Rajen Subba


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An Analysis of State-of-the-Art Models for Situated Interactive MultiModal Conversations (SIMMC)
Satwik Kottur | Paul Crook | Seungwhan Moon | Ahmad Beirami | Eunjoon Cho | Rajen Subba | Alborz Geramifard
Proceedings of the 22nd Annual Meeting of the Special Interest Group on Discourse and Dialogue

There is a growing interest in virtual assistants with multimodal capabilities, e.g., inferring the context of a conversation through scene understanding. The recently released situated and interactive multimodal conversations (SIMMC) dataset addresses this trend by enabling research to create virtual assistants, which are capable of taking into account the scene that user sees when conversing with the user and also interacting with items in the scene. The SIMMC dataset is novel in that it contains fully annotated user-assistant, task-orientated dialogs where the user and an assistant co-observe the same visual elements and the latter can take actions to update the scene. The SIMMC challenge, held as part of theNinth Dialog System Technology Challenge(DSTC9), propelled the development of various models which together set a new state-of-the-art on the SIMMC dataset. In this work, we compare and analyze these models to identify‘what worked?’, and the remaining gaps;‘whatnext?’. Our analysis shows that even though pretrained language models adapted to this set-ting show great promise, there are indications that multimodal context isn’t fully utilised, and there is a need for better and scalable knowledge base integration. We hope this first-of-its-kind analysis for SIMMC models provides useful insights and opportunities for further research in multimodal conversational agents

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Leveraging Slot Descriptions for Zero-Shot Cross-Domain Dialogue StateTracking
Zhaojiang Lin | Bing Liu | Seungwhan Moon | Paul Crook | Zhenpeng Zhou | Zhiguang Wang | Zhou Yu | Andrea Madotto | Eunjoon Cho | Rajen Subba
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Zero-shot cross-domain dialogue state tracking (DST) enables us to handle unseen domains without the expense of collecting in-domain data. In this paper, we propose a slot descriptions enhanced generative approach for zero-shot cross-domain DST. Specifically, our model first encodes a dialogue context and a slot with a pre-trained self-attentive encoder, and generates slot value in auto-regressive manner. In addition, we incorporate Slot Type Informed Descriptions that capture the shared information of different slots to facilitates the cross-domain knowledge transfer. Experimental results on MultiWOZ shows that our model significantly improve existing state-of-the-art results in zero-shot cross-domain setting.

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Zero-Shot Dialogue State Tracking via Cross-Task Transfer
Zhaojiang Lin | Bing Liu | Andrea Madotto | Seungwhan Moon | Zhenpeng Zhou | Paul Crook | Zhiguang Wang | Zhou Yu | Eunjoon Cho | Rajen Subba | Pascale Fung
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Zero-shot transfer learning for dialogue state tracking (DST) enables us to handle a variety of task-oriented dialogue domains without the expense of collecting in-domain data. In this work, we propose to transfer the cross-task knowledge from general question answering (QA) corpora for the zero-shot DST task. Specifically, we propose TransferQA, a transferable generative QA model that seamlessly combines extractive QA and multi-choice QA via a text-to-text transformer framework, and tracks both categorical slots and non-categorical slots in DST. In addition, we introduce two effective ways to construct unanswerable questions, namely, negative question sampling and context truncation, which enable our model to handle none value slots in the zero-shot DST setting. The extensive experiments show that our approaches substantially improve the existing zero-shot and few-shot results on MultiWoz. Moreover, compared to the fully trained baseline on the Schema-Guided Dialogue dataset, our approach shows better generalization ability in unseen domains.


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Situated and Interactive Multimodal Conversations
Seungwhan Moon | Satwik Kottur | Paul Crook | Ankita De | Shivani Poddar | Theodore Levin | David Whitney | Daniel Difranco | Ahmad Beirami | Eunjoon Cho | Rajen Subba | Alborz Geramifard
Proceedings of the 28th International Conference on Computational Linguistics

Next generation virtual assistants are envisioned to handle multimodal inputs (e.g., vision, memories of previous interactions, and the user’s utterances), and perform multimodal actions (, displaying a route while generating the system’s utterance). We introduce Situated Interactive MultiModal Conversations (SIMMC) as a new direction aimed at training agents that take multimodal actions grounded in a co-evolving multimodal input context in addition to the dialog history. We provide two SIMMC datasets totalling ~13K human-human dialogs (~169K utterances) collected using a multimodal Wizard-of-Oz (WoZ) setup, on two shopping domains: (a) furniture – grounded in a shared virtual environment; and (b) fashion – grounded in an evolving set of images. Datasets include multimodal context of the items appearing in each scene, and contextual NLU, NLG and coreference annotations using a novel and unified framework of SIMMC conversational acts for both user and assistant utterances. Finally, we present several tasks within SIMMC as objective evaluation protocols, such as structural API prediction, response generation, and dialog state tracking. We benchmark a collection of existing models on these SIMMC tasks as strong baselines, and demonstrate rich multimodal conversational interactions. Our data, annotations, and models will be made publicly available.

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Resource Constrained Dialog Policy Learning Via Differentiable Inductive Logic Programming
Zhenpeng Zhou | Ahmad Beirami | Paul Crook | Pararth Shah | Rajen Subba | Alborz Geramifard
Proceedings of the 28th International Conference on Computational Linguistics

Motivated by the needs of resource constrained dialog policy learning, we introduce dialog policy via differentiable inductive logic (DILOG). We explore the tasks of one-shot learning and zero-shot domain transfer with DILOG on SimDial and MultiWoZ. Using a single representative dialog from the restaurant domain, we train DILOG on the SimDial dataset and obtain 99+% in-domain test accuracy. We also show that the trained DILOG zero-shot transfers to all other domains with 99+% accuracy, proving the suitability of DILOG to slot-filling dialogs. We further extend our study to the MultiWoZ dataset achieving 90+% inform and success metrics. We also observe that these metrics are not capturing some of the shortcomings of DILOG in terms of false positives, prompting us to measure an auxiliary Action F1 score. We show that DILOG is 100x more data efficient than state-of-the-art neural approaches on MultiWoZ while achieving similar performance metrics. We conclude with a discussion on the strengths and weaknesses of DILOG.


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Constrained Decoding for Neural NLG from Compositional Representations in Task-Oriented Dialogue
Anusha Balakrishnan | Jinfeng Rao | Kartikeya Upasani | Michael White | Rajen Subba
Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Generating fluent natural language responses from structured semantic representations is a critical step in task-oriented conversational systems. Avenues like the E2E NLG Challenge have encouraged the development of neural approaches, particularly sequence-to-sequence (Seq2Seq) models for this problem. The semantic representations used, however, are often underspecified, which places a higher burden on the generation model for sentence planning, and also limits the extent to which generated responses can be controlled in a live system. In this paper, we (1) propose using tree-structured semantic representations, like those used in traditional rule-based NLG systems, for better discourse-level structuring and sentence-level planning; (2) introduce a challenging dataset using this representation for the weather domain; (3) introduce a constrained decoding approach for Seq2Seq models that leverages this representation to improve semantic correctness; and (4) demonstrate promising results on our dataset and the E2E dataset.

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OpenDialKG: Explainable Conversational Reasoning with Attention-based Walks over Knowledge Graphs
Seungwhan Moon | Pararth Shah | Anuj Kumar | Rajen Subba
Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

We study a conversational reasoning model that strategically traverses through a large-scale common fact knowledge graph (KG) to introduce engaging and contextually diverse entities and attributes. For this study, we collect a new Open-ended Dialog <-> KG parallel corpus called OpenDialKG, where each utterance from 15K human-to-human role-playing dialogs is manually annotated with ground-truth reference to corresponding entities and paths from a large-scale KG with 1M+ facts. We then propose the DialKG Walker model that learns the symbolic transitions of dialog contexts as structured traversals over KG, and predicts natural entities to introduce given previous dialog contexts via a novel domain-agnostic, attention-based graph path decoder. Automatic and human evaluations show that our model can retrieve more natural and human-like responses than the state-of-the-art baselines or rule-based models, in both in-domain and cross-domain tasks. The proposed model also generates a KG walk path for each entity retrieved, providing a natural way to explain conversational reasoning.

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Memory Grounded Conversational Reasoning
Seungwhan Moon | Pararth Shah | Rajen Subba | Anuj Kumar
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 demonstrate a conversational system which engages the user through a multi-modal, multi-turn dialog over the user’s memories. The system can perform QA over memories by responding to user queries to recall specific attributes and associated media (e.g. photos) of past episodic memories. The system can also make proactive suggestions to surface related events or facts from past memories to make conversations more engaging and natural. To implement such a system, we collect a new corpus of memory grounded conversations, which comprises human-to-human role-playing dialogs given synthetic memory graphs with simulated attributes. Our proof-of-concept system operates on these synthetic memory graphs, however it can be trained and applied to real-world user memory data (e.g. photo albums, etc.) We present the architecture of the proposed conversational system, and example queries that the system supports.

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A Tree-to-Sequence Model for Neural NLG in Task-Oriented Dialog
Jinfeng Rao | Kartikeya Upasani | Anusha Balakrishnan | Michael White | Anuj Kumar | Rajen Subba
Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Natural Language Generation

Generating fluent natural language responses from structured semantic representations is a critical step in task-oriented conversational systems. Sequence-to-sequence models on flat meaning representations (MR) have been dominant in this task, for example in the E2E NLG Challenge. Previous work has shown that a tree-structured MR can improve the model for better discourse-level structuring and sentence-level planning. In this work, we propose a tree-to-sequence model that uses a tree-LSTM encoder to leverage the tree structures in the input MR, and further enhance the decoding by a structure-enhanced attention mechanism. In addition, we explore combining these enhancements with constrained decoding to improve semantic correctness. Our experiments not only show significant improvements over standard seq2seq baselines, but also is more data-efficient and generalizes better to hard scenarios.

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Memory Graph Networks for Explainable Memory-grounded Question Answering
Seungwhan Moon | Pararth Shah | Anuj Kumar | Rajen Subba
Proceedings of the 23rd Conference on Computational Natural Language Learning (CoNLL)

We introduce Episodic Memory QA, the task of answering personal user questions grounded on memory graph (MG), where episodic memories and related entity nodes are connected via relational edges. We create a new benchmark dataset first by generating synthetic memory graphs with simulated attributes, and by composing 100K QA pairs for the generated MG with bootstrapped scripts. To address the unique challenges for the proposed task, we propose Memory Graph Networks (MGN), a novel extension of memory networks to enable dynamic expansion of memory slots through graph traversals, thus able to answer queries in which contexts from multiple linked episodes and external knowledge are required. We then propose the Episodic Memory QA Net with multiple module networks to effectively handle various question types. Empirical results show improvement over the QA baselines in top-k answer prediction accuracy in the proposed task. The proposed model also generates a graph walk path and attention vectors for each predicted answer, providing a natural way to explain its QA reasoning.

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Generate, Filter, and Rank: Grammaticality Classification for Production-Ready NLG Systems
Ashwini Challa | Kartikeya Upasani | Anusha Balakrishnan | Rajen Subba
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies, Volume 2 (Industry Papers)

Neural approaches to Natural Language Generation (NLG) have been promising for goal-oriented dialogue. One of the challenges of productionizing these approaches, however, is the ability to control response quality, and ensure that generated responses are acceptable. We propose the use of a generate, filter, and rank framework, in which candidate responses are first filtered to eliminate unacceptable responses, and then ranked to select the best response. While acceptability includes grammatical correctness and semantic correctness, we focus only on grammaticality classification in this paper, and show that existing datasets for grammatical error correction don’t correctly capture the distribution of errors that data-driven generators are likely to make. We release a grammatical classification and semantic correctness classification dataset for the weather domain that consists of responses generated by 3 data-driven NLG systems. We then explore two supervised learning approaches (CNNs and GBDTs) for classifying grammaticality. Our experiments show that grammaticality classification is very sensitive to the distribution of errors in the data, and that these distributions vary significantly with both the source of the response as well as the domain. We show that it’s possible to achieve high precision with reasonable recall on our dataset.


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An effective Discourse Parser that uses Rich Linguistic Information
Rajen Subba | Barbara Di Eugenio
Proceedings of Human Language Technologies: The 2009 Annual Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics


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Exploiting Event Semantics to Parse the Rhetorical Structure of Natural Language Text
Rajen Subba
Proceedings of the NAACL-HLT 2007 Doctoral Consortium


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Building lexical resources for PrincPar, a large coverage parser that generates principled semantic representations
Rajen Subba | Barbara Di Eugenio | Elena Terenzi
Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation (LREC’06)

Parsing, one of the more successful areas of Natural Language Processing has mostly been concerned with syntactic structure. Though uncovering the syntactic structure of sentences is very important, in many applications a meaningrepresentation for the input must be derived as well. We report on PrincPar, a parser that builds full meaning representations. It integrates LCFLEX, a robust parser, with alexicon and ontology derived from two lexical resources, VerbNet and CoreLex that represent the semantics of verbs and nouns respectively. We show that these two different lexical resources that focus on verbs and nouns can be successfully integrated. We report parsing results on a corpus of instructional text and assess the coverage of those lexical resources. Our evaluation metric is the number of verb frames that are assigned a correct semantics: 72.2% verb frames are assigned a perfect semantics, and another 10.9% are assigned a partially correctsemantics. Our ultimate goal is to develop a (semi)automatic method to derive domain knowledge from instructional text, in the form of linguistically motivated action schemes.

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The problem of ontology alignment on the Web: A first report
Davide Fossati | Gabriele Ghidoni | Barbara Di Eugenio | Isabel Cruz | Huiyong Xiao | Rajen Subba
Proceedings of the 2nd International Workshop on Web as Corpus

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Discourse Parsing: Learning FOL Rules based on Rich Verb Semantic Representations to automatically label Rhetorical Relations
Rajen Subba | Barbara Di Eugenio | Su Nam Kim
Proceedings of the Workshop on Learning Structured Information in Natural Language Applications