The present paper surveys neural approaches to conversational AI that have been developed in the last few years. We group conversational systems into three categories: (1) question answering agents, (2) task-oriented dialogue agents, and (3) chatbots. For each category, we present a review of state-of-the-art neural approaches, draw the connection between them and traditional approaches, and discuss the progress that has been made and challenges still being faced, using specific systems and models as case studies.

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Attention mechanism is one of the most successful techniques in deep learning based Natural Language Processing (NLP). The transformer network architecture is completely based on attention mechanisms, and it outperforms sequence-to-sequence models in neural machine translation without recurrent and convolutional layers. Grapheme-to-phoneme (G2P) conversion is a task of converting letters (grapheme sequence) to their pronunciations (phoneme sequence). It plays a significant role in text-to-speech (TTS) and automatic speech recognition (ASR) systems. In this paper, we investigate the application of transformer architecture to G2P conversion and compare its performance with recurrent and convolutional neural network based approaches. Phoneme and word error rates are evaluated on the CMUDict dataset for US English and the NetTalk dataset. The results show that transformer based G2P outperforms the convolutional-based approach in terms of word error rate and our results significantly exceeded previous recurrent approaches (without attention) regarding word and phoneme error rates on both datasets. Furthermore, the size of the proposed model is much smaller than the size of the previous approaches.

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We present a large, tunable neural conversational response generation model, DialoGPT (dialogue generative pre-trained transformer). Trained on 147M conversation-like exchanges extracted from Reddit comment chains over a period spanning from 2005 through 2017, DialoGPT extends the Hugging Face PyTorch transformer to attain a performance close to human both in terms of automatic and human evaluation in single-turn dialogue settings. We show that conversational systems that leverage DialoGPT generate more relevant, contentful and context-consistent responses than strong baseline systems. The pre-trained model and training pipeline are publicly released to facilitate research into neural response generation and the development of more intelligent open-domain dialogue systems.

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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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Text-to-image synthesis refers to computational methods which translate human written textual descriptions, in the form of keywords or sentences, into images with similar semantic meaning to the text. In earlier research, image synthesis relied mainly on word to image correlation analysis combined with supervised methods to find best alignment of the visual content matching to the text. Recent progress in deep learning (DL) has brought a new set of unsupervised deep learning methods, particularly deep generative models which are able to generate realistic visual images using suitably trained neural network models. In this paper, we review the most recent development in the text-to-image synthesis research domain. Our survey first introduces image synthesis and its challenges, and then reviews key concepts such as generative adversarial networks (GANs) and deep convolutional encoder-decoder neural networks (DCNN). After that, we propose a taxonomy to summarize GAN based text-to-image synthesis into four major categories: Semantic Enhancement GANs, Resolution Enhancement GANs, Diversity Enhancement GANS, and Motion Enhancement GANs. We elaborate the main objective of each group, and further review typical GAN architectures in each group. The taxonomy and the review outline the techniques and the evolution of different approaches, and eventually provide a clear roadmap to summarize the list of contemporaneous solutions that utilize GANs and DCNNs to generate enthralling results in categories such as human faces, birds, flowers, room interiors, object reconstruction from edge maps (games) etc. The survey will conclude with a comparison of the proposed solutions, challenges that remain unresolved, and future developments in the text-to-image synthesis domain.

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Emotion recognition in conversation (ERC) has received much attention, lately, from researchers due to its potential widespread applications in diverse areas, such as health-care, education, and human resources. In this paper, we present Dialogue Graph Convolutional Network (DialogueGCN), a graph neural network based approach to ERC. We leverage self and inter-speaker dependency of the interlocutors to model conversational context for emotion recognition. Through the graph network, DialogueGCN addresses context propagation issues present in the current RNN-based methods. We empirically show that this method alleviates such issues, while outperforming the current state of the art on a number of benchmark emotion classification datasets.

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In recent years, there has been an exponential growth in the number of complex documents and texts that require a deeper understanding of machine learning methods to be able to accurately classify texts in many applications. Many machine learning approaches have achieved surpassing results in natural language processing. The success of these learning algorithms relies on their capacity to understand complex models and non-linear relationships within data. However, finding suitable structures, architectures, and techniques for text classification is a challenge for researchers. In this paper, a brief overview of text classification algorithms is discussed. This overview covers different text feature extractions, dimensionality reduction methods, existing algorithms and techniques, and evaluations methods. Finally, the limitations of each technique and their application in the real-world problem are discussed.

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We present our 7th place solution to the Gendered Pronoun Resolution challenge, which uses BERT without fine-tuning and a novel augmentation strategy designed for contextual embedding token-level tasks. Our method anonymizes the referent by replacing candidate names with a set of common placeholder names. Besides the usual benefits of effectively increasing training data size, this approach diversifies idiosyncratic information embedded in names. Using same set of common first names can also help the model recognize names better, shorten token length, and remove gender and regional biases associated with names. The system scored 0.1947 log loss in stage 2, where the augmentation contributed to an improvements of 0.04. Post-competition analysis shows that, when using different embedding layers, the system scores 0.1799 which would be third place.

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Although neural network approaches achieve remarkable success on a variety of NLP tasks, many of them struggle to answer questions that require commonsense knowledge. We believe the main reason is the lack of commonsense connections between concepts. To remedy this, we provide a simple and effective method that leverages external commonsense knowledge base such as ConceptNet. We pre-train direct and indirect relational functions between concepts, and show that these pre-trained functions could be easily added to existing neural network models. Results show that incorporating commonsense-based function improves the state-of-the-art on two question answering tasks that require commonsense reasoning. Further analysis shows that our system discovers and leverages useful evidences from an external commonsense knowledge base, which is missing in existing neural network models and help derive the correct answer.

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Humans gather information by engaging in conversations involving a series of interconnected questions and answers. For machines to assist in information gathering, it is therefore essential to enable them to answer conversational questions. We introduce CoQA, a novel dataset for building Conversational Question Answering systems. Our dataset contains 127k questions with answers, obtained from 8k conversations about text passages from seven diverse domains. The questions are conversational, and the answers are free-form text with their corresponding evidence highlighted in the passage. We analyze CoQA in depth and show that conversational questions have challenging phenomena not present in existing reading comprehension datasets, e.g., coreference and pragmatic reasoning. We evaluate strong conversational and reading comprehension models on CoQA. The best system obtains an F1 score of 65.1%, which is 23.7 points behind human performance (88.8%), indicating there is ample room for improvement. We launch CoQA as a challenge to the community at http://stanfordnlp.github.io/coqa/

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Although voice conversion (VC) algorithms have achieved remarkable success along with the development of machine learning, superior performance is still difficult to achieve when using nonparallel data. In this paper, we propose using a cycle-consistent adversarial network (CycleGAN) for nonparallel data-based VC training. A CycleGAN is a generative adversarial network (GAN) originally developed for unpaired image-to-image translation. A subjective evaluation of inter-gender conversion demonstrated that the proposed method significantly outperformed a method based on the Merlin open source neural network speech synthesis system (a parallel VC system adapted for our setup) and a GAN-based parallel VC system. This is the first research to show that the performance of a nonparallel VC method can exceed that of state-of-the-art parallel VC methods.

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