Chinnadhurai Sankar


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Taskmaster-1: Toward a Realistic and Diverse Dialog Dataset
Bill Byrne | Karthik Krishnamoorthi | Chinnadhurai Sankar | Arvind Neelakantan | Ben Goodrich | Daniel Duckworth | Semih Yavuz | Amit Dubey | Kyu-Young Kim | Andy Cedilnik
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing and the 9th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (EMNLP-IJCNLP)

A significant barrier to progress in data-driven approaches to building dialog systems is the lack of high quality, goal-oriented conversational data. To help satisfy this elementary requirement, we introduce the initial release of the Taskmaster-1 dataset which includes 13,215 task-based dialogs comprising six domains. Two procedures were used to create this collection, each with unique advantages. The first involves a two-person, spoken “Wizard of Oz” (WOz) approach in which trained agents and crowdsourced workers interact to complete the task while the second is “self-dialog” in which crowdsourced workers write the entire dialog themselves. We do not restrict the workers to detailed scripts or to a small knowledge base and hence we observe that our dataset contains more realistic and diverse conversations in comparison to existing datasets. We offer several baseline models including state of the art neural seq2seq architectures with benchmark performance as well as qualitative human evaluations. Dialogs are labeled with API calls and arguments, a simple and cost effective approach which avoids the requirement of complex annotation schema. The layer of abstraction between the dialog model and the service provider API allows for a given model to interact with multiple services that provide similar functionally. Finally, the dataset will evoke interest in written vs. spoken language, discourse patterns, error handling and other linguistic phenomena related to dialog system research, development and design.

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Do Neural Dialog Systems Use the Conversation History Effectively? An Empirical Study
Chinnadhurai Sankar | Sandeep Subramanian | Chris Pal | Sarath Chandar | Yoshua Bengio
Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Neural generative models have been become increasingly popular when building conversational agents. They offer flexibility, can be easily adapted to new domains, and require minimal domain engineering. A common criticism of these systems is that they seldom understand or use the available dialog history effectively. In this paper, we take an empirical approach to understanding how these models use the available dialog history by studying the sensitivity of the models to artificially introduced unnatural changes or perturbations to their context at test time. We experiment with 10 different types of perturbations on 4 multi-turn dialog datasets and find that commonly used neural dialog architectures like recurrent and transformer-based seq2seq models are rarely sensitive to most perturbations such as missing or reordering utterances, shuffling words, etc. Also, by open-sourcing our code, we believe that it will serve as a useful diagnostic tool for evaluating dialog systems in the future.

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Deep Reinforcement Learning For Modeling Chit-Chat Dialog With Discrete Attributes
Chinnadhurai Sankar | Sujith Ravi
Proceedings of the 20th Annual SIGdial Meeting on Discourse and Dialogue

Open domain dialog systems face the challenge of being repetitive and producing generic responses. In this paper, we demonstrate that by conditioning the response generation on interpretable discrete dialog attributes and composed attributes, it helps improve the model perplexity and results in diverse and interesting non-redundant responses. We propose to formulate the dialog attribute prediction as a reinforcement learning (RL) problem and use policy gradients methods to optimize utterance generation using long-term rewards. Unlike existing RL approaches which formulate the token prediction as a policy, our method reduces the complexity of the policy optimization by limiting the action space to dialog attributes, thereby making the policy optimization more practical and sample efficient. We demonstrate this with experimental and human evaluations.

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Transferable Neural Projection Representations
Chinnadhurai Sankar | Sujith Ravi | Zornitsa Kozareva
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies, Volume 1 (Long and Short Papers)

Neural word representations are at the core of many state-of-the-art natural language processing models. A widely used approach is to pre-train, store and look up word or character embedding matrices. While useful, such representations occupy huge memory making it hard to deploy on-device and often do not generalize to unknown words due to vocabulary pruning. In this paper, we propose a skip-gram based architecture coupled with Locality-Sensitive Hashing (LSH) projections to learn efficient dynamically computable representations. Our model does not need to store lookup tables as representations are computed on-the-fly and require low memory footprint. The representations can be trained in an unsupervised fashion and can be easily transferred to other NLP tasks. For qualitative evaluation, we analyze the nearest neighbors of the word representations and discover semantically similar words even with misspellings. For quantitative evaluation, we plug our transferable projections into a simple LSTM and run it on multiple NLP tasks and show how our transferable projections achieve better performance compared to prior work.