Jianheng Tang


2019

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Target-Guided Open-Domain Conversation
Jianheng Tang | Tiancheng Zhao | Chenyan Xiong | Xiaodan Liang | Eric Xing | Zhiting Hu
Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Many real-world open-domain conversation applications have specific goals to achieve during open-ended chats, such as recommendation, psychotherapy, education, etc. We study the problem of imposing conversational goals on open-domain chat agents. In particular, we want a conversational system to chat naturally with human and proactively guide the conversation to a designated target subject. The problem is challenging as no public data is available for learning such a target-guided strategy. We propose a structured approach that introduces coarse-grained keywords to control the intended content of system responses. We then attain smooth conversation transition through turn-level supervised learning, and drive the conversation towards the target with discourse-level constraints. We further derive a keyword-augmented conversation dataset for the study. Quantitative and human evaluations show our system can produce meaningful and effective conversations, significantly improving over other approaches