Causal-aware Safe Policy Improvement for Task-oriented dialogue

Govardana Sachithanandam Ramachandran, Kazuma Hashimoto, Caiming Xiong

The recent success of reinforcement learning's (RL) in solving complex tasks is most often attributed to its capacity to explore and exploit an environment where it has been trained. Sample efficiency is usually not an issue since cheap simulators are available to sample data on-policy. On the other hand, task oriented dialogues are usually learnt from offline data collected using human demonstrations. Collecting diverse demonstrations and annotating them is expensive. Unfortunately, use of RL methods trained on off-policy data are prone to issues of bias and generalization, which are further exacerbated by stochasticity in human response and non-markovian belief state of a dialogue management system. To this end, we propose a batch RL framework for task oriented dialogue policy learning: causal aware safe policy improvement (CASPI). This method gives guarantees on dialogue policy's performance and also learns to shape rewards according to intentions behind human responses, rather than just mimicking demonstration data; this couple with batch-RL helps overall with sample efficiency of the framework. We demonstrate the effectiveness of this framework on a dialogue-context-to-text Generation and end-to-end dialogue task of the Multiwoz2.0 dataset. The proposed method outperforms the current state of the art on these metrics, in both case. In the end-to-end case, our method trained only on 10\% of the data was able to out perform current state in three out of four evaluation metrics.

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