Simple Conversational Data Augmentation for Semi-supervised Abstractive Dialogue Summarization

EMNLP 2021  ·  Jiaao Chen, Diyi Yang ·

Abstractive conversation summarization has received growing attention while most current state-of-the-art summarization models heavily rely on human-annotated summaries. To reduce the dependence on labeled summaries, in this work, we present a simple yet effective set of Conversational Data Augmentation (CODA) methods for semi-supervised abstractive conversation summarization, such as random swapping/deletion to perturb the discourse relations inside conversations, dialogue-acts-guided insertion to interrupt the development of conversations, and conditional-generation-based substitution to substitute utterances with their paraphrases generated based on the conversation context. To further utilize unlabeled conversations, we combine CODA with two-stage noisy self-training where we first pre-train the summarization model on unlabeled conversations with pseudo summaries and then fine-tune it on labeled conversations. Experiments conducted on the recent conversation summarization datasets demonstrate the effectiveness of our methods over several state-of-the-art data augmentation baselines.

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