Intent classification and slot filling are two core tasks in natural language understanding (NLU). The interaction nature of the two tasks makes the joint models often outperform the single designs. One of the promising solutions, called BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers), achieves the joint optimization of the two tasks. BERT adopts the wordpiece to tokenize each input token into multiple sub-tokens, which causes a mismatch between the tokens and the labels lengths. Previous methods utilize the hidden states corresponding to the first sub-token as input to the classifier, which limits performance improvement since some hidden semantic informations is discarded in the fine-tune process. To address this issue, we propose a novel joint model based on BERT, which explicitly models the multiple sub-tokens features after wordpiece tokenization, thereby generating the context features that contribute to slot filling. Specifically, we encode the hidden states corresponding to multiple sub-tokens into a context vector via the attention mechanism. Then, we feed each context vector into the slot filling encoder, which preserves the integrity of the sentence. Experimental results demonstrate that our proposed model achieves significant improvement on intent classification accuracy, slot filling F1, and sentence-level semantic frame accuracy on two public benchmark datasets. The F1 score of the slot filling in particular has been improved from 96.1 to 98.2 (2.1% absolute) on the ATIS dataset.
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