Mitchell Abrams


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Social Norms Guide Reference Resolution
Mitchell Abrams | Matthias Scheutz
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Humans use natural language, vision, and context to resolve referents in their environment. While some situated reference resolution is trivial, ambiguous cases arise when the language is underspecified or there are multiple candidate referents. This study investigates howpragmatic modulators external to the linguistic content are critical for the correct interpretation of referents in these scenarios. Inparticular, we demonstrate in a human subjects experiment how the social norms applicable in the given context influence theinterpretation of referring expressions. Additionally, we highlight how current coreference tools in natural language processing fail tohandle these ambiguous cases. We also briefly discuss the implications of this work for assistive robots which will routinely need to resolve referents in their environment.


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Builder, we have done it: Evaluating & Extending Dialogue-AMR NLU Pipeline for Two Collaborative Domains
Claire Bonial | Mitchell Abrams | David Traum | Clare Voss
Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Computational Semantics (IWCS)

We adopt, evaluate, and improve upon a two-step natural language understanding (NLU) pipeline that incrementally tames the variation of unconstrained natural language input and maps to executable robot behaviors. The pipeline first leverages Abstract Meaning Representation (AMR) parsing to capture the propositional content of the utterance, and second converts this into “Dialogue-AMR,” which augments standard AMR with information on tense, aspect, and speech acts. Several alternative approaches and training datasets are evaluated for both steps and corresponding components of the pipeline, some of which outperform the original. We extend the Dialogue-AMR annotation schema to cover a different collaborative instruction domain and evaluate on both domains. With very little training data, we achieve promising performance in the new domain, demonstrating the scalability of this approach.


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Dialogue-AMR: Abstract Meaning Representation for Dialogue
Claire Bonial | Lucia Donatelli | Mitchell Abrams | Stephanie M. Lukin | Stephen Tratz | Matthew Marge | Ron Artstein | David Traum | Clare Voss
Proceedings of the 12th Language Resources and Evaluation Conference

This paper describes a schema that enriches Abstract Meaning Representation (AMR) in order to provide a semantic representation for facilitating Natural Language Understanding (NLU) in dialogue systems. AMR offers a valuable level of abstraction of the propositional content of an utterance; however, it does not capture the illocutionary force or speaker’s intended contribution in the broader dialogue context (e.g., make a request or ask a question), nor does it capture tense or aspect. We explore dialogue in the domain of human-robot interaction, where a conversational robot is engaged in search and navigation tasks with a human partner. To address the limitations of standard AMR, we develop an inventory of speech acts suitable for our domain, and present “Dialogue-AMR”, an enhanced AMR that represents not only the content of an utterance, but the illocutionary force behind it, as well as tense and aspect. To showcase the coverage of the schema, we use both manual and automatic methods to construct the “DialAMR” corpus—a corpus of human-robot dialogue annotated with standard AMR and our enriched Dialogue-AMR schema. Our automated methods can be used to incorporate AMR into a larger NLU pipeline supporting human-robot dialogue.

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Graph-to-Graph Meaning Representation Transformations for Human-Robot Dialogue
Mitchell Abrams | Claire Bonial | Lucia Donatelli
Proceedings of the Society for Computation in Linguistics 2020


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B. Rex: a dialogue agent for book recommendations
Mitchell Abrams | Luke Gessler | Matthew Marge
Proceedings of the 20th Annual SIGdial Meeting on Discourse and Dialogue

We present B. Rex, a dialogue agent for book recommendations. B. Rex aims to exploit the cognitive ease of natural dialogue and the excitement of a whimsical persona in order to engage users who might not enjoy using more common interfaces for finding new books. B. Rex succeeds in making book recommendations with good quality based on only information revealed by the user in the dialogue.


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The Coptic Universal Dependency Treebank
Amir Zeldes | Mitchell Abrams
Proceedings of the Second Workshop on Universal Dependencies (UDW 2018)

This paper presents the Coptic Universal Dependency Treebank, the first dependency treebank within the Egyptian subfamily of the Afro-Asiatic languages. We discuss the composition of the corpus, challenges in adapting the UD annotation scheme to existing conventions for annotating Coptic, and evaluate inter-annotator agreement on UD annotation for the language. Some specific constructions are taken as a starting point for discussing several more general UD annotation guidelines, in particular for appositions, ambiguous passivization, incorporation and object-doubling.