Rahul Goel


2022

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TableFormer: Robust Transformer Modeling for Table-Text Encoding
Jingfeng Yang | Aditya Gupta | Shyam Upadhyay | Luheng He | Rahul Goel | Shachi Paul
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Understanding tables is an important aspect of natural language understanding. Existing models for table understanding require linearization of the table structure, where row or column order is encoded as an unwanted bias. Such spurious biases make the model vulnerable to row and column order perturbations. Additionally, prior work has not thoroughly modeled the table structures or table-text alignments, hindering the table-text understanding ability. In this work, we propose a robust and structurally aware table-text encoding architecture TableFormer, where tabular structural biases are incorporated completely through learnable attention biases. TableFormer is (1) strictly invariant to row and column orders, and, (2) could understand tables better due to its tabular inductive biases. Our evaluations showed that TableFormer outperforms strong baselines in all settings on SQA, WTQ and TabFact table reasoning datasets, and achieves state-of-the-art performance on SQA, especially when facing answer-invariant row and column order perturbations (6% improvement over the best baseline), because previous SOTA models’ performance drops by 4% - 6% when facing such perturbations while TableFormer is not affected.

2021

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Alexa Conversations: An Extensible Data-driven Approach for Building Task-oriented Dialogue Systems
Anish Acharya | Suranjit Adhikari | Sanchit Agarwal | Vincent Auvray | Nehal Belgamwar | Arijit Biswas | Shubhra Chandra | Tagyoung Chung | Maryam Fazel-Zarandi | Raefer Gabriel | Shuyang Gao | Rahul Goel | Dilek Hakkani-Tur | Jan Jezabek | Abhay Jha | Jiun-Yu Kao | Prakash Krishnan | Peter Ku | Anuj Goyal | Chien-Wei Lin | Qing Liu | Arindam Mandal | Angeliki Metallinou | Vishal Naik | Yi Pan | Shachi Paul | Vittorio Perera | Abhishek Sethi | Minmin Shen | Nikko Strom | Eddie Wang
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies: Demonstrations

Traditional goal-oriented dialogue systems rely on various components such as natural language understanding, dialogue state tracking, policy learning and response generation. Training each component requires annotations which are hard to obtain for every new domain, limiting scalability of such systems. Similarly, rule-based dialogue systems require extensive writing and maintenance of rules and do not scale either. End-to-End dialogue systems, on the other hand, do not require module-specific annotations but need a large amount of data for training. To overcome these problems, in this demo, we present Alexa Conversations, a new approach for building goal-oriented dialogue systems that is scalable, extensible as well as data efficient. The components of this system are trained in a data-driven manner, but instead of collecting annotated conversations for training, we generate them using a novel dialogue simulator based on a few seed dialogues and specifications of APIs and entities provided by the developer. Our approach provides out-of-the-box support for natural conversational phenomenon like entity sharing across turns or users changing their mind during conversation without requiring developers to provide any such dialogue flows. We exemplify our approach using a simple pizza ordering task and showcase its value in reducing the developer burden for creating a robust experience. Finally, we evaluate our system using a typical movie ticket booking task integrated with live APIs and show that the dialogue simulator is an essential component of the system that leads to over 50% improvement in turn-level action signature prediction accuracy.

2020

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MultiWOZ 2.1: A Consolidated Multi-Domain Dialogue Dataset with State Corrections and State Tracking Baselines
Mihail Eric | Rahul Goel | Shachi Paul | Abhishek Sethi | Sanchit Agarwal | Shuyang Gao | Adarsh Kumar | Anuj Goyal | Peter Ku | Dilek Hakkani-Tur
Proceedings of the 12th Language Resources and Evaluation Conference

MultiWOZ 2.0 (Budzianowski et al., 2018) is a recently released multi-domain dialogue dataset spanning 7 distinct domains and containing over 10,000 dialogues. Though immensely useful and one of the largest resources of its kind to-date, MultiWOZ 2.0 has a few shortcomings. Firstly, there are substantial noise in the dialogue state annotations and dialogue utterances which negatively impact the performance of state-tracking models. Secondly, follow-up work (Lee et al., 2019) has augmented the original dataset with user dialogue acts. This leads to multiple co-existent versions of the same dataset with minor modifications. In this work we tackle the aforementioned issues by introducing MultiWOZ 2.1. To fix the noisy state annotations, we use crowdsourced workers to re-annotate state and utterances based on the original utterances in the dataset. This correction process results in changes to over 32% of state annotations across 40% of the dialogue turns. In addition, we fix 146 dialogue utterances by canonicalizing slot values in the utterances to the values in the dataset ontology. To address the second problem, we combined the contributions of the follow-up works into MultiWOZ 2.1. Hence, our dataset also includes user dialogue acts as well as multiple slot descriptions per dialogue state slot. We then benchmark a number of state-of-the-art dialogue state tracking models on the MultiWOZ 2.1 dataset and show the joint state tracking performance on the corrected state annotations. We are publicly releasing MultiWOZ 2.1 to the community, hoping that this dataset resource will allow for more effective models across various dialogue subproblems to be built in the future.

2019

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Practical Semantic Parsing for Spoken Language Understanding
Marco Damonte | Rahul Goel | Tagyoung Chung
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies, Volume 2 (Industry Papers)

Executable semantic parsing is the task of converting natural language utterances into logical forms that can be directly used as queries to get a response. We build a transfer learning framework for executable semantic parsing. We show that the framework is effective for Question Answering (Q&A) as well as for Spoken Language Understanding (SLU). We further investigate the case where a parser on a new domain can be learned by exploiting data on other domains, either via multi-task learning between the target domain and an auxiliary domain or via pre-training on the auxiliary domain and fine-tuning on the target domain. With either flavor of transfer learning, we are able to improve performance on most domains; we experiment with public data sets such as Overnight and NLmaps as well as with commercial SLU data. The experiments carried out on data sets that are different in nature show how executable semantic parsing can unify different areas of NLP such as Q&A and SLU.

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Towards Coherent and Engaging Spoken Dialog Response Generation Using Automatic Conversation Evaluators
Sanghyun Yi | Rahul Goel | Chandra Khatri | Alessandra Cervone | Tagyoung Chung | Behnam Hedayatnia | Anu Venkatesh | Raefer Gabriel | Dilek Hakkani-Tur
Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Natural Language Generation

Encoder-decoder based neural architectures serve as the basis of state-of-the-art approaches in end-to-end open domain dialog systems. Since most of such systems are trained with a maximum likelihood (MLE) objective they suffer from issues such as lack of generalizability and the generic response problem, i.e., a system response that can be an answer to a large number of user utterances, e.g., “Maybe, I don’t know.” Having explicit feedback on the relevance and interestingness of a system response at each turn can be a useful signal for mitigating such issues and improving system quality by selecting responses from different approaches. Towards this goal, we present a system that evaluates chatbot responses at each dialog turn for coherence and engagement. Our system provides explicit turn-level dialog quality feedback, which we show to be highly correlated with human evaluation. To show that incorporating this feedback in the neural response generation models improves dialog quality, we present two different and complementary mechanisms to incorporate explicit feedback into a neural response generation model: reranking and direct modification of the loss function during training. Our studies show that a response generation model that incorporates these combined feedback mechanisms produce more engaging and coherent responses in an open-domain spoken dialog setting, significantly improving the response quality using both automatic and human evaluation.

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Natural Language Generation at Scale: A Case Study for Open Domain Question Answering
Alessandra Cervone | Chandra Khatri | Rahul Goel | Behnam Hedayatnia | Anu Venkatesh | Dilek Hakkani-Tur | Raefer Gabriel
Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Natural Language Generation

Current approaches to Natural Language Generation (NLG) for dialog mainly focus on domain-specific, task-oriented applications (e.g. restaurant booking) using limited ontologies (up to 20 slot types), usually without considering the previous conversation context. Furthermore, these approaches require large amounts of data for each domain, and do not benefit from examples that may be available for other domains. This work explores the feasibility of applying statistical NLG to scenarios requiring larger ontologies, such as multi-domain dialog applications or open-domain question answering (QA) based on knowledge graphs. We model NLG through an Encoder-Decoder framework using a large dataset of interactions between real-world users and a conversational agent for open-domain QA. First, we investigate the impact of increasing the number of slot types on the generation quality and experiment with different partitions of the QA data with progressively larger ontologies (up to 369 slot types). Second, we perform multi-task learning experiments between open-domain QA and task-oriented dialog, and benchmark our model on a popular NLG dataset. Moreover, we experiment with using the conversational context as an additional input to improve response generation quality. Our experiments show the feasibility of learning statistical NLG models for open-domain QA with larger ontologies.