An automatic dialog simulation technique to develop and evaluate interactive conversational agents Articles uri icon

publication date

  • October 2013

start page

  • 759

end page

  • 780

issue

  • 9

volume

  • 27

international standard serial number (ISSN)

  • 0883-9514

electronic international standard serial number (EISSN)

  • 1087-6545

abstract

  • During recent years, conversational agents have become a solution to provide straightforward and more natural ways of retrieving information in the digital domain. In this article, we present an agent-based dialog simulation technique for learning new dialog strategies and evaluating conversational agents. Using this technique, the effort necessary to acquire data required to train the dialog model and then explore new dialog strategies is considerably reduced. A set of measures has also been defined to evaluate the dialog strategy that is automatically learned and to compare different dialog corpora. We have applied this technique to explore the space of possible dialog strategies and evaluate the dialogs acquired for a conversational agent that collects monitored data from patients suffering from diabetes. The results of the comparison of these measures for an initial corpus and a corpus acquired using the dialog simulation technique show that the conversational agent reduces the time needed to complete the dialogs and improve their quality, thereby allowing the conversational agent to tackle new situations and generate new coherent answers for the situations already present in an initial model.