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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Automatic abstractive summarization of meeting conversations Oya, Tatsuro


Nowadays, there are various ways for people to share and exchange information. Phone calls, E-mails, and social networking applications are tools which have made it much easier for us to communicate. Despite the existence of these convenient methods for exchanging ideas, meetings are still one of the most important ways for people to collaborate, share information, discuss their plans, and make decisions for their organizations. However, some drawbacks exist to them as well. Generally, meetings are time consuming and require the participation of all members. Taking meeting minutes for the benefit of those who miss meetings also requires considerable time and effort. To this end, there has been increasing demand for the creation of systems to automatically summarize meetings. So far, most summarization systems have applied extractive approaches whereby summaries are simply created by extracting important phrases or sentences and concatenating them in sequence. However, considering that meeting transcripts consist of spontaneous utterances containing speech disfluencies such as repetitions and filled pauses, traditional extractive summarization approaches do not work effectively in this domain. To address these issues, we present a novel template-based abstractive meeting summarization system requiring less annotated data than that needed for previous abstractive summarization approaches. In order to generate abstract and robust templates that can guide the summarization process, our system extends a novel multi-sentence fusion algorithm and utilizes lexico-semantic information. It also leverages the relationship between human-authored summaries and their source meeting transcripts to select the best templates for generating abstractive summaries of meetings. In our experiment, we use the AMI corpus to instantiate our framework and compare it with state-of-the-art extractive and abstractive systems as well as human extractive and abstractive summaries. Our comprehensive evaluations, based on both automatic and manual approaches, have demonstrated that our system outperforms all baseline systems and human extractive summaries in terms of both readability and informativeness. Furthermore, it has achieved a level of quality nearly equal to that of human abstracts based on a crowd-sourced manual evaluation.

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