Intent classification (IC) plays an important role in task-oriented dialogue systems as it identifies user intents from given utterances. However, models trained on limited annotations for IC often suffer from a lack of generalization to unseen intent classes. We propose a novel pre-training method for text encoders that uses contrastive learning with intent psuedo-labels to produce embeddings that are well-suited for IC tasks. By applying this pre-training strategy, we also introduce the pre-trained intent-aware encoder (PIE). Specifically, we first train a tagger to identify key phrases within utterances that are crucial for interpreting intents. We then use these extracted phrases to create examples for pre-training a text encoder in a contrastive manner. As a result, our PIE model achieves up to 5.4% and 4.0% higher accuracy than the previous state-of-the-art pre-trained sentence encoder for the N-way zero- and one-shot settings on four IC datasets.
Conventional text style transfer approaches for natural language focus on sentence-level style transfer without considering contextual information, and the style is described with attributes (e.g., formality). When applying style transfer on conversations such as task-oriented dialogues, existing approaches suffer from these limitations as context can play an important role and the style attributes are often difficult to define in conversations. In this paper, we introduce conversation style transfer as a few-shot learning problem, where the model learns to perform style transfer by observing only the target-style dialogue examples. We propose a novel in-context learning approach to solve the task with style-free dialogues as a pivot. Human evaluation shows that by incorporating multi-turn context, the model is able to match the target style while having better appropriateness and semantic correctness compared to utterance-level style transfer. Additionally, we show that conversation style transfer can also benefit downstream tasks. Results on multi-domain intent classification tasks show improvement in F1 scores after transferring the style of training data to match the style of test data.
When upgrading neural models to a newer version, new errors that were not encountered in the legacy version can be introduced, known as regression errors. This inconsistent behavior during model upgrade often outweighs the benefits of accuracy gain and hinders the adoption of new models. To mitigate regression errors from model upgrade, distillation and ensemble have proven to be viable solutions without significant compromise in performance. Despite the progress, these approaches attained an incremental reduction in regression which is still far from achieving backward-compatible model upgrade. In this work, we propose a novel method, Gated Fusion, that promotes backward compatibility via learning to mix predictions between old and new models. Empirical results on two distinct model upgrade scenarios show that our method reduces the number of regression errors by 62% on average, outperforming the strongest baseline by an average of 25%.
Backward compatibility of model predictions is a desired property when updating a machine learning driven application. It allows to seamlessly improve the underlying model without introducing regression bugs. In classification tasks these bugs occur in the form of negative flips. This means an instance that was correctly classified by the old model is now classified incorrectly by the updated model. This has direct negative impact on the user experience of such systems e.g. a frequently used voice assistant query is suddenly misclassified. A common reason to update the model is when new training data becomes available and needs to be incorporated. Simply retraining the model with the updated data introduces the unwanted negative flips. We study the problem of regression during data updates and propose Backward Compatible Weight Interpolation (BCWI). This method interpolates between the weights of the old and new model and we show in extensive experiments that it reduces negative flips without sacrificing the improved accuracy of the new model. BCWI is straight forward to implement and does not increase inference cost. We also explore the use of importance weighting during interpolation and averaging the weights of multiple new models in order to further reduce negative flips.
Functionality and dialogue experience are two important factors of task-oriented dialogue systems. Conventional approaches with closed schema (e.g., conversational semantic parsing) often fail as both the functionality and dialogue experience are strongly constrained by the underlying schema. We introduce a new paradigm for task-oriented dialogue - Dialog2API - to greatly expand the functionality and provide seamless dialogue experience. The conversational model interacts with the environment by generating and executing programs triggering a set of pre-defined APIs. The model also manages the dialogue policy and interact with the user through generating appropriate natural language responses. By allowing generating free-form programs, Dialog2API supports composite goals by combining different APIs, whereas unrestricted program revision provides natural and robust dialogue experience. To facilitate Dialog2API, the core model is provided with API documents, an execution environment and optionally some example dialogues annotated with programs. We propose an approach tailored for the Dialog2API, where the dialogue states are represented by a stack of programs, with most recently mentioned program on the top of the stack. Dialog2API can work with many application scenarios such as software automation and customer service. In this paper, we construct a dataset for AWS S3 APIs and present evaluation results of in-context learning baselines.
In text classification tasks, useful information is encoded in the label names. Label semantic aware systems have leveraged this information for improved text classification performance during fine-tuning and prediction. However, use of label-semantics during pre-training has not been extensively explored. We therefore propose Label Semantic Aware Pre-training (LSAP) to improve the generalization and data efficiency of text classification systems. LSAP incorporates label semantics into pre-trained generative models (T5 in our case) by performing secondary pre-training on labeled sentences from a variety of domains. As domain-general pre-training requires large amounts of data, we develop a filtering and labeling pipeline to automatically create sentence-label pairs from unlabeled text. We perform experiments on intent (ATIS, Snips, TOPv2) and topic classification (AG News, Yahoo! Answers). LSAP obtains significant accuracy improvements over state-of-the-art models for few-shot text classification while maintaining performance comparable to state of the art in high-resource settings.
Recent advance in deep learning has led to rapid adoption of machine learning based NLP models in a wide range of applications. Despite the continuous gain in accuracy, backward compatibility is also an important aspect for industrial applications, yet it received little research attention. Backward compatibility requires that the new model does not regress on cases that were correctly handled by its predecessor. This work studies model update regression in structured prediction tasks. We choose syntactic dependency parsing and conversational semantic parsing as representative examples of structured prediction tasks in NLP. First, we measure and analyze model update regression in different model update settings. Next, we explore and benchmark existing techniques for reducing model update regression including model ensemble and knowledge distillation. We further propose a simple and effective method, Backward-Congruent Re-ranking (BCR), by taking into account the characteristics of structured output. Experiments show that BCR can better mitigate model update regression than model ensemble and knowledge distillation approaches.
Pre-trained language models have been recently shown to benefit task-oriented dialogue (TOD) systems. Despite their success, existing methods often formulate this task as a cascaded generation problem which can lead to error accumulation across different sub-tasks and greater data annotation overhead. In this study, we present PPTOD, a unified plug-and-play model for task-oriented dialogue. In addition, we introduce a new dialogue multi-task pre-training strategy that allows the model to learn the primary TOD task completion skills from heterogeneous dialog corpora. We extensively test our model on three benchmark TOD tasks, including end-to-end dialogue modelling, dialogue state tracking, and intent classification. Experimental results show that PPTOD achieves new state of the art on all evaluated tasks in both high-resource and low-resource scenarios. Furthermore, comparisons against previous SOTA methods show that the responses generated by PPTOD are more factually correct and semantically coherent as judged by human annotators.
We introduce a Recursive INsertion-based Encoder (RINE), a novel approach for semantic parsing in task-oriented dialog. Our model consists of an encoder network that incrementally builds the semantic parse tree by predicting the non-terminal label and its positions in the linearized tree. At the generation time, the model constructs the semantic parse tree by recursively inserting the predicted non-terminal labels at the predicted positions until termination. RINE achieves state-of-the-art exact match accuracy on low- and high-resource versions of the conversational semantic parsing benchmark TOP (Gupta et al., 2018; Chen et al., 2020), outperforming strong sequence-to-sequence models and transition-based parsers. We also show that our model design is applicable to nested named entity recognition task, where it performs on par with state-of-the-art approach designed for that task. Finally, we demonstrate that our approach is 2-3.5 times faster than the sequence-to-sequence model at inference time.
In this paper, we offer a preliminary investigation into the task of in-image machine translation: transforming an image containing text in one language into an image containing the same text in another language. We propose an end-to-end neural model for this task inspired by recent approaches to neural machine translation, and demonstrate promising initial results based purely on pixel-level supervision. We then offer a quantitative and qualitative evaluation of our system outputs and discuss some common failure modes. Finally, we conclude with directions for future work.