Wheels A conversational system in the automobile classifieds domain

WHEELS is a conversational system which provides access to a database of eletronic automobile classified advertisements. It leverages off the existing spoken language technologies from our GALAXY system, and enables users to search through a database of 5,

WHEELS:A CONVERSATIONAL SYSTEM IN THE AUTOMOBILE

CLASSIFIEDS DOMAIN

Helen Meng,Senis Busayapongchai,James Glass,Dave Goddeau,Lee Hetherington, Ed Hurley,Christine Pao,Joe Polifroni,Stephanie Seneff,and Victor Zue

Spoken Language Systems Group

MIT Laboratory for Computer Science

Cambridge,MA02139USA

BellSouth Information Systems

Tucker,GA30084USA

http://www.sls.lcs.mit.edu

ABSTRACT

W HEELS is a conversational system which provides access to a database of eletronic automobile classi?ed advertisements.It

leverages off the existing spoken language technologies from our GALAXY system,and enables users to search through a database of 5,000automobile classi?eds.The current end-to-end system can re-

spond to spoken or typed inputs,and produces a short list of entries

meeting the constraints speci?ed by the user.The system operates

in mixed-initiative mode,asking for speci?c information but not re-quiring compliance.The output information is conveyed to the user with visual tables and synthesized speech.This system incorporates a new type of category bigram,created with the innovative use of the natural language component.Future plans to extend the system include operating in a displayless mode,and porting the system to Spanish.

1.INTRODUCTION

Over the past year we have been developing a conversational sys-

tem named WHEELS,interfacing to a database of electronic auto-

mobile classi?ed ads.The ultimate goal of this work,done in con-

junction with BellSouth Intelliventures,is to develop a displayless,

bilingual(English and Spanish)conversational system that can be deployed over the telephone network.We plan to utilize the con-text of this application to experiment with new speech technologies. The intermediate goals of this project,from a system development perspective,are(1)to port our GALAXY framework to the WHEELS domain,using telephone speech input,(2)to develop a displayless version of the conversational system,including an interface with the narrow-band recognizer for telephone-baseddisplayless deploy-ment,and(3)to extend the system to Spanish.We have completed the?rst stage,and are beginning development of the displayless sys-tem.At present,our end-to-end system is capable of responding to speech or typed inputs,and produces a short list of entries meeting user-speci?ed constraints(e.g.in make,model,price,year,mileage, etc.).The output information is conveyed to the user via a visual ta-ble display and synthesized speech.

The following section describes the various components of our sys-

tem.Section3describes our experiments in generating a category

bigram from a context free grammar.In Section4we discuss the

data collection efforts done in conjunction with BellSouth Intel-

This research was supported by a research contract from BellSouth Intelliventures.liventures.A results section reports on recognition performance and parse coverage.We conclude with our future plans.

2.SYSTEM COMPONENTS

Figure1shows a block diagram of WHEELS.This system preserves the GALAXY client-server architecture[3].The GALAXY client in-terfaces between the user and the system.It also contains TINA[6] and GENESIS[1]libraries which are used for natural languageunder-standing and language generation respectively.G ENESIS is utilized to paraphrase the input sentence,so as to re?ect the interpretation of the input by the system,serving to alert the user to any recognition errors.The WHEELS server is responsible for discourse and dialogue modeling as well as database retrieval.It makes use of GENESIS for its response generation.A detailed description of the dialogue component can be found in[4].The system utilizes the FastFind database,provided to us by BellSouth Intelliventures.It contains about5,000entries of automobile classi?ed advertisements that ap-peared in the Atlanta Journal and Constitution.

Wheels A conversational system in the automobile classifieds domain

and Tables

Figure1:System Architecture of WHEELS.

2.1.Speech Recognition

The speech recognition component utilizes a stochastic segment-based recognizer developed in our group called SUMMIT[5].Con-text independent phone models were initially trained on the ATIS sentence subset of the MACROPHONE corpus obtained from the Lin-guistic Data Consortium.They were later retrained on a large corpus

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