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.
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.
Motivated by the needs of resource constrained dialog policy learning, we introduce dialog policy via differentiable inductive logic (DILOG). We explore the tasks of one-shot learning and zero-shot domain transfer with DILOG on SimDial and MultiWoZ. Using a single representative dialog from the restaurant domain, we train DILOG on the SimDial dataset and obtain 99+% in-domain test accuracy. We also show that the trained DILOG zero-shot transfers to all other domains with 99+% accuracy, proving the suitability of DILOG to slot-filling dialogs. We further extend our study to the MultiWoZ dataset achieving 90+% inform and success metrics. We also observe that these metrics are not capturing some of the shortcomings of DILOG in terms of false positives, prompting us to measure an auxiliary Action F1 score. We show that DILOG is 100x more data efficient than state-of-the-art neural approaches on MultiWoZ while achieving similar performance metrics. We conclude with a discussion on the strengths and weaknesses of DILOG.