Sina Semnani


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A Few-Shot Semantic Parser for Wizard-of-Oz Dialogues with the Precise ThingTalk Representation
Giovanni Campagna | Sina Semnani | Ryan Kearns | Lucas Jun Koba Sato | Silei Xu | Monica Lam
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2022

Previous attempts to build effective semantic parsers for Wizard-of-Oz (WOZ) conversations suffer from the difficulty in acquiring a high-quality, manually annotated training set. Approaches based only on dialogue synthesis are insufficient, as dialogues generated from state-machine based models are poor approximations of real-life conversations. Furthermore, previously proposed dialogue state representations are ambiguous and lack the precision necessary for building an effective agent.This paper proposes a new dialogue representation and a sample-efficient methodology that can predict precise dialogue states in WOZ conversations. We extended the ThingTalk representation to capture all information an agent needs to respond properly. Our training strategy is sample-efficient: we combine (1) few-shot data sparsely sampling the full dialogue space and (2) synthesized data covering a subset space of dialogues generated by a succinct state-based dialogue model. The completeness of the extended ThingTalk language is demonstrated with a fully operational agent, which is also used in training data synthesis. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our methodology on MultiWOZ 3.0, a reannotation of the MultiWOZ 2.1 dataset in ThingTalk. ThingTalk can represent 98% of the test turns, while the simulator can emulate 85% of the validation set. We train a contextual semantic parser using our strategy, and obtain 79% turn-by-turn exact match accuracy on the reannotated test set.


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AutoQA: From Databases To QA Semantic Parsers With Only Synthetic Training Data
Silei Xu | Sina Semnani | Giovanni Campagna | Monica Lam
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

We propose AutoQA, a methodology and toolkit to generate semantic parsers that answer questions on databases, with no manual effort. Given a database schema and its data, AutoQA automatically generates a large set of high-quality questions for training that covers different database operations. It uses automatic paraphrasing combined with template-based parsing to find alternative expressions of an attribute in different parts of speech. It also uses a novel filtered auto-paraphraser to generate correct paraphrases of entire sentences. We apply AutoQA to the Schema2QA dataset and obtain an average logical form accuracy of 62.9% when tested on natural questions, which is only 6.4% lower than a model trained with expert natural language annotations and paraphrase data collected from crowdworkers. To demonstrate the generality of AutoQA, we also apply it to the Overnight dataset. AutoQA achieves 69.8% answer accuracy, 16.4% higher than the state-of-the-art zero-shot models and only 5.2% lower than the same model trained with human data.

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Localizing Open-Ontology QA Semantic Parsers in a Day Using Machine Translation
Mehrad Moradshahi | Giovanni Campagna | Sina Semnani | Silei Xu | Monica Lam
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

We propose Semantic Parser Localizer (SPL), a toolkit that leverages Neural Machine Translation (NMT) systems to localize a semantic parser for a new language. Our methodology is to (1) generate training data automatically in the target language by augmenting machine-translated datasets with local entities scraped from public websites, (2) add a few-shot boost of human-translated sentences and train a novel XLMR-LSTM semantic parser, and (3) test the model on natural utterances curated using human translators. We assess the effectiveness of our approach by extending the current capabilities of Schema2QA, a system for English Question Answering (QA) on the open web, to 10 new languages for the restaurants and hotels domains. Our model achieves an overall test accuracy ranging between 61% and 69% for the hotels domain and between 64% and 78% for restaurants domain, which compares favorably to 69% and 80% obtained for English parser trained on gold English data and a few examples from validation set. We show our approach outperforms the previous state-of-the-art methodology by more than 30% for hotels and 40% for restaurants with localized ontologies for the subset of languages tested. Our methodology enables any software developer to add a new language capability to a QA system for a new domain, leveraging machine translation, in less than 24 hours. Our code is released open-source.