Goal-Oriented Chatbot Dialog Management Bootstrapping with Transfer Learning


Goal-Oriented (GO) Dialogue Systems, colloquially known as goal oriented chatbots, help users achieve a predefined goal (e.g. book a movie ticket) within a closed domain. A first step is to understand the user’s goal by using natural language understanding techniques. Once the goal is known, the bot must manage a dialogue to achieve that goal, which is conducted with respect to a learnt policy. The success of the dialogue system depends on the quality of the policy, which is in turn reliant on the availability of high-quality training data for the policy learning method, for instance Deep Reinforcement Learning. Due to the domain specificity, the amount of available data is typically too low to allow the training of good dialogue policies. In this paper we introduce a transfer learning method to mitigate the effects of the low in-domain data availability. Our transfer learning based approach improves the bot’s success rate by 20% in relative terms for distant domains and we more than double it for close domains, compared to the model without transfer learning. Moreover, the transfer learning chatbots learn the policy up to 5 to 10 times faster. Finally, as the transfer learning approach is complementary to additional processing such as warm-starting, we show that their joint application gives the best outcomes.

Publication info

July 2018
Claudiu Musat
Director of Research for Data, Analytics & AI

Vladimir Ilievski
ex-Master Student

Andreea Hossmann
Principal Product Manager

Michael Baeriswyl
Executive Vice President of Data, Analytics & AI

IJCAI 2018