Using Paraphrasing and Memory-Augmented Models to Combat Data Sparsity in Question Interpretation with a Virtual Patient Dialogue System

When interpreting questions in a virtual patient dialogue system one must inevitably tackle the challenge of a long tail of relatively infrequently asked questions. To make progress on this challenge, we investigate the use of paraphrasing for data augmentation and neural memory-based classification, finding that the two methods work best in combination. In particular, we find that the neural memory-based approach not only outperforms a straight CNN classifier on low frequency questions, but also takes better advantage of the augmented data created by paraphrasing, together yielding a nearly 10{\%} absolute improvement in accuracy on the least frequently asked questions.

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