Steven C.H. Hoi


2021

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CodeT5: Identifier-aware Unified Pre-trained Encoder-Decoder Models for Code Understanding and Generation
Yue Wang | Weishi Wang | Shafiq Joty | Steven C.H. Hoi
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Pre-trained models for Natural Languages (NL) like BERT and GPT have been recently shown to transfer well to Programming Languages (PL) and largely benefit a broad set of code-related tasks. Despite their success, most current methods either rely on an encoder-only (or decoder-only) pre-training that is suboptimal for generation (resp. understanding) tasks or process the code snippet in the same way as NL, neglecting the special characteristics of PL such as token types. We present CodeT5, a unified pre-trained encoder-decoder Transformer model that better leverages the code semantics conveyed from the developer-assigned identifiers. Our model employs a unified framework to seamlessly support both code understanding and generation tasks and allows for multi-task learning. Besides, we propose a novel identifier-aware pre-training task that enables the model to distinguish which code tokens are identifiers and to recover them when they are masked. Furthermore, we propose to exploit the user-written code comments with a bimodal dual generation task for better NL-PL alignment. Comprehensive experiments show that CodeT5 significantly outperforms prior methods on understanding tasks such as code defect detection and clone detection, and generation tasks across various directions including PL-NL, NL-PL, and PL-PL. Further analysis reveals that our model can better capture semantic information from code. Our code and pre-trained models are released at https://github.com/salesforce/CodeT5.

2020

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Explicit Memory Tracker with Coarse-to-Fine Reasoning for Conversational Machine Reading
Yifan Gao | Chien-Sheng Wu | Shafiq Joty | Caiming Xiong | Richard Socher | Irwin King | Michael Lyu | Steven C.H. Hoi
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

The goal of conversational machine reading is to answer user questions given a knowledge base text which may require asking clarification questions. Existing approaches are limited in their decision making due to struggles in extracting question-related rules and reasoning about them. In this paper, we present a new framework of conversational machine reading that comprises a novel Explicit Memory Tracker (EMT) to track whether conditions listed in the rule text have already been satisfied to make a decision. Moreover, our framework generates clarification questions by adopting a coarse-to-fine reasoning strategy, utilizing sentence-level entailment scores to weight token-level distributions. On the ShARC benchmark (blind, held-out) testset, EMT achieves new state-of-the-art results of 74.6% micro-averaged decision accuracy and 49.5 BLEU4. We also show that EMT is more interpretable by visualizing the entailment-oriented reasoning process as the conversation flows. Code and models are released at https://github.com/Yifan-Gao/explicit_memory_tracker.

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Video-Grounded Dialogues with Pretrained Generation Language Models
Hung Le | Steven C.H. Hoi
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Pre-trained language models have shown remarkable success in improving various downstream NLP tasks due to their ability to capture dependencies in textual data and generate natural responses. In this paper, we leverage the power of pre-trained language models for improving video-grounded dialogue, which is very challenging and involves complex features of different dynamics: (1) Video features which can extend across both spatial and temporal dimensions; and (2) Dialogue features which involve semantic dependencies over multiple dialogue turns. We propose a framework by extending GPT-2 models to tackle these challenges by formulating video-grounded dialogue tasks as a sequence-to-sequence task, combining both visual and textual representation into a structured sequence, and fine-tuning a large pre-trained GPT-2 network. Our framework allows fine-tuning language models to capture dependencies across multiple modalities over different levels of information: spatio-temporal level in video and token-sentence level in dialogue context. We achieve promising improvement on the Audio-Visual Scene-Aware Dialogues (AVSD) benchmark from DSTC7, which supports a potential direction in this line of research.

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Photon: A Robust Cross-Domain Text-to-SQL System
Jichuan Zeng | Xi Victoria Lin | Steven C.H. Hoi | Richard Socher | Caiming Xiong | Michael Lyu | Irwin King
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics: System Demonstrations

Natural language interfaces to databases(NLIDB) democratize end user access to relational data. Due to fundamental differences between natural language communication and programming, it is common for end users to issue questions that are ambiguous to the system or fall outside the semantic scope of its underlying query language. We present PHOTON, a robust, modular, cross-domain NLIDB that can flag natural language input to which a SQL mapping cannot be immediately determined. PHOTON consists of a strong neural semantic parser (63.2% structure accuracy on the Spider dev benchmark), a human-in-the-loop question corrector, a SQL executor and a response generator. The question corrector isa discriminative neural sequence editor which detects confusion span(s) in the input question and suggests rephrasing until a translatable input is given by the user or a maximum number of iterations are conducted. Experiments on simulated data show that the proposed method effectively improves the robustness of text-to-SQL system against untranslatable user input.The live demo of our system is available at http://www.naturalsql.com

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Improving Limited Labeled Dialogue State Tracking with Self-Supervision
Chien-Sheng Wu | Steven C.H. Hoi | Caiming Xiong
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2020

Existing dialogue state tracking (DST) models require plenty of labeled data. However, collecting high-quality labels is costly, especially when the number of domains increases. In this paper, we address a practical DST problem that is rarely discussed, i.e., learning efficiently with limited labeled data. We present and investigate two self-supervised objectives: preserving latent consistency and modeling conversational behavior. We encourage a DST model to have consistent latent distributions given a perturbed input, making it more robust to an unseen scenario. We also add an auxiliary utterance generation task, modeling a potential correlation between conversational behavior and dialogue states. The experimental results show that our proposed self-supervised signals can improve joint goal accuracy by 8.95% when only 1% labeled data is used on the MultiWOZ dataset. We can achieve an additional 1.76% improvement if some unlabeled data is jointly trained as semi-supervised learning. We analyze and visualize how our proposed self-supervised signals help the DST task and hope to stimulate future data-efficient DST research.

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TOD-BERT: Pre-trained Natural Language Understanding for Task-Oriented Dialogue
Chien-Sheng Wu | Steven C.H. Hoi | Richard Socher | Caiming Xiong
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

The underlying difference of linguistic patterns between general text and task-oriented dialogue makes existing pre-trained language models less useful in practice. In this work, we unify nine human-human and multi-turn task-oriented dialogue datasets for language modeling. To better model dialogue behavior during pre-training, we incorporate user and system tokens into the masked language modeling. We propose a contrastive objective function to simulate the response selection task. Our pre-trained task-oriented dialogue BERT (TOD-BERT) outperforms strong baselines like BERT on four downstream task-oriented dialogue applications, including intention recognition, dialogue state tracking, dialogue act prediction, and response selection. We also show that TOD-BERT has a stronger few-shot ability that can mitigate the data scarcity problem for task-oriented dialogue.

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BiST: Bi-directional Spatio-Temporal Reasoning for Video-Grounded Dialogues
Hung Le | Doyen Sahoo | Nancy Chen | Steven C.H. Hoi
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

Video-grounded dialogues are very challenging due to (i) the complexity of videos which contain both spatial and temporal variations, and (ii) the complexity of user utterances which query different segments and/or different objects in videos over multiple dialogue turns. However, existing approaches to video-grounded dialogues often focus on superficial temporal-level visual cues, but neglect more fine-grained spatial signals from videos. To address this drawback, we proposed Bi-directional Spatio-Temporal Learning (BiST), a vision-language neural framework for high-resolution queries in videos based on textual cues. Specifically, our approach not only exploits both spatial and temporal-level information, but also learns dynamic information diffusion between the two feature spaces through spatial-to-temporal and temporal-to-spatial reasoning. The bidirectional strategy aims to tackle the evolving semantics of user queries in the dialogue setting. The retrieved visual cues are used as contextual information to construct relevant responses to the users. Our empirical results and comprehensive qualitative analysis show that BiST achieves competitive performance and generates reasonable responses on a large-scale AVSD benchmark. We also adapt our BiST models to the Video QA setting, and substantially outperform prior approaches on the TGIF-QA benchmark.

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UniConv: A Unified Conversational Neural Architecture for Multi-domain Task-oriented Dialogues
Hung Le | Doyen Sahoo | Chenghao Liu | Nancy Chen | Steven C.H. Hoi
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

Building an end-to-end conversational agent for multi-domain task-oriented dialogues has been an open challenge for two main reasons. First, tracking dialogue states of multiple domains is non-trivial as the dialogue agent must obtain complete states from all relevant domains, some of which might have shared slots among domains as well as unique slots specifically for one domain only. Second, the dialogue agent must also process various types of information across domains, including dialogue context, dialogue states, and database, to generate natural responses to users. Unlike the existing approaches that are often designed to train each module separately, we propose “UniConv” - a novel unified neural architecture for end-to-end conversational systems in multi-domain task-oriented dialogues, which is designed to jointly train (i) a Bi-level State Tracker which tracks dialogue states by learning signals at both slot and domain level independently, and (ii) a Joint Dialogue Act and Response Generator which incorporates information from various input components and models dialogue acts and target responses simultaneously. We conduct comprehensive experiments in dialogue state tracking, context-to-text, and end-to-end settings on the MultiWOZ2.1 benchmark, achieving superior performance over competitive baselines.

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Discern: Discourse-Aware Entailment Reasoning Network for Conversational Machine Reading
Yifan Gao | Chien-Sheng Wu | Jingjing Li | Shafiq Joty | Steven C.H. Hoi | Caiming Xiong | Irwin King | Michael Lyu
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

Document interpretation and dialog understanding are the two major challenges for conversational machine reading. In this work, we propose “Discern”, a discourse-aware entailment reasoning network to strengthen the connection and enhance the understanding of both document and dialog. Specifically, we split the document into clause-like elementary discourse units (EDU) using a pre-trained discourse segmentation model, and we train our model in a weakly-supervised manner to predict whether each EDU is entailed by the user feedback in a conversation. Based on the learned EDU and entailment representations, we either reply to the user our final decision “yes/no/irrelevant” of the initial question, or generate a follow-up question to inquiry more information. Our experiments on the ShARC benchmark (blind, held-out test set) show that Discern achieves state-of-the-art results of 78.3% macro-averaged accuracy on decision making and 64.0 BLEU1 on follow-up question generation. Code and models are released at https://github.com/Yifan-Gao/Discern.

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VD-BERT: A Unified Vision and Dialog Transformer with BERT
Yue Wang | Shafiq Joty | Michael Lyu | Irwin King | Caiming Xiong | Steven C.H. Hoi
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

Visual dialog is a challenging vision-language task, where a dialog agent needs to answer a series of questions through reasoning on the image content and dialog history. Prior work has mostly focused on various attention mechanisms to model such intricate interactions. By contrast, in this work, we propose VD-BERT, a simple yet effective framework of unified vision-dialog Transformer that leverages the pretrained BERT language models for Visual Dialog tasks. The model is unified in that (1) it captures all the interactions between the image and the multi-turn dialog using a single-stream Transformer encoder, and (2) it supports both answer ranking and answer generation seamlessly through the same architecture. More crucially, we adapt BERT for the effective fusion of vision and dialog contents via visually grounded training. Without the need of pretraining on external vision-language data, our model yields new state of the art, achieving the top position in both single-model and ensemble settings (74.54 and 75.35 NDCG scores) on the visual dialog leaderboard. Our code and pretrained models are released at https://github.com/salesforce/VD-BERT.

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Response Selection for Multi-Party Conversations with Dynamic Topic Tracking
Weishi Wang | Steven C.H. Hoi | Shafiq Joty
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

While participants in a multi-party multi-turn conversation simultaneously engage in multiple conversation topics, existing response selection methods are developed mainly focusing on a two-party single-conversation scenario. Hence, the prolongation and transition of conversation topics are ignored by current methods. In this work, we frame response selection as a dynamic topic tracking task to match the topic between the response and relevant conversation context. With this new formulation, we propose a novel multi-task learning framework that supports efficient encoding through large pretrained models with only two utterances at once to perform dynamic topic disentanglement and response selection. We also propose Topic-BERT an essential pretraining step to embed topic information into BERT with self-supervised learning. Experimental results on the DSTC-8 Ubuntu IRC dataset show state-of-the-art results in response selection and topic disentanglement tasks outperforming existing methods by a good margin.