Zhaochun Ren


2023

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Generative Knowledge Selection for Knowledge-Grounded Dialogues
Weiwei Sun | Pengjie Ren | Zhaochun Ren
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EACL 2023

Knowledge selection is the key in knowledge-grounded dialogues (KGD), which aims to select an appropriate knowledge snippet to be used in the utterance based on dialogue history. Previous studies mainly employ the classification approach to classify each candidate snippet as “relevant” or “irrelevant” independently. However, such approaches neglect the interactions between snippets, leading to difficulties in inferring the meaning of snippets. Moreover, they lack modeling of the discourse structure of dialogue-knowledge interactions. We propose a simple yet effective generative approach for knowledge selection, called GenKS. GenKS learns to select snippets by generating their identifiers with a sequence-to-sequence model. GenKS therefore captures intra-knowledge interaction inherently through attention mechanisms. Meanwhile, we devise a hyperlink mechanism to model the dialogue-knowledge interactions explicitly. We conduct experiments on three benchmark datasets, and verify GenKS achieves the best results on both knowledge selection and response generation.

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UMSE: Unified Multi-scenario Summarization Evaluation
Shen Gao | Zhitao Yao | Chongyang Tao | Xiuying Chen | Pengjie Ren | Zhaochun Ren | Zhumin Chen
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2023

Summarization quality evaluation is a non-trivial task in text summarization. Contemporary methods can be mainly categorized into two scenarios: (1) reference-based: evaluating with human-labeled reference summary; (2) reference-free: evaluating the summary consistency of the document. Recent studies mainly focus on one of these scenarios and explore training neural models built on PLMs to align with human criteria. However, the models from different scenarios are optimized individually, which may result in sub-optimal performance since they neglect the shared knowledge across different scenarios. Besides, designing individual models for each scenario caused inconvenience to the user. Inspired by this, we propose Unified Multi-scenario Summarization Evaluation Model (UMSE). More specifically, we propose a perturbed prefix tuning method to share cross-scenario knowledge between scenarios and use a self-supervised training paradigm to optimize the model without extra human labeling. Our UMSE is the first unified summarization evaluation framework engaged with the ability to be used in three evaluation scenarios. Experimental results across three typical scenarios on the benchmark dataset SummEval indicate that our UMSE can achieve comparable performance with several existing strong methods which are specifically designed for each scenario.

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Answering Ambiguous Questions via Iterative Prompting
Weiwei Sun | Hengyi Cai | Hongshen Chen | Pengjie Ren | Zhumin Chen | Maarten de Rijke | Zhaochun Ren
Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

In open-domain question answering, due to the ambiguity of questions, multiple plausible answers may exist. To provide feasible answers to an ambiguous question,one approach is to directly predict all valid answers, but this can struggle with balancing relevance and diversity. An alternative is to gather candidate answers and aggregate them, but this method can be computationally costly and may neglect dependencies among answers. In this paper, we present AmbigPrompt to address the imperfections of existing approaches to answering ambiguous questions. Specifically, we integrate an answering model with a prompting model in an iterative manner. The prompting model adaptively tracks the reading process and progressively triggers the answering model to compose distinct and relevant answers. Additionally, we develop a task-specific post-pretraining approach for both the answering model and the prompting model, which greatly improves the performance of our framework. Empirical studies on two commonly-used open benchmarks show that AmbigPrompt achieves state-of-the-art or competitive results while using less memory and having a lower inference latency than competing approaches. Additionally, AmbigPrompt also performs well in low-resource settings.

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RADE: Reference-Assisted Dialogue Evaluation for Open-Domain Dialogue
Zhengliang Shi | Weiwei Sun | Shuo Zhang | Zhen Zhang | Pengjie Ren | Zhaochun Ren
Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Evaluating open-domain dialogue systems is challenging for reasons such as the one-to-many problem, i.e., many appropriate responses other than just the golden response. As of now, automatic evaluation methods need better consistency with humans, while reliable human evaluation can be time- and cost-intensive. To this end, we propose the Reference-Assisted Dialogue Evaluation (RADE) approach under the multi-task learning framework, which leverages the pre-created utterance as reference other than the gold response to relief the one-to-many problem. Specifically, RADE explicitly compares reference and the candidate response to predict their overall scores. Moreover, an auxiliary response generation task enhances prediction via a shared encoder. To support RADE, we extend three datasets with additional rated responses other than just a golden response by human annotation. Experiments on our three datasets and two existing benchmarks demonstrate the effectiveness of our method, where Pearson, Spearman, and Kendall correlations with human evaluation outperform state-of-the-art baselines.

2022

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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.

2021

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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.

2020

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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.

2018

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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.