zueglass00conversationalinterfaces - Conversational...

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Conversational Interfaces: Advances and Challenges VICTOR W. ZUE AND JAMES R. GLASS, MEMBER, IEEE Invited Paper The past decade has witnessed the emergence of a new breed of human–computer interfaces that combines several human language technologies to enable humans to converse with computers using spoken dialogue for information access, creation, and processing. In this paper, we introduce the nature of these conversational inter- faces and describe the underlying human language technologies on which they are based. After summarizing some of the recent progress in this area around the world, we discuss development issues faced by researchers creating these kinds of systems and present some of the ongoing and unmet research challenges in this field. Keywords— Conversational interfaces, speech understanding systems, spoken dialogue systems. I. INTRODUCTION Computers are fast becoming a ubiquitous part of our lives, brought on by their rapid increase in performance and decrease in cost. With their increased availability comes the corresponding increase in our appetite for information. Today, for example, nearly half the population of North America are users of the World Wide Web, and the growth is continuing at an astronomical rate. Vast amounts of useful information are being made widely available, and people are utilizing it routinely for education, decision making, finance, and entertainment. Increasingly, people are interested in being able to access the information when they are on the move—anytime, anywhere, and in their native language. A promising solution to this problem, especially for small, handheld devices where a conventional keyboard and mouse can be impractical, is to impart human-like capabilities onto machines so that they can speak and hear, just like the users with whom they need to interact. Spoken language is Manuscript received January 7, 2000; revised April 25, 2000. This work was supported by DARPA under Contract N66001-99-1-8904, monitored through the Naval Command, Control and Ocean Surveillance Center. The authors are with the Laboratory for Computer Science, Massa- chusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139 USA (e-mail: www.sls.lcs.mit.edu). Publisher Item Identifier S 0018-9219(00)08092-0. attractive because it is the most natural, efficient, flexible, and inexpensive means of communication among humans. When one thinks about a speech-based interface, two technologies immediately come to mind: speech recog- nition and speech synthesis. There is no doubt that these are important and as yet unsolved problems in their own right, with a clear set of applications that include document preparation and audio indexing. However, these technolo- gies by themselves are often only a part of the interface solution. Many applications that lend themselves to spoken input/output—inquiring about weather or making travel arrangements—are in fact exercises in information access and/or interactive problem solving. The solution is often
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This note was uploaded on 05/08/2010 for the course CS 6.345 taught by Professor Glass during the Spring '10 term at MIT.

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zueglass00conversationalinterfaces - Conversational...

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