Proceedings of the 1st Workshop on Discourse Structure in Neural NLG

Anusha Balakrishnan, Vera Demberg, Chandra Khatri, Abhinav Rastogi, Donia Scott, Marilyn Walker, Michael White (Editors)

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Tokyo, Japan
Association for Computational Linguistics
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Proceedings of the 1st Workshop on Discourse Structure in Neural NLG
Anusha Balakrishnan | Vera Demberg | Chandra Khatri | Abhinav Rastogi | Donia Scott | Marilyn Walker | Michael White

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Maximizing Stylistic Control and Semantic Accuracy in NLG: Personality Variation and Discourse Contrast
Vrindavan Harrison | Lena Reed | Shereen Oraby | Marilyn Walker

Neural generation methods for task-oriented dialogue typically generate from a meaning representation that is populated using a database of domain information, such as a table of data describing a restaurant. While earlier work focused solely on the semantic fidelity of outputs, recent work has started to explore methods for controlling the style of the generated text while simultaneously achieving semantic accuracy. Here we experiment with two stylistic benchmark tasks, generating language that exhibits variation in personality, and generating discourse contrast. We report a huge performance improvement in both stylistic control and semantic accuracy over the state of the art on both of these benchmarks. We test several different models and show that putting stylistic conditioning in the decoder and eliminating the semantic re-ranker used in earlier models results in more than 15 points higher BLEU for Personality, with a reduction of semantic error to near zero. We also report an improvement from .75 to .81 in controlling contrast and a reduction in semantic error from 16% to 2%.

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Incorporating Textual Evidence in Visual Storytelling
Tianyi Li | Sujian Li

Previous work on visual storytelling mainly focused on exploring image sequence as evidence for storytelling and neglected textual evidence for guiding story generation. Motivated by human storytelling process which recalls stories for familiar images, we exploit textual evidence from similar images to help generate coherent and meaningful stories. To pick the images which may provide textual experience, we propose a two-step ranking method based on image object recognition techniques. To utilize textual information, we design an extended Seq2Seq model with two-channel encoder and attention. Experiments on the VIST dataset show that our method outperforms state-of-the-art baseline models without heavy engineering.

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Fine-Grained Control of Sentence Segmentation and Entity Positioning in Neural NLG
Kritika Mehta | Raheel Qader | Cyril Labbe | François Portet

The move from pipeline Natural Language Generation (NLG) approaches to neural end-to-end approaches led to a loss of control in sentence planning operations owing to the conflation of intermediary micro-planning stages into a single model. Such control is highly necessary when the text should be tailored to respect some constraints such as which entity to be mentioned first, the entity position, the complexity of sentences, etc. In this paper, we introduce fine-grained control of sentence planning in neural data-to-text generation models at two levels - realization of input entities in desired sentences and realization of the input entities in the desired position among individual sentences. We show that by augmenting the input with explicit position identifiers, the neural model can achieve a great control over the output structure while keeping the naturalness of the generated text intact. Since sentence level metrics are not entirely suitable to evaluate this task, we used a metric specific to our task that accounts for the model’s ability to achieve control. The results demonstrate that the position identifiers do constraint the neural model to respect the intended output structure which can be useful in a variety of domains that require the generated text to be in a certain structure.

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Zero-shot Chinese Discourse Dependency Parsing via Cross-lingual Mapping
Yi Cheng | Sujian Li

Due to the absence of labeled data, discourse parsing still remains challenging in some languages. In this paper, we present a simple and efficient method to conduct zero-shot Chinese text-level dependency parsing by leveraging English discourse labeled data and parsing techniques. We first construct the Chinese-English mapping from the level of sentence and elementary discourse unit (EDU), and then exploit the parsing results of the corresponding English translations to obtain the discourse trees for the Chinese text. This method can automatically conduct Chinese discourse parsing, with no need of a large scale of Chinese labeled data.