Context Representation and Reasoning for Managing Spoken Dialogue

Harry Bunt

In interactive systems, the ~dialogue manager' is a central component, whose primary task is to decide what to do next in a dialogue. This decision involves taking a variety of kinds of context information into account, with different logical properties, used in different types of reasoning, and therefore with different demands on representation. In this paper we discuss the representation of the context information needed to support intelligent dialogue management in interactive speech systems. We argue that simple types of context information should be represented in a way that optimally supports efficient simple forms of reasoning, while other types of context information require sophisticated logics for articulate representation and full-blown reasoning. Using different types of representation for different types of context information creates a problem in situations where a type of context information, that is adequately represented in a very simple form most of the time, exceptionally requires articulate representation and sophisticated reasoning. We indicate how this problem can be resolved, and how a dialogue manager can use several forms of context representation and reasoning for generating dialogue acts, by clearly distinguishing the different ways in which dialogue acts may be constructed and the conditions under which a particular construction is to be used.

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