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"chatbots": models, code, and papers

Emotion Eliciting Machine: Emotion Eliciting Conversation Generation based on Dual Generator

May 18, 2021
Hao Jiang, Yutao Zhu, Xinyu Zhang, Zhicheng Dou, Pan Du, Te Pi, Yantao Jia

Recent years have witnessed great progress on building emotional chatbots. Tremendous methods have been proposed for chatbots to generate responses with given emotions. However, the emotion changes of the user during the conversation has not been fully explored. In this work, we study the problem of positive emotion elicitation, which aims to generate responses that can elicit positive emotion of the user, in human-machine conversation. We propose a weakly supervised Emotion Eliciting Machine (EEM) to address this problem. Specifically, we first collect weak labels of user emotion status changes in a conversion based on a pre-trained emotion classifier. Then we propose a dual encoder-decoder structure to model the generation of responses in both positive and negative side based on the changes of the user's emotion status in the conversation. An emotion eliciting factor is introduced on top of the dual structure to balance the positive and negative emotional impacts on the generated response during emotion elicitation. The factor also provides a fine-grained controlling manner for emotion elicitation. Experimental results on a large real-world dataset show that EEM outperforms the existing models in generating responses with positive emotion elicitation.


Mining Procedures from Technical Support Documents

May 24, 2018
Abhirut Gupta, Abhay Khosla, Gautam Singh, Gargi Dasgupta

Guided troubleshooting is an inherent task in the domain of technical support services. When a customer experiences an issue with the functioning of a technical service or a product, an expert user helps guide the customer through a set of steps comprising a troubleshooting procedure. The objective is to identify the source of the problem through a set of diagnostic steps and observations, and arrive at a resolution. Procedures containing these set of diagnostic steps and observations in response to different problems are common artifacts in the body of technical support documentation. The ability to use machine learning and linguistics to understand and leverage these procedures for applications like intelligent chatbots or robotic process automation, is crucial. Existing research on question answering or intelligent chatbots does not look within procedures or deep-understand them. In this paper, we outline a system for mining procedures from technical support documents. We create models for solving important subproblems like extraction of procedures, identifying decision points within procedures, identifying blocks of instructions corresponding to these decision points and mapping instructions within a decision block. We also release a dataset containing our manual annotations on publicly available support documents, to promote further research on the problem.


Knowledge-Grounded Dialogue Flow Management for Social Robots and Conversational Agents

Aug 04, 2021
Lucrezia Grassi, Carmine Tommaso Recchiuto, Antonio Sgorbissa

The article proposes a system for knowledge-based conversation designed for Social Robots and other conversational agents. The proposed system relies on an Ontology for the description of all concepts that may be relevant conversation topics, as well as their mutual relationships. The article focuses on the algorithm for Dialogue Management that selects the most appropriate conversation topic depending on the user's input. Moreover, it discusses strategies to ensure a conversation flow that captures, as more coherently as possible, the user's intention to drive the conversation in specific directions while avoiding purely reactive responses to what the user says. To measure the quality of the conversation, the article reports the tests performed with 100 recruited participants, comparing five conversational agents: (i) an agent addressing dialogue flow management based only on the detection of keywords in the speech, (ii) an agent based both on the detection of keywords and the Content Classification feature of Google Cloud Natural Language, (iii) an agent that picks conversation topics randomly, (iv) a human pretending to be a chatbot, and (v) one of the most famous chatbots worldwide: Replika. The subjective perception of the participants is measured both with the SASSI (Subjective Assessment of Speech System Interfaces) tool, as well as with a custom survey for measuring the subjective perception of coherence.

* 21 pages, 20 figures 

Conversations Are Not Flat: Modeling the Dynamic Information Flow across Dialogue Utterances

Jun 04, 2021
Zekang Li, Jinchao Zhang, Zhengcong Fei, Yang Feng, Jie Zhou

Nowadays, open-domain dialogue models can generate acceptable responses according to the historical context based on the large-scale pre-trained language models. However, they generally concatenate the dialogue history directly as the model input to predict the response, which we named as the flat pattern and ignores the dynamic information flow across dialogue utterances. In this work, we propose the DialoFlow model, in which we introduce a dynamic flow mechanism to model the context flow, and design three training objectives to capture the information dynamics across dialogue utterances by addressing the semantic influence brought about by each utterance in large-scale pre-training. Experiments on the multi-reference Reddit Dataset and DailyDialog Dataset demonstrate that our DialoFlow significantly outperforms the DialoGPT on the dialogue generation task. Besides, we propose the Flow score, an effective automatic metric for evaluating interactive human-bot conversation quality based on the pre-trained DialoFlow, which presents high chatbot-level correlation ($r=0.9$) with human ratings among 11 chatbots. Code and pre-trained models will be public. \footnote{\url{}}

* ACL2021 main conference (long paper) 

An Ontology-Based Dialogue Management System for Banking and Finance Dialogue Systems

Apr 13, 2018
Duygu Altinok

Keeping the dialogue state in dialogue systems is a notoriously difficult task. We introduce an ontology-based dialogue manage(OntoDM), a dialogue manager that keeps the state of the conversation, provides a basis for anaphora resolution and drives the conversation via domain ontologies. The banking and finance area promises great potential for disambiguating the context via a rich set of products and specificity of proper nouns, named entities and verbs. We used ontologies both as a knowledge base and a basis for the dialogue manager; the knowledge base component and dialogue manager components coalesce in a sense. Domain knowledge is used to track Entities of Interest, i.e. nodes (classes) of the ontology which happen to be products and services. In this way we also introduced conversation memory and attention in a sense. We finely blended linguistic methods, domain-driven keyword ranking and domain ontologies to create ways of domain-driven conversation. Proposed framework is used in our in-house German language banking and finance chatbots. General challenges of German language processing and finance-banking domain chatbot language models and lexicons are also introduced. This work is still in progress, hence no success metrics have been introduced yet.

* 9 pages, 27 figures, goes to 1st Financial Narrative Processing Workshop @ LREC 7-12 May 2018, Miyazaki, Japan 

End-to-End Natural Language Understanding Pipeline for Bangla Conversational Agents

Jul 15, 2021
Fahim Shahriar Khan, Mueeze Al Mushabbir, Mohammad Sabik Irbaz, MD Abdullah Al Nasim

Chatbots are intelligent software built to be used as a replacement for human interaction. However, existing studies typically do not provide enough support for low-resource languages like Bangla. Moreover, due to the increasing popularity of social media, we can also see the rise of interactions in Bangla transliteration (mostly in English) among the native Bangla speakers. In this paper, we propose a novel approach to build a Bangla chatbot aimed to be used as a business assistant which can communicate in Bangla and Bangla Transliteration in English with high confidence consistently. Since annotated data was not available for this purpose, we had to work on the whole machine learning life cycle (data preparation, machine learning modeling, and model deployment) using Rasa Open Source Framework, fastText embeddings, Polyglot embeddings, Flask, and other systems as building blocks. While working with the skewed annotated dataset, we try out different setups and pipelines to evaluate which works best and provide possible reasoning behind the observed results. Finally, we present a pipeline for intent classification and entity extraction which achieves reasonable performance (accuracy: 83.02%, precision: 80.82%, recall: 83.02%, F1-score: 80%).

* Under Review 

A Unified Conversational Assistant Framework for Business Process Automation

Jan 07, 2020
Yara Rizk, Abhishek Bhandwalder, Scott Boag, Tathagata Chakraborti, Vatche Isahagian, Yasaman Khazaeni, Falk Pollock, Merve Unuvar

Business process automation is a booming multi-billion-dollar industry that promises to remove menial tasks from workers' plates -- through the introduction of autonomous agents -- and free up their time and brain power for more creative and engaging tasks. However, an essential component to the successful deployment of such autonomous agents is the ability of business users to monitor their performance and customize their execution. A simple and user-friendly interface with a low learning curve is necessary to increase the adoption of such agents in banking, insurance, retail and other domains. As a result, proactive chatbots will play a crucial role in the business automation space. Not only can they respond to users' queries and perform actions on their behalf but also initiate communication with the users to inform them of the system's behavior. This will provide business users a natural language interface to interact with, monitor and control autonomous agents. In this work, we present a multi-agent orchestration framework to develop such proactive chatbots by discussing the types of skills that can be composed into agents and how to orchestrate these agents. Two use cases on a travel preapproval business process and a loan application business process are adopted to qualitatively analyze the proposed framework based on four criteria: performance, coding overhead, scalability, and agent overlap.


Building Advanced Dialogue Managers for Goal-Oriented Dialogue Systems

Jun 03, 2018
Vladimir Ilievski

Goal-Oriented (GO) Dialogue Systems, colloquially known as goal oriented chatbots, help users achieve a predefined goal (e.g. book a movie ticket) within a closed domain. A first step is to understand the user's goal by using natural language understanding techniques. Once the goal is known, the bot must manage a dialogue to achieve that goal, which is conducted with respect to a learnt policy. The success of the dialogue system depends on the quality of the policy, which is in turn reliant on the availability of high-quality training data for the policy learning method, for instance Deep Reinforcement Learning. Due to the domain specificity, the amount of available data is typically too low to allow the training of good dialogue policies. In this master thesis we introduce a transfer learning method to mitigate the effects of the low in-domain data availability. Our transfer learning based approach improves the bot's success rate by $20\%$ in relative terms for distant domains and we more than double it for close domains, compared to the model without transfer learning. Moreover, the transfer learning chatbots learn the policy up to 5 to 10 times faster. Finally, as the transfer learning approach is complementary to additional processing such as warm-starting, we show that their joint application gives the best outcomes.

* master thesis 

A Systematic Evaluation of Response Selection for Open Domain Dialogue

Aug 08, 2022
Behnam Hedayatnia, Di Jin, Yang Liu, Dilek Hakkani-Tur

Recent progress on neural approaches for language processing has triggered a resurgence of interest on building intelligent open-domain chatbots. However, even the state-of-the-art neural chatbots cannot produce satisfying responses for every turn in a dialog. A practical solution is to generate multiple response candidates for the same context, and then perform response ranking/selection to determine which candidate is the best. Previous work in response selection typically trains response rankers using synthetic data that is formed from existing dialogs by using a ground truth response as the single appropriate response and constructing inappropriate responses via random selection or using adversarial methods. In this work, we curated a dataset where responses from multiple response generators produced for the same dialog context are manually annotated as appropriate (positive) and inappropriate (negative). We argue that such training data better matches the actual use case examples, enabling the models to learn to rank responses effectively. With this new dataset, we conduct a systematic evaluation of state-of-the-art methods for response selection, and demonstrate that both strategies of using multiple positive candidates and using manually verified hard negative candidates can bring in significant performance improvement in comparison to using the adversarial training data, e.g., increase of 3% and 13% in [email protected] score, respectively.

* Accepted at SIGDial 2022. 14 pages, 9 figures, 2 tables