tested across multiple computer generated and human authored games, varying in domain and complexity, and demonstrate that our transfer learning methods let us learn a higher-quality control policy faster.

2018

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A Simple and Effective Approach to the Story Cloze Test
Siddarth Srinivasan | Richa Arora | Mark Riedl
Proceedings of the 2018 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies, Volume 2 (Short Papers)

In the Story Cloze Test, a system is presented with a 4-sentence prompt to a story, and must determine which one of two potential endings is the ‘right’ ending to the story. Previous work has shown that ignoring the training set and training a model on the validation set can achieve high accuracy on this task due to stylistic differences between the story endings in the training set and validation and test sets. Following this approach, we present a simpler fully-neural approach to the Story Cloze Test using skip-thought embeddings of the stories in a feed-forward network that achieves close to state-of-the-art performance on this task without any feature engineering. We also find that considering just the last sentence of the prompt instead of the whole prompt yields higher accuracy with our approach.