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A Natural Language Interface (NLI) enables the use of human languages to interact with computer systems, including smart phones and robots. Compared to other types of interfaces, such as command line interfaces (CLIs) or graphical user interfaces (GUIs), NLIs stand to enable more people to have access to functionality behind databases or APIs as they only require knowledge of natural languages. Many NLI applications involve structured data for the domain (e.g., applications such as hotel booking, product search, and factual question answering.) Thus, to fully process user questions, in addition to natural language comprehension, understanding of structured data is also crucial for the model. In this paper, we study neural network methods for building Natural Language Interfaces (NLIs) with a focus on learning structure data representations that can generalize to novel data sources and schemata not seen at training time. Specifically, we review two tasks related to natural language interfaces: i) semantic parsing where we focus on text-to-SQL for database access, and ii) task-oriented dialog systems for API access. We survey representative methods for text-to-SQL and task-oriented dialog tasks, focusing on representing and incorporating structured data. Lastly, we present two of our original studies on structured data representation methods for NLIs to enable access to i) databases, and ii) visualization APIs.more » « less
Speech-driven querying is becoming popular in new device environments such as smartphones, tablets, and even conversational assistants. However, such querying is largely restricted to natural language. Typed SQL remains the gold standard for sophisticated structured querying although it is painful in many environments, which restricts when and how users consume their data. In this work, we propose to bridge this gap by designing a speech-driven querying system and interface for structured data we call SpeakQL. We support a practically useful subset of regular SQL and allow users to query in any domain with novel touch/speech based human-in-the-loop correction mechanisms. Automatic speech recognition (ASR) introduces myriad forms of errors in transcriptions, presenting us with a technical challenge. We exploit our observations of SQL's properties, its grammar, and the queried database to build a modular architecture. We present the first dataset of spoken SQL queries and a generic approach to generate them for any arbitrary schema. Our experiments show that SpeakQL can automatically correct a large fraction of errors in ASR transcriptions. User studies show that SpeakQL can help users specify SQL queries significantly faster with a speedup of average 2.7x and up to 6.7x compared to typing on a tablet device. SpeakQL also reduces the user effort in specifying queries by a factor of average 10x and up to 60x compared to raw typing effort.more » « less
In this demonstration, we present SpeakQL, a speech-driven query system and interface for structured data. SpeakQL supports a tractable and practically useful subset of regular SQL, allowing users to query in any domain with unbounded vocabulary with the help of speech/touch based user-in-the-loop mechanisms for correction. When querying in such domains, automatic speech recognition introduces countless forms of errors in transcriptions, presenting us with a technical challenge. We characterize such errors and leverage our observations along with SQL's unambiguous context-free grammar to first correct the query structure. We then exploit phonetic representation of the queried database to identify the correct Literals, hence delivering the corrected transcribed query. In this demo, we show that SpeakQL helps users reduce time and effort in specifying SQL queries significantly. In addition, we show that SpeakQL, unlike Natural Language Interfaces and conversational assistants, allows users to query over any arbitrary database schema. We allow the audience to explore SpeakQL using an easy-to-use web-based interface to compose SQL queries.more » « less