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"chatbots": models, code, and papers

Subword Semantic Hashing for Intent Classification on Small Datasets

Oct 16, 2018
Kumar Shridhar, Amit Sahu, Ayushman Dash, Pedro Alonso, Gustav Pihlgren, Vinay Pondeknath, Fotini Simistira, Marcus Liwicki

In this paper, we introduce the use of Semantic Hashing as embedding for the task of Intent Classification and outperform previous state-of-the-art methods on three frequently used benchmarks. Intent Classification on a small dataset is a challenging task for data-hungry state-of-the-art Deep Learning based systems. Semantic Hashing is an attempt to overcome such a challenge and learn robust text classification. Current word embedding based methods are dependent on vocabularies. One of the major drawbacks of such methods is out-of-vocabulary terms, especially when having small training datasets and using a wider vocabulary. This is the case in Intent Classification for chatbots, where typically small datasets are extracted from internet communication. Two problems arise by the use of internet communication. First, such datasets miss a lot of terms in the vocabulary to use word embeddings efficiently. Second, users frequently make spelling errors. Typically, the models for intent classification are not trained with spelling errors and it is difficult to think about ways in which users will make mistakes. Models depending on a word vocabulary will always face such issues. An ideal classifier should handle spelling errors inherently. With Semantic Hashing, we overcome these challenges and achieve state-of-the-art results on three datasets: AskUbuntu, Chatbot, and Web Application. Our benchmarks are available online:


A Taxonomy of Empathetic Response Intents in Human Social Conversations

Dec 07, 2020
Anuradha Welivita, Pearl Pu

Open-domain conversational agents or chatbots are becoming increasingly popular in the natural language processing community. One of the challenges is enabling them to converse in an empathetic manner. Current neural response generation methods rely solely on end-to-end learning from large scale conversation data to generate dialogues. This approach can produce socially unacceptable responses due to the lack of large-scale quality data used to train the neural models. However, recent work has shown the promise of combining dialogue act/intent modelling and neural response generation. This hybrid method improves the response quality of chatbots and makes them more controllable and interpretable. A key element in dialog intent modelling is the development of a taxonomy. Inspired by this idea, we have manually labeled 500 response intents using a subset of a sizeable empathetic dialogue dataset (25K dialogues). Our goal is to produce a large-scale taxonomy for empathetic response intents. Furthermore, using lexical and machine learning methods, we automatically analysed both speaker and listener utterances of the entire dataset with identified response intents and 32 emotion categories. Finally, we use information visualization methods to summarize emotional dialogue exchange patterns and their temporal progression. These results reveal novel and important empathy patterns in human-human open-domain conversations and can serve as heuristics for hybrid approaches.

* In Proceedings of the 28th International Conference on Computational Linguistics (COLING 2020). 9 pages 

A Qualitative Evaluation of Language Models on Automatic Question-Answering for COVID-19

Jun 23, 2020
David Oniani, Yanshan Wang

COVID-19 has resulted in an ongoing pandemic and as of 12 June 2020, has caused more than 7.4 million cases and over 418,000 deaths. The highly dynamic and rapidly evolving situation with COVID-19 has made it difficult to access accurate, on-demand information regarding the disease. Online communities, forums, and social media provide potential venues to search for relevant questions and answers, or post questions and seek answers from other members. However, due to the nature of such sites, there are always a limited number of relevant questions and responses to search from, and posted questions are rarely answered immediately. With the advancements in the field of natural language processing, particularly in the domain of language models, it has become possible to design chatbots that can automatically answer consumer questions. However, such models are rarely applied and evaluated in the healthcare domain, to meet the information needs with accurate and up-to-date healthcare data. In this paper, we propose to apply a language model for automatically answering questions related to COVID-19 and qualitatively evaluate the generated responses. We utilized the GPT-2 language model and applied transfer learning to retrain it on the COVID-19 Open Research Dataset (CORD-19) corpus. In order to improve the quality of the generated responses, we applied 4 different approaches, namely tf-idf, BERT, BioBERT, and USE to filter and retain relevant sentences in the responses. In the performance evaluation step, we asked two medical experts to rate the responses. We found that BERT and BioBERT, on average, outperform both tf-idf and USE in relevance-based sentence filtering tasks. Additionally, based on the chatbot, we created a user-friendly interactive web application to be hosted online.


Transparency in Maintenance of Recruitment Chatbots

May 09, 2019
Kit Kuksenok, Nina PraรŸ

We report on experiences with implementing conversational agents in the recruitment domain based on a machine learning (ML) system. Recruitment chatbots mediate communication between job-seekers and recruiters by exposing ML data to recruiter teams. Errors are difficult to understand, communicate, and resolve because they may span and combine UX, ML, and software issues. In an effort to improve organizational and technical transparency, we came to rely on a key contact role. Though effective for design and development, the centralization of this role poses challenges for transparency in sustained maintenance of this kind of ML-based mediating system.

* 4 pages, 3 figures, prepared for CHI2019 (Glasgow) workshop: Where is the Human? Bridging the Gap Between AI and HCI 

Contract Statements Knowledge Service for Chatbots

Oct 10, 2019
Boris Ruf, Matteo Sammarco, Marcin Detyniecki

Towards conversational agents that are capable of handling more complex questions on contractual conditions, formalizing contract statements in a machine readable way is crucial. However, constructing a formal model which captures the full scope of a contract proves difficult due to the overall complexity its set of rules represent. Instead, this paper presents a top-down approach to the problem. After identifying the most relevant contract statements, we model their underlying rules in a novel knowledge engineering method. A user-friendly tool we developed for this purpose allows to do so easily and at scale. Then, we expose the statements as service so they can get smoothly integrated in any chatbot framework.


Enriching Conversation Context in Retrieval-based Chatbots

Nov 06, 2019
Amir Vakili Tahami, Azadeh Shakery

Work on retrieval-based chatbots, like most sequence pair matching tasks, can be divided into Cross-encoders that perform word matching over the pair, and Bi-encoders that encode the pair separately. The latter has better performance, however since candidate responses cannot be encoded offline, it is also much slower. Lately, multi-layer transformer architectures pre-trained as language models have been used to great effect on a variety of natural language processing and information retrieval tasks. Recent work has shown that these language models can be used in text-matching scenarios to create Bi-encoders that perform almost as well as Cross-encoders while having a much faster inference speed. In this paper, we expand upon this work by developing a sequence matching architecture that %takes into account contexts in the training dataset at inference time. utilizes the entire training set as a makeshift knowledge-base during inference. We perform detailed experiments demonstrating that this architecture can be used to further improve Bi-encoders performance while still maintaining a relatively high inference speed.

* 8 pages, 1 figure, 3 tables 

Response Selection with Topic Clues for Retrieval-based Chatbots

Sep 22, 2016
Yu Wu, Wei Wu, Zhoujun Li, Ming Zhou

We consider incorporating topic information into message-response matching to boost responses with rich content in retrieval-based chatbots. To this end, we propose a topic-aware convolutional neural tensor network (TACNTN). In TACNTN, matching between a message and a response is not only conducted between a message vector and a response vector generated by convolutional neural networks, but also leverages extra topic information encoded in two topic vectors. The two topic vectors are linear combinations of topic words of the message and the response respectively, where the topic words are obtained from a pre-trained LDA model and their weights are determined by themselves as well as the message vector and the response vector. The message vector, the response vector, and the two topic vectors are fed to neural tensors to calculate a matching score. Empirical study on a public data set and a human annotated data set shows that TACNTN can significantly outperform state-of-the-art methods for message-response matching.

* under reviewed of AAAI 2017 

Integrated Eojeol Embedding for Erroneous Sentence Classification in Korean Chatbots

Apr 13, 2020
DongHyun Choi, IlNam Park, Myeong Cheol Shin, EungGyun Kim, Dong Ryeol Shin

This paper attempts to analyze the Korean sentence classification system for a chatbot. Sentence classification is the task of classifying an input sentence based on predefined categories. However, spelling or space error contained in the input sentence causes problems in morphological analysis and tokenization. This paper proposes a novel approach of Integrated Eojeol (Korean syntactic word separated by space) Embedding to reduce the effect that poorly analyzed morphemes may make on sentence classification. It also proposes two noise insertion methods that further improve classification performance. Our evaluation results indicate that the proposed system classifies erroneous sentences more accurately than the baseline system by 17%p.0

* 9 pages, 2 figures 

Content Selection Network for Document-grounded Retrieval-based Chatbots

Jan 21, 2021
Yutao Zhu, Jian-Yun Nie, Kun Zhou, Pan Du, Zhicheng Dou

Grounding human-machine conversation in a document is an effective way to improve the performance of retrieval-based chatbots. However, only a part of the document content may be relevant to help select the appropriate response at a round. It is thus crucial to select the part of document content relevant to the current conversation context. In this paper, we propose a document content selection network (CSN) to perform explicit selection of relevant document contents, and filter out the irrelevant parts. We show in experiments on two public document-grounded conversation datasets that CSN can effectively help select the relevant document contents to the conversation context, and it produces better results than the state-of-the-art approaches. Our code and datasets are available at

* ECIR 2021 Camera Ready