Improved Models and Queries for Grounded Human-Robot Dialog (2018)
The ability to understand and communicate in natural language can make robots much more accessible for naive users. Environments such as homes and offices contain many objects that humans describe in diverse language referencing perceptual properties. Robots operating in such environments need to be able to understand such descriptions. Different types of dialog interactions with humans can help robots clarify their understanding to reduce mistakes, and also improve their language understanding models, or adapt them to the specific domain of operation. We present completed work on jointly learning a dialog policy that enables a robot to clarify partially understood natural language commands, while simultaneously using the dialogs to improve the underlying semantic parser for future commands. We introduce the setting of opportunistic active learning - a framework for interactive tasks that use supervised models. This framework allows a robot to ask diverse, potentially off-topic queries across interactions, requiring the robot to trade-off between task completion and knowledge acquisition for future tasks. We also attempt to learn a dialog policy in this framework using reinforcement learning. We propose a novel distributional model for perceptual grounding, based on learning a joint space for vector representations from multiple modalities. We also propose a method for identifying more informative clarification questions that can scale well to a larger space of objects, and wish to learn a dialog policy that would make use of such clarifications.
PhD Proposal, Department of Computer Science, The University of Texas At Austin.

Aishwarya Padmakumar Ph.D. Alumni aish [at] cs utexas edu