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AIC Seminar Series

Scalable Spoken Dialog Systems

James F. AllenUniversity of Rochester[Home Page]


Date:  Wednesday, January 1st 2003 at 4:00pm

Location:  EJ228  (Directions)


While there is great interest and activity in building spoken dialogue systems today, most applications involved very limited domains that require no significant reasoning. Our goal is to design and build systems that approach human performance in conversational interaction in domains that require significant reasoning. We are studying the class of "Practical dialogues": dialogues in which the conversants are cooperatively pursuing specific goals or tasks. These include planning (e.g., designing a kitchen), information retrieval (e.g., finding out the weather in New York), customer service (e.g., booking an airline flight), advice-giving (e.g., helping assemble some modular furniture) or crisis management (e.g., a 911 center assistant). In fact, our belief is that the class of practical dialogues includes most anything about which people might want to interact with a computer. While each of these different genres of tasks require significantly different reasoning components and have different structures, we believe that we can develop an generic model of practical dialogue systems that enables us to build domain-independent components that can relatively easily be adapted to different domains. I will describe our work so far and illustrate with examples from some systems we have built over the past five years.

   Bio for James F. Allen

James F. Allen record is impressive he currently holds the Dessauer Chair at the University of Rochester and is a fellow of the AAAI. research interests span a range of issues covering natural language understanding, discourse, knowledge representation, common-sense reasoning and planning. A paper about the current state of AI given at the 1998 AAAI conference can be found here These areas of research are combined in the TRAINS project, a long term effort co-directed with Len Schubert. The TRAINS system is an intelligent planning assistant that can converse in spoken natural language with a person to create, discuss and evaluate various plans involving freight shipments by train. In particular, Allen’s research breaks down into two main subareas, broadly classified as research in discourse and research in plan reasoning.

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