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Jason Williams

Jason Williams

Research Interests

  • Dialog management: Applications of machine learning; integration of expert knowledge; multi-modal dialog management; planning techniques; on-line improvement
  • Dialog and user modeling: Tracking and quantifying uncertainty in dialog state for human/computer dialog; representational structures for dialog state; ontology integration; simulation
  • Turn-taking: Use of continuous/incremental speech recognition for turn-taking; integration of conversation history and user model for turn-taking
  • Confidence scoring: Machine-learning-based approaches to confidence scoring; calibration in confidence scoring; features for confidence scoring
  • Planning under uncertainty: Markov decision processes (MDPs); partially observable Markov decision processes (POMDPs); reinforcement learning.


  • Microsoft Research, Senior Researcher, 2012-Present
  • AT&T Labs Research, Principal Member of Technical Staff, 2006-2012
  • Cambridge University, Ph D, Engineering Dept, 2002-2006
  • Edify Corp, Senior consultant - Usability and Speech Technology, 2002-2005
  • Tellme Networks, Voice Application Development Manager, 2000-2001
  • McKinsey & Company, Associate, 1999-2000
  • Cambridge University, Masters, Speech/Language Processing, 1998-1999
  • Princeton University, BSE, Electrical Engineering, 1994-1998

Language Understanding Intelligent Service (LUIS)

LUIS is a new, fast way of building language understanding models. For more information, see LUIS is currently in private beta. To request an invitation, visit

LUIS in action, from Microsoft //build conference:

Dialog State Tracking Challenge

The Dialog State Tracking Challenge (DSTC) is a research community challenge task for accurately estimating a user's goal in a spoken dialog system.  DSTC homepage.

Educational Materials
Publications and invited talks















    AT&T Statistical Dialog Toolkit (ASDT): Softare for tracking a distribution over a large number of hidden states in a spoken dialog systems. Available under license agreement from AT&T Labs Research.

    Research awards
    Interns (current and former)

    Nobal Niraula, Summer 2014.
    Natural language understanding.
    Currently a PhD student with Vasile Rus, University of Memphis.

    Pradeep Dasigi, Summer 2014.
    Conversational systems.
    Currently a PhD student with Ed Hovy, CMU.

    Ke Zhai, Summer 2013.
    Dialog modeling.
    Currently a PhD student with Jordan Boyd-Graber, UMD.

    He He, Summer 2013.
    Action selection in dialog systems (co-mentored with Lihong Li as lead mentor).
    Currently a PhD student with Hal Daumé III at UMD.

    Angeliki Metallinou, Summer 2012.
    Belief tracking in dialog systems (co-mentored with Dan Bohus).
    Currently a research scientist with Pearson Knowledge Technologies.

    Ethan Selfridge, Summer 2010 and 2011 at AT&T.
    Turn-taking in dialog systems.
    Currently at AT&T.

    Hamid Chinaei, Summer 2010 at AT&T.
    Reinforcement learning for dialog systems.
    Currently a PhD student with Brahim Chaib-draa, Laval University.

    John Asmuth, Summer 2009 at AT&T.
    Bayesian approaches to reinforcement learning.
    Currently at Google.

    Lihong Li, Summer 2008 at AT&T.
    Feature selection in reinforcement learning.
    Currently a Researcher with Microsoft Research.

    Umar Syed, Summer 2007 at AT&T.
    Learning user models from unlabeled data.
    Currently a research scientist at Google.

    Thesis committees

    Ethan Selfridge, Oregon Health & Science University (2013)

    Rohit Kumar, Carnegie Mellon University (2011).


    8010364: System and method for applying probability distribution models to dialog systems in the troubleshooting domain

    8140328: User intention based on N-best list of recognition hypotheses for utterances in a dialog

    8433578: System and method for automatically generating a dialog manager

    8457968: System and method for efficient tracking of multiple dialog states with incremental recombination

    8473292: System and method for generating user models from transcribed dialogs

    [ + 7 more patent applications in progress with the US Patent Office ]

    Appointments, editor, and organizer roles
    Journal reviewing and grant panelist
    Conference program committees and reviewing
    • IUI reviewer: 2015, 2014, 2013.
    • ICMI reviewer: 2014.
    • CHI reviewer: 2013.
    • INTERSPEECH Scientific Review Committee: 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011.
    • IWSDS program committee: 2015, 2014.
    • SIGDIAL program committee: 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007.
    • ASRU Workshop program committee: 2013, 2011, 2009, 2007.
    • EACL scientific review committee: 2014, 2012, 2009.
    • ACL Student Research workshop program committee: 2014, 2015.
    • ACL program committee: 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011.
    • ACL demo committee: 2011.
    • NAACL reviewer: 2012, 2009, 2007.
    • IJCAI senior program committee: 2015.
    • IJCAI program committee: 2011, 2009, 2007.
    • EMNLP program committee: 2014, 2013, 2009, 2008, 2006
    • NIPS reviewer: 2010.
    • ICASSP reviewer: 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007.
    • EACL 2014 Workshop on Dialog in Motion: 2014.
    • SLAM: Joint ISCA/IEEE International Workshop on Speech, Language and Audio in Multimedia: 2013.
    • ECAI/IJCAI/AAAI Workshop on Machine Learning for Interactive Systems (MLIS): 2014, 2013, 2012
    • IJCAI Workshop on Knowledge and Reasoning in Practical Dialogue Systems program committee: 2011, 2009.
    • IEEE Workshop on Spoken Language Technology (SLTC) technical program committee: 2014, 2012, 2010, 2008.
    • COLING Program committee: 2014.
    • COLING Demonstration session: 2014.
    • COLING Workshop: Spoken language technologies for pervasive speech-based and multimodal applications program committee: 2014, 2008
    • Young researchers' roundtable on spoken dialogue systems advisory board: 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2006.
    • Workshop on Future directions and needs in the Spoken Dialog Community: Tools and Data scientific committee: 2012.
    • EMNLP Workshop on Modeling Large Scale Social Interaction in Massively Open Online Courses: 2014.
    • NIPS Workshop on Learning Semantics: 2014.


    Tel: +1.425.703.7561

    Fax: +1.425.936.7329
    On fax, include: ATTN: JAWILLIA

    Jason Williams
    Microsoft Corporation
    One Microsoft Way
    Redmond, WA  98052-6399