Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Publication Source

Proceedings of the 12th International ACM Conference on on Ubiquitous Information Management and Communication (IMCOM)


The increasing popularity and use of personal voice assistant technologies, such as Siri and Google Now, is driving and expanding progress toward the long-term and lofty goal of using artificial intelligence to build human-computer dialog systems capable of understanding natural language. While dialog-based systems such as Siri support utterances communicated through natural language, they are limited in the flexibility they afford to the user in interacting with the system and, thus, support primarily action-requesting and information-seeking tasks. Mixed-initiative interaction, on the other hand, is a flexible interaction technique where the user and the system act as equal participants in an activity, and is often exhibited in human-human conversations. In this paper, we study user support for mixed-initiative interaction with dialog-based systems through natural language using a bag-of-words model and k-nearest-neighbor classifier. We study this problem in the context of a toolkit we developed for automated, mixed-initiative dialog system construction, involving a dialog authoring notation and management engine based on lambda calculus, for specifying and implementing task-based, mixed-initiative dialogs. We use ordering at Subway through natural language, human-computer dialogs as a case study. Our results demonstrate that the dialogs authored with our toolkit support the end user's completion of a natural language, human-computer dialog in a mixed-initiative fashion. The use of natural language in the resulting mixed-initiative dialogs afford the user the ability to experience multiple self-directed paths through the dialog and makes the flexibility in communicating user utterances commensurate with that in dialog completion paths---an aspect missing from commercial assistants like Siri.

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Conference location: Langkawi, Malaysia


Association for Computing Machinery

Peer Reviewed


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