Our new paper integrating hand-crafted rules and reinforcement learning approaches has been accepted by the 2017 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP 2017). An Agent-Aware Dropout Deep Q-Network (AAD-DQN) is proposed in this paper to estimate uncertainty of the learning process.

Paper + Appendix


Hand-crafted rules and reinforcement learning (RL) are two popular choices to obtain dialogue policy. The rule-based policy is often reliable within predefined scope but not self-adaptable, whereas RL is evolvable with data but often suffers from a bad initial performance. We employ a companion learning framework to integrate the two approaches for on-line dialogue policy learning, in which a predefined rule-based policy acts as a teacher and guides a data-driven RL system by giving example actions as well as additional rewards. A novel agent-aware dropout Deep Q-Network (AAD-DQN) is proposed to address the problem of when to consult the teacher and how to learn from the teacher’s experiences. AADDQN, as a data-driven student policy, provides (1) two separate experience memories for student and teacher, (2) an uncertainty estimated by dropout to control the timing of consultation and learning. Simulation experiments showed that the proposed approach can significantly improve both safety and efficiency of on-line policy optimization compared to other companion learning approaches as well as supervised pre-training using static dialogue corpus.


Lu Chen, Xiang Zhou, Cheng Chang, Runzhe Yang and Kai Yu.