Retrospective and Prospective Mixture-of-Generators for Task-oriented Dialogue Response Generation

19 Nov 2019  ·  Jiahuan Pei, Pengjie Ren, Christof Monz, Maarten de Rijke ·

Dialogue response generation (DRG) is a critical component of task-oriented dialogue systems (TDSs). Its purpose is to generate proper natural language responses given some context, e.g., historical utterances, system states, etc. State-of-the-art work focuses on how to better tackle DRG in an end-to-end way. Typically, such studies assume that each token is drawn from a single distribution over the output vocabulary, which may not always be optimal. Responses vary greatly with different intents, e.g., domains, system actions. We propose a novel mixture-of-generators network (MoGNet) for DRG, where we assume that each token of a response is drawn from a mixture of distributions. MoGNet consists of a chair generator and several expert generators. Each expert is specialized for DRG w.r.t. a particular intent. The chair coordinates multiple experts and combines the output they have generated to produce more appropriate responses. We propose two strategies to help the chair make better decisions, namely, a retrospective mixture-of-generators (RMoG) and prospective mixture-of-generators (PMoG). The former only considers the historical expert-generated responses until the current time step while the latter also considers possible expert-generated responses in the future by encouraging exploration. In order to differentiate experts, we also devise a global-and-local (GL) learning scheme that forces each expert to be specialized towards a particular intent using a local loss and trains the chair and all experts to coordinate using a global loss. We carry out extensive experiments on the MultiWOZ benchmark dataset. MoGNet significantly outperforms state-of-the-art methods in terms of both automatic and human evaluations, demonstrating its effectiveness for DRG.

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