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Spoken Natural Language Dialog SystemsA Practical Approach$
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Ronnie W. Smith and D. Richard Hipp

Print publication date: 1995

Print ISBN-13: 9780195091878

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780195091878.001.0001

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Foundational Work in Integrated Dialog Processing

Foundational Work in Integrated Dialog Processing

(p.15) Chapter 2 Foundational Work in Integrated Dialog Processing
Spoken Natural Language Dialog Systems

Ronnie W. Smith

D. Richard Hipp

Oxford University Press

Building a working spoken natural language dialog system is a complex challenge. It requires the integration of solutions to many of the important subproblems of natural language processing. This chapter discusses the foundations for a theory of integrated dialog processing, highlighting previous research efforts. The traditional approach in AI for problem solving has been the planning of a complete solution. We claim that the interactive environment, especially one with variable initiative, renders such a strategy inadequate. A user with the initiative may not perform the task steps in the same order as those planned by the computer. They may even perform a different set of steps. Furthermore, there is always the possibility of miscommunication. Regardless of the source of complexity, the previously developed solution plan may be rendered unusable and must be redeveloped. This is noted by Korf [Kor87]: . . . Ideally, the term planning applies to problem solving in a real-world environment where the agent may not have complete information about the world or cannot completely predict the effects of its actions. In that case, the agent goes through several iterations of planning a solution, executing the plan, and then replanning based on the perceived result of the solution. Most of the literature on planning, however, deals with problem solving with perfect information and prediction. . . . Wilkins [Wil84] also acknowledges this problem: . . . In real-world domains, things do not always proceed as planned. Therefore, it is desirable to develop better execution-monitoring techniques and better capabilities to replan when things do not go as expected. This may involve planning for tests to verify that things are indeed going as expected.... The problem of replanning is also critical. In complex domains it becomes increasingly important to use as much as possible of the old plan, rather than to start all over when things go wrong. . . . Consequently, Wilkins adopts the strategy of producing a complete plan and revising it rather than reasoning in an incremental fashion.

Keywords:   Anaphoric reference, Collective intentions, Discourse grammar, Ellipsis, Focus, GUMS, Intentional structure

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