WSDM 2020 Workshop on Conversational Systems for E-Commerce Recommendations and Search (ConvERSe'20) will take place on Friday, February 7, 2020

Workshop Program

Houston | Hyatt Regency Houston/Galleria | Room: Regency B (Level 2) | Venue
Morning Session
9:00 am Opening Remarks
9:10 am
Towards Mixed-Initiative Conversational Search
Hamed Zamani     Microsoft AI Research, USA
Abstract: While conversational search has roots in early information retrieval research, recent advances in automatic speech recognition and conversational agents as well as popularity of devices with limited bandwidth interfaces have led to increasing interest in this area. An ideal conversational search system requires to go beyond the typical “query-response” paradigm by supporting mixed-initiative interactions. In this talk, I will review the recent efforts on developing mixed-initiative conversational search systems and draw connections with early work on interactive information retrieval. I will describe methods for generating and evaluating clarifying questions in response to search queries. I will further highlight the connections between conversational search and recommendation, and finish with a discussion on the next steps that require significant progress in the context of mixed-initiative conversational search.
10:00 am Coffee Break
10:30 am Contributed Talk
You Sound Like You Watch Action Movies: Towards Predicting Movie Preferences from Conversational Interactions
Sergey Volokhin, Joyce Ho, Eugene Agichtein
10:50 am Invited Talk
Future Directions in Alexa Shopping Research
Vanessa Murdock     Amazon, USA
Abstract: Alexa Shopping at Amazon focuses on enabling users to shop with a multimodal device, driven by a voice interaction. Developing a customer-friendly shopping AI entails solving basic research problems such as natural language understanding, developing natural multi-turn dialogs, high-accuracy retrieval of sparse texts, and personalizing not just the result, but the interaction itself. In this talk we discuss commerce-specific open research problems facing Alexa in the coming years.
11.30 am Panel Discussion
Trust, Transparency, Utility and Limitations of Conversational Search and Recommendation Systems for E-Commerce
Eugene Agichtein     Emory, USA
Ed Chi     Google, USA
Vanessa Murdock     Amazon, USA
Emine Yilmaz     University College London, UK
Hamed Zamani     Microsoft AI Research, USA
12:30 pm Lunch Break (Lunch not provided)
Afternoon Session
2:00 pm Invited Talk
Conversational agents for e-commerce: getting strong now
Giuseppe “Pino” Di Fabbrizio     Vui inc., USA
Abstract: Recent advances in deep learning and natural language processing are fueling a new generation of conversational agents that are accurate and articulate in interacting with users on a broad range of subjects. A number of conversational systems are also making their way to specific verticals such as banking, financing, healthcare, and e-commerce, and targeting consumers while supplanting real agents at scale in email, live chats or other types of communications. Although conversational agents are rapidly growing, some verticals such as e-commerce are still far from a frictionless user experience where conversion rates are seamlessly completed with voice-only “zero-click” purchases. In this talk, we illustrate a typical architecture and machine learning pipeline that have been both successfully used to optimize e-commerce conversational systems and discuss challenges that currently limit scalability and adoption.
2:40 pm Contributed Talk
MT-BioNER: Multi-task biomedical named entity recognition for conversational systems
Muhammad Raza Khan, Morteza Ziyadi, Mohamed Abdelhady
3:00 pm Coffee Break
3:30 pm Invited Talk
Conversational AI applications in Real Estate
Andrei Lopatenko     Zillow, USA
Abstract: In this talk we will discuss applications of Conversational AI in Real Estate.We will discuss how natural language processing, dialog management and other technologies are applied to improve search experience for customers looking for new houses to rent or buy, to simplify various steps in the process of buying and selling a house, to help agents and sales representatives. We will discuss Conversational AI applications and core technologies in search, natural language to database intefaces, evaluation of human to human conversations, and goal oriented dialogs for particular business cases.
4:10 pm Invited Talk
Overview of the 2019 Dagstuhl Seminar on Conversational Search
Rishiraj Saha Roy     MPII, Germany
Abstract: This talk provides an overview of the Dagstuhl seminar on Conversational Search held in November 2019, that involved about 50 participants from the academia and the industry. We will first go over some of the highlights from the keynotes and invited talks. This will be followed by insights from the various breakout groups, that are a key element of Dagstuhl meetings. Finally, we will share some interesting anecdotes from the discussions and summarize takeaways from this very productive seminar. We will also try to mention logistic information aimed at workshop participants interested in similar endeavors for the future. Audience members are encouraged to chip in with curious comments to avoid this talk from becoming a boring report monologue.
4:50 pm Group Discussion and Closing