Due to the significance and value in human-computer interaction and natural language processing, task-oriented dialog systems are attracting more and more attention in both academic and industrial communities. In this paper, we survey recent advances and challenges in an issue-specific manner. We discuss three critical topics for task-oriented dialog systems: (1) improving data efficiency to facilitate dialog system modeling in low-resource settings, (2) modeling multi-turn dynamics for dialog policy learning to achieve better task-completion performance, and (3) integrating domain ontology knowledge into the dialog model in both pipeline and end-to-end models. We also review the recent progresses in dialog evaluation and some widely-used corpora. We believe that this survey can shed a light on future research in task-oriented dialog systems.

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ACM/IEEE第23届模型驱动工程语言和系统国际会议,是模型驱动软件和系统工程的首要会议系列,由ACM-SIGSOFT和IEEE-TCSE支持组织。自1998年以来,模型涵盖了建模的各个方面,从语言和方法到工具和应用程序。模特的参加者来自不同的背景,包括研究人员、学者、工程师和工业专业人士。MODELS 2019是一个论坛,参与者可以围绕建模和模型驱动的软件和系统交流前沿研究成果和创新实践经验。今年的版本将为建模社区提供进一步推进建模基础的机会,并在网络物理系统、嵌入式系统、社会技术系统、云计算、大数据、机器学习、安全、开源等新兴领域提出建模的创新应用以及可持续性。 官网链接:http://www.modelsconference.org/

To solve the information explosion problem and enhance user experience in various online applications, recommender systems have been developed to model users preferences. Although numerous efforts have been made toward more personalized recommendations, recommender systems still suffer from several challenges, such as data sparsity and cold start. In recent years, generating recommendations with the knowledge graph as side information has attracted considerable interest. Such an approach can not only alleviate the abovementioned issues for a more accurate recommendation, but also provide explanations for recommended items. In this paper, we conduct a systematical survey of knowledge graph-based recommender systems. We collect recently published papers in this field and summarize them from two perspectives. On the one hand, we investigate the proposed algorithms by focusing on how the papers utilize the knowledge graph for accurate and explainable recommendation. On the other hand, we introduce datasets used in these works. Finally, we propose several potential research directions in this field.

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Task-oriented dialog presents a difficult challenge encompassing multiple problems including multi-turn language understanding and generation, knowledge retrieval and reasoning, and action prediction. Modern dialog systems typically begin by converting conversation history to a symbolic object referred to as belief state by using supervised learning. The belief state is then used to reason on an external knowledge source whose result along with the conversation history is used in action prediction and response generation tasks independently. Such a pipeline of individually optimized components not only makes the development process cumbersome but also makes it non-trivial to leverage session-level user reinforcement signals. In this paper, we develop Neural Assistant: a single neural network model that takes conversation history and an external knowledge source as input and jointly produces both text response and action to be taken by the system as output. The model learns to reason on the provided knowledge source with weak supervision signal coming from the text generation and the action prediction tasks, hence removing the need for belief state annotations. In the MultiWOZ dataset, we study the effect of distant supervision, and the size of knowledge base on model performance. We find that the Neural Assistant without belief states is able to incorporate external knowledge information achieving higher factual accuracy scores compared to Transformer. In settings comparable to reported baseline systems, Neural Assistant when provided with oracle belief state significantly improves language generation performance.

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There is a resurgent interest in developing intelligent open-domain dialog systems due to the availability of large amounts of conversational data and the recent progress on neural approaches to conversational AI. Unlike traditional task-oriented bots, an open-domain dialog system aims to establish long-term connections with users by satisfying the human need for communication, affection, and social belonging. This paper reviews the recent works on neural approaches that are devoted to addressing three challenges in developing such systems: semantics, consistency, and interactiveness. Semantics requires a dialog system to not only understand the content of the dialog but also identify user's social needs during the conversation. Consistency requires the system to demonstrate a consistent personality to win users trust and gain their long-term confidence. Interactiveness refers to the system's ability to generate interpersonal responses to achieve particular social goals such as entertainment, conforming, and task completion. The works we select to present here is based on our unique views and are by no means complete. Nevertheless, we hope that the discussion will inspire new research in developing more intelligent dialog systems.

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Question Answering has recently received high attention from artificial intelligence communities due to the advancements in learning technologies. Early question answering models used rule-based approaches and moved to the statistical approach to address the vastly available information. However, statistical approaches are shown to underperform in handling the dynamic nature and the variation of language. Therefore, learning models have shown the capability of handling the dynamic nature and variations in language. Many deep learning methods have been introduced to question answering. Most of the deep learning approaches have shown to achieve higher results compared to machine learning and statistical methods. The dynamic nature of language has profited from the nonlinear learning in deep learning. This has created prominent success and a spike in work on question answering. This paper discusses the successes and challenges in question answering question answering systems and techniques that are used in these challenges.

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Attention is an increasingly popular mechanism used in a wide range of neural architectures. Because of the fast-paced advances in this domain, a systematic overview of attention is still missing. In this article, we define a unified model for attention architectures for natural language processing, with a focus on architectures designed to work with vector representation of the textual data. We discuss the dimensions along which proposals differ, the possible uses of attention, and chart the major research activities and open challenges in the area.

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Most existing works on dialog systems only consider conversation content while neglecting the personality of the user the bot is interacting with, which begets several unsolved issues. In this paper, we present a personalized end-to-end model in an attempt to leverage personalization in goal-oriented dialogs. We first introduce a Profile Model which encodes user profiles into distributed embeddings and refers to conversation history from other similar users. Then a Preference Model captures user preferences over knowledge base entities to handle the ambiguity in user requests. The two models are combined into the Personalized MemN2N. Experiments show that the proposed model achieves qualitative performance improvements over state-of-the-art methods. As for human evaluation, it also outperforms other approaches in terms of task completion rate and user satisfaction.

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End-to-end task-oriented dialog systems usually suffer from the challenge of incorporating knowledge bases. In this paper, we propose a novel yet simple end-to-end differentiable model called memory-to-sequence (Mem2Seq) to address this issue. Mem2Seq is the first neural generative model that combines the multi-hop attention over memories with the idea of pointer network. We empirically show how Mem2Seq controls each generation step, and how its multi-hop attention mechanism helps in learning correlations between memories. In addition, our model is quite general without complicated task-specific designs. As a result, we show that Mem2Seq can be trained faster and attain the state-of-the-art performance on three different task-oriented dialog datasets.

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Keeping the dialogue state in dialogue systems is a notoriously difficult task. We introduce an ontology-based dialogue manage(OntoDM), a dialogue manager that keeps the state of the conversation, provides a basis for anaphora resolution and drives the conversation via domain ontologies. The banking and finance area promises great potential for disambiguating the context via a rich set of products and specificity of proper nouns, named entities and verbs. We used ontologies both as a knowledge base and a basis for the dialogue manager; the knowledge base component and dialogue manager components coalesce in a sense. Domain knowledge is used to track Entities of Interest, i.e. nodes (classes) of the ontology which happen to be products and services. In this way we also introduced conversation memory and attention in a sense. We finely blended linguistic methods, domain-driven keyword ranking and domain ontologies to create ways of domain-driven conversation. Proposed framework is used in our in-house German language banking and finance chatbots. General challenges of German language processing and finance-banking domain chatbot language models and lexicons are also introduced. This work is still in progress, hence no success metrics have been introduced yet.

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Music recommender systems (MRS) have experienced a boom in recent years, thanks to the emergence and success of online streaming services, which nowadays make available almost all music in the world at the user's fingertip. While today's MRS considerably help users to find interesting music in these huge catalogs, MRS research is still facing substantial challenges. In particular when it comes to build, incorporate, and evaluate recommendation strategies that integrate information beyond simple user--item interactions or content-based descriptors, but dig deep into the very essence of listener needs, preferences, and intentions, MRS research becomes a big endeavor and related publications quite sparse. The purpose of this trends and survey article is twofold. We first identify and shed light on what we believe are the most pressing challenges MRS research is facing, from both academic and industry perspectives. We review the state of the art towards solving these challenges and discuss its limitations. Second, we detail possible future directions and visions we contemplate for the further evolution of the field. The article should therefore serve two purposes: giving the interested reader an overview of current challenges in MRS research and providing guidance for young researchers by identifying interesting, yet under-researched, directions in the field.

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Dialogue systems have attracted more and more attention. Recent advances on dialogue systems are overwhelmingly contributed by deep learning techniques, which have been employed to enhance a wide range of big data applications such as computer vision, natural language processing, and recommender systems. For dialogue systems, deep learning can leverage a massive amount of data to learn meaningful feature representations and response generation strategies, while requiring a minimum amount of hand-crafting. In this article, we give an overview to these recent advances on dialogue systems from various perspectives and discuss some possible research directions. In particular, we generally divide existing dialogue systems into task-oriented and non-task-oriented models, then detail how deep learning techniques help them with representative algorithms and finally discuss some appealing research directions that can bring the dialogue system research into a new frontier.

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