Saurav Sahay


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Inspecting Spoken Language Understanding from Kids for Basic Math Learning at Home
Eda Okur | Roddy Fuentes Alba | Saurav Sahay | Lama Nachman
Proceedings of the 18th Workshop on Innovative Use of NLP for Building Educational Applications (BEA 2023)

Enriching the quality of early childhood education with interactive math learning at home systems, empowered by recent advances in conversational AI technologies, is slowly becoming a reality. With this motivation, we implement a multimodal dialogue system to support play-based learning experiences at home, guiding kids to master basic math concepts. This work explores Spoken Language Understanding (SLU) pipeline within a task-oriented dialogue system developed for Kid Space, with cascading Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) and Natural Language Understanding (NLU) components evaluated on our home deployment data with kids going through gamified math learning activities. We validate the advantages of a multi-task architecture for NLU and experiment with a diverse set of pretrained language representations for Intent Recognition and Entity Extraction tasks in the math learning domain. To recognize kids’ speech in realistic home environments, we investigate several ASR systems, including the commercial Google Cloud and the latest open-source Whisper solutions with varying model sizes. We evaluate the SLU pipeline by testing our best-performing NLU models on noisy ASR output to inspect the challenges of understanding children for math learning in authentic homes.

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Position Matters! Empirical Study of Order Effect in Knowledge-grounded Dialogue
Hsuan Su | Shachi H. Kumar | Sahisnu Mazumder | Wenda Chen | Ramesh Manuvinakurike | Eda Okur | Saurav Sahay | Lama Nachman | Shang-Tse Chen | Hung-yi Lee
Proceedings of the Third DialDoc Workshop on Document-grounded Dialogue and Conversational Question Answering

With the power of large pretrained language models, various research works have integrated knowledge into dialogue systems. The traditional techniques treat knowledge as part of the input sequence for the dialogue system, prepending a set of knowledge statements in front of dialogue history. However, such a mechanism forces knowledge sets to be concatenated in an ordered manner, making models implicitly pay imbalanced attention to the sets during training. In this paper, we first investigate how the order of the knowledge set can influence autoregressive dialogue systems’ responses. We conduct experiments on two commonly used dialogue datasets with two types of transformer-based models and find that models view the input knowledge unequally. To this end, we propose a simple and novel technique to alleviate the order effect by modifying the position embeddings of knowledge input in these models. With the proposed position embedding method, the experimental results show that each knowledge statement is uniformly considered to generate responses.


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Cue-bot: A Conversational Agent for Assistive Technology
Shachi H Kumar | Hsuan Su | Ramesh Manuvinakurike | Maximilian C. Pinaroc | Sai Prasad | Saurav Sahay | Lama Nachman
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics: System Demonstrations

Intelligent conversational assistants have become an integral part of our lives for performing simple tasks. However, such agents, for example, Google bots, Alexa and others are yet to have any social impact on minority population, for example, for people with neurological disorders and people with speech, language and social communication disorders, sometimes with locked-in states where speaking or typing is a challenge. Language model technologies can be very powerful tools in enabling these users to carry out daily communication and social interactions. In this work, we present a system that users with varied levels of disabilties can use to interact with the world, supported by eye-tracking, mouse controls and an intelligent agent Cue-bot, that can represent the user in a conversation. The agent provides relevant controllable ‘cues’ to generate desirable responses quickly for an ongoing dialog context. In the context of usage of such systems for people with degenerative disorders, we present automatic and human evaluation of our cue/keyword predictor and the controllable dialog system and show that our models perform significantly better than models without control and can also reduce user effort (fewer keystrokes) and speed up communication (typing time) significantly.

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Data Augmentation with Paraphrase Generation and Entity Extraction for Multimodal Dialogue System
Eda Okur | Saurav Sahay | Lama Nachman
Proceedings of the Thirteenth Language Resources and Evaluation Conference

Contextually aware intelligent agents are often required to understand the users and their surroundings in real-time. Our goal is to build Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems that can assist children in their learning process. Within such complex frameworks, Spoken Dialogue Systems (SDS) are crucial building blocks to handle efficient task-oriented communication with children in game-based learning settings. We are working towards a multimodal dialogue system for younger kids learning basic math concepts. Our focus is on improving the Natural Language Understanding (NLU) module of the task-oriented SDS pipeline with limited datasets. This work explores the potential benefits of data augmentation with paraphrase generation for the NLU models trained on small task-specific datasets. We also investigate the effects of extracting entities for conceivably further data expansion. We have shown that paraphrasing with model-in-the-loop (MITL) strategies using small seed data is a promising approach yielding improved performance results for the Intent Recognition task.

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NLU for Game-based Learning in Real: Initial Evaluations
Eda Okur | Saurav Sahay | Lama Nachman
Proceedings of the 9th Workshop on Games and Natural Language Processing within the 13th Language Resources and Evaluation Conference

Intelligent systems designed for play-based interactions should be contextually aware of the users and their surroundings. Spoken Dialogue Systems (SDS) are critical for these interactive agents to carry out effective goal-oriented communication with users in real-time. For the real-world (i.e., in-the-wild) deployment of such conversational agents, improving the Natural Language Understanding (NLU) module of the goal-oriented SDS pipeline is crucial, especially with limited task-specific datasets. This study explores the potential benefits of a recently proposed transformer-based multi-task NLU architecture, mainly to perform Intent Recognition on small-size domain-specific educational game datasets. The evaluation datasets were collected from children practicing basic math concepts via play-based interactions in game-based learning settings. We investigate the NLU performances on the initial proof-of-concept game datasets versus the real-world deployment datasets and observe anticipated performance drops in-the-wild. We have shown that compared to the more straightforward baseline approaches, Dual Intent and Entity Transformer (DIET) architecture is robust enough to handle real-world data to a large extent for the Intent Recognition task on these domain-specific in-the-wild game datasets.

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End-to-End Evaluation of a Spoken Dialogue System for Learning Basic Mathematics
Eda Okur | Saurav Sahay | Roddy Fuentes Alba | Lama Nachman
Proceedings of the 1st Workshop on Mathematical Natural Language Processing (MathNLP)

The advances in language-based Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies applied to build educational applications can present AI for social-good opportunities with a broader positive impact. Across many disciplines, enhancing the quality of mathematics education is crucial in building critical thinking and problem-solving skills at younger ages. Conversational AI systems have started maturing to a point where they could play a significant role in helping students learn fundamental math concepts. This work presents a task-oriented Spoken Dialogue System (SDS) built to support play-based learning of basic math concepts for early childhood education. The system has been evaluated via real-world deployments at school while the students are practicing early math concepts with multimodal interactions. We discuss our efforts to improve the SDS pipeline built for math learning, for which we explore utilizing MathBERT representations for potential enhancement to the Natural Language Understanding (NLU) module. We perform an end-to-end evaluation using real-world deployment outputs from the Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR), Intent Recognition, and Dialogue Manager (DM) components to understand how error propagation affects the overall performance in real-world scenarios.

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Seamlessly Integrating Factual Information and Social Content with Persuasive Dialogue
Maximillian Chen | Weiyan Shi | Feifan Yan | Ryan Hou | Jingwen Zhang | Saurav Sahay | Zhou Yu
Proceedings of the 2nd Conference of the Asia-Pacific Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 12th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Complex conversation settings such as persuasion involve communicating changes in attitude or behavior, so users’ perspectives need to be addressed, even when not directly related to the topic. In this work, we contribute a novel modular dialogue system framework that seamlessly integrates factual information and social content into persuasive dialogue. Our framework is generalizable to any dialogue tasks that have mixed social and task contents. We conducted a study that compared user evaluations of our framework versus a baseline end-to-end generation model. We found our model was evaluated to be more favorable in all dimensions including competence and friendliness compared to the baseline model which does not explicitly handle social content or factual questions.

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CueBot: Cue-Controlled Response Generation for Assistive Interaction Usages
Shachi H. Kumar | Hsuan Su | Ramesh Manuvinakurike | Max Pinaroc | Sai Prasad | Saurav Sahay | Lama Nachman
Ninth Workshop on Speech and Language Processing for Assistive Technologies (SLPAT-2022)

Conversational assistants are ubiquitous among the general population, however, these systems have not had an impact on people with disabilities, or speech and language disorders, for whom basic day-to-day communication and social interaction is a huge struggle. Language model technology can play a huge role in empowering these users and help them interact with others with less effort via interaction support. To enable this population, we build a system that can represent them in a social conversation and generate responses that can be controlled by the users using cues/keywords. We build models that can speed up this communication by suggesting relevant cues in the dialog response context. We also introduce a keyword-loss to lexically constrain the model response output. We present automatic and human evaluation of our cue/keyword predictor and the controllable dialog system to show that our models perform significantly better than models without control. Our evaluation and user study shows that keyword-control on end-to-end response generation models is powerful and can enable and empower users with degenerative disorders to carry out their day-to-day communication.


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Put Chatbot into Its Interlocutor’s Shoes: New Framework to Learn Chatbot Responding with Intention
Hsuan Su | Jiun-Hao Jhan | Fan-yun Sun | Saurav Sahay | Hung-yi Lee
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Most chatbot literature that focuses on improving the fluency and coherence of a chatbot, is dedicated to making chatbots more human-like. However, very little work delves into what really separates humans from chatbots – humans intrinsically understand the effect their responses have on the interlocutor and often respond with an intention such as proposing an optimistic view to make the interlocutor feel better. This paper proposes an innovative framework to train chatbots to possess human-like intentions. Our framework includes a guiding chatbot and an interlocutor model that plays the role of humans. The guiding chatbot is assigned an intention and learns to induce the interlocutor to reply with responses matching the intention, for example, long responses, joyful responses, responses with specific words, etc. We examined our framework using three experimental setups and evaluated the guiding chatbot with four different metrics to demonstrate flexibility and performance advantages. Additionally, we performed trials with human interlocutors to substantiate the guiding chatbot’s effectiveness in influencing the responses of humans to a certain extent. Code will be made available to the public.

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Incremental temporal summarization in multi-party meetings
Ramesh Manuvinakurike | Saurav Sahay | Wenda Chen | Lama Nachman
Proceedings of the 22nd Annual Meeting of the Special Interest Group on Discourse and Dialogue

In this work, we develop a dataset for incremental temporal summarization in a multiparty dialogue. We use crowd-sourcing paradigm with a model-in-loop approach for collecting the summaries and compare the data with the expert summaries. We leverage the question generation paradigm to automatically generate questions from the dialogue, which can be used to validate the user participation and potentially also draw attention of the user towards the contents then need to summarize. We then develop several models for abstractive summary generation in the Incremental temporal scenario. We perform a detailed analysis of the results and show that including the past context into the summary generation yields better summaries.

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Semi-supervised Interactive Intent Labeling
Saurav Sahay | Eda Okur | Nagib Hakim | Lama Nachman
Proceedings of the Second Workshop on Data Science with Human in the Loop: Language Advances

Building the Natural Language Understanding (NLU) modules of task-oriented Spoken Dialogue Systems (SDS) involves a definition of intents and entities, collection of task-relevant data, annotating the data with intents and entities, and then repeating the same process over and over again for adding any functionality/enhancement to the SDS. In this work, we showcase an Intent Bulk Labeling system where SDS developers can interactively label and augment training data from unlabeled utterance corpora using advanced clustering and visual labeling methods. We extend the Deep Aligned Clustering work with a better backbone BERT model, explore techniques to select the seed data for labeling, and develop a data balancing method using an oversampling technique that utilizes paraphrasing models. We also look at the effect of data augmentation on the clustering process. Our results show that we can achieve over 10% gain in clustering accuracy on some datasets using the combination of the above techniques. Finally, we extract utterance embeddings from the clustering model and plot the data to interactively bulk label the samples, reducing the time and effort for data labeling of the whole dataset significantly.

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Refine and Imitate: Reducing Repetition and Inconsistency in Persuasion Dialogues via Reinforcement Learning and Human Demonstration
Weiyan Shi | Yu Li | Saurav Sahay | Zhou Yu
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2021

Persuasion dialogue system reflects the machine’s ability to make strategic moves beyond verbal communication, and therefore differentiates itself from task-oriented or open-domain dialogues and has its own unique values. However, the repetition and inconsistency problems still persist in dialogue response generation and could substantially impact user experience and impede the persuasion outcome. Besides, although reinforcement learning (RL) approaches have achieved big success in strategic tasks such as games, it requires a sophisticated user simulator to provide real-time feedback to the dialogue system, which limits the application of RL on persuasion dialogues. To address these issues towards a better persuasion dialogue system, we apply RL to refine a language model baseline without user simulators, and distill sentence-level information about repetition, inconsistency, and task relevance through rewards. Moreover, to better accomplish the persuasion task, the model learns from human demonstration to imitate human persuasion behavior and selects the most persuasive responses. Experiments show that our model outperforms previous state-of-the-art dialogue models on both automatic metrics and human evaluation results on a donation persuasion task, and generates more diverse, consistent and persuasive conversations according to the user feedback. We will make the code and model publicly available.

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Context or No Context? A preliminary exploration of human-in-the-loop approach for Incremental Temporal Summarization in meetings
Nicole Beckage | Shachi H Kumar | Saurav Sahay | Ramesh Manuvinakurike
Proceedings of the Third Workshop on New Frontiers in Summarization

Incremental meeting temporal summarization, summarizing relevant information of partial multi-party meeting dialogue, is emerging as the next challenge in summarization research. Here we examine the extent to which human abstractive summaries of the preceding increments (context) can be combined with extractive meeting dialogue to generate abstractive summaries. We find that previous context improves ROUGE scores. Our findings further suggest that contexts begin to outweigh the dialogue. Using keyphrase extraction and semantic role labeling (SRL), we find that SRL captures relevant information without overwhelming the the model architecture. By compressing the previous contexts by ~70%, we achieve better ROUGE scores over our baseline models. Collectively, these results suggest that context matters, as does the way in which context is presented to the model.


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Low Rank Fusion based Transformers for Multimodal Sequences
Saurav Sahay | Eda Okur | Shachi H Kumar | Lama Nachman
Second Grand-Challenge and Workshop on Multimodal Language (Challenge-HML)

Our senses individually work in a coordinated fashion to express our emotional intentions. In this work, we experiment with modeling modality-specific sensory signals to attend to our latent multimodal emotional intentions and vice versa expressed via low-rank multimodal fusion and multimodal transformers. The low-rank factorization of multimodal fusion amongst the modalities helps represent approximate multiplicative latent signal interactions. Motivated by the work of (CITATION) and (CITATION), we present our transformer-based cross-fusion architecture without any over-parameterization of the model. The low-rank fusion helps represent the latent signal interactions while the modality-specific attention helps focus on relevant parts of the signal. We present two methods for the Multimodal Sentiment and Emotion Recognition results on CMU-MOSEI, CMU-MOSI, and IEMOCAP datasets and show that our models have lesser parameters, train faster and perform comparably to many larger fusion-based architectures.

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Audio-Visual Understanding of Passenger Intents for In-Cabin Conversational Agents
Eda Okur | Shachi H Kumar | Saurav Sahay | Lama Nachman
Second Grand-Challenge and Workshop on Multimodal Language (Challenge-HML)

Building multimodal dialogue understanding capabilities situated in the in-cabin context is crucial to enhance passenger comfort in autonomous vehicle (AV) interaction systems. To this end, understanding passenger intents from spoken interactions and vehicle vision systems is an important building block for developing contextual and visually grounded conversational agents for AV. Towards this goal, we explore AMIE (Automated-vehicle Multimodal In-cabin Experience), the in-cabin agent responsible for handling multimodal passenger-vehicle interactions. In this work, we discuss the benefits of multimodal understanding of in-cabin utterances by incorporating verbal/language input together with the non-verbal/acoustic and visual input from inside and outside the vehicle. Our experimental results outperformed text-only baselines as we achieved improved performances for intent detection with multimodal approach.


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Multimodal Relational Tensor Network for Sentiment and Emotion Classification
Saurav Sahay | Shachi H Kumar | Rui Xia | Jonathan Huang | Lama Nachman
Proceedings of Grand Challenge and Workshop on Human Multimodal Language (Challenge-HML)

Understanding Affect from video segments has brought researchers from the language, audio and video domains together. Most of the current multimodal research in this area deals with various techniques to fuse the modalities, and mostly treat the segments of a video independently. Motivated by the work of (Zadeh et al., 2017) and (Poria et al., 2017), we present our architecture, Relational Tensor Network, where we use the inter-modal interactions within a segment (intra-segment) and also consider the sequence of segments in a video to model the inter-segment inter-modal interactions. We also generate rich representations of text and audio modalities by leveraging richer audio and linguistic context alongwith fusing fine-grained knowledge based polarity scores from text. We present the results of our model on CMU-MOSEI dataset and show that our model outperforms many baselines and state of the art methods for sentiment classification and emotion recognition.


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Technology Solutions to Combat Online Harassment
George Kennedy | Andrew McCollough | Edward Dixon | Alexei Bastidas | John Ryan | Chris Loo | Saurav Sahay
Proceedings of the First Workshop on Abusive Language Online

This work is part of a new initiative to use machine learning to identify online harassment in social media and comment streams. Online harassment goes under-reported due to the reliance on humans to identify and report harassment, reporting that is further slowed by requirements to fill out forms providing context. In addition, the time for moderators to respond and apply human judgment can take days, but response times in terms of minutes are needed in the online context. Though some of the major social media companies have been doing proprietary work in automating the detection of harassment, there are few tools available for use by the public. In addition, the amount of labeled online harassment data and availability of cross-platform online harassment datasets is limited. We present the methodology used to create a harassment dataset and classifier and the dataset used to help the system learn what harassment looks like.