Guided Dialogue Policy Learning without Adversarial Learning in the Loop

2020 
Reinforcement learning methods have emerged as a popular choice for training an efficient and effective dialogue policy. However, these methods suffer from sparse and unstable reward signals returned by a user simulator only when a dialogue finishes. Besides, the reward signal is manually designed by human experts, which requires domain knowledge. Recently, a number of adversarial learning methods have been proposed to learn the reward function together with the dialogue policy. However, to alternatively update the dialogue policy and the reward model on the fly, we are limited to policy-gradient-based algorithms, such as REINFORCE and PPO. Moreover, the alternating training of a dialogue agent and the reward model can easily get stuck in local optima or result in mode collapse. To overcome the listed issues, we propose to decompose the adversarial training into two steps. First, we train the discriminator with an auxiliary dialogue generator and then incorporate a derived reward model into a common reinforcement learning method to guide the dialogue policy learning. This approach is applicable to both on-policy and off-policy reinforcement learning methods. Based on our extensive experimentation, we can conclude the proposed method: (1) achieves a remarkable task success rate using both on-policy and off-policy reinforcement learning methods; and (2) has potential to transfer knowledge from existing domains to a new domain.
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