Current virtual assistant (VA) platforms are beholden to the limited number of languages they support. Every component, such as the tokenizer and intent classifier, is engineered for specific languages in these intricate platforms. Thus, supporting a new language in such platforms is a resource-intensive operation requiring expensive re-training and re-designing. In this paper, we propose a benchmark for evaluating language-agnostic intent classification, the most critical component of VA platforms. To ensure the benchmarking is challenging and comprehensive, we include 29 public and internal datasets across 10 low-resource languages and evaluate various training and testing settings with consideration of both accuracy and training time. The benchmarking result shows that Watson Assistant, among 7 commercial VA platforms and pre-trained multilingual language models (LMs), demonstrates close-to-best accuracy with the best accuracy-training time trade-off.
Dialogue systems can benefit from being able to search through a corpus of text to find information relevant to user requests, especially when encountering a request for which no manually curated response is available. The state-of-the-art technology for neural dense retrieval or re-ranking involves deep learning models with hundreds of millions of parameters. However, it is difficult and expensive to get such models to operate at an industrial scale, especially for cloud services that often need to support a big number of individually customized dialogue systems, each with its own text corpus. We report our work on enabling advanced neural dense retrieval systems to operate effectively at scale on relatively inexpensive hardware. We compare with leading alternative industrial solutions and show that we can provide a solution that is effective, fast, and cost-efficient.
Out of Scope (OOS) detection in Conversational AI solutions enables a chatbot to handle a conversation gracefully when it is unable to make sense of the end-user query. Accurately tagging a query as out-of-domain is particularly hard in scenarios when the chatbot is not equipped to handle a topic which has semantic overlap with an existing topic it is trained on. We propose a simple yet effective OOS detection method that outperforms standard OOS detection methods in a real-world deployment of virtual assistants. We discuss the various design and deployment considerations for a cloud platform solution to train virtual assistants and deploy them at scale. Additionally, we propose a collection of datasets that replicates real-world scenarios and show comprehensive results in various settings using both offline and online evaluation metrics.
We propose a simple method to align multilingual contextual embeddings as a post-pretraining step for improved cross-lingual transferability of the pretrained language models. Using parallel data, our method aligns embeddings on the word level through the recently proposed Translation Language Modeling objective as well as on the sentence level via contrastive learning and random input shuffling. We also perform sentence-level code-switching with English when finetuning on downstream tasks. On XNLI, our best model (initialized from mBERT) improves over mBERT by 4.7% in the zero-shot setting and achieves comparable result to XLM for translate-train while using less than 18% of the same parallel data and 31% fewer model parameters. On MLQA, our model outperforms XLM-R_Base, which has 57% more parameters than ours.
Intent detection is a key component of modern goal-oriented dialog systems that accomplish a user task by predicting the intent of users’ text input. There are three primary challenges in designing robust and accurate intent detection models. First, typical intent detection models require a large amount of labeled data to achieve high accuracy. Unfortunately, in practical scenarios it is more common to find small, unbalanced, and noisy datasets. Secondly, even with large training data, the intent detection models can see a different distribution of test data when being deployed in the real world, leading to poor accuracy. Finally, a practical intent detection model must be computationally efficient in both training and single query inference so that it can be used continuously and re-trained frequently. We benchmark intent detection methods on a variety of datasets. Our results show that Watson Assistant’s intent detection model outperforms other commercial solutions and is comparable to large pretrained language models while requiring only a fraction of computational resources and training data. Watson Assistant demonstrates a higher degree of robustness when the training and test distributions differ.
Abstract Recent advancements in open-domain question answering (ODQA), that is, finding answers from large open-domain corpus like Wikipedia, have led to human-level performance on many datasets. However, progress in QA over book stories (Book QA) lags despite its similar task formulation to ODQA. This work provides a comprehensive and quantitative analysis about the difficulty of Book QA: (1) We benchmark the research on the NarrativeQA dataset with extensive experiments with cutting-edge ODQA techniques. This quantifies the challenges Book QA poses, as well as advances the published state-of-the-art with a ∼7% absolute improvement on ROUGE-L. (2) We further analyze the detailed challenges in Book QA through human studies.1 Our findings indicate that the event-centric questions dominate this task, which exemplifies the inability of existing QA models to handle event-oriented scenarios.
A lot of progress has been made to improve question answering (QA) in recent years, but the special problem of QA over narrative book stories has not been explored in-depth. We formulate BookQA as an open-domain QA task given its similar dependency on evidence retrieval. We further investigate how state-of-the-art open-domain QA approaches can help BookQA. Besides achieving state-of-the-art on the NarrativeQA benchmark, our study also reveals the difficulty of evidence retrieval in books with a wealth of experiments and analysis - which necessitates future effort on novel solutions for evidence retrieval in BookQA.
Out-of-domain (OOD) detection for low-resource text classification is a realistic but understudied task. The goal is to detect the OOD cases with limited in-domain (ID) training data, since in machine learning applications we observe that training data is often insufficient. In this work, we propose an OOD-resistant Prototypical Network to tackle this zero-shot OOD detection and few-shot ID classification task. Evaluations on real-world datasets show that the proposed solution outperforms state-of-the-art methods in zero-shot OOD detection task, while maintaining a competitive performance on ID classification task.
In multi-party chat, it is common for multiple conversations to occur concurrently, leading to intermingled conversation threads in chat logs. In this work, we propose a novel Context-Aware Thread Detection (CATD) model that automatically disentangles these conversation threads. We evaluate our model on four real-world datasets and demonstrate an overall im-provement in thread detection accuracy over state-of-the-art benchmarks.
Many approaches to extract multiple relations from a paragraph require multiple passes over the paragraph. In practice, multiple passes are computationally expensive and this makes difficult to scale to longer paragraphs and larger text corpora. In this work, we focus on the task of multiple relation extractions by encoding the paragraph only once. We build our solution upon the pre-trained self-attentive models (Transformer), where we first add a structured prediction layer to handle extraction between multiple entity pairs, then enhance the paragraph embedding to capture multiple relational information associated with each entity with entity-aware attention. We show that our approach is not only scalable but can also perform state-of-the-art on the standard benchmark ACE 2005.
We study few-shot learning in natural language domains. Compared to many existing works that apply either metric-based or optimization-based meta-learning to image domain with low inter-task variance, we consider a more realistic setting, where tasks are diverse. However, it imposes tremendous difficulties to existing state-of-the-art metric-based algorithms since a single metric is insufficient to capture complex task variations in natural language domain. To alleviate the problem, we propose an adaptive metric learning approach that automatically determines the best weighted combination from a set of metrics obtained from meta-training tasks for a newly seen few-shot task. Extensive quantitative evaluations on real-world sentiment analysis and dialog intent classification datasets demonstrate that the proposed method performs favorably against state-of-the-art few shot learning algorithms in terms of predictive accuracy. We make our code and data available for further study.