Dialogue act annotations are important to improve response generation quality in task-oriented dialogue systems. However, it can be challenging to use dialogue acts to control response generation in a generalizable way because different datasets and tasks may have incompatible annotations. While alternative methods that utilize latent action spaces or reinforcement learning do not require explicit annotations, they may lack interpretability or face difficulties defining task-specific rewards. In this work, we present a novel end-to-end latent dialogue act model (DiactTOD) that represents dialogue acts in a latent space. DiactTOD, when pre-trained on a large corpus, is able to predict and control dialogue acts to generate controllable responses using these latent representations in a zero-shot fashion. Our approach demonstrates state-of-the-art performance across a wide range of experimental settings on the MultiWOZ dataset, including zero-shot, few-shot, and full data fine-tuning with both end-to-end and policy optimization configurations.
In executable task-oriented semantic parsing, the system aims to translate users' utterances in natural language to machine-interpretable programs (API calls) that can be executed according to pre-defined API specifications. With the popularity of Large Language Models (LLMs), in-context learning offers a strong baseline for such scenarios, especially in data-limited regimes. However, LLMs are known to hallucinate and therefore pose a formidable challenge in constraining generated content. Thus, it remains uncertain if LLMs can effectively perform task-oriented utterance-to-API generation where respecting API's structural and task-specific constraints is crucial. In this work, we seek to measure, analyze and mitigate such constraints violations. First, we identify the categories of various constraints in obtaining API-semantics from task-oriented utterances, and define fine-grained metrics that complement traditional ones. Second, we leverage these metrics to conduct a detailed error analysis of constraints violations seen in state-of-the-art LLMs, which motivates us to investigate two mitigation strategies: Semantic-Retrieval of Demonstrations (SRD) and API-aware Constrained Decoding (API-CD). Our experiments show that these strategies are effective at reducing constraints violations and improving the quality of the generated API calls, but require careful consideration given their implementation complexity and latency.
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.
Despite growing interest in applications based on natural customer support conversations, there exist remarkably few publicly available datasets that reflect the expected characteristics of conversations in these settings. Existing task-oriented dialogue datasets, which were collected to benchmark dialogue systems mainly in written human-to-bot settings, are not representative of real customer support conversations and do not provide realistic benchmarks for systems that are applied to natural data. To address this gap, we introduce NatCS, a multi-domain collection of spoken customer service conversations. We describe our process for collecting synthetic conversations between customers and agents based on natural language phenomena observed in real conversations. Compared to previous dialogue datasets, the conversations collected with our approach are more representative of real human-to-human conversations along multiple metrics. Finally, we demonstrate potential uses of NatCS, including dialogue act classification and intent induction from conversations as potential applications, showing that dialogue act annotations in NatCS provide more effective training data for modeling real conversations compared to existing synthetic written datasets. We publicly release NatCS to facilitate research in natural dialog systems
With increasing demand for and adoption of virtual assistants, recent work has investigated ways to accelerate bot schema design through the automatic induction of intents or the induction of slots and dialogue states. However, a lack of dedicated benchmarks and standardized evaluation has made progress difficult to track and comparisons between systems difficult to make. This challenge track, held as part of the Eleventh Dialog Systems Technology Challenge, introduces a benchmark that aims to evaluate methods for the automatic induction of customer intents in a realistic setting of customer service interactions between human agents and customers. We propose two subtasks for progressively tackling the automatic induction of intents and corresponding evaluation methodologies. We then present three datasets suitable for evaluating the tasks and propose simple baselines. Finally, we summarize the submissions and results of the challenge track, for which we received submissions from 34 teams.