Continual learning in task-oriented dialogue systems allows the system to add new domains and functionalities overtime after deployment, without incurring the high cost of retraining the whole system each time. In this paper, we propose a first-ever continual learning benchmark for task-oriented dialogue systems with 37 domains to be learned continuously in both modularized and end-to-end learning settings. In addition, we implement and compare multiple existing continual learning baselines, and we propose a simple yet effective architectural method based on residual adapters. We also suggest that the upper bound performance of continual learning should be equivalent to multitask learning when data from all domain is available at once. Our experiments demonstrate that the proposed architectural method and a simple replay-based strategy perform better, by a large margin, compared to other continuous learning techniques, and only slightly worse than the multitask learning upper bound while being 20X faster in learning new domains. We also report several trade-offs in terms of parameter usage, memory size and training time, which are important in the design of a task-oriented dialogue system. The proposed benchmark is released to promote more research in this direction.
Zero-shot transfer learning for dialogue state tracking (DST) enables us to handle a variety of task-oriented dialogue domains without the expense of collecting in-domain data. In this work, we propose to transfer the cross-task knowledge from general question answering (QA) corpora for the zero-shot DST task. Specifically, we propose TransferQA, a transferable generative QA model that seamlessly combines extractive QA and multi-choice QA via a text-to-text transformer framework, and tracks both categorical slots and non-categorical slots in DST. In addition, we introduce two effective ways to construct unanswerable questions, namely, negative question sampling and context truncation, which enable our model to handle none value slots in the zero-shot DST setting. The extensive experiments show that our approaches substantially improve the existing zero-shot and few-shot results on MultiWoz. Moreover, compared to the fully trained baseline on the Schema-Guided Dialogue dataset, our approach shows better generalization ability in unseen domains.
General-purpose language models have demonstrated impressive capabilities, performing on par with state-of-the-art approaches on a range of downstream natural language processing (NLP) tasks and benchmarks when inferring instructions from very few examples. Here, we evaluate the multilingual skills of the GPT and T5 models in conducting multi-class classification on non-English languages without any parameter updates. We show that, given a few English examples as context, pre-trained language models can predict not only English test samples but also non-English ones. Finally, we find the in-context few-shot cross-lingual prediction results of language models are significantly better than random prediction, and they are competitive compared to the existing state-of-the-art cross-lingual models and translation models.
Personalized dialogue systems are an essential step toward better human-machine interaction. Existing personalized dialogue agents rely on properly designed conversational datasets, which are mostly monolingual (e.g., English), which greatly limits the usage of conversational agents in other languages. In this paper, we propose a multi-lingual extension of Persona-Chat, namely XPersona. Our dataset includes persona conversations in six different languages other than English for evaluating multilingual personalized agents. We experiment with both multilingual and cross-lingual trained baselines and evaluate them against monolingual and translation-pipeline models using both automatic and human evaluation. Experimental results show that the multilingual trained models outperform the translation pipeline and that they are on par with the monolingual models, with the advantage of having a single model across multiple languages. On the other hand, the state-of-the-art cross-lingual trained models achieve inferior performance to the other models, showing that cross-lingual conversation modeling is a challenging task. We hope that our dataset and baselines will accelerate research in multilingual dialogue systems.
Zero-shot cross-domain dialogue state tracking (DST) enables us to handle unseen domains without the expense of collecting in-domain data. In this paper, we propose a slot descriptions enhanced generative approach for zero-shot cross-domain DST. Specifically, our model first encodes a dialogue context and a slot with a pre-trained self-attentive encoder, and generates slot value in auto-regressive manner. In addition, we incorporate Slot Type Informed Descriptions that capture the shared information of different slots to facilitates the cross-domain knowledge transfer. Experimental results on MultiWOZ shows that our model significantly improve existing state-of-the-art results in zero-shot cross-domain setting.
Multilingual language models have shown decent performance in multilingual and cross-lingual natural language understanding tasks. However, the power of these multilingual models in code-switching tasks has not been fully explored. In this paper, we study the effectiveness of multilingual language models to understand their capability and adaptability to the mixed-language setting by considering the inference speed, performance, and number of parameters to measure their practicality. We conduct experiments in three language pairs on named entity recognition and part-of-speech tagging and compare them with existing methods, such as using bilingual embeddings and multilingual meta-embeddings. Our findings suggest that pre-trained multilingual models do not necessarily guarantee high-quality representations on code-switching, while using meta-embeddings achieves similar results with significantly fewer parameters.
Information-seeking dialogue systems, including knowledge identification and response generation, aim to respond to users with fluent, coherent, and informative responses based on users’ needs, which. To tackle this challenge, we utilize data augmentation methods and several training techniques with the pre-trained language models to learn a general pattern of the task and thus achieve promising performance. In DialDoc21 competition, our system achieved 74.95 F1 score and 60.74 Exact Match score in subtask 1, and 37.72 SacreBLEU score in subtask 2. Empirical analysis is provided to explain the effectiveness of our approaches.
Fine-tuning pre-trained generative language models to down-stream language generation tasks has shown promising results. However, this comes with the cost of having a single, large model for each task, which is not ideal in low-memory/power scenarios (e.g., mobile). In this paper, we propose an effective way to fine-tune multiple down-stream generation tasks simultaneously using a single, large pretrained model. The experiments on five diverse language generation tasks show that by just using an additional 2-3% parameters for each task, our model can maintain or even improve the performance of fine-tuning the whole model.
Task-oriented dialogue systems are either modularized with separate dialogue state tracking (DST) and management steps or end-to-end trainable. In either case, the knowledge base (KB) plays an essential role in fulfilling user requests. Modularized systems rely on DST to interact with the KB, which is expensive in terms of annotation and inference time. End-to-end systems, instead, use the KB directly as input, but they cannot scale when the KB is larger than a few hundred entries. In this paper, we propose a method to embed the KB, of any size, directly into the model parameters. The resulting model does not require any DST or template responses, nor the KB as input, and it can dynamically update its KB via fine-tuning. We evaluate our solution in five task-oriented dialogue datasets with small, medium, and large KB size. Our experiments show that end-to-end models can effectively embed knowledge bases in their parameters and achieve competitive performance in all evaluated datasets.
There has been considerable progress made towards conversational models that generate coherent and fluent responses; however, this often involves training large language models on large dialogue datasets, such as Reddit. These large conversational models provide little control over the generated responses, and this control is further limited in the absence of annotated conversational datasets for attribute specific generation that can be used for fine-tuning the model. In this paper, we first propose and evaluate plug-and-play methods for controllable response generation, which does not require dialogue specific datasets and does not rely on fine-tuning a large model. While effective, the decoding procedure induces considerable computational overhead, rendering the conversational model unsuitable for interactive usage. To overcome this, we introduce an approach that does not require further computation at decoding time, while also does not require any fine-tuning of a large language model. We demonstrate, through extensive automatic and human evaluation, a high degree of control over the generated conversational responses with regard to multiple desired attributes, while being fluent.
An increasing number of people in the world today speak a mixed-language as a result of being multilingual. However, building a speech recognition system for code-switching remains difficult due to the availability of limited resources and the expense and significant effort required to collect mixed-language data. We therefore propose a new learning method, meta-transfer learning, to transfer learn on a code-switched speech recognition system in a low-resource setting by judiciously extracting information from high-resource monolingual datasets. Our model learns to recognize individual languages, and transfer them so as to better recognize mixed-language speech by conditioning the optimization on the code-switching data. Based on experimental results, our model outperforms existing baselines on speech recognition and language modeling tasks, and is faster to converge.
User attributes provide rich and useful information for user understanding, yet structured and easy-to-use attributes are often sparsely populated. In this paper, we leverage dialogues with conversational agents, which contain strong suggestions of user information, to automatically extract user attributes. Since no existing dataset is available for this purpose, we apply distant supervision to train our proposed two-stage attribute extractor, which surpasses several retrieval and generation baselines on human evaluation. Meanwhile, we discuss potential applications (e.g., personalized recommendation and dialogue systems) of such extracted user attributes, and point out current limitations to cast light on future work.
In this paper, we propose Minimalist Transfer Learning (MinTL) to simplify the system design process of task-oriented dialogue systems and alleviate the over-dependency on annotated data. MinTL is a simple yet effective transfer learning framework, which allows us to plug-and-play pre-trained seq2seq models, and jointly learn dialogue state tracking and dialogue response generation. Unlike previous approaches, which use a copy mechanism to “carryover” the old dialogue states to the new one, we introduce Levenshtein belief spans (Lev), that allows efficient dialogue state tracking with a minimal generation length. We instantiate our learning framework with two pre-trained backbones: T5 and BART, and evaluate them on MultiWOZ. Extensive experiments demonstrate that: 1) our systems establish new state-of-the-art results on end-to-end response generation, 2) MinTL-based systems are more robust than baseline methods in the low resource setting, and they achieve competitive results with only 20% training data, and 3) Lev greatly improves the inference efficiency.
Despite the promising results of current cross-lingual models for spoken language understanding systems, they still suffer from imperfect cross-lingual representation alignments between the source and target languages, which makes the performance sub-optimal. To cope with this issue, we propose a regularization approach to further align word-level and sentence-level representations across languages without any external resource. First, we regularize the representation of user utterances based on their corresponding labels. Second, we regularize the latent variable model (Liu et al., 2019) by leveraging adversarial training to disentangle the latent variables. Experiments on the cross-lingual spoken language understanding task show that our model outperforms current state-of-the-art methods in both few-shot and zero-shot scenarios, and our model, trained on a few-shot setting with only 3% of the target language training data, achieves comparable performance to the supervised training with all the training data.
In this paper, we propose Multilingual Meta-Embeddings (MME), an effective method to learn multilingual representations by leveraging monolingual pre-trained embeddings. MME learns to utilize information from these embeddings via a self-attention mechanism without explicit language identification. We evaluate the proposed embedding method on the code-switching English-Spanish Named Entity Recognition dataset in a multilingual and cross-lingual setting. The experimental results show that our proposed method achieves state-of-the-art performance on the multilingual setting, and it has the ability to generalize to an unseen language task.
Detecting emotion from dialogue is a challenge that has not yet been extensively surveyed. One could consider the emotion of each dialogue turn to be independent, but in this paper, we introduce a hierarchical approach to classify emotion, hypothesizing that the current emotional state depends on previous latent emotions. We benchmark several feature-based classifiers using pre-trained word and emotion embeddings, state-of-the-art end-to-end neural network models, and Gaussian processes for automatic hyper-parameter search. In our experiments, hierarchical architectures consistently give significant improvements, and our best model achieves a 76.77% F1-score on the test set.
Existing personalized dialogue models use human designed persona descriptions to improve dialogue consistency. Collecting such descriptions from existing dialogues is expensive and requires hand-crafted feature designs. In this paper, we propose to extend Model-Agnostic Meta-Learning (MAML) (Finn et al., 2017) to personalized dialogue learning without using any persona descriptions. Our model learns to quickly adapt to new personas by leveraging only a few dialogue samples collected from the same user, which is fundamentally different from conditioning the response on the persona descriptions. Empirical results on Persona-chat dataset (Zhang et al., 2018) indicate that our solution outperforms non-meta-learning baselines using automatic evaluation metrics, and in terms of human-evaluated fluency and consistency.
Previous research on empathetic dialogue systems has mostly focused on generating responses given certain emotions. However, being empathetic not only requires the ability of generating emotional responses, but more importantly, requires the understanding of user emotions and replying appropriately. In this paper, we propose a novel end-to-end approach for modeling empathy in dialogue systems: Mixture of Empathetic Listeners (MoEL). Our model first captures the user emotions and outputs an emotion distribution. Based on this, MoEL will softly combine the output states of the appropriate Listener(s), which are each optimized to react to certain emotions, and generate an empathetic response. Human evaluations on EMPATHETIC-DIALOGUES dataset confirm that MoEL outperforms multitask training baseline in terms of empathy, relevance, and fluency. Furthermore, the case study on generated responses of different Listeners shows high interpretability of our model.
In countries that speak multiple main languages, mixing up different languages within a conversation is commonly called code-switching. Previous works addressing this challenge mainly focused on word-level aspects such as word embeddings. However, in many cases, languages share common subwords, especially for closely related languages, but also for languages that are seemingly irrelevant. Therefore, we propose Hierarchical Meta-Embeddings (HME) that learn to combine multiple monolingual word-level and subword-level embeddings to create language-agnostic lexical representations. On the task of Named Entity Recognition for English-Spanish code-switching data, our model achieves the state-of-the-art performance in the multilingual settings. We also show that, in cross-lingual settings, our model not only leverages closely related languages, but also learns from languages with different roots. Finally, we show that combining different subunits are crucial for capturing code-switching entities.