Collecting data for conversational semantic parsing is a time-consuming and demanding process. In this paper we consider, given an incomplete dataset with only a small amount of data, how to build an AI-powered human-in-the-loop process to enable efficient data collection. A guided K-best selection process is proposed, which (i) generates a set of possible valid candidates; (ii) allows users to quickly traverse the set and filter incorrect parses; and (iii) asks users to select the correct parse, with minimal modification when necessary. We investigate how to best support users in efficiently traversing the candidate set and locating the correct parse, in terms of speed and accuracy. In our user study, consisting of five annotators labeling 300 instances each, we find that combining keyword searching, where keywords can be used to query relevant candidates, and keyword suggestion, where representative keywords are automatically generated, enables fast and accurate annotation.
We introduce a novel setup for low-resource task-oriented semantic parsing which incorporates several constraints that may arise in real-world scenarios: (1) lack of similar datasets/models from a related domain, (2) inability to sample useful logical forms directly from a grammar, and (3) privacy requirements for unlabeled natural utterances. Our goal is to improve a low-resource semantic parser using utterances collected through user interactions. In this highly challenging but realistic setting, we investigate data augmentation approaches involving generating a set of structured canonical utterances corresponding to logical forms, before simulating corresponding natural language and filtering the resulting pairs. We find that such approaches are effective despite our restrictive setup: in a low-resource setting on the complex SMCalFlow calendaring dataset (Andreas et al. 2020), we observe 33% relative improvement over a non-data-augmented baseline in top-1 match.
We explore the use of large pretrained language models as few-shot semantic parsers. The goal in semantic parsing is to generate a structured meaning representation given a natural language input. However, language models are trained to generate natural language. To bridge the gap, we use language models to paraphrase inputs into a controlled sublanguage resembling English that can be automatically mapped to a target meaning representation. Our results demonstrate that with only a small amount of data and very little code to convert into English-like representations, our blueprint for rapidly bootstrapping semantic parsers leads to surprisingly effective performance on multiple community tasks, greatly exceeding baseline methods also trained on the same limited data.
Conversational semantic parsers map user utterances to executable programs given dialogue histories composed of previous utterances, programs, and system responses. Existing parsers typically condition on rich representations of history that include the complete set of values and computations previously discussed. We propose a model that abstracts over values to focus prediction on type- and function-level context. This approach provides a compact encoding of dialogue histories and predicted programs, improving generalization and computational efficiency. Our model incorporates several other components, including an atomic span copy operation and structural enforcement of well-formedness constraints on predicted programs, that are particularly advantageous in the low-data regime. Trained on the SMCalFlow and TreeDST datasets, our model outperforms prior work by 7.3% and 10.6% respectively in terms of absolute accuracy. Trained on only a thousand examples from each dataset, it outperforms strong baselines by 12.4% and 6.4%. These results indicate that simple representations are key to effective generalization in conversational semantic parsing.
We describe an approach to task-oriented dialogue in which dialogue state is represented as a dataflow graph. A dialogue agent maps each user utterance to a program that extends this graph. Programs include metacomputation operators for reference and revision that reuse dataflow fragments from previous turns. Our graph-based state enables the expression and manipulation of complex user intents, and explicit metacomputation makes these intents easier for learned models to predict. We introduce a new dataset, SMCalFlow, featuring complex dialogues about events, weather, places, and people. Experiments show that dataflow graphs and metacomputation substantially improve representability and predictability in these natural dialogues. Additional experiments on the MultiWOZ dataset show that our dataflow representation enables an otherwise off-the-shelf sequence-to-sequence model to match the best existing task-specific state tracking model. The SMCalFlow dataset, code for replicating experiments, and a public leaderboard are available at https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/research/project/dataflow-based-dialogue-semantic-machines.
Grounding referring expressions to objects in an environment has traditionally been considered a one-off, ahistorical task. However, in realistic applications of grounding, multiple users will repeatedly refer to the same set of objects. As a result, past referring expressions for objects can provide strong signals for grounding subsequent referring expressions. We therefore reframe the grounding problem from the perspective of coreference detection and propose a neural network that detects when two expressions are referring to the same object. The network combines information from vision and past referring expressions to resolve which object is being referred to. Our experiments show that detecting referring expression coreference is an effective way to ground objects described by subtle visual properties, which standard visual grounding models have difficulty capturing. We also show the ability to detect object coreference allows the grounding model to perform well even when it encounters object categories not seen in the training data.
Math word problems form a natural abstraction to a range of quantitative reasoning problems, such as understanding financial news, sports results, and casualties of war. Solving such problems requires the understanding of several mathematical concepts such as dimensional analysis, subset relationships, etc. In this paper, we develop declarative rules which govern the translation of natural language description of these concepts to math expressions. We then present a framework for incorporating such declarative knowledge into word problem solving. Our method learns to map arithmetic word problem text to math expressions, by learning to select the relevant declarative knowledge for each operation of the solution expression. This provides a way to handle multiple concepts in the same problem while, at the same time, supporting interpretability of the answer expression. Our method models the mapping to declarative knowledge as a latent variable, thus removing the need for expensive annotations. Experimental evaluation suggests that our domain knowledge based solver outperforms all other systems, and that it generalizes better in the realistic case where the training data it is exposed to is biased in a different way than the test data.
Little work from the Natural Language Processing community has targeted the role of quantities in Natural Language Understanding. This paper takes some key steps towards facilitating reasoning about quantities expressed in natural language. We investigate two different tasks of numerical reasoning. First, we consider Quantity Entailment, a new task formulated to understand the role of quantities in general textual inference tasks. Second, we consider the problem of automatically understanding and solving elementary school math word problems. In order to address these quantitative reasoning problems we first develop a computational approach which we show to successfully recognize and normalize textual expressions of quantities. We then use these capabilities to further develop algorithms to assist reasoning in the context of the aforementioned tasks.