Ashwini Challa


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Best Practices for Data-Efficient Modeling in NLG:How to Train Production-Ready Neural Models with Less Data
Ankit Arun | Soumya Batra | Vikas Bhardwaj | Ashwini Challa | Pinar Donmez | Peyman Heidari | Hakan Inan | Shashank Jain | Anuj Kumar | Shawn Mei | Karthik Mohan | Michael White
Proceedings of the 28th International Conference on Computational Linguistics: Industry Track

Natural language generation (NLG) is a critical component in conversational systems, owing to its role of formulating a correct and natural text response. Traditionally, NLG components have been deployed using template-based solutions. Although neural network solutions recently developed in the research community have been shown to provide several benefits, deployment of such model-based solutions has been challenging due to high latency, correctness issues, and high data needs. In this paper, we present approaches that have helped us deploy data-efficient neural solutions for NLG in conversational systems to production. We describe a family of sampling and modeling techniques to attain production quality with light-weight neural network models using only a fraction of the data that would be necessary otherwise, and show a thorough comparison between each. Our results show that domain complexity dictates the appropriate approach to achieve high data efficiency. Finally, we distill the lessons from our experimental findings into a list of best practices for production-level NLG model development, and present them in a brief runbook. Importantly, the end products of all of the techniques are small sequence-to-sequence models (~2Mb) that we can reliably deploy in production. These models achieve the same quality as large pretrained models (~1Gb) as judged by human raters.


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Generate, Filter, and Rank: Grammaticality Classification for Production-Ready NLG Systems
Ashwini Challa | Kartikeya Upasani | Anusha Balakrishnan | Rajen Subba
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies, Volume 2 (Industry Papers)

Neural approaches to Natural Language Generation (NLG) have been promising for goal-oriented dialogue. One of the challenges of productionizing these approaches, however, is the ability to control response quality, and ensure that generated responses are acceptable. We propose the use of a generate, filter, and rank framework, in which candidate responses are first filtered to eliminate unacceptable responses, and then ranked to select the best response. While acceptability includes grammatical correctness and semantic correctness, we focus only on grammaticality classification in this paper, and show that existing datasets for grammatical error correction don’t correctly capture the distribution of errors that data-driven generators are likely to make. We release a grammatical classification and semantic correctness classification dataset for the weather domain that consists of responses generated by 3 data-driven NLG systems. We then explore two supervised learning approaches (CNNs and GBDTs) for classifying grammaticality. Our experiments show that grammaticality classification is very sensitive to the distribution of errors in the data, and that these distributions vary significantly with both the source of the response as well as the domain. We show that it’s possible to achieve high precision with reasonable recall on our dataset.