Athena: Constructing Dialogues Dynamically with Discourse Constraints

Vrindavan Harrison, Juraj Juraska, Wen Cui, Lena Reed, Kevin K. Bowden, Jiaqi Wu, Brian Schwarzmann, Abteen Ebrahimi, Rishi Rajasekaran, Nikhil Varghese, Max Wechsler-Azen, Steve Whittaker, Jeffrey Flanigan, Marilyn Walker

This report describes Athena, a dialogue system for spoken conversation on popular topics and current events. We develop a flexible topic-agnostic approach to dialogue management that dynamically configures dialogue based on general principles of entity and topic coherence. Athena's dialogue manager uses a contract-based method where discourse constraints are dispatched to clusters of response generators. This allows Athena to procure responses from dynamic sources, such as knowledge graph traversals and feature-based on-the-fly response retrieval methods. After describing the dialogue system architecture, we perform an analysis of conversations that Athena participated in during the 2019 Alexa Prize Competition. We conclude with a report on several user studies we carried out to better understand how individual user characteristics affect system ratings.

Knowledge Graph

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