In-Context Learning for Few-Shot Dialogue State Tracking

16 Mar 2022  ·  Yushi Hu, Chia-Hsuan Lee, Tianbao Xie, Tao Yu, Noah A. Smith, Mari Ostendorf ·

Collecting and annotating task-oriented dialogues is time-consuming and costly. Thus, zero and few shot learning for dialogue tasks presents an exciting opportunity. In this work, we propose an in-context (IC) learning framework for zero-shot and few-shot learning dialogue state tracking (DST), where a large pretrained language model (LM) takes a test instance and a few exemplars as input, and directly decodes the dialogue state without any parameter updates. This approach is more flexible and scalable than prior DST work when adapting to new domains and scenarios. To better leverage a tabular domain description in the LM prompt, we reformulate DST into a text-to-SQL problem. We also propose a novel approach to retrieve annotated dialogues as exemplars. Empirical results on MultiWOZ show that our method IC-DST substantially outperforms previous fine-tuned state-of-the-art models in few-shot settings. In addition, we test IC-DST in zero-shot settings, in which the model only takes a fixed task instruction as input, finding that it outperforms previous zero-shot methods by a large margin on MultiWOZ.

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