Xiubo Geng


2023

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FAA: Fine-grained Attention Alignment for Cascade Document Ranking
Zhen Li | Chongyang Tao | Jiazhan Feng | Tao Shen | Dongyan Zhao | Xiubo Geng | Daxin Jiang
Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Document ranking aims at sorting a collection of documents with their relevance to a query. Contemporary methods explore more efficient transformers or divide long documents into passages to handle the long input. However, intensive query-irrelevant content may lead to harmful distraction and high query latency. Some recent works further propose cascade document ranking models that extract relevant passages with an efficient selector before ranking, however, their selection and ranking modules are almost independently optimized and deployed, leading to selecting error reinforcement and sub-optimal performance. In fact, the document ranker can provide fine-grained supervision to make the selector more generalizable and compatible, and the selector built upon a different structure can offer a distinct perspective to assist in document ranking. Inspired by this, we propose a fine-grained attention alignment approach to jointly optimize a cascade document ranking model. Specifically, we utilize the attention activations over the passages from the ranker as fine-grained attention feedback to optimize the selector. Meanwhile, we fuse the relevance scores from the passage selector into the ranker to assist in calculating the cooperative matching representation. Experiments on MS MARCO and TREC DL demonstrate the effectiveness of our method.

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CORE: Cooperative Training of Retriever-Reranker for Effective Dialogue Response Selection
Chongyang Tao | Jiazhan Feng | Tao Shen | Chang Liu | Juntao Li | Xiubo Geng | Daxin Jiang
Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Establishing retrieval-based dialogue systems that can select appropriate responses from the pre-built index has gained increasing attention. Recent common practice is to construct a two-stage pipeline with a fast retriever (e.g., bi-encoder) for first-stage recall followed by a smart response reranker (e.g., cross-encoder) for precise ranking. However, existing studies either optimize the retriever and reranker in independent ways, or distill the knowledge from a pre-trained reranker into the retriever in an asynchronous way, leading to sub-optimal performance of both modules. Thus, an open question remains about how to train them for a better combination of the best of both worlds. To this end, we present a cooperative training of the response retriever and the reranker whose parameters are dynamically optimized by the ground-truth labels as well as list-wise supervision signals from each other. As a result, the two modules can learn from each other and evolve together throughout the training. Experimental results on two benchmarks demonstrate the superiority of our method.

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Towards Robust Ranker for Text Retrieval
Yucheng Zhou | Tao Shen | Xiubo Geng | Chongyang Tao | Can Xu | Guodong Long | Binxing Jiao | Daxin Jiang
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2023

A neural ranker plays an indispensable role in the de facto ‘retrieval & rerank’ pipeline, but its training still lags behind due to the weak negative mining during contrastive learning. Compared to retrievers boosted by self-adversarial (i.e., in-distribution) negative mining, the ranker’s heavy structure suffers from query-document combinatorial explosions, so it can only resort to the negative sampled by the fast yet out-of-distribution retriever. Thereby, the moderate negatives compose ineffective contrastive learning samples, becoming the main barrier to learning a robust ranker. To alleviate this, we propose a multi-adversarial training strategy that leverages multiple retrievers as generators to challenge a ranker, where i) diverse hard negatives from a joint distribution are prone to fool the ranker for more effective adversarial learning and ii) involving extensive out-of-distribution label noises renders the ranker against each noise distribution, leading to more challenging and robust contrastive learning. To evaluate our robust ranker (dubbed R2anker), we conduct experiments in various settings on the passage retrieval benchmarks, including BM25-reranking, full-ranking, retriever distillation, etc. The empirical results verify the new state-of-the-art effectiveness of our model.

2022

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Social Norms-Grounded Machine Ethics in Complex Narrative Situation
Tao Shen | Xiubo Geng | Daxin Jiang
Proceedings of the 29th International Conference on Computational Linguistics

Ethical judgment aims to determine if a person in a narrative situation acts under people’s social norms under a culture, so it is crucial to understand actions in narratives and achieve machine ethics. Recent works depend on data-driven methods to directly judge the ethics of complex real-world narratives but face two major challenges. First, they cannot well handle dilemma situations due to a lack of basic knowledge about social norms. Second, they focus merely on sparse situation-level judgment regardless of the social norms involved during the judgment, leading to a black box. In this work, inspired by previous knowledge-grounded and -augmented paradigms, we propose to complement a complex situation with grounded social norms. Besides a norm-grounding knowledge model, we present a novel norm-supported ethical judgment model in line with neural module networks to alleviate dilemma situations and improve norm-level explainability. Empirically, our model improves state-of-the-art performance on two narrative judgment benchmarks.

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ClarET: Pre-training a Correlation-Aware Context-To-Event Transformer for Event-Centric Generation and Classification
Yucheng Zhou | Tao Shen | Xiubo Geng | Guodong Long | Daxin Jiang
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Generating new events given context with correlated ones plays a crucial role in many event-centric reasoning tasks. Existing works either limit their scope to specific scenarios or overlook event-level correlations. In this paper, we propose to pre-train a general Correlation-aware context-to-Event Transformer (ClarET) for event-centric reasoning. To achieve this, we propose three novel event-centric objectives, i.e., whole event recovering, contrastive event-correlation encoding and prompt-based event locating, which highlight event-level correlations with effective training. The proposed ClarET is applicable to a wide range of event-centric reasoning scenarios, considering its versatility of (i) event-correlation types (e.g., causal, temporal, contrast), (ii) application formulations (i.e., generation and classification), and (iii) reasoning types (e.g., abductive, counterfactual and ending reasoning). Empirical fine-tuning results, as well as zero- and few-shot learning, on 9 benchmarks (5 generation and 4 classification tasks covering 4 reasoning types with diverse event correlations), verify its effectiveness and generalization ability.

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Multimodal Dialogue Response Generation
Qingfeng Sun | Yujing Wang | Can Xu | Kai Zheng | Yaming Yang | Huang Hu | Fei Xu | Jessica Zhang | Xiubo Geng | Daxin Jiang
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Responsing with image has been recognized as an important capability for an intelligent conversational agent. Yet existing works only focus on exploring the multimodal dialogue models which depend on retrieval-based methods, but neglecting generation methods. To fill in the gaps, we first present a new task: multimodal dialogue response generation (MDRG) - given the dialogue history, one model needs to generate a text sequence or an image as response. Learning such a MDRG model often requires multimodal dialogues containing both texts and images which are difficult to obtain. Motivated by the challenge in practice, we consider MDRG under a natural assumption that only limited training examples are available. In such a low-resource setting, we devise a novel conversational agent, Divter, in order to isolate parameters that depend on multimodal dialogues from the entire generation model. By this means, the major part of the model can be learned from a large number of text-only dialogues and text-image pairs respectively, then the whole parameters can be well fitted using the limited training examples. Extensive experiments demonstrate our method achieves state-of-the-art results in both automatic and human evaluation, and can generate informative text and high-resolution image responses.

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PromDA: Prompt-based Data Augmentation for Low-Resource NLU Tasks
Yufei Wang | Can Xu | Qingfeng Sun | Huang Hu | Chongyang Tao | Xiubo Geng | Daxin Jiang
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

This paper focuses on the Data Augmentation for low-resource Natural Language Understanding (NLU) tasks. We propose Prompt-based Data Augmentation model (PromDA) which only trains small-scale Soft Prompt (i.e., a set of trainable vectors) in the frozen Pre-trained Language Models (PLMs). This avoids human effort in collecting unlabeled in-domain data and maintains the quality of generated synthetic data. In addition, PromDA generates synthetic data via two different views and filters out the low-quality data using NLU models. Experiments on four benchmarks show that synthetic data produced by PromDA successfully boost up the performance of NLU models which consistently outperform several competitive baseline models, including a state-of-the-art semi-supervised model using unlabeled in-domain data. The synthetic data from PromDA are also complementary with unlabeled in-domain data. The NLU models can be further improved when they are combined for training.

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HeterMPC: A Heterogeneous Graph Neural Network for Response Generation in Multi-Party Conversations
Jia-Chen Gu | Chao-Hong Tan | Chongyang Tao | Zhen-Hua Ling | Huang Hu | Xiubo Geng | Daxin Jiang
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Recently, various response generation models for two-party conversations have achieved impressive improvements, but less effort has been paid to multi-party conversations (MPCs) which are more practical and complicated. Compared with a two-party conversation where a dialogue context is a sequence of utterances, building a response generation model for MPCs is more challenging, since there exist complicated context structures and the generated responses heavily rely on both interlocutors (i.e., speaker and addressee) and history utterances. To address these challenges, we present HeterMPC, a heterogeneous graph-based neural network for response generation in MPCs which models the semantics of utterances and interlocutors simultaneously with two types of nodes in a graph. Besides, we also design six types of meta relations with node-edge-type-dependent parameters to characterize the heterogeneous interactions within the graph. Through multi-hop updating, HeterMPC can adequately utilize the structural knowledge of conversations for response generation. Experimental results on the Ubuntu Internet Relay Chat (IRC) channel benchmark show that HeterMPC outperforms various baseline models for response generation in MPCs.

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PCL: Peer-Contrastive Learning with Diverse Augmentations for Unsupervised Sentence Embeddings
Qiyu Wu | Chongyang Tao | Tao Shen | Can Xu | Xiubo Geng | Daxin Jiang
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Learning sentence embeddings in an unsupervised manner is fundamental in natural language processing. Recent common practice is to couple pre-trained language models with unsupervised contrastive learning, whose success relies on augmenting a sentence with a semantically-close positive instance to construct contrastive pairs. Nonetheless, existing approaches usually depend on a mono-augmenting strategy, which causes learning shortcuts towards the augmenting biases and thus corrupts the quality of sentence embeddings. A straightforward solution is resorting to more diverse positives from a multi-augmenting strategy, while an open question remains about how to unsupervisedly learn from the diverse positives but with uneven augmenting qualities in the text field. As one answer, we propose a novel Peer-Contrastive Learning (PCL) with diverse augmentations. PCL constructs diverse contrastive positives and negatives at the group level for unsupervised sentence embeddings. PCL performs peer-positive contrast as well as peer-network cooperation, which offers an inherent anti-bias ability and an effective way to learn from diverse augmentations. Experiments on STS benchmarks verify the effectiveness of PCL against its competitors in unsupervised sentence embeddings.

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TegTok: Augmenting Text Generation via Task-specific and Open-world Knowledge
Chao-Hong Tan | Jia-Chen Gu | Chongyang Tao | Zhen-Hua Ling | Can Xu | Huang Hu | Xiubo Geng | Daxin Jiang
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2022

Generating natural and informative texts has been a long-standing problem in NLP. Much effort has been dedicated into incorporating pre-trained language models (PLMs) with various open-world knowledge, such as knowledge graphs or wiki pages. However, their ability to access and manipulate the task-specific knowledge is still limited on downstream tasks, as this type of knowledge is usually not well covered in PLMs and is hard to acquire. To address the problem, we propose augmenting TExt Generation via Task-specific and Open-world Knowledge (TegTok) in a unified framework. Our model selects knowledge entries from two types of knowledge sources through dense retrieval and then injects them into the input encoding and output decoding stages respectively on the basis of PLMs. With the help of these two types of knowledge, our model can learn what and how to generate. Experiments on two text generation tasks of dialogue generation and question generation, and on two datasets show that our method achieves better performance than various baseline models.

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Understand before Answer: Improve Temporal Reading Comprehension via Precise Question Understanding
Hao Huang | Xiubo Geng | Guodong Long | Daxin Jiang
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

This work studies temporal reading comprehension (TRC), which reads a free-text passage and answers temporal ordering questions. Precise question understanding is critical for temporal reading comprehension. For example, the question “What happened before the victory” and “What happened after the victory” share almost all words except one, while their answers are totally different. Moreover, even if two questions query about similar temporal relations, different varieties might also lead to various answers. For example, although both the question “What usually happened during the press release?” and “What might happen during the press release” query events which happen after “the press release”, they convey divergent semantics. To this end, we propose a novel reading comprehension approach with precise question understanding. Specifically, a temporal ordering question is embedded into two vectors to capture the referred event and the temporal relation. Then we evaluate the temporal relation between candidate events and the referred event based on that. Such fine-grained representations offer two benefits. First, it enables a better understanding of the question by focusing on different elements of a question. Second, it provides good interpretability when evaluating temporal relations. Furthermore, we also harness an auxiliary contrastive loss for representation learning of temporal relations, which aims to distinguish relations with subtle but critical changes. The proposed approach outperforms strong baselines and achieves state-of-the-art performance on the TORQUE dataset. It also increases the accuracy of four pre-trained language models (BERT base, BERT large, RoBERTa base, and RoBETRa large), demonstrating its generic effectiveness on divergent models.

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Stylized Knowledge-Grounded Dialogue Generation via Disentangled Template Rewriting
Qingfeng Sun | Can Xu | Huang Hu | Yujing Wang | Jian Miao | Xiubo Geng | Yining Chen | Fei Xu | Daxin Jiang
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Current Knowledge-Grounded Dialogue Generation (KDG) models specialize in producing rational and factual responses. However, to establish long-term relationships with users, the KDG model needs the capability to generate responses in a desired style or attribute. Thus, we study a new problem: Stylized Knowledge-Grounded Dialogue Generation (SKDG). It presents two challenges: (1) How to train a SKDG model where no <context, knowledge, stylized response> triples are available. (2) How to cohere with context and preserve the knowledge when generating a stylized response. In this paper, we propose a novel disentangled template rewriting (DTR) method which generates responses via combing disentangled style templates (from monolingual stylized corpus) and content templates (from KDG corpus). The entire framework is end-to-end differentiable and learned without supervision. Extensive experiments on two benchmarks indicate that DTR achieves a significant improvement on all evaluation metrics compared with previous state-of-the-art stylized dialogue generation methods. Besides, DTR achieves comparable performance with the state-of-the-art KDG methods in standard KDG evaluation setting.

2021

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MPC-BERT: A Pre-Trained Language Model for Multi-Party Conversation Understanding
Jia-Chen Gu | Chongyang Tao | Zhenhua Ling | Can Xu | Xiubo Geng | Daxin Jiang
Proceedings of the 59th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 11th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Recently, various neural models for multi-party conversation (MPC) have achieved impressive improvements on a variety of tasks such as addressee recognition, speaker identification and response prediction. However, these existing methods on MPC usually represent interlocutors and utterances individually and ignore the inherent complicated structure in MPC which may provide crucial interlocutor and utterance semantics and would enhance the conversation understanding process. To this end, we present MPC-BERT, a pre-trained model for MPC understanding that considers learning who says what to whom in a unified model with several elaborated self-supervised tasks. Particularly, these tasks can be generally categorized into (1) interlocutor structure modeling including reply-to utterance recognition, identical speaker searching and pointer consistency distinction, and (2) utterance semantics modeling including masked shared utterance restoration and shared node detection. We evaluate MPC-BERT on three downstream tasks including addressee recognition, speaker identification and response selection. Experimental results show that MPC-BERT outperforms previous methods by large margins and achieves new state-of-the-art performance on all three downstream tasks at two benchmarks.

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Reasoning over Entity-Action-Location Graph for Procedural Text Understanding
Hao Huang | Xiubo Geng | Jian Pei | Guodong Long | Daxin Jiang
Proceedings of the 59th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 11th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Procedural text understanding aims at tracking the states (e.g., create, move, destroy) and locations of the entities mentioned in a given paragraph. To effectively track the states and locations, it is essential to capture the rich semantic relations between entities, actions, and locations in the paragraph. Although recent works have achieved substantial progress, most of them focus on leveraging the inherent constraints or incorporating external knowledge for state prediction. The rich semantic relations in the given paragraph are largely overlooked. In this paper, we propose a novel approach (REAL) to procedural text understanding, where we build a general framework to systematically model the entity-entity, entity-action, and entity-location relations using a graph neural network. We further develop algorithms for graph construction, representation learning, and state and location tracking. We evaluate the proposed approach on two benchmark datasets, ProPara, and Recipes. The experimental results show that our method outperforms strong baselines by a large margin, i.e., 5.0% on ProPara and 3.2% on Recipes, illustrating the utility of semantic relations and the effectiveness of the graph-based reasoning model.

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Maria: A Visual Experience Powered Conversational Agent
Zujie Liang | Huang Hu | Can Xu | Chongyang Tao | Xiubo Geng | Yining Chen | Fan Liang | Daxin Jiang
Proceedings of the 59th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 11th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Arguably, the visual perception of conversational agents to the physical world is a key way for them to exhibit the human-like intelligence. Image-grounded conversation is thus proposed to address this challenge. Existing works focus on exploring the multimodal dialog models that ground the conversation on a given image. In this paper, we take a step further to study image-grounded conversation under a fully open-ended setting where no paired dialog and image are assumed available. Specifically, we present Maria, a neural conversation agent powered by the visual world experiences which are retrieved from a large-scale image index. Maria consists of three flexible components, i.e., text-to-image retriever, visual concept detector and visual-knowledge-grounded response generator. The retriever aims to retrieve a correlated image to the dialog from an image index, while the visual concept detector extracts rich visual knowledge from the image. Then, the response generator is grounded on the extracted visual knowledge and dialog context to generate the target response. Extensive experiments demonstrate Maria outperforms previous state-of-the-art methods on automatic metrics and human evaluation, and can generate informative responses that have some visual commonsense of the physical world.

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Improving Zero-Shot Cross-lingual Transfer for Multilingual Question Answering over Knowledge Graph
Yucheng Zhou | Xiubo Geng | Tao Shen | Wenqiang Zhang | Daxin Jiang
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Multilingual question answering over knowledge graph (KGQA) aims to derive answers from a knowledge graph (KG) for questions in multiple languages. To be widely applicable, we focus on its zero-shot transfer setting. That is, we can only access training data in a high-resource language, while need to answer multilingual questions without any labeled data in target languages. A straightforward approach is resorting to pre-trained multilingual models (e.g., mBERT) for cross-lingual transfer, but there is a still significant gap of KGQA performance between source and target languages. In this paper, we exploit unsupervised bilingual lexicon induction (BLI) to map training questions in source language into those in target language as augmented training data, which circumvents language inconsistency between training and inference. Furthermore, we propose an adversarial learning strategy to alleviate syntax-disorder of the augmented data, making the model incline to both language- and syntax-independence. Consequently, our model narrows the gap in zero-shot cross-lingual transfer. Experiments on two multilingual KGQA datasets with 11 zero-resource languages verify its effectiveness.

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Learning Neural Templates for Recommender Dialogue System
Zujie Liang | Huang Hu | Can Xu | Jian Miao | Yingying He | Yining Chen | Xiubo Geng | Fan Liang | Daxin Jiang
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

The task of Conversational Recommendation System (CRS), i.e., recommender dialog system, aims to recommend precise items to users through natural language interactions. Though recent end-to-end neural models have shown promising progress on this task, two key challenges still remain. First, the recommended items cannot be always incorporated into the generated response precisely and appropriately. Second, only the items mentioned in the training corpus have a chance to be recommended in the conversation. To tackle these challenges, we introduce a novel framework called NTRD for recommender dialogue system that can decouple the dialogue generation from the item recommendation. NTRD has two key components, i.e., response template generator and item selector. The former adopts an encoder-decoder model to generate a response template with slot locations tied to target items, while the latter fills in slot locations with the proper items using a sufficient attention mechanism. Our approach combines the strengths of both classical slot filling approaches (that are generally controllable) and modern neural NLG approaches (that are generally more natural and accurate). Extensive experiments on the benchmark ReDial show our approach significantly outperforms the previous state-of-the-art methods. Besides, our approach has the unique advantage to produce novel items that do not appear in the training set of dialogue corpus. The code is available at https://github.com/jokieleung/NTRD.

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Modeling Event-Pair Relations in External Knowledge Graphs for Script Reasoning
Yucheng Zhou | Xiubo Geng | Tao Shen | Jian Pei | Wenqiang Zhang | Daxin Jiang
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL-IJCNLP 2021

2020

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Towards Interpretable Reasoning over Paragraph Effects in Situation
Mucheng Ren | Xiubo Geng | Tao Qin | Heyan Huang | Daxin Jiang
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

We focus on the task of reasoning over paragraph effects in situation, which requires a model to understand the cause and effect described in a background paragraph, and apply the knowledge to a novel situation. Existing works ignore the complicated reasoning process and solve it with a one-step “black box” model. Inspired by human cognitive processes, in this paper we propose a sequential approach for this task which explicitly models each step of the reasoning process with neural network modules. In particular, five reasoning modules are designed and learned in an end-to-end manner, which leads to a more interpretable model. Experimental results on the ROPES dataset demonstrate the effectiveness and explainability of our proposed approach.

2019

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Multi-Task Learning for Conversational Question Answering over a Large-Scale Knowledge Base
Tao Shen | Xiubo Geng | Tao Qin | Daya Guo | Duyu Tang | Nan Duan | Guodong Long | Daxin Jiang
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing and the 9th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (EMNLP-IJCNLP)

We consider the problem of conversational question answering over a large-scale knowledge base. To handle huge entity vocabulary of a large-scale knowledge base, recent neural semantic parsing based approaches usually decompose the task into several subtasks and then solve them sequentially, which leads to following issues: 1) errors in earlier subtasks will be propagated and negatively affect downstream ones; and 2) each subtask cannot naturally share supervision signals with others. To tackle these issues, we propose an innovative multi-task learning framework where a pointer-equipped semantic parsing model is designed to resolve coreference in conversations, and naturally empower joint learning with a novel type-aware entity detection model. The proposed framework thus enables shared supervisions and alleviates the effect of error propagation. Experiments on a large-scale conversational question answering dataset containing 1.6M question answering pairs over 12.8M entities show that the proposed framework improves overall F1 score from 67% to 79% compared with previous state-of-the-art work.