Behnam Hedayatnia


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Policy-Driven Neural Response Generation for Knowledge-Grounded Dialog Systems
Behnam Hedayatnia | Karthik Gopalakrishnan | Seokhwan Kim | Yang Liu | Mihail Eric | Dilek Hakkani-Tur
Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Natural Language Generation

Open-domain dialog systems aim to generate relevant, informative and engaging responses. In this paper, we propose using a dialog policy to plan the content and style of target, open domain responses in the form of an action plan, which includes knowledge sentences related to the dialog context, targeted dialog acts, topic information, etc. For training, the attributes within the action plan are obtained by automatically annotating the publicly released Topical-Chat dataset. We condition neural response generators on the action plan which is then realized as target utterances at the turn and sentence levels. We also investigate different dialog policy models to predict an action plan given the dialog context. Through automated and human evaluation, we measure the appropriateness of the generated responses and check if the generation models indeed learn to realize the given action plans. We demonstrate that a basic dialog policy that operates at the sentence level generates better responses in comparison to turn level generation as well as baseline models with no action plan. Additionally the basic dialog policy has the added benefit of controllability.

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Incorporating Commonsense Knowledge Graph in Pretrained Models for Social Commonsense Tasks
Ting-Yun Chang | Yang Liu | Karthik Gopalakrishnan | Behnam Hedayatnia | Pei Zhou | Dilek Hakkani-Tur
Proceedings of Deep Learning Inside Out (DeeLIO): The First Workshop on Knowledge Extraction and Integration for Deep Learning Architectures

Pretrained language models have excelled at many NLP tasks recently; however, their social intelligence is still unsatisfactory. To enable this, machines need to have a more general understanding of our complicated world and develop the ability to perform commonsense reasoning besides fitting the specific downstream tasks. External commonsense knowledge graphs (KGs), such as ConceptNet, provide rich information about words and their relationships. Thus, towards general commonsense learning, we propose two approaches to implicitly and explicitly infuse such KGs into pretrained language models. We demonstrate our proposed methods perform well on SocialIQA, a social commonsense reasoning task, in both limited and full training data regimes.

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Beyond Domain APIs: Task-oriented Conversational Modeling with Unstructured Knowledge Access
Seokhwan Kim | Mihail Eric | Karthik Gopalakrishnan | Behnam Hedayatnia | Yang Liu | Dilek Hakkani-Tur
Proceedings of the 21th Annual Meeting of the Special Interest Group on Discourse and Dialogue

Most prior work on task-oriented dialogue systems are restricted to a limited coverage of domain APIs, while users oftentimes have domain related requests that are not covered by the APIs. In this paper, we propose to expand coverage of task-oriented dialogue systems by incorporating external unstructured knowledge sources. We define three sub-tasks: knowledge-seeking turn detection, knowledge selection, and knowledge-grounded response generation, which can be modeled individually or jointly. We introduce an augmented version of MultiWOZ 2.1, which includes new out-of-API-coverage turns and responses grounded on external knowledge sources. We present baselines for each sub-task using both conventional and neural approaches. Our experimental results demonstrate the need for further research in this direction to enable more informative conversational systems.


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Towards Coherent and Engaging Spoken Dialog Response Generation Using Automatic Conversation Evaluators
Sanghyun Yi | Rahul Goel | Chandra Khatri | Alessandra Cervone | Tagyoung Chung | Behnam Hedayatnia | Anu Venkatesh | Raefer Gabriel | Dilek Hakkani-Tur
Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Natural Language Generation

Encoder-decoder based neural architectures serve as the basis of state-of-the-art approaches in end-to-end open domain dialog systems. Since most of such systems are trained with a maximum likelihood (MLE) objective they suffer from issues such as lack of generalizability and the generic response problem, i.e., a system response that can be an answer to a large number of user utterances, e.g., “Maybe, I don’t know.” Having explicit feedback on the relevance and interestingness of a system response at each turn can be a useful signal for mitigating such issues and improving system quality by selecting responses from different approaches. Towards this goal, we present a system that evaluates chatbot responses at each dialog turn for coherence and engagement. Our system provides explicit turn-level dialog quality feedback, which we show to be highly correlated with human evaluation. To show that incorporating this feedback in the neural response generation models improves dialog quality, we present two different and complementary mechanisms to incorporate explicit feedback into a neural response generation model: reranking and direct modification of the loss function during training. Our studies show that a response generation model that incorporates these combined feedback mechanisms produce more engaging and coherent responses in an open-domain spoken dialog setting, significantly improving the response quality using both automatic and human evaluation.

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Natural Language Generation at Scale: A Case Study for Open Domain Question Answering
Alessandra Cervone | Chandra Khatri | Rahul Goel | Behnam Hedayatnia | Anu Venkatesh | Dilek Hakkani-Tur | Raefer Gabriel
Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Natural Language Generation

Current approaches to Natural Language Generation (NLG) for dialog mainly focus on domain-specific, task-oriented applications (e.g. restaurant booking) using limited ontologies (up to 20 slot types), usually without considering the previous conversation context. Furthermore, these approaches require large amounts of data for each domain, and do not benefit from examples that may be available for other domains. This work explores the feasibility of applying statistical NLG to scenarios requiring larger ontologies, such as multi-domain dialog applications or open-domain question answering (QA) based on knowledge graphs. We model NLG through an Encoder-Decoder framework using a large dataset of interactions between real-world users and a conversational agent for open-domain QA. First, we investigate the impact of increasing the number of slot types on the generation quality and experiment with different partitions of the QA data with progressively larger ontologies (up to 369 slot types). Second, we perform multi-task learning experiments between open-domain QA and task-oriented dialog, and benchmark our model on a popular NLG dataset. Moreover, we experiment with using the conversational context as an additional input to improve response generation quality. Our experiments show the feasibility of learning statistical NLG models for open-domain QA with larger ontologies.