Offline Reinforcement Learning for Mixture-of-Expert Dialogue Management

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 36 (NeurIPS 2023) Main Conference Track

Bibtex Paper Supplemental


Dhawal Gupta, Yinlam Chow, Azamat Tulepbergenov, Mohammad Ghavamzadeh, Craig Boutilier


Reinforcement learning (RL) has shown great promise for developing agents for dialogue management (DM) that are non-myopic, conduct rich conversations, and maximize overall user satisfaction. Despite the advancements in RL and language models (LMs), employing RL to drive conversational chatbots still poses significant challenges. A primary issue stems from RL’s dependency on online exploration for effective learning, a process that can be costly. Moreover, engaging in online interactions with humans during the training phase can raise safety concerns, as the LM can potentially generate unwanted outputs. This issue is exacerbated by the combinatorial action spaces facing these algorithms, as most LM agents generate responses at the word level. We develop various RL algorithms, specialized in dialogue planning, that leverage recent Mixture-of-Expert Language Models (MoE-LMs)---models that capture diverse semantics, generate utterances reflecting different intents, and are amenable for multi-turn DM. By exploiting the MoE-LM structure, our methods significantly reduce the size of the action space and improve the efficacy of RL-based DM. We evaluate our methods in open-domain dialogue to demonstrate their effectiveness with respect to the diversity of intent in generated utterances and overall DM performance.