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Scalable Multilingual Frontend for TTS

Apr 10, 2020
Alistair Conkie, Andrew Finch

This paper describes progress towards making a Neural Text-to-Speech (TTS) Frontend that works for many languages and can be easily extended to new languages. We take a Machine Translation (MT) inspired approach to constructing the frontend, and model both text normalization and pronunciation on a sentence level by building and using sequence-to-sequence (S2S) models. We experimented with training normalization and pronunciation as separate S2S models and with training a single S2S model combining both functions. For our language-independent approach to pronunciation we do not use a lexicon. Instead all pronunciations, including context-based pronunciations, are captured in the S2S model. We also present a language-independent chunking and splicing technique that allows us to process arbitrary-length sentences. Models for 18 languages were trained and evaluated. Many of the accuracy measurements are above 99%. We also evaluated the models in the context of end-to-end synthesis against our current production system.

* To appear in IEEE ICASSP 2020 

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If I Hear You Correctly: Building and Evaluating Interview Chatbots with Active Listening Skills

Feb 05, 2020
Ziang Xiao, Michelle X. Zhou, Wenxi Chen, Huahai Yang, Changyan Chi

Interview chatbots engage users in a text-based conversation to draw out their views and opinions. It is, however, challenging to build effective interview chatbots that can handle user free-text responses to open-ended questions and deliver engaging user experience. As the first step, we are investigating the feasibility and effectiveness of using publicly available, practical AI technologies to build effective interview chatbots. To demonstrate feasibility, we built a prototype scoped to enable interview chatbots with a subset of active listening skills - the abilities to comprehend a user's input and respond properly. To evaluate the effectiveness of our prototype, we compared the performance of interview chatbots with or without active listening skills on four common interview topics in a live evaluation with 206 users. Our work presents practical design implications for building effective interview chatbots, hybrid chatbot platforms, and empathetic chatbots beyond interview tasks.

* Working draft. To appear in the ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2020) 

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Enhancing Out-Of-Domain Utterance Detection with Data Augmentation Based on Word Embeddings

Nov 24, 2019
Yueqi Feng, Jiali Lin

For most intelligent assistant systems, it is essential to have a mechanism that detects out-of-domain (OOD) utterances automatically to handle noisy input properly. One typical approach would be introducing a separate class that contains OOD utterance examples combined with in-domain text samples into the classifier. However, since OOD utterances are usually unseen to the training datasets, the detection performance largely depends on the quality of the attached OOD text data with restricted sizes of samples due to computing limits. In this paper, we study how augmented OOD data based on sampling impact OOD utterance detection with a small sample size. We hypothesize that OOD utterance samples chosen randomly can increase the coverage of unknown OOD utterance space and enhance detection accuracy if they are more dispersed. Experiments show that given the same dataset with the same OOD sample size, the OOD utterance detection performance improves when OOD samples are more spread-out.

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Searching for Legal Clauses by Analogy. Few-shot Semantic Retrieval Shared Task

Nov 10, 2019
Ɓukasz Borchmann, Dawid Wiƛniewski, Andrzej Gretkowski, Izabela Kosmala, Dawid Jurkiewicz, Ɓukasz SzaƂkiewicz, Gabriela PaƂka, Karol Kaczmarek, Agnieszka Kaliska, Filip GraliƄski

We introduce a novel shared task for semantic retrieval from legal texts, where one is expected to perform a so-called contract discovery -- extract specified legal clauses from documents given a few examples of similar clauses from other legal acts. The task differs substantially from conventional NLI and legal information extraction shared tasks. Its specification is followed with evaluation of multiple k-NN based solutions within the unified framework proposed for this branch of methods. It is shown that state-of-the-art pre-trained encoders fail to provide satisfactory results on the task proposed, whereas Language Model based solutions perform well, especially when unsupervised fine-tuning is applied. In addition to the ablation studies, the questions regarding relevant text fragments detection accuracy depending on number of examples available were addressed. In addition to dataset and reference results, legal-specialized LMs were made publicly available.

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Sequence Generation: From Both Sides to the Middle

Jun 23, 2019
Long Zhou, Jiajun Zhang, Chengqing Zong, Heng Yu

The encoder-decoder framework has achieved promising process for many sequence generation tasks, such as neural machine translation and text summarization. Such a framework usually generates a sequence token by token from left to right, hence (1) this autoregressive decoding procedure is time-consuming when the output sentence becomes longer, and (2) it lacks the guidance of future context which is crucial to avoid under translation. To alleviate these issues, we propose a synchronous bidirectional sequence generation (SBSG) model which predicts its outputs from both sides to the middle simultaneously. In the SBSG model, we enable the left-to-right (L2R) and right-to-left (R2L) generation to help and interact with each other by leveraging interactive bidirectional attention network. Experiments on neural machine translation (En-De, Ch-En, and En-Ro) and text summarization tasks show that the proposed model significantly speeds up decoding while improving the generation quality compared to the autoregressive Transformer.

* Accepted by IJCAI 2019 

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Matching the Blanks: Distributional Similarity for Relation Learning

Jun 07, 2019
Livio Baldini Soares, Nicholas FitzGerald, Jeffrey Ling, Tom Kwiatkowski

General purpose relation extractors, which can model arbitrary relations, are a core aspiration in information extraction. Efforts have been made to build general purpose extractors that represent relations with their surface forms, or which jointly embed surface forms with relations from an existing knowledge graph. However, both of these approaches are limited in their ability to generalize. In this paper, we build on extensions of Harris' distributional hypothesis to relations, as well as recent advances in learning text representations (specifically, BERT), to build task agnostic relation representations solely from entity-linked text. We show that these representations significantly outperform previous work on exemplar based relation extraction (FewRel) even without using any of that task's training data. We also show that models initialized with our task agnostic representations, and then tuned on supervised relation extraction datasets, significantly outperform the previous methods on SemEval 2010 Task 8, KBP37, and TACRED.

* To appear at ACL 2019 

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Distant Learning for Entity Linking with Automatic Noise Detection

Jun 04, 2019
Phong Le, Ivan Titov

Accurate entity linkers have been produced for domains and languages where annotated data (i.e., texts linked to a knowledge base) is available. However, little progress has been made for the settings where no or very limited amounts of labeled data are present (e.g., legal or most scientific domains). In this work, we show how we can learn to link mentions without having any labeled examples, only a knowledge base and a collection of unannotated texts from the corresponding domain. In order to achieve this, we frame the task as a multi-instance learning problem and rely on surface matching to create initial noisy labels. As the learning signal is weak and our surrogate labels are noisy, we introduce a noise detection component in our model: it lets the model detect and disregard examples which are likely to be noisy. Our method, jointly learning to detect noise and link entities, greatly outperforms the surface matching baseline. For a subset of entity categories, it even approaches the performance of supervised learning.

* ACL 2019 

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Word Embeddings for Sentiment Analysis: A Comprehensive Empirical Survey

Feb 02, 2019
Erion Çano, Maurizio Morisio

This work investigates the role of factors like training method, training corpus size and thematic relevance of texts in the performance of word embedding features on sentiment analysis of tweets, song lyrics, movie reviews and item reviews. We also explore specific training or post-processing methods that can be used to enhance the performance of word embeddings in certain tasks or domains. Our empirical observations indicate that models trained with multithematic texts that are large and rich in vocabulary are the best in answering syntactic and semantic word analogy questions. We further observe that influence of thematic relevance is stronger on movie and phone reviews, but weaker on tweets and lyrics. These two later domains are more sensitive to corpus size and training method, with Glove outperforming Word2vec. "Injecting" extra intelligence from lexicons or generating sentiment specific word embeddings are two prominent alternatives for increasing performance of word embedding features.

* 20 pages, 16 figures, 15 tables 

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Dual Dense Encoding for Zero-Example Video Retrieval

Sep 17, 2018
Jianfeng Dong, Xirong Li, Chaoxi Xu, Shouling Ji, Xun Wang

This paper attacks the challenging problem of zero-example video retrieval. In such a retrieval paradigm, an end user searches for unlabeled videos by ad-hoc queries described in natural language text with no visual example provided. The majority of existing methods are concept based, extracting relevant concepts from queries and videos and accordingly establishing associations between the two modalities. In contrast, this paper follows a novel trend of concept-free, deep learning based encoding. To that end, we propose a dual deep encoding network that works on both video and query sides. The network can be flexibly coupled with an existing common space learning module for video-text similarity computation. As experiments on three benchmarks, i.e., MSR-VTT, TRECVID 2016 and 2017 Ad-hoc Video Search show, the proposed method establishes a new state-of-the-art for zero-example video retrieval.

* 8 pages, 3 figures 

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