Distributional Contrastive Embedding for Clarification-based Conversational Critiquing
Proceedings of the ACM Web Conference 2022
Managing uncertainty in preferences is core to creating the next generation of conversational recommender systems (CRS). However, an often-overlooked element of conversational interaction is the role of clarification. Users are notoriously noisy at revealing their preferences, and a common error is being unnecessarily specific, e.g., suggesting "chicken fingers" when a restaurant with a "kids menu" was the intended preference. Correcting such errors requires reasoning about the level of
... ty and specificity of preferences and verifying that the user has expressed the correct level of generality. To this end, we propose a novel clarificationbased conversational critiquing framework that allows the system to clarify user preferences as it accepts critiques. To support clarification, we propose the use of distributional embeddings that can capture the specificity and generality of concepts through distributional coverage while facilitating state-of-the-art embedding-based recommendation methods. Specifically, we incorporate Distributional Contrastive Embeddings of critiqueable keyphrases with user preference embeddings in a Variational Autoencoder recommendation framework that we term DCE-VAE. Our experiments show that our proposed DCE-VAE is (1) competitive in terms of general performance in comparison to state-of-the-art recommenders and (2) supports effective clarification-based critiquing in comparison to alternative clarification baselines. In summary, this work adds a new dimension of clarification to enhance the well-known critiquing framework along with a novel data-driven distributional embedding for clarification suggestions that significantly improves the efficacy of user interaction with critiquing-based CRSs.