Zhaochun Ren


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Event Transition Planning for Open-ended Text Generation
Qintong Li | Piji Li | Wei Bi | Zhaochun Ren | Yuxuan Lai | Lingpeng Kong
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2022

Open-ended text generation tasks, such as dialogue generation and story completion, require models to generate a coherent continuation given limited preceding context. The open-ended nature of these tasks brings new challenges to the neural auto-regressive text generators nowadays. Despite these neural models are good at producing human-like text, it is difficult for them to arrange causalities and relations between given facts and possible ensuing events. To bridge this gap, we propose a novel two-stage method which explicitly arranges the ensuing events in open-ended text generation. Our approach can be understood as a specially-trained coarse-to-fine algorithm, where an event transition planner provides a “coarse” plot skeleton and a text generator in the second stage refines the skeleton. Experiments on two open-ended text generation tasks demonstrate that our proposed method effectively improves the quality of the generated text, especially in coherence and diversity. We will release the codes to the community for further exploration.


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Learning to Ask Conversational Questions by Optimizing Levenshtein Distance
Zhongkun Liu | Pengjie Ren | Zhumin Chen | Zhaochun Ren | Maarten de Rijke | Ming Zhou
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)

Conversational Question Simplification (CQS) aims to simplify self-contained questions into conversational ones by incorporating some conversational characteristics, e.g., anaphora and ellipsis. Existing maximum likelihood estimation based methods often get trapped in easily learned tokens as all tokens are treated equally during training. In this work, we introduce a Reinforcement Iterative Sequence Editing (RISE) framework that optimizes the minimum Levenshtein distance through explicit editing actions. RISE is able to pay attention to tokens that are related to conversational characteristics. To train RISE, we devise an Iterative Reinforce Training (IRT) algorithm with a Dynamic Programming based Sampling (DPS) process to improve exploration. Experimental results on two benchmark datasets show that RISE significantly outperforms state-of-the-art methods and generalizes well on unseen data.


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EmpDG: Multi-resolution Interactive Empathetic Dialogue Generation
Qintong Li | Hongshen Chen | Zhaochun Ren | Pengjie Ren | Zhaopeng Tu | Zhumin Chen
Proceedings of the 28th International Conference on Computational Linguistics

A humanized dialogue system is expected to generate empathetic replies, which should be sensitive to the users’ expressed emotion. The task of empathetic dialogue generation is proposed to address this problem. The essential challenges lie in accurately capturing the nuances of human emotion and considering the potential of user feedback, which are overlooked by the majority of existing work. In response to this problem, we propose a multi-resolution adversarial model – EmpDG, to generate more empathetic responses. EmpDG exploits both the coarse-grained dialogue-level and fine-grained token-level emotions, the latter of which helps to better capture the nuances of user emotion. In addition, we introduce an interactive adversarial learning framework which exploits the user feedback, to identify whether the generated responses evoke emotion perceptivity in dialogues. Experimental results show that the proposed approach significantly outperforms the state-of-the-art baselines in both content quality and emotion perceptivity.


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Sequicity: Simplifying Task-oriented Dialogue Systems with Single Sequence-to-Sequence Architectures
Wenqiang Lei | Xisen Jin | Min-Yen Kan | Zhaochun Ren | Xiangnan He | Dawei Yin
Proceedings of the 56th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Existing solutions to task-oriented dialogue systems follow pipeline designs which introduces architectural complexity and fragility. We propose a novel, holistic, extendable framework based on a single sequence-to-sequence (seq2seq) model which can be optimized with supervised or reinforcement learning. A key contribution is that we design text spans named belief spans to track dialogue believes, allowing task-oriented dialogue systems to be modeled in a seq2seq way. Based on this, we propose a simplistic Two Stage CopyNet instantiation which emonstrates good scalability: significantly reducing model complexity in terms of number of parameters and training time by a magnitude. It significantly outperforms state-of-the-art pipeline-based methods on large datasets and retains a satisfactory entity match rate on out-of-vocabulary (OOV) cases where pipeline-designed competitors totally fail.

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Knowledge Diffusion for Neural Dialogue Generation
Shuman Liu | Hongshen Chen | Zhaochun Ren | Yang Feng | Qun Liu | Dawei Yin
Proceedings of the 56th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

End-to-end neural dialogue generation has shown promising results recently, but it does not employ knowledge to guide the generation and hence tends to generate short, general, and meaningless responses. In this paper, we propose a neural knowledge diffusion (NKD) model to introduce knowledge into dialogue generation. This method can not only match the relevant facts for the input utterance but diffuse them to similar entities. With the help of facts matching and entity diffusion, the neural dialogue generation is augmented with the ability of convergent and divergent thinking over the knowledge base. Our empirical study on a real-world dataset prove that our model is capable of generating meaningful, diverse and natural responses for both factoid-questions and knowledge grounded chi-chats. The experiment results also show that our model outperforms competitive baseline models significantly.