Maximillian Chen


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PLACES: Prompting Language Models for Social Conversation Synthesis
Maximillian Chen | Alexandros Papangelis | Chenyang Tao | Seokhwan Kim | Andy Rosenbaum | Yang Liu | Zhou Yu | Dilek Hakkani-Tur
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EACL 2023

Collecting high quality conversational data can be very expensive for most applications and infeasible for others due to privacy, ethical, or similar concerns. A promising direction to tackle this problem is to generate synthetic dialogues by prompting large language models. In this work, we use a small set of expert-written conversations as in-context examples to synthesize a social conversation dataset using prompting. We perform several thorough evaluations of our synthetic conversations compared to human-collected conversations. This includes various dimensions of conversation quality with human evaluation directly on the synthesized conversations, and interactive human evaluation of chatbots fine-tuned on the synthetically generated dataset. We additionally demonstrate that this prompting approach is generalizable to multi-party conversations, providing potential to create new synthetic data for multi-party tasks. Our synthetic multi-party conversations were rated more favorably across all measured dimensions compared to conversation excerpts sampled from a human-collected multi-party dataset.

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Prompt-Based Monte-Carlo Tree Search for Goal-oriented Dialogue Policy Planning
Xiao Yu | Maximillian Chen | Zhou Yu
Proceedings of the 2023 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Planning for goal-oriented dialogue often requires simulating future dialogue interactions and estimating task progress. Many approaches thus consider training neural networks to perform look-ahead search algorithms such as A* search and Monte Carlo Tree Search (MCTS). However, this training often require abundant annotated data, which creates challenges when faced with noisy annotations or low-resource settings. We introduce GDP-Zero, an approach using Open-Loop MCTS to perform goal-oriented dialogue policy planning without any model training. GDP-Zero prompts a large language model to act as a policy prior, value function, user simulator, and system model during the tree search. We evaluate GDP-Zero on the goal-oriented task PersuasionForGood, and find that its responses are preferred over ChatGPT up to 59.32% of the time, and are rated more persuasive than ChatGPT during interactive evaluations.

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Controllable Mixed-Initiative Dialogue Generation through Prompting
Maximillian Chen | Xiao Yu | Weiyan Shi | Urvi Awasthi | Zhou Yu
Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 2: Short Papers)

Mixed-initiative dialogue tasks involve repeated exchanges of information and conversational control. Conversational agents gain control by generating responses that follow particular dialogue intents or strategies, prescribed by a policy planner. The standard approach has been fine-tuning pre-trained language models to perform generation conditioned on these intents. However, these supervised generation models are limited by the cost and quality of data annotation. We instead prompt large language models as a drop-in replacement to fine-tuning on conditional generation. We formalize prompt construction for controllable mixed-initiative dialogue. Our findings show improvements over fine-tuning and ground truth responses according to human evaluation and automatic metrics for two tasks: PersuasionForGood and Emotional Support Conversations.

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FastKASSIM: A Fast Tree Kernel-Based Syntactic Similarity Metric
Maximillian Chen | Caitlyn Chen | Xiao Yu | Zhou Yu
Proceedings of the 17th Conference of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Syntax is a fundamental component of language, yet few metrics have been employed to capture syntactic similarity or coherence at the utterance- and document-level. The existing standard document-level syntactic similarity metric is computationally expensive and performs inconsistently when faced with syntactically dissimilar documents. To address these challenges, we present FastKASSIM, a metric for utterance- and document-level syntactic similarity which pairs and averages the most similar constituency parse trees between a pair of documents based on tree kernels. FastKASSIM is more robust to syntactic dissimilarities and runs up to to 5.32 times faster than its predecessor over documents in the r/ChangeMyView corpus. FastKASSIM’s improvements allow us to examine hypotheses in two settings with large documents. We find that syntactically similar arguments on r/ChangeMyView tend to be more persuasive, and that syntax is predictive of authorship attribution in the Australian High Court Judgment corpus.


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Seamlessly Integrating Factual Information and Social Content with Persuasive Dialogue
Maximillian Chen | Weiyan Shi | Feifan Yan | Ryan Hou | Jingwen Zhang | Saurav Sahay | Zhou Yu
Proceedings of the 2nd Conference of the Asia-Pacific Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 12th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Complex conversation settings such as persuasion involve communicating changes in attitude or behavior, so users’ perspectives need to be addressed, even when not directly related to the topic. In this work, we contribute a novel modular dialogue system framework that seamlessly integrates factual information and social content into persuasive dialogue. Our framework is generalizable to any dialogue tasks that have mixed social and task contents. We conducted a study that compared user evaluations of our framework versus a baseline end-to-end generation model. We found our model was evaluated to be more favorable in all dimensions including competence and friendliness compared to the baseline model which does not explicitly handle social content or factual questions.