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Computational Linguistics

Paola Merlo, Editor
June 2010, Vol. 36, No. 2, Pages 159-201
(doi: 10.1162/coli.09-023-R1-08-002)
© 2010 Association for Computational Linguistics
Generating Tailored, Comparative Descriptions with Contextually Appropriate Intonation
Article PDF (2.24 MB)

Generating responses that take user preferences into account requires adaptation at all levels of the generation process. This article describes a multi-level approach to presenting user-tailored information in spoken dialogues which brings together for the first time multi-attribute decision models, strategic content planning, surface realization that incorporates prosody prediction, and unit selection synthesis that takes the resulting prosodic structure into account. The system selects the most important options to mention and the attributes that are most relevant to choosing between them, based on the user model. Multiple options are selected when each offers a compelling trade-off. To convey these trade-offs, the system employs a novel presentation strategy which straightforwardly lends itself to the determination of information structure, as well as the contents of referring expressions. During surface realization, the prosodic structure is derived from the information structure using Combinatory Categorial Grammar in a way that allows phrase boundaries to be determined in a flexible, data-driven fashion. This approach to choosing pitch accents and edge tones is shown to yield prosodic structures with significantly higher acceptability than baseline prosody prediction models in an expert evaluation. These prosodic structures are then shown to enable perceptibly more natural synthesis using a unit selection voice that aims to produce the target tunes, in comparison to two baseline synthetic voices. An expert evaluation and f0 analysis confirm the superiority of the generator-driven intonation and its contribution to listeners' ratings.