Mixed-Initiative Retrieval Dialogues Using Abductive Reasoning

Jon Atle Gulla and Adelheit Stein

Using intelligent dialogue components, we can relate the isolated functions of information retrieval systems to larger tasks and help the user satisfy her information needs. Such dialogue components monitor the interaction between user and system and suggest what the user should do on the basis of her goals and the dialogue history. However, for these components to have the necessary flexibility, they must allow both user and system to take the initiative and control the direction of the dialogue. In our retrieval system, certain dialogue scripts decide who is in charge of the interaction and what are the recommended user acts in a goal-directed dialogue. The user can take the initiative at any point of the dialogue by issuing an act not recommended to her. The system uses abduction to interpret this act in light of the dialogue history and initiates a new dialogue addressing the user’s choice of interpretation.

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