An Ontology-Based Dialogue Management System for Virtual Personal Assistants


Wessel, M. and Acharya, G. and Carpenter, J. and Yin, M. An Ontology-Based Dialogue Management System for Virtual Personal Assistants, in International Workshop on Spoken Dialogue Systems Technology, Farmington, Pennsylvania USA, p. 12, 2017.


Dialogue management (DM) is a difficult problem. We present OntoVPA, an Ontology-Based Dialogue Management System (DMS)for Virtual Personal Assistants (VPAs). The features of OntoVPA are offered as potential solutions to core DM problems. We illustrate OntoVPA’s solutions to these problems by means of a running VPA example domain. To the best of our knowledge, OntoVPA is the first commercially available, fully implemented DMS that employs ontologies, reasoning, and ontology-based rules for a) domain model representation and reasoning, b) dialogue representation and state tracking, and c) response generation. OntoVPA is a declarative, knowledge-based system which, consequently, can be customized to a new VPA domain by swapping in and out ontologies and rule bases, with very little to no conventional programming required. OntoVPA relies on its domain-independent (generic), but dialogue-specific upper-level ontologies and DM rules, which are implementing typical, re-occurring (and usually expensive to address) dialogue system core capabilities, such as anaphora (coreference) resolution, slot-filling, inquiring about missing slot values, and so on. We argue that ontologies and ontology-based rules provide a flexible and expressive framework for realizing DMSs for VPAs, with a potential to significantly reduce development time. Keywords: Artificial Intelligence, Artificial Intelligence Center, AIC, Virtual Personal Assistants, Dialogue Management Systems, Ontologies, Ontology-Based Rules

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