Pei-Hao Su


2021

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ConvFiT: Conversational Fine-Tuning of Pretrained Language Models
Ivan Vulić | Pei-Hao Su | Samuel Coope | Daniela Gerz | Paweł Budzianowski | Iñigo Casanueva | Nikola Mrkšić | Tsung-Hsien Wen
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Transformer-based language models (LMs) pretrained on large text collections are proven to store a wealth of semantic knowledge. However, 1) they are not effective as sentence encoders when used off-the-shelf, and 2) thus typically lag behind conversationally pretrained (e.g., via response selection) encoders on conversational tasks such as intent detection (ID). In this work, we propose ConvFiT, a simple and efficient two-stage procedure which turns any pretrained LM into a universal conversational encoder (after Stage 1 ConvFiT-ing) and task-specialised sentence encoder (after Stage 2). We demonstrate that 1) full-blown conversational pretraining is not required, and that LMs can be quickly transformed into effective conversational encoders with much smaller amounts of unannotated data; 2) pretrained LMs can be fine-tuned into task-specialised sentence encoders, optimised for the fine-grained semantics of a particular task. Consequently, such specialised sentence encoders allow for treating ID as a simple semantic similarity task based on interpretable nearest neighbours retrieval. We validate the robustness and versatility of the ConvFiT framework with such similarity-based inference on the standard ID evaluation sets: ConvFiT-ed LMs achieve state-of-the-art ID performance across the board, with particular gains in the most challenging, few-shot setups.

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Multilingual and Cross-Lingual Intent Detection from Spoken Data
Daniela Gerz | Pei-Hao Su | Razvan Kusztos | Avishek Mondal | Michał Lis | Eshan Singhal | Nikola Mrkšić | Tsung-Hsien Wen | Ivan Vulić
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

We present a systematic study on multilingual and cross-lingual intent detection (ID) from spoken data. The study leverages a new resource put forth in this work, termed MInDS-14, a first training and evaluation resource for the ID task with spoken data. It covers 14 intents extracted from a commercial system in the e-banking domain, associated with spoken examples in 14 diverse language varieties. Our key results indicate that combining machine translation models with state-of-the-art multilingual sentence encoders (e.g., LaBSE) yield strong intent detectors in the majority of target languages covered in MInDS-14, and offer comparative analyses across different axes: e.g., translation direction, impact of speech recognition, data augmentation from a related domain. We see this work as an important step towards more inclusive development and evaluation of multilingual ID from spoken data, hopefully in a much wider spectrum of languages compared to prior work.

2020

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ConveRT: Efficient and Accurate Conversational Representations from Transformers
Matthew Henderson | Iñigo Casanueva | Nikola Mrkšić | Pei-Hao Su | Tsung-Hsien Wen | Ivan Vulić
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2020

General-purpose pretrained sentence encoders such as BERT are not ideal for real-world conversational AI applications; they are computationally heavy, slow, and expensive to train. We propose ConveRT (Conversational Representations from Transformers), a pretraining framework for conversational tasks satisfying all the following requirements: it is effective, affordable, and quick to train. We pretrain using a retrieval-based response selection task, effectively leveraging quantization and subword-level parameterization in the dual encoder to build a lightweight memory- and energy-efficient model. We show that ConveRT achieves state-of-the-art performance across widely established response selection tasks. We also demonstrate that the use of extended dialog history as context yields further performance gains. Finally, we show that pretrained representations from the proposed encoder can be transferred to the intent classification task, yielding strong results across three diverse data sets. ConveRT trains substantially faster than standard sentence encoders or previous state-of-the-art dual encoders. With its reduced size and superior performance, we believe this model promises wider portability and scalability for Conversational AI applications.

2019

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Data Collection and End-to-End Learning for Conversational AI
Tsung-Hsien Wen | Pei-Hao Su | Paweł Budzianowski | Iñigo Casanueva | Ivan Vulić
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing and the 9th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (EMNLP-IJCNLP): Tutorial Abstracts

A fundamental long-term goal of conversational AI is to merge two main dialogue system paradigms into a standalone multi-purpose system. Such a system should be capable of conversing about arbitrary topics (Paradigm 1: open-domain dialogue systems), and simultaneously assist humans with completing a wide range of tasks with well-defined semantics such as restaurant search and booking, customer service applications, or ticket bookings (Paradigm 2: task-based dialogue systems).The recent developmental leaps in conversational AI technology are undoubtedly linked to more and more sophisticated deep learning algorithms that capture patterns in increasing amounts of data generated by various data collection mechanisms. The goal of this tutorial is therefore twofold. First, it aims at familiarising the research community with the recent advances in algorithmic design of statistical dialogue systems for both open-domain and task-based dialogue paradigms. The focus of the tutorial is on recently introduced end-to-end learning for dialogue systems and their relation to more common modular systems. In theory, learning end-to-end from data offers seamless and unprecedented portability of dialogue systems to a wide spectrum of tasks and languages. From a practical point of view, there are still plenty of research challenges and opportunities remaining: in this tutorial we analyse this gap between theory and practice, and introduce the research community with the main advantages as well as with key practical limitations of current end-to-end dialogue learning.The critical requirement of each statistical dialogue system is the data at hand. The system cannot provide assistance for the task without having appropriate task-related data to learn from. Therefore, the second major goal of this tutorial is to provide a comprehensive overview of the current approaches to data collection for dialogue, and analyse the current gaps and challenges with diverse data collection protocols, as well as their relation to and current limitations of data-driven end-to-end dialogue modeling. We will again analyse this relation and limitations both from research and industry perspective, and provide key insights on the application of state-of-the-art methodology into industry-scale conversational AI systems.

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PolyResponse: A Rank-based Approach to Task-Oriented Dialogue with Application in Restaurant Search and Booking
Matthew Henderson | Ivan Vulić | Iñigo Casanueva | Paweł Budzianowski | Daniela Gerz | Sam Coope | Georgios Spithourakis | Tsung-Hsien Wen | Nikola Mrkšić | Pei-Hao Su
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing and the 9th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (EMNLP-IJCNLP): System Demonstrations

We present PolyResponse, a conversational search engine that supports task-oriented dialogue. It is a retrieval-based approach that bypasses the complex multi-component design of traditional task-oriented dialogue systems and the use of explicit semantics in the form of task-specific ontologies. The PolyResponse engine is trained on hundreds of millions of examples extracted from real conversations: it learns what responses are appropriate in different conversational contexts. It then ranks a large index of text and visual responses according to their similarity to the given context, and narrows down the list of relevant entities during the multi-turn conversation. We introduce a restaurant search and booking system powered by the PolyResponse engine, currently available in 8 different languages.

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Proceedings of the First Workshop on NLP for Conversational AI
Yun-Nung Chen | Tania Bedrax-Weiss | Dilek Hakkani-Tur | Anuj Kumar | Mike Lewis | Thang-Minh Luong | Pei-Hao Su | Tsung-Hsien Wen
Proceedings of the First Workshop on NLP for Conversational AI

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A Repository of Conversational Datasets
Matthew Henderson | Paweł Budzianowski | Iñigo Casanueva | Sam Coope | Daniela Gerz | Girish Kumar | Nikola Mrkšić | Georgios Spithourakis | Pei-Hao Su | Ivan Vulić | Tsung-Hsien Wen
Proceedings of the First Workshop on NLP for Conversational AI

Progress in Machine Learning is often driven by the availability of large datasets, and consistent evaluation metrics for comparing modeling approaches. To this end, we present a repository of conversational datasets consisting of hundreds of millions of examples, and a standardised evaluation procedure for conversational response selection models using 1-of-100 accuracy. The repository contains scripts that allow researchers to reproduce the standard datasets, or to adapt the pre-processing and data filtering steps to their needs. We introduce and evaluate several competitive baselines for conversational response selection, whose implementations are shared in the repository, as well as a neural encoder model that is trained on the entire training set.

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Training Neural Response Selection for Task-Oriented Dialogue Systems
Matthew Henderson | Ivan Vulić | Daniela Gerz | Iñigo Casanueva | Paweł Budzianowski | Sam Coope | Georgios Spithourakis | Tsung-Hsien Wen | Nikola Mrkšić | Pei-Hao Su
Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Despite their popularity in the chatbot literature, retrieval-based models have had modest impact on task-oriented dialogue systems, with the main obstacle to their application being the low-data regime of most task-oriented dialogue tasks. Inspired by the recent success of pretraining in language modelling, we propose an effective method for deploying response selection in task-oriented dialogue. To train response selection models for task-oriented dialogue tasks, we propose a novel method which: 1) pretrains the response selection model on large general-domain conversational corpora; and then 2) fine-tunes the pretrained model for the target dialogue domain, relying only on the small in-domain dataset to capture the nuances of the given dialogue domain. Our evaluation on five diverse application domains, ranging from e-commerce to banking, demonstrates the effectiveness of the proposed training method.

2018

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Feudal Reinforcement Learning for Dialogue Management in Large Domains
Iñigo Casanueva | Paweł Budzianowski | Pei-Hao Su | Stefan Ultes | Lina M. Rojas-Barahona | Bo-Hsiang Tseng | Milica Gašić
Proceedings of the 2018 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies, Volume 2 (Short Papers)

Reinforcement learning (RL) is a promising approach to solve dialogue policy optimisation. Traditional RL algorithms, however, fail to scale to large domains due to the curse of dimensionality. We propose a novel Dialogue Management architecture, based on Feudal RL, which decomposes the decision into two steps; a first step where a master policy selects a subset of primitive actions, and a second step where a primitive action is chosen from the selected subset. The structural information included in the domain ontology is used to abstract the dialogue state space, taking the decisions at each step using different parts of the abstracted state. This, combined with an information sharing mechanism between slots, increases the scalability to large domains. We show that an implementation of this approach, based on Deep-Q Networks, significantly outperforms previous state of the art in several dialogue domains and environments, without the need of any additional reward signal.

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Deep Learning for Conversational AI
Pei-Hao Su | Nikola Mrkšić | Iñigo Casanueva | Ivan Vulić
Proceedings of the 2018 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Tutorial Abstracts

Spoken Dialogue Systems (SDS) have great commercial potential as they promise to revolutionise the way in which humans interact with machines. The advent of deep learning led to substantial developments in this area of NLP research, and the goal of this tutorial is to familiarise the research community with the recent advances in what some call the most difficult problem in NLP. From a research perspective, the design of spoken dialogue systems provides a number of significant challenges, as these systems depend on: a) solving several difficult NLP and decision-making tasks; and b) combining these into a functional dialogue system pipeline. A key long-term goal of dialogue system research is to enable open-domain systems that can converse about arbitrary topics and assist humans with completing a wide range of tasks. Furthermore, such systems need to autonomously learn on-line to improve their performance and recover from errors using both signals from their environment and from implicit and explicit user feedback. While the design of such systems has traditionally been modular, domain and language-specific, advances in deep learning have alleviated many of the design problems. The main purpose of this tutorial is to encourage dialogue research in the NLP community by providing the research background, a survey of available resources, and giving key insights to application of state-of-the-art SDS methodology into industry-scale conversational AI systems. We plan to introduce researchers to the pipeline framework for modelling goal-oriented dialogue systems, which includes three key components: 1) Language Understanding; 2) Dialogue Management; and 3) Language Generation. The differences between goal-oriented dialogue systems and chat-bot style conversational agents will be explained in order to show the motivation behind the design of both, with the main focus on the pipeline SDS framework. For each key component, we will define the research problem, provide a brief literature review and introduce the current state-of-the-art approaches. Complementary resources (e.g. available datasets and toolkits) will also be discussed. Finally, future work, outstanding challenges, and current industry practices will be presented. All of the presented material will be made available online for future reference.

2017

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A Network-based End-to-End Trainable Task-oriented Dialogue System
Tsung-Hsien Wen | David Vandyke | Nikola Mrkšić | Milica Gašić | Lina M. Rojas-Barahona | Pei-Hao Su | Stefan Ultes | Steve Young
Proceedings of the 15th Conference of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Volume 1, Long Papers

Teaching machines to accomplish tasks by conversing naturally with humans is challenging. Currently, developing task-oriented dialogue systems requires creating multiple components and typically this involves either a large amount of handcrafting, or acquiring costly labelled datasets to solve a statistical learning problem for each component. In this work we introduce a neural network-based text-in, text-out end-to-end trainable goal-oriented dialogue system along with a new way of collecting dialogue data based on a novel pipe-lined Wizard-of-Oz framework. This approach allows us to develop dialogue systems easily and without making too many assumptions about the task at hand. The results show that the model can converse with human subjects naturally whilst helping them to accomplish tasks in a restaurant search domain.

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Reward-Balancing for Statistical Spoken Dialogue Systems using Multi-objective Reinforcement Learning
Stefan Ultes | Paweł Budzianowski | Iñigo Casanueva | Nikola Mrkšić | Lina M. Rojas-Barahona | Pei-Hao Su | Tsung-Hsien Wen | Milica Gašić | Steve Young
Proceedings of the 18th Annual SIGdial Meeting on Discourse and Dialogue

Reinforcement learning is widely used for dialogue policy optimization where the reward function often consists of more than one component, e.g., the dialogue success and the dialogue length. In this work, we propose a structured method for finding a good balance between these components by searching for the optimal reward component weighting. To render this search feasible, we use multi-objective reinforcement learning to significantly reduce the number of training dialogues required. We apply our proposed method to find optimized component weights for six domains and compare them to a default baseline.

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Sub-domain Modelling for Dialogue Management with Hierarchical Reinforcement Learning
Paweł Budzianowski | Stefan Ultes | Pei-Hao Su | Nikola Mrkšić | Tsung-Hsien Wen | Iñigo Casanueva | Lina M. Rojas-Barahona | Milica Gašić
Proceedings of the 18th Annual SIGdial Meeting on Discourse and Dialogue

Human conversation is inherently complex, often spanning many different topics/domains. This makes policy learning for dialogue systems very challenging. Standard flat reinforcement learning methods do not provide an efficient framework for modelling such dialogues. In this paper, we focus on the under-explored problem of multi-domain dialogue management. First, we propose a new method for hierarchical reinforcement learning using the option framework. Next, we show that the proposed architecture learns faster and arrives at a better policy than the existing flat ones do. Moreover, we show how pretrained policies can be adapted to more complex systems with an additional set of new actions. In doing that, we show that our approach has the potential to facilitate policy optimisation for more sophisticated multi-domain dialogue systems.

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Sample-efficient Actor-Critic Reinforcement Learning with Supervised Data for Dialogue Management
Pei-Hao Su | Paweł Budzianowski | Stefan Ultes | Milica Gašić | Steve Young
Proceedings of the 18th Annual SIGdial Meeting on Discourse and Dialogue

Deep reinforcement learning (RL) methods have significant potential for dialogue policy optimisation. However, they suffer from a poor performance in the early stages of learning. This is especially problematic for on-line learning with real users. Two approaches are introduced to tackle this problem. Firstly, to speed up the learning process, two sample-efficient neural networks algorithms: trust region actor-critic with experience replay (TRACER) and episodic natural actor-critic with experience replay (eNACER) are presented. For TRACER, the trust region helps to control the learning step size and avoid catastrophic model changes. For eNACER, the natural gradient identifies the steepest ascent direction in policy space to speed up the convergence. Both models employ off-policy learning with experience replay to improve sample-efficiency. Secondly, to mitigate the cold start issue, a corpus of demonstration data is utilised to pre-train the models prior to on-line reinforcement learning. Combining these two approaches, we demonstrate a practical approach to learn deep RL-based dialogue policies and demonstrate their effectiveness in a task-oriented information seeking domain.

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PyDial: A Multi-domain Statistical Dialogue System Toolkit
Stefan Ultes | Lina M. Rojas-Barahona | Pei-Hao Su | David Vandyke | Dongho Kim | Iñigo Casanueva | Paweł Budzianowski | Nikola Mrkšić | Tsung-Hsien Wen | Milica Gašić | Steve Young
Proceedings of ACL 2017, System Demonstrations

2016

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On-line Active Reward Learning for Policy Optimisation in Spoken Dialogue Systems
Pei-Hao Su | Milica Gašić | Nikola Mrkšić | Lina M. Rojas-Barahona | Stefan Ultes | David Vandyke | Tsung-Hsien Wen | Steve Young
Proceedings of the 54th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

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Multi-domain Neural Network Language Generation for Spoken Dialogue Systems
Tsung-Hsien Wen | Milica Gašić | Nikola Mrkšić | Lina M. Rojas-Barahona | Pei-Hao Su | David Vandyke | Steve Young
Proceedings of the 2016 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

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Counter-fitting Word Vectors to Linguistic Constraints
Nikola Mrkšić | Diarmuid Ó Séaghdha | Blaise Thomson | Milica Gašić | Lina M. Rojas-Barahona | Pei-Hao Su | David Vandyke | Tsung-Hsien Wen | Steve Young
Proceedings of the 2016 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

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Exploiting Sentence and Context Representations in Deep Neural Models for Spoken Language Understanding
Lina M. Rojas-Barahona | Milica Gašić | Nikola Mrkšić | Pei-Hao Su | Stefan Ultes | Tsung-Hsien Wen | Steve Young
Proceedings of COLING 2016, the 26th International Conference on Computational Linguistics: Technical Papers

This paper presents a deep learning architecture for the semantic decoder component of a Statistical Spoken Dialogue System. In a slot-filling dialogue, the semantic decoder predicts the dialogue act and a set of slot-value pairs from a set of n-best hypotheses returned by the Automatic Speech Recognition. Most current models for spoken language understanding assume (i) word-aligned semantic annotations as in sequence taggers and (ii) delexicalisation, or a mapping of input words to domain-specific concepts using heuristics that try to capture morphological variation but that do not scale to other domains nor to language variation (e.g., morphology, synonyms, paraphrasing ). In this work the semantic decoder is trained using unaligned semantic annotations and it uses distributed semantic representation learning to overcome the limitations of explicit delexicalisation. The proposed architecture uses a convolutional neural network for the sentence representation and a long-short term memory network for the context representation. Results are presented for the publicly available DSTC2 corpus and an In-car corpus which is similar to DSTC2 but has a significantly higher word error rate (WER).

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Conditional Generation and Snapshot Learning in Neural Dialogue Systems
Tsung-Hsien Wen | Milica Gašić | Nikola Mrkšić | Lina M. Rojas-Barahona | Pei-Hao Su | Stefan Ultes | David Vandyke | Steve Young
Proceedings of the 2016 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

2015

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Semantically Conditioned LSTM-based Natural Language Generation for Spoken Dialogue Systems
Tsung-Hsien Wen | Milica Gašić | Nikola Mrkšić | Pei-Hao Su | David Vandyke | Steve Young
Proceedings of the 2015 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

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Multi-domain Dialog State Tracking using Recurrent Neural Networks
Nikola Mrkšić | Diarmuid Ó Séaghdha | Blaise Thomson | Milica Gašić | Pei-Hao Su | David Vandyke | Tsung-Hsien Wen | Steve Young
Proceedings of the 53rd Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 7th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (Volume 2: Short Papers)

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Stochastic Language Generation in Dialogue using Recurrent Neural Networks with Convolutional Sentence Reranking
Tsung-Hsien Wen | Milica Gašić | Dongho Kim | Nikola Mrkšić | Pei-Hao Su | David Vandyke | Steve Young
Proceedings of the 16th Annual Meeting of the Special Interest Group on Discourse and Dialogue

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Hyper-parameter Optimisation of Gaussian Process Reinforcement Learning for Statistical Dialogue Management
Lu Chen | Pei-Hao Su | Milica Gašić
Proceedings of the 16th Annual Meeting of the Special Interest Group on Discourse and Dialogue

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Learning Domain-Independent Dialogue Policies via Ontology Parameterisation
Zhuoran Wang | Tsung-Hsien Wen | Pei-Hao Su | Yannis Stylianou
Proceedings of the 16th Annual Meeting of the Special Interest Group on Discourse and Dialogue

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Reward Shaping with Recurrent Neural Networks for Speeding up On-Line Policy Learning in Spoken Dialogue Systems
Pei-Hao Su | David Vandyke | Milica Gašić | Nikola Mrkšić | Tsung-Hsien Wen | Steve Young
Proceedings of the 16th Annual Meeting of the Special Interest Group on Discourse and Dialogue