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"chatbots": models, code, and papers

Measuring Praise and Criticism: Inference of Semantic Orientation from Association

Sep 19, 2003
Peter D. Turney, Michael L. Littman

The evaluative character of a word is called its semantic orientation. Positive semantic orientation indicates praise (e.g., "honest", "intrepid") and negative semantic orientation indicates criticism (e.g., "disturbing", "superfluous"). Semantic orientation varies in both direction (positive or negative) and degree (mild to strong). An automated system for measuring semantic orientation would have application in text classification, text filtering, tracking opinions in online discussions, analysis of survey responses, and automated chat systems (chatbots). This paper introduces a method for inferring the semantic orientation of a word from its statistical association with a set of positive and negative paradigm words. Two instances of this approach are evaluated, based on two different statistical measures of word association: pointwise mutual information (PMI) and latent semantic analysis (LSA). The method is experimentally tested with 3,596 words (including adjectives, adverbs, nouns, and verbs) that have been manually labeled positive (1,614 words) and negative (1,982 words). The method attains an accuracy of 82.8% on the full test set, but the accuracy rises above 95% when the algorithm is allowed to abstain from classifying mild words.

* ACM Transactions on Information Systems (TOIS), (2003), 21 (4), 315-346 
* 37 pages, related work available at and 
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Question Answering for Complex Electronic Health Records Database using Unified Encoder-Decoder Architecture

Nov 14, 2021
Seongsu Bae, Daeyoung Kim, Jiho Kim, Edward Choi

An intelligent machine that can answer human questions based on electronic health records (EHR-QA) has a great practical value, such as supporting clinical decisions, managing hospital administration, and medical chatbots. Previous table-based QA studies focusing on translating natural questions into table queries (NLQ2SQL), however, suffer from the unique nature of EHR data due to complex and specialized medical terminology, hence increased decoding difficulty. In this paper, we design UniQA, a unified encoder-decoder architecture for EHR-QA where natural language questions are converted to queries such as SQL or SPARQL. We also propose input masking (IM), a simple and effective method to cope with complex medical terms and various typos and better learn the SQL/SPARQL syntax. Combining the unified architecture with an effective auxiliary training objective, UniQA demonstrated a significant performance improvement against the previous state-of-the-art model for MIMICSQL* (14.2% gain), the most complex NLQ2SQL dataset in the EHR domain, and its typo-ridden versions (approximately 28.8% gain). In addition, we confirmed consistent results for the graph-based EHR-QA dataset, MIMICSPARQL*.

* Proc. of Machine Learning for Health (ML4H) 2021 (Oral Spotlight) 
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Adding Chit-Chats to Enhance Task-Oriented Dialogues

Oct 24, 2020
Kai Sun, Seungwhan Moon, Paul Crook, Stephen Roller, Becka Silvert, Bing Liu, Zhiguang Wang, Honglei Liu, Eunjoon Cho, Claire Cardie

The existing dialogue corpora and models are typically designed under two disjoint motives: while task-oriented systems focus on achieving functional goals (e.g., booking hotels), open-domain chatbots aim at making socially engaging conversations. In this work, we propose to integrate both types of systems by Adding Chit-Chats to ENhance Task-ORiented dialogues (ACCENTOR), with the goal of making virtual assistant conversations more engaging and interactive. Specifically, we propose a flexible approach for generating diverse chit-chat responses to augment task-oriented dialogues with minimal annotation effort. We then present our new chit-chat annotations to 23.8K dialogues from the popular task-oriented datasets (Schema-Guided Dialogue and MultiWOZ 2.1) and demonstrate their advantage over the originals via human evaluation. Lastly, we propose three new models for ACCENTOR explicitly trained to predict user goals and to generate contextually relevant chit-chat responses. Automatic and human evaluations show that, compared with the state-of-the-art task-oriented baseline, our models can code-switch between task and chit-chat to be more engaging, interesting, knowledgeable, and humanlike, while maintaining competitive task performance.

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Joint Reasoning for Multi-Faceted Commonsense Knowledge

Jan 13, 2020
Yohan Chalier, Simon Razniewski, Gerhard Weikum

Commonsense knowledge (CSK) supports a variety of AI applications, from visual understanding to chatbots. Prior works on acquiring CSK, such as ConceptNet, have compiled statements that associate concepts, like everyday objects or activities, with properties that hold for most or some instances of the concept. Each concept is treated in isolation from other concepts, and the only quantitative measure (or ranking) of properties is a confidence score that the statement is valid. This paper aims to overcome these limitations by introducing a multi-faceted model of CSK statements and methods for joint reasoning over sets of inter-related statements. Our model captures four different dimensions of CSK statements: plausibility, typicality, remarkability and salience, with scoring and ranking along each dimension. For example, hyenas drinking water is typical but not salient, whereas hyenas eating carcasses is salient. For reasoning and ranking, we develop a method with soft constraints, to couple the inference over concepts that are related in in a taxonomic hierarchy. The reasoning is cast into an integer linear programming (ILP), and we leverage the theory of reduction costs of a relaxed LP to compute informative rankings. This methodology is applied to several large CSK collections. Our evaluation shows that we can consolidate these inputs into much cleaner and more expressive knowledge. Results are available at

* 11 pages 
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A Semantic Web Framework for Automated Smart Assistants: COVID-19 Case Study

Jul 01, 2020
Yusuf Sermet, Ibrahim Demir

COVID-19 pandemic elucidated that knowledge systems will be instrumental in cases where accurate information needs to be communicated to a substantial group of people with different backgrounds and technological resources. However, several challenges and obstacles hold back the wide adoption of virtual assistants by public health departments and organizations. This paper presents the Instant Expert, an open-source semantic web framework to build and integrate voice-enabled smart assistants (i.e. chatbots) for any web platform regardless of the underlying domain and technology. The component allows non-technical domain experts to effortlessly incorporate an operational assistant with voice recognition capability into their websites. Instant Expert is capable of automatically parsing, processing, and modeling Frequently Asked Questions pages as an information resource as well as communicating with an external knowledge engine for ontology-powered inference and dynamic data utilization. The presented framework utilizes advanced web technologies to ensure reusability and reliability, and an inference engine for natural language understanding powered by deep learning and heuristic algorithms. A use case for creating an informatory assistant for COVID-19 based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data is presented to demonstrate the framework's usage and benefits.

* 11 pages, 6 figures 
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A Comparison of LSTM and BERT for Small Corpus

Sep 11, 2020
Aysu Ezen-Can

Recent advancements in the NLP field showed that transfer learning helps with achieving state-of-the-art results for new tasks by tuning pre-trained models instead of starting from scratch. Transformers have made a significant improvement in creating new state-of-the-art results for many NLP tasks including but not limited to text classification, text generation, and sequence labeling. Most of these success stories were based on large datasets. In this paper we focus on a real-life scenario that scientists in academia and industry face frequently: given a small dataset, can we use a large pre-trained model like BERT and get better results than simple models? To answer this question, we use a small dataset for intent classification collected for building chatbots and compare the performance of a simple bidirectional LSTM model with a pre-trained BERT model. Our experimental results show that bidirectional LSTM models can achieve significantly higher results than a BERT model for a small dataset and these simple models get trained in much less time than tuning the pre-trained counterparts. We conclude that the performance of a model is dependent on the task and the data, and therefore before making a model choice, these factors should be taken into consideration instead of directly choosing the most popular model.

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When to (or not to) trust intelligent machines: Insights from an evolutionary game theory analysis of trust in repeated games

Jul 22, 2020
The Anh Han, Cedric Perret, Simon T. Powers

The actions of intelligent agents, such as chatbots, recommender systems, and virtual assistants are typically not fully transparent to the user. Consequently, using such an agent involves the user exposing themselves to the risk that the agent may act in a way opposed to the user's goals. It is often argued that people use trust as a cognitive shortcut to reduce the complexity of such interactions. Here we formalise this by using the methods of evolutionary game theory to study the viability of trust-based strategies in repeated games. These are reciprocal strategies that cooperate as long as the other player is observed to be cooperating. Unlike classic reciprocal strategies, once mutual cooperation has been observed for a threshold number of rounds they stop checking their co-player's behaviour every round, and instead only check with some probability. By doing so, they reduce the opportunity cost of verifying whether the action of their co-player was actually cooperative. We demonstrate that these trust-based strategies can outcompete strategies that are always conditional, such as Tit-for-Tat, when the opportunity cost is non-negligible. We argue that this cost is likely to be greater when the interaction is between people and intelligent agents, because of the reduced transparency of the agent. Consequently, we expect people to use trust-based strategies more frequently in interactions with intelligent agents. Our results provide new, important insights into the design of mechanisms for facilitating interactions between humans and intelligent agents, where trust is an essential factor.

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Understanding User Satisfaction with Task-oriented Dialogue Systems

Apr 26, 2022
Clemencia Siro, Mohammad Aliannejadi, Maarten de Rijke

$ $Dialogue systems are evaluated depending on their type and purpose. Two categories are often distinguished: (1) task-oriented dialogue systems (TDS), which are typically evaluated on utility, i.e., their ability to complete a specified task, and (2) open domain chatbots, which are evaluated on the user experience, i.e., based on their ability to engage a person. What is the influence of user experience on the user satisfaction rating of TDS as opposed to, or in addition to, utility? We collect data by providing an additional annotation layer for dialogues sampled from the ReDial dataset, a widely used conversational recommendation dataset. Unlike prior work, we annotate the sampled dialogues at both the turn and dialogue level on six dialogue aspects: relevance, interestingness, understanding, task completion, efficiency, and interest arousal. The annotations allow us to study how different dialogue aspects influence user satisfaction. We introduce a comprehensive set of user experience aspects derived from the annotators' open comments that can influence users' overall impression. We find that the concept of satisfaction varies across annotators and dialogues, and show that a relevant turn is significant for some annotators, while for others, an interesting turn is all they need. Our analysis indicates that the proposed user experience aspects provide a fine-grained analysis of user satisfaction that is not captured by a monolithic overall human rating.

* To appear in SIGIR 2022 short paper track 
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Dialogue Act Segmentation for Vietnamese Human-Human Conversational Texts

Aug 16, 2017
Thi Lan Ngo, Khac Linh Pham, Minh Son Cao, Son Bao Pham, Xuan Hieu Phan

Dialog act identification plays an important role in understanding conversations. It has been widely applied in many fields such as dialogue systems, automatic machine translation, automatic speech recognition, and especially useful in systems with human-computer natural language dialogue interfaces such as virtual assistants and chatbots. The first step of identifying dialog act is identifying the boundary of the dialog act in utterances. In this paper, we focus on segmenting the utterance according to the dialog act boundaries, i.e. functional segments identification, for Vietnamese utterances. We investigate carefully functional segment identification in two approaches: (1) machine learning approach using maximum entropy (ME) and conditional random fields (CRFs); (2) deep learning approach using bidirectional Long Short-Term Memory (LSTM) with a CRF layer (Bi-LSTM-CRF) on two different conversational datasets: (1) Facebook messages (Message data); (2) transcription from phone conversations (Phone data). To the best of our knowledge, this is the first work that applies deep learning based approach to dialog act segmentation. As the results show, deep learning approach performs appreciably better as to compare with traditional machine learning approaches. Moreover, it is also the first study that tackles dialog act and functional segment identification for Vietnamese.

* 6 pages, 2 figures 
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Automatic Detection of Sexist Statements Commonly Used at the Workplace

Jul 08, 2020
Dylan Grosz, Patricia Conde-Cespedes

Detecting hate speech in the workplace is a unique classification task, as the underlying social context implies a subtler version of conventional hate speech. Applications regarding a state-of the-art workplace sexism detection model include aids for Human Resources departments, AI chatbots and sentiment analysis. Most existing hate speech detection methods, although robust and accurate, focus on hate speech found on social media, specifically Twitter. The context of social media is much more anonymous than the workplace, therefore it tends to lend itself to more aggressive and "hostile" versions of sexism. Therefore, datasets with large amounts of "hostile" sexism have a slightly easier detection task since "hostile" sexist statements can hinge on a couple words that, regardless of context, tip the model off that a statement is sexist. In this paper we present a dataset of sexist statements that are more likely to be said in the workplace as well as a deep learning model that can achieve state-of-the art results. Previous research has created state-of-the-art models to distinguish "hostile" and "benevolent" sexism based simply on aggregated Twitter data. Our deep learning methods, initialized with GloVe or random word embeddings, use LSTMs with attention mechanisms to outperform those models on a more diverse, filtered dataset that is more targeted towards workplace sexism, leading to an F1 score of 0.88.

* Published at the PAKDD 2020 Workshop on Learning Data Representation for Clustering 
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