Honglei Liu


NUANCED: Natural Utterance Annotation for Nuanced Conversation with Estimated Distributions
Zhiyu Chen | Honglei Liu | Hu Xu | Seungwhan Moon | Hao Zhou | Bing Liu
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2021

Existing conversational systems are mostly agent-centric, which assumes the user utterances will closely follow the system ontology. However, in real-world scenarios, it is highly desirable that users can speak freely and naturally. In this work, we attempt to build a user-centric dialogue system for conversational recommendation. As there is no clean mapping for a user’s free form utterance to an ontology, we first model the user preferences as estimated distributions over the system ontology and map the user’s utterances to such distributions. Learning such a mapping poses new challenges on reasoning over various types of knowledge, ranging from factoid knowledge, commonsense knowledge to the users’ own situations. To this end, we build a new dataset named NUANCED that focuses on such realistic settings, with 5.1k dialogues, 26k turns of high-quality user responses. We conduct experiments, showing both the usefulness and challenges of our problem setting. We believe NUANCED can serve as a valuable resource to push existing research from the agent-centric system to the user-centric system. The code and data are publicly available.

Adding Chit-Chat to Enhance Task-Oriented Dialogues
Kai Sun | Seungwhan Moon | Paul Crook | Stephen Roller | Becka Silvert | Bing Liu | Zhiguang Wang | Honglei Liu | Eunjoon Cho | Claire Cardie
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Existing dialogue corpora and models are typically designed under two disjoint motives: while task-oriented systems focus on achieving functional goals (e.g., booking hotels), open-domain chatbots aim at making socially engaging conversations. In this work, we propose to integrate both types of systems by Adding Chit-Chat to ENhance Task-ORiented dialogues (ACCENTOR), with the goal of making virtual assistant conversations more engaging and interactive. Specifically, we propose a Human <-> AI collaborative data collection approach for generating diverse chit-chat responses to augment task-oriented dialogues with minimal annotation effort. We then present our new chit-chat-based annotations to 23.8K dialogues from two popular task-oriented datasets (Schema-Guided Dialogue and MultiWOZ 2.1) and demonstrate their advantage over the originals via human evaluation. Lastly, we propose three new models for adding chit-chat to task-oriented dialogues, explicitly trained to predict user goals and to generate contextually relevant chit-chat responses. Automatic and human evaluations show that, compared with the state-of-the-art task-oriented baseline, our models can code-switch between task and chit-chat to be more engaging, interesting, knowledgeable, and humanlike, while maintaining competitive task performance.


User Memory Reasoning for Conversational Recommendation
Hu Xu | Seungwhan Moon | Honglei Liu | Bing Liu | Pararth Shah | Bing Liu | Philip Yu
Proceedings of the 28th International Conference on Computational Linguistics

We study an end-to-end approach for conversational recommendation that dynamically manages and reasons over users’ past (offline) preferences and current (online) requests through a structured and cumulative user memory knowledge graph. This formulation extends existing state tracking beyond the boundary of a single dialog to user state tracking (UST). For this study, we create a new Memory Graph (MG) <-> Conversational Recommendation parallel corpus called MGConvRex with 7K+ human-to-human role-playing dialogs, grounded on a large-scale user memory bootstrapped from real-world user scenarios. MGConvRex captures human-level reasoning over user memory and has disjoint training/testing sets of users for zero-shot (cold-start) reasoning for recommendation. We propose a simple yet expandable formulation for constructing and updating the MG, and an end-to-end graph-based reasoning model that updates MG from unstructured utterances and predicts optimal dialog policies (eg recommendation) based on updated MG. The prediction of our proposed model inherits the graph structure, providing a natural way to explain policies. Experiments are conducted for both offline metrics and online simulation, showing competitive results.


Global Textual Relation Embedding for Relational Understanding
Zhiyu Chen | Hanwen Zha | Honglei Liu | Wenhu Chen | Xifeng Yan | Yu Su
Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Pre-trained embeddings such as word embeddings and sentence embeddings are fundamental tools facilitating a wide range of downstream NLP tasks. In this work, we investigate how to learn a general-purpose embedding of textual relations, defined as the shortest dependency path between entities. Textual relation embedding provides a level of knowledge between word/phrase level and sentence level, and we show that it can facilitate downstream tasks requiring relational understanding of the text. To learn such an embedding, we create the largest distant supervision dataset by linking the entire English ClueWeb09 corpus to Freebase. We use global co-occurrence statistics between textual and knowledge base relations as the supervision signal to train the embedding. Evaluation on two relational understanding tasks demonstrates the usefulness of the learned textual relation embedding. The data and code can be found at https://github.com/czyssrs/GloREPlus


Global Relation Embedding for Relation Extraction
Yu Su | Honglei Liu | Semih Yavuz | Izzeddin Gür | Huan Sun | Xifeng Yan
Proceedings of the 2018 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies, Volume 1 (Long Papers)

We study the problem of textual relation embedding with distant supervision. To combat the wrong labeling problem of distant supervision, we propose to embed textual relations with global statistics of relations, i.e., the co-occurrence statistics of textual and knowledge base relations collected from the entire corpus. This approach turns out to be more robust to the training noise introduced by distant supervision. On a popular relation extraction dataset, we show that the learned textual relation embedding can be used to augment existing relation extraction models and significantly improve their performance. Most remarkably, for the top 1,000 relational facts discovered by the best existing model, the precision can be improved from 83.9% to 89.3%.