Samuel Coope


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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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Span-ConveRT: Few-shot Span Extraction for Dialog with Pretrained Conversational Representations
Samuel Coope | Tyler Farghly | Daniela Gerz | Ivan Vulić | Matthew Henderson
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

We introduce Span-ConveRT, a light-weight model for dialog slot-filling which frames the task as a turn-based span extraction task. This formulation allows for a simple integration of conversational knowledge coded in large pretrained conversational models such as ConveRT (Henderson et al., 2019). We show that leveraging such knowledge in Span-ConveRT is especially useful for few-shot learning scenarios: we report consistent gains over 1) a span extractor that trains representations from scratch in the target domain, and 2) a BERT-based span extractor. In order to inspire more work on span extraction for the slot-filling task, we also release RESTAURANTS-8K, a new challenging data set of 8,198 utterances, compiled from actual conversations in the restaurant booking domain.