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Interaction with users is a powerful strategy that potentially yields better information retrieval for all types of media, including text, images, and videos. While spoken document retrieval (SDR) is a crucial technology for multimedia access in the network era, it is also more challenging than text information retrieval because of the inevitable recognition errors. It is therefore reasonable to consider interactive functionalities for SDR systems. We propose an interactive SDR approach in which given the user's query, the system returns not only the retrieval results but also a short list of key terms describing distinct topics. The user selects these key terms to expand the query if the retrieval results are not satisfactory. The entire retrieval process is organized around a hierarchy of key terms that define the allowable state transitions; this is modeled by a Markov decision process, which is popularly used in spoken dialogue systems. By reinforcement learning with simulated users, the key terms on the short list are properly ranked such that the retrieval success rate is maximized while the number of interactive steps is minimized. Significant improvements over existing approaches were observed in preliminary experiments performed on information needs provided by real users. A prototype system was also implemented.
Audio, Speech, and Language Processing, IEEE Transactions on (Volume:20 , Issue: 2 )
Date of Publication: Feb. 2012