Computational Models of Miscommunication Phenomena

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Topics in Cognitive Science, Wiley Online Library (2018)






Dialogue, disfluency, Incrementality, Miscommunication, Parallelism, repair, Sparsity


Miscommunication phenomena such as repair in dialogue are important indicators of the quality of communication. Automatic detection is therefore a key step toward tools that can characterize communication quality and thus help in applications from call center management to mental health monitoring. However, most existing computational linguistic approaches to these phenomena are unsuitable for general use in this way, and particularly for analyzing human–human dialogue: Although models of other-repair are common in human-computer dialogue systems, they tend to focus on specific phenomena (e.g., repair initiation by systems), missing the range of repair and repair initiation forms used by humans; and while self-repair models for speech recognition and understanding are advanced, they tend to focus on removal of “disfluent” material important for full understanding of the discourse contribution, and/or rely on domain-specific knowledge. We explain the requirements for more satisfactory models, including incrementality of processing and robustness to sparsity. We then describe models for self- and other-repair detection that meet these requirements (for the former, an adaptation of an existing repair model; for the latter, an adaptation of standard techniques) and investigate how they perform on datasets from a range of dialogue genres and domains, with promising results.