CAREER: Enriching Conversational Information Retrieval via Mixed-Initiative Interactions

CAREER: Enriching Conversational Information Retrieval via Mixed-Initiative Interactions

University of Massachusetts Amherst:
Hamed Zamani, PI

Project Award Information

NSF Award Number: 2143434
Award Title: CAREER: Enriching Conversational Information Retrieval via Mixed-Initiative Interactions
Duration: 7/01/2022 - 06/30/2027

Project Abstract

It has become clear that providing access to information through natural language conversations will play a significant role in the future of search technology. This will be enabled by developing efficient and effective conversational search engines. Existing systems are generally designed based on a query-response paradigm, in which the user initiates the interaction by submitting a query, and the system responds to the query with one or more documents. This process repeats until the user terminates the search session. This is not an optimal interaction design for conversational search systems. For instance, the system may ask a clarifying question instead of providing an answer to ambiguous questions. Or the system can recommend new information even though it is not an explicit response to the search query, but it may contribute to the ultimate goal of user satisfaction. The mentioned query-response paradigm does not support these natural conversational interactions. This CAREER award aims to advance the state-of-the-art by envisioning solutions that go beyond this paradigm.

To achieve this goal, this project studies theoretical and machine learning solutions for generating and handling mixed-initiative interactions in information seeking conversations. In more detail, this project explores the following three research thrusts: (1) developing theoretical foundations for measuring mixed-initiative information seeking conversations; (2) developing models for clarifying the user's information needs which is considered as the most common mixed-initiative interaction type; and (3) developing models for proactive informational contributions to ongoing conversations. In addition to these algorithmic and modeling contributions, this project also develops a number of invaluable resources for advancing the field of conversational information retrieval, including a conversational scholarly assistant agent that will be used as a tool for online experimentation and public data creation.


Point of Contact: Hamed Zamani -
Center for Intelligent Information Retrieval (CIIR)
Manning College of Information and Computer Sciences
140 Governors Drive
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Amherst, MA 01003-9264

This material is based upon work supported in part by the Center for Intelligent Information Retrieval (CIIR) and in part by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 2143434. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.