Video-Grounded Dialogues with Pretrained Generation Language Models

by   Hung Le, et al.

Pre-trained language models have shown remarkable success in improving various downstream NLP tasks due to their ability to capture dependencies in textual data and generate natural responses. In this paper, we leverage the power of pre-trained language models for improving video-grounded dialogue, which is very challenging and involves complex features of different dynamics: (1) Video features which can extend across both spatial and temporal dimensions; and (2) Dialogue features which involve semantic dependencies over multiple dialogue turns. We propose a framework by extending GPT-2 models to tackle these challenges by formulating video-grounded dialogue tasks as a sequence-to-sequence task, combining both visual and textual representation into a structured sequence, and fine-tuning a large pre-trained GPT-2 network. Our framework allows fine-tuning language models to capture dependencies across multiple modalities over different levels of information: spatio-temporal level in video and token-sentence level in dialogue context. We achieve promising improvement on the Audio-Visual Scene-Aware Dialogues (AVSD) benchmark from DSTC7, which supports a potential direction in this line of research.



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1 Introduction

Recent work in large-scale pre-training transformer-based neural networks

liu2019roberta; devlin-etal-2019-bert; radford2019language

has boosted the performance in various NLP tasks. The transformer-based architecture of these models allows them to capture various dependencies when trained on very large datasets. The pre-trained models are adapted into downstream tasks to generate text that is more natural, fluent, and richer than models not initialized with pre-trained weights. Similar to pre-trained CNN-based neural networks developed in computer vision research

he2016deep; huang2017densely which can learn high-resolution features in images, pre-trained language models (LMs) are capable of capturing fine-grain textual dependencies in text data of rich semantics.

While the benefits of pre-trained language models present in many downstream NLP tasks such as machine translation and question answering (QA) devlin-etal-2019-bert; lan2019albert, they are particularly suitable to adapt to dialogue response generation tasks for two major reasons: (1) Dialogue response generation usually involves more complex dynamics between input and output text sequences. The input typically involves dialogue history, including conversational exchanges between users and dialogue agents. A dialogue agent needs to capture relevant dependencies along each dialogue turns to generate a sensible response. (2) Compared to other NLP tasks, it is very challenging to collect and create large-scale dialogue datasets. Adopting pre-training approaches could ameliorate the limited dialogue datasets by leveraging rich linguistic dependencies learned from other available text data. We are motivated by these observations to adapt pre-trained language models into a dialogue task and improve the quality of generated responses.

Figure 1: The proposed VGD-GPT2 architecture for video-grounded dialogues based on the pre-trained transformer model (GPT-2). The video and text input are combined together over multiple encoding layers to inject different attributes to encoded features.

Along the line of research that combines both vision and language antol2015vqa; hori2019avsd

, transformer-based neural networks can also be applied to capture various dependencies across different types of input modalities (text and image) with appropriate objective loss functions

alberti-etal-2019-fusion; su2019vl; chen2019uniter. The multi-head attention mechanism of these models can detect long-range dependencies between each token in the input text and each image patch or spatial objects in the input image. We extend this framework to a video-dialogue task and fully leverage the power of pre-trained models to obtain linguistic and visual representations in dialogues and videos. Specifically, we tackle the Audio-Visual Scene-aware Dialogues (AVSD) task hori2019avsd which aims to generate dialogue responses grounded on both visual and audio features of the video. The dialogue agent needs to create responses that not only match the dialogue flow but also address user questions about a given video over multiple dialogue turns.

First, we detail how to formulate input components of a video-grounded dialogue as a downstream task of pre-trained language models. We follow the general sequence-to-sequence framework, whereby the input components are combined to a structured sequence of multiple modalities and output is a system response. We then apply pre-trained models radford2019language to leverage the deep attention neural networks to capture text and video dependencies with fine granularity. Specifically, we propose to capture dependencies between each token in text data and each spatial feature along the temporal dimension of the input video. Lastly, we present a multi-task learning framework that includes additional learning objectives in addition to dialogue response generation objective. Our promising results on the AVSD benchmark demonstrate the efficacy of our proposed framework.

2 Related Work

We briefly describe related work in two major lines of research: dialogues and vision-text modeling.

2.1 Dialogue Modeling

whang2019domain applies pre-trained language models for response selection tasks in open-domain dialogues. The output of the language model (e.g. token in BERT) is used as a contextual representation of each pair of dialogue context and candidate response. budzianowski-vulic-2019-hello assumes access to ground-truth dialogue states and generates responses in task-oriented dialogues by combining input components into a single sequence. As dialogue states and database states are used as raw text input, the models can be fine-tuned from a deep pre-trained language model such as GPT. chao2019bert and lai2020simple use pre-trained LMs to track dialogue states in task-oriented dialogues by utilizing the output representations to predict slot values. In this work, we aim to address video-grounded dialogue tasks and generate natural responses in an end-to-end manner.

2.2 Vision-Text Modeling

The transformer-based neural architecture of pre-trained language models has been used to learn cross-modal representations for vision-text NLP tasks. li2019unicoder

uses a BERT-based architecture to improve linguistic and visual representations for image captioning tasks.

lu2019vilbert follows a similar approach to tackle visual QA but segregates the visual and text input components rather combining both into a single sequence. alberti-etal-2019-fusion leverages a pre-trained BERT model to improve cross-modal representations in either early fusion or late fusion approach. We are motivated to extend this line of research to a video-based setting. Video is considered much more complicated than image due to the additional temporal variation across video frames. A related work to ours is VideoBERT Sun_2019_ICCV which utilizes BERT models for video captioning. Instead of using visual features to represent video frames, VideoBERT transforms frame-level features into visual tokens and uses them as raw text input to a BERT-based architecture.

3 Method

Our model architecture can be seen in Figure 1. We are inspired by Transformer-based LM approaches that leverage different levels of features in text, such as word, character, and position levels. We apply this principle and technique to overcome the challenge in AVSD which involves multi-turn dialogue input combined with video input with spatial-temporal variations. We propose to decompose videos into patches but maintain a structured temporal sequence. This sequence is then directly combined with text inputs of dialogue which are also arranged in a temporally ordered manner. This kind of feature reformulation is simple yet powerful as it allows explicit dependency learning across all pairs of text tokens and video patches. Therefore, it can facilitate stronger signals to answer human queries in greater granularities.

3.1 Model Architecture

We trained a GPT model based on the GPT-2 radford2019language

architecture. The GPT-2 model is based on the transformer network

vaswani17attention which includes 12 to 24 layers of masked multi-head attention on very large text data. Following the success of GPT-2 in generation-based tasks, we adapt the power of GPT-2 pre-trained models to generate video-grounded dialogue responses and call our framework “VGD-GPT2”. First, we modify the input components as a long sequence of video frames or video segments and dialogue turns.

Video Representations. Each video frame or video segment is further structured as a sequence of spatial regions, which can be extracted using a pre-trained video model. For an input video , we denote the output of a pre-trained 2D CNN or 3D CNN video model as where is the feature dimension of the pre-trained video model, is the resulting number of sampled video frames or video segments, and is the number of spatial regions in each video frame. We reshape

as a sequence of image patches and pass it through a linear transformation with ReLU activation to match the feature dimension

of pre-trained language model:


where . We denote this as spatial-level features of input video. As can be seen from Figure 1, we inject different types of input attributes into by adding three additional encoding layers:
(1) Modality-level encoding that informs the type of information. We use a modality token “vis” to uniformly represent visual information type.
(2) Temporal-level encoding that informs model the frame-level (or segment-level) position of input features.
(3) Position-level encoding that incorporates the spatial-level ordering. This is equivalent to the positional encoding of tokens in sentences seen in BERT-based language models.
All the three layers are trainable parameters to enable models to learn the dynamics of input features. All encoding layers are modeled to have the same feature dimension of the pre-trained model. We combine all encoding layers through element-wise summation, resulting in a rich video representation:


Text Representations. Similarly, we break down dialogue history as sequence of dialogue turns where is the current dialogue turn. Each dialogue turn is represented as a pair of user utterance and system response concatenated sequentially ( is the target response that need to be generated by the models). Each utterance is then represented as a sequence of tokens so the dialogue history can be represented as and where and are the total number of tokens in the dialogue history and target response respectively. Following the AVSD setting hori2019avsd, we utilize the text input of video caption . The video caption typically provides a linguistic summary of the video in one or two sentences. The caption can be represented as a sequence of tokens . We combine all text input sequences to form a single sequence as input to the models. is the target response sequence shifted left by one position to enable auto-regressive prediction of output tokens. We denote embedded features as as the token-level encoding layer of the text input. Similar to video features, we add additional layers to inject different attributes of (See Figure 1):
(1) Modality-level encoding that differentiates segments in . We use 3 different modality tokens: “cap”, “sys”, and “usr” to specify whether the token in the corresponding position is part of input caption, system responses, or user utterances.
(2) Turn-level encoding that encodes the turn number of the token in the corresponding position.
(3) Position-level encoding that is used to inject signals of the token ordering.

Similar to video representation, the encoded input is combined through element-wise summation:


We concatenated both and to create a single input sequence of length and embedding dimension . is used as input to a pre-trained GPT-2 for fine-tuning.

3.2 Optimization

Following a similar strategy adopted by wolf2019transfertransfo, we fine-tune the models in a multi-task setting with the following objectives:

(1) Response Generation: this is a typical objective function that maximizes the likelihood of output target response conditioned on the source sequence.

(2) Masked Multi-modal Modeling: we explore two loss functions: masked language modeling (MLM) and masked visual modeling (MVM). We mask both tokens and spatial regions in video frames in training instances and require the model to re-generate them with the remaining inputs. MLM is learned similarly as response generation by passing through a linear layer with softmax. MVM is learned by minimizing the L1 loss in feature space between the output representation of the masked visual region and the original input representation. Both are passed through a linear transformation to the same dimensional space. This is similar to the perceptual loss proposed by johnson2016perceptual; dosovitskiy2016generating for image style transfer and image resolution tasks. We follow BERT devlin-etal-2019-bert and replace about 15% of tokens and image region inputs in each training instance at random with a [MASK] token. The corresponding output representations are then used to recover the original tokens or image regions.

(3) Matching Video-Text Pair (MVT): for about 15% of training instances, we adapt the pretrained language model to the dialogue domain by replacing the original input with an incorrect dialogue or video input at random. We use a special token [CLS]

concatenated to the input sequence to learn the contextual representation. The vector integrates contextual cues through Transformer attention layers and the corresponding output representation is used to predict if the input video-text pair is correct.

4 Experiments

4.1 Experimental Testbed and Setup

We use the open-source implementation of the GPT-2 architecture and obtain pre-trained model checkpoints

111 We experiment with two pre-trained GPT-2 models: small (S) and medium (M) radford2019language. We use Adam optimizer with a learning rate of 5e-5 based on grid search. We adopt a learning rate decay schedule as similarly used by vaswani17attention. we set the weight on the response generation loss to be 1.5 times higher than the other losses.

We experiment with the the video-grounded dialogue task in the large-scale AVSD benchmark in DSTC7 hori2019avsd. The AVSD benchmark contains dialogues grounded on the Charades videos sigurdsson2016hollywood. Each dialogue consists of up to 10 dialogue turns, each turn including a user utterance and system response (See Table 1 for more details of the dataset).

To extract visual features, we used the 3D CNN-based ResNext-101 xie2017aggregated pre-trained on Kinetics hara2018can

to obtain the spatio-temporal video features. We fixed the batch size to 16 and the maximum sequence length compatible with the corresponding GPT2 models. We sampled video features every 16 frames without overlapping. We trained up to 50 epochs on 4 GPUs. We report the objective scores, including BLEU, METEOR, ROUGE-L, and CIDEr. We compare system-generated responses with 6 reference ground-truth responses.

# Train Val. Test
Dialogs 7,659 1,787 1,710
 Turns 153,180 35,740 13,490
Words 1,450,754 339,006 110,252
Table 1: Summary of DSTC7 AVSD.
Baseline 0.626 0.485 0.383 0.309 0.215 0.487 0.746
AVSD Winner 0.718 0.584 0.478 0.394 0.267 0.563 1.094
MTN 0.731 0.597 0.490 0.406 0.271 0.564 1.127
VGD-GPT2 (S) 0.750 0.621 0.516 0.433 0.283 0.581 1.196
VGD-GPT2 (S) 0.753 0.619 0.512 0.424 0.280 0.571 1.185
VGD-GPT2 (S) 0.750 0.616 0.511 0.427 0.280 0.579 1.188
VGD-GPT2 (S) 0.745 0.613 0.508 0.423 0.281 0.579 1.173
VGD-GPT2 (S) 0.749 0.613 0.505 0.419 0.274 0.571 1.153
VGD-GPT2 (S) 0.744 0.612 0.505 0.421 0.281 0.581 1.192
VGD-GPT2 (M) 0.749 0.620 0.520 0.436 0.282 0.582 1.194
Table 2: Evaluation on the AVSD benchmark of baselines and different variants of VGD-GPT2 based on: (1) video features in spatial or temporal (or both) dimension and (2) fine-tuning objective functions: MLM - masked language modeling, MVM: mask visual modeling, and MVT - matching video-text pair.

4.2 Results

We compare the proposed VGD-GPT2 model with the following baseline models:
(1) Baseline hori2019avsd proposes a novel sequence-to-sequence approach with question-guided LSTM on both video visual and audio temporal features. Dialogue history is encoded by a hierarchical LSTM and the final representation is concatenated with question and video representations as input to decode dialog responses.
(2) AVSD Winner sanabria2019cmu

extends the previous work with more refined visual features and transfer learning from a video summary task.

(3) MTN le-etal-2019-multimodal adopts a transformer-based approach with question-guided attention on visual features formulated as an auto-encoding module. Table 2 shows the details of our results.

Our VGD-GPT2 model outperforms the existing approaches across all the automated metrics. The results show that fine-tuning a language model with video-grounded dialogues can help to generate quality responses and improve model performance. By initializing our models with a language model pre-trained on massive text data, we obtain richer feature representations that capture more complex dependencies between inputs.

Compared with the baseline with Transformer-based neural networks le-etal-2019-multimodal, our model treats both visual and text features with equal importance at different levels of different dimensions. Specifically, we aligned the token level with spatial level and turn level with temporal level between visual and text features. By contrast, MTN only considers the temporal variation of the visual features and mainly focuses on text-based attention. Our early fusion strategy with a multi-level alignment approach of multi-modal inputs allows higher resolution relations between all feature representations in later layers of neural networks.

4.3 Ablation Analysis

Besides, Table 2 also shows that fine-tuning a pre-trained model with both spatial-temporal information and multi-task objectives can benefit the main task of response generation. To obtain spatial-only and temporal-only features, we follow a similar approach from jang2017tgif by using average pooling to pool the visual features along the temporal or spatial dimensions. Considering CIDEr as the evaluation measure, learning dependencies in both spatial and temporal dimensions can improve the performance by 0.01 absolute score from spatial-only feature and 0.008 absolute score from temporal-only feature.

Our proposed auxiliary objectives also help to improve model performance by adapting the pre-trained model to the current data domain, video-based dialogues. MLM and MVM are used to improve learning of local dependencies in token and spatial levels, while MVT is used to support learning global dependencies between text and visual modalities. We observe that adding MVM objective function can increase the CIDEr score the most, by 0.043 absolute score, as compared to adding MVT (0.023 absolute score) or MLM (0.004 absolute score) objective function.

We also found moderate performance improvements in BLEU3, BLEU4, and ROUGE-L, when increasing GPT-2 from small to medium size. We note that the increasing model parameters in GPT-2 may require longer fine-tuning procedure or a larger dialogue training dataset to fully optimize the models in the dialogue domain.

5 Conclusions

In this work, we leverage pre-trained language models for a video-grounded dialogue task. We propose a sequence-to-sequence framework and a multi-task fine-tuning approach to adapt the pre-trained models to the video dialogue domain. Despite using GPT-2 models, our framework can be extended with other language models and similarly adopted to improve other multi-modal dialogues. Our early fusion strategy effectively unifies different levels of features in both dialogues and video without complicating the network architecture.