Automatic Generation of Dialogue Acts: Understanding Dialogue through Computational Modelling

Topic Description

The purpose of this project is to gain a better understanding of human-human dialogue through formal/computational modelling (Piwek, 2011; 2006). It will focus one of the following three phenomena in dialogue:

1) multimodal dialogue acts (involving gesture and speech) (Piwek 2009; Piwek, Beun & Cremers, 2008),
2) generation of questions (Piwek & Boyer, 2012; Kuyten et al., 2012; Rus et al. 2010; Wyse & Piwek, 2009), or
3) adversarial dialogue moves (and emotion) (Pluss, 2014; Pluss, Piwek & Power, 2011).

The main aim of the project will be to construct a computational model of one of these phenomena. This will involve building algorithms for automatically generating dialogue acts that exhibit the relevant phenomenon (for example, a model for automatically generating questions or, for instance, for generating multimodal dialogue acts).

The research may (or may not) involve developing a pair of agents that have the ability to converse with each other, with the resulting behaviour mirroring, in relevant respects, the human behaviours as we find them in naturally-occurring dialogues.

Skills Required:

A degree in Computing (or equivalent), with experience in artificial intelligence, computational linguistics or natural language processing. A background in linguistics would also be suitable, if accompanied by a suitable computer skills.

Background Reading:

Pluss, B. (2014). A computational Model of Non-cooperation in Natural Language Dialogue. PhD Thesis, The Open University, UK.

Piwek, Paul and Boyer, Kristy Elizabeth (2012). Varieties of Question Generation: introduction to this special issue. Dialogue & Discourse, 3(2), pp. 1-9.

Kuyten, Pascal; Bickmore, Timothy; Stoyanchev, Svetlana; Piwek, Paul; Prendinger, Helmut and Ishizuka, Mitsuru (2012). Fully automated generation of question-answer pairs for scripted virtual instruction. In: 12th International Conference on Intelligent Virtual Agents, 12 - 14 September 2012, Santa Cruz, CA, USA.

Piwek, Paul (2011). Three principles of information flow: conversation as a dialogue game. In: Ramage, Magnus and Chapman, David eds. Perspectives on Information. Routledge Studies in Library and Information Science (9). New York, USA: Routledge, pp. 106ñ120.

Pluss, Brian; Piwek, Paul and Power, Richard (2011). Modelling non-cooperative dialogue: the role of conversational games and discourse obligations. In: 15th Workshop on the Semantics and Pragmatics of Dialogue, 21-23 September 2011, Los Angeles, pp. 212ñ213.

Rus, Vasile; Wyse, Brendan; Piwek, Paul; Lintean, Mihai; Stoyanchev, Svetlana and Moldovan, Cristian (2010). The First Question Generation Shared Task Evaluation Challenge. In: Proceedings of the Sixth International Natural Language Generation Conference (INLG 2010), 7-9 July 2010, Trim Castle, Ireland.

Wyse, Brendan and Piwek, Paul (2009). Generating questions from OpenLearn study units. In: AIED 2009 Workshop Proceedings Volume 1: The 2nd Workshop on Question Generation, 6-9 July 2009, Brighton, UK.

Piwek, Paul (2009). Salience and pointing in multimodal reference. In: Proceedings of Production of Referring Expressions: Bridging the gap between computational and empirical approaches to generating reference (PRE-CogSci 2009), 29 July 2009, Amsterdam.

Piwek, Paul; Beun, Robbert-Jan and Cremers, Anita (2008). 'Proximal' and 'distal' in language and cognition: Evidence from deictic demonstratives in Dutch. Journal of Pragmatics, 40(4) pp. 694-718.

Piwek, Paul (2006). Perspectives on dialogue: Introduction to this special issue. Research on Language and Computation, 4(2-3) pp. 143ñ152.

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Paul Piwek




Alistair Willis