Google Research

Generating High-Quality and Informative Conversation Responses with Sequence-to-Sequence Models

  • Louis Shao
  • Stephan Gouws
  • Denny Britz
  • Anna Goldie
  • Brian Strope
  • Ray Kurzweil
EMNLP (2017)


Building general-purpose conversation agents is a very challenging task, but necessary on the road toward intelligent agents that can interact with humans in natural language. Neural conversation models -- purely data-driven systems trained end-to-end on dialogue corpora -- have shown great promise recently, yet they often produce short and generic responses. This work presents new training and decoding methods that improve the quality, coherence, and diversity of long responses generated using sequence-to-sequence models. Our approach adds self-attention to the decoder to maintain coherence in longer responses, and we propose a practical approach, called the glimpse-model, for scaling to large datasets. We introduce a stochastic beam-search algorithm with segment-by-segment reranking which lets us inject diversity earlier in the generation process. We trained on a combined data set of over 2.3B conversation messages mined from the web. In human evaluation studies, our method produces longer responses overall, with a higher proportion rated as acceptable and excellent as length increases, compared to baseline sequence-to-sequence models with explicit length-promotion. A back-off strategy produces better responses overall, in the full spectrum of lengths.

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