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KDD 2020 | Evaluating Conversational Recommender Systems via User Simulation

Accepted Papers

Evaluating Conversational Recommender Systems via User Simulation

Shuo Zhang: University of Stavanger; Krisztian Balog: University of Stavanger


Conversational information access is an emerging research area. Currently, human evaluation is used for end-to-end system evaluation, which is both very time and resource intensive at scale, and thus becomes a bottleneck of progress. As an alternative, we propose automated evaluation by means of simulating users. Our user simulator aims to generate responses that a real human would give by considering both individual preferences and the general flow of interaction with the system. We evaluate our simulation approach on an item recommendation task by comparing three existing conversational recommender systems. We show that preference modeling and task-specific interaction models both contribute to more realistic simulations, and can help achieve high correlation between automatic evaluation measures and manual human assessments.

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