Seminars & Colloquia

Marilyn Walker

Department of Computer Science, University of Sheffield

"Statistical Spoken Language Generation of Stylistic Variation for Dialogue Applications"

Friday April 18, 2008 09:00 AM
Location: 3211, EB2 NCSU Centennial Campus
(Visitor parking instructions)

This talk is part of the Future of Games Series


Abstract: Conversation is an essential component of social behaviour, one of the primary means by which humans express intentions, beliefs, emotions, attitudes and personality. The ability to support conversational interaction is targeted by many games AI researchers as the next wave in game development because of its potential to increase the immersive experience and lead to the evolution of new types of computer games. However, utterance generation for conversational agents for both games and task-oriented dialogue systems, is typically highly handcrafted and domain dependent. This leads to problems of portability and scalability, or what has been called the authoring bottleneck in the case of interactive drama systems. In this talk, I will describe a novel statistical spoken language generation framework, and our research investigating its performance in several domains providing different technical challenges. I will focus in particular on our work on techniques targeted at serious games, which can generate a wide range of stylistic variants for an input communicative goal, that express the conversational agent's personality and its beliefs about its social relationship with the user. I will describe several evaluation studies showing that we are able to directly manipulate the user's perception of the conversational agent's personality.
Short Bio: Professor Marilyn Walker is the Head of the Cognitive Systems group in the department of Computer Science at the University of Sheffield, and the holder of a Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Fellowship. Her research focuses on the design and evaluation of multi-modal conversational agents, and methods for automatically adapting such agents to individual users or new domains, and for generating affective language that expresses the agent's personality and politeness. She graduated Cum Laude with a B.A. in Computer and Information Science from UCSC in 1984, and received a Ph.D. in Computer and Information Science and an M.A. in Linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania in 1993. Before joining the faculty at Sheffield, she was a research scientist at Hewlett Packard Labs from 1984 to 1989, at Mitsubishi Electric Research Labs from 1993 to 1996, and at AT&T Bell-Labs from 1996 to 2003.

Special Instructions: For more information about the Digital Games Research Center, see

Host: Michael Young, CSC/Digital Games Research Center

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