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On the Effectiveness of Offline RL for Dialogue Response Generation

Paloma Sodhi · Felix Wu · Ethan Elenberg · Kilian Weinberger · Ryan Mcdonald

Exhibit Hall 1 #321


A common training technique for language models is teacher forcing (TF). TF attempts to match human language exactly, even though identical meanings can be expressed in different ways. This motivates use of sequence-level objectives for dialogue response generation. In this paper, we study the efficacy of various offline reinforcement learning (RL) methods to maximize such objectives. We present a comprehensive evaluation across multiple datasets, models, and metrics. Offline RL shows a clear performance improvement over teacher forcing while not inducing training instability or sacrificing practical training budgets.

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