Yining Chen


2021

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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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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.

2018

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Recurrent Neural Networks as Weighted Language Recognizers
Yining Chen | Sorcha Gilroy | Andreas Maletti | Jonathan May | Kevin Knight
Proceedings of the 2018 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies, Volume 1 (Long Papers)

We investigate the computational complexity of various problems for simple recurrent neural networks (RNNs) as formal models for recognizing weighted languages. We focus on the single-layer, ReLU-activation, rational-weight RNNs with softmax, which are commonly used in natural language processing applications. We show that most problems for such RNNs are undecidable, including consistency, equivalence, minimization, and the determination of the highest-weighted string. However, for consistent RNNs the last problem becomes decidable, although the solution length can surpass all computable bounds. If additionally the string is limited to polynomial length, the problem becomes NP-complete. In summary, this shows that approximations and heuristic algorithms are necessary in practical applications of those RNNs.