NASSLLI 2022 @ USC Course on
Multiparty and Multi-floor dialogue structure

Instructor: David Traum


Monday June 20th - Friday June 24th, 2022. THH 116, 10:35AM-11:55AM
+ Zoom


Dialogue Structure models how individual contributions in a dialogue (such as autonomous communications and actions of dialogue participants) relate to each other and compose larger units such as conversations or segments, or serve to manage common resources, such as the conversation floor, initiative, and establishing common ground. Most computational and empirical corpus studies of dialogue have focused on the two-party (dyadic) situation.
In this course we will examine aspects of dialogue structure that either emerge only in conversational contexts with more participants, or for which the nature of structuring is qualitatively or quantitatively different with more participants. "Multiparty dialogue" involves more than two participants - so there are more than a single speaker and addressee who swap roles with every turn, and not every non-speaker listener is an addressee. Sometimes one can model aspects of multiparty interactions as a set of dyadic conversations among each pair of relevant participants, but one must still explain how these individual conversations relate to each other. On the other hand, some dialogue phenomena are not easily modelled in this way, and some emergent structural phenomena exist that are not regularly seen in dyadic conversation. Multi-floor dialogue has some elements of multiple conversations (different sets of participants, distinct floor resources), but also some elements of multiparty conversation (more than two participants, at least some topics and goals in common and some information flowing to all, across floors). We will examine taxonomic and computational approaches to modelling several kinds of multi-floor dialogues, including small group conversations, multi-floor teams, chatrooms and message boards and how they relate to and differ from dyadic conversation, attending to issues such as turn-taking, initiative, grounding, dialogue relations, intentional structure, and conversational thread disentanglement.

Each lecture will be accompanied by an annotation exercise using an annotation scheme covered in class (and in reference material), that can function as "homework" and discussed at the beginning of the next class.


No formal pre-requisites, but some familiarity with dialogue and pragmatics will be helpful.


Optional Homework Assignments

Approximate Syllabus (Lecture Notes available after each class)


Main Sources for Lectures

Lecture 1.0
Lecture 2.0
Lecture 2.7
Lecture 3.3
Lecture 4.1

Other references and related work