Sina Semnani


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Zero and Few-Shot Localization of Task-Oriented Dialogue Agents with a Distilled Representation
Mehrad Moradshahi | Sina Semnani | Monica Lam
Proceedings of the 17th Conference of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Task-oriented Dialogue (ToD) agents are mostly limited to a few widely-spoken languages, mainly due to the high cost of acquiring training data for each language. Existing low-cost approaches that rely on cross-lingual embeddings or naive machine translation sacrifice a lot of accuracy for data efficiency, and largely fail in creating a usable dialogue agent. We propose automatic methods that use ToD training data in a source language to build a high-quality functioning dialogue agent in another target language that has no training data (i.e. zero-shot) or a small training set (i.e. few-shot). Unlike most prior work in cross-lingual ToD that only focuses on Dialogue State Tracking (DST), we build an end-to-end agent. We show that our approach closes the accuracy gap between few-shot and existing full-shot methods for ToD agents. We achieve this by (1) improving the dialogue data representation, (2) improving entity-aware machine translation, and (3) automatic filtering of noisy translations. We evaluate our approach on the recent bilingual dialogue dataset BiToD.In Chinese to English transfer, in the zero-shot setting, our method achieves 46.7% and 22.0% in Task Success Rate (TSR) and Dialogue Success Rate (DSR) respectively. In the few-shot setting where 10% of the data in the target language is used, we improve the state-of-the-art by 15.2% and 14.0%, coming within 5% of full-shot training.

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X-RiSAWOZ: High-Quality End-to-End Multilingual Dialogue Datasets and Few-shot Agents
Mehrad Moradshahi | Tianhao Shen | Kalika Bali | Monojit Choudhury | Gael de Chalendar | Anmol Goel | Sungkyun Kim | Prashant Kodali | Ponnurangam Kumaraguru | Nasredine Semmar | Sina Semnani | Jiwon Seo | Vivek Seshadri | Manish Shrivastava | Michael Sun | Aditya Yadavalli | Chaobin You | Deyi Xiong | Monica Lam
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2023

Task-oriented dialogue research has mainly focused on a few popular languages like English and Chinese, due to the high dataset creation cost for a new language. To reduce the cost, we apply manual editing to automatically translated data. We create a new multilingual benchmark, X-RiSAWOZ, by translating the Chinese RiSAWOZ to 4 languages: English, French, Hindi, Korean; and a code-mixed English-Hindi language.X-RiSAWOZ has more than 18,000 human-verified dialogue utterances for each language, and unlike most multilingual prior work, is an end-to-end dataset for building fully-functioning agents. The many difficulties we encountered in creating X-RiSAWOZ led us to develop a toolset to accelerate the post-editing of a new language dataset after translation. This toolset improves machine translation with a hybrid entity alignment technique that combines neural with dictionary-based methods, along with many automated and semi-automated validation checks. We establish strong baselines for X-RiSAWOZ by training dialogue agents in the zero- and few-shot settings where limited gold data is available in the target language. Our results suggest that our translation and post-editing methodology and toolset can be used to create new high-quality multilingual dialogue agents cost-effectively. Our dataset, code, and toolkit are released open-source.

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WikiChat: Stopping the Hallucination of Large Language Model Chatbots by Few-Shot Grounding on Wikipedia
Sina Semnani | Violet Yao | Heidi Zhang | Monica Lam
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2023

This paper presents the first few-shot LLM-based chatbot that almost never hallucinates and has high conversationality and low latency. WikiChat is grounded on the English Wikipedia, the largest curated free-text corpus. WikiChat generates a response from an LLM, retains only the grounded facts, and combines them with additional information it retrieves from the corpus to form factual and engaging responses. We distill WikiChat based on GPT-4 into a 7B-parameter LLaMA model with minimal loss of quality, to significantly improve its latency, cost and privacy, and facilitate research and deployment. Using a novel hybrid human-and-LLM evaluation methodology, we show that our best system achieves 97.3% factual accuracy in simulated conversations. It significantly outperforms all retrieval-based and LLM-based baselines, and by 3.9%, 38.6% and 51.0% on head, tail and recent knowledge compared to GPT-4. Compared to previous state-of-the-art retrieval-based chatbots, WikiChat is also significantly more informative and engaging, just like an LLM. WikiChat achieves 97.9% factual accuracy in conversations with human users about recent topics, 55.0% better than GPT-4, while receiving significantly higher user ratings and more favorable comments.

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Fine-tuned LLMs Know More, Hallucinate Less with Few-Shot Sequence-to-Sequence Semantic Parsing over Wikidata
Silei Xu | Shicheng Liu | Theo Culhane | Elizaveta Pertseva | Meng-Hsi Wu | Sina Semnani | Monica Lam
Proceedings of the 2023 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

While large language models (LLMs) can answer many questions correctly, they can also hallucinate and give wrong answers. Wikidata, with its over 12 billion facts, can be used to ground LLMs to improve their factuality. This paper presents WikiWebQuestions, a high-quality question answering benchmark for Wikidata. Ported over from WebQuestions for Freebase, it consists of real-world data with SPARQL annotation. This paper presents a few-shot sequence-to-sequence semantic parser for Wikidata. We modify SPARQL to use the unique domain and property names instead of their IDs. We train the parser to use either the results from an entity linker or mentions in the query. We fine-tune LLaMA by adding the few-shot training data to that used to fine-tune Alpaca. Our experimental results demonstrate the effectiveness of this methodology, establishing a strong baseline of 76% and 65% answer accuracy in the dev and test sets of WikiWebQuestions, respectively. By pairing our semantic parser with GPT-3, we combine verifiable results with qualified GPT-3 guesses to provide useful answers to 96% of the questions in dev. We also show that our method outperforms the state-of-the-art for the QALD-7 Wikidata dataset by 3.6% in F1 score.


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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.