Neural Program Meta-Induction

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 30 (NIPS 2017)

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Jacob Devlin, Rudy R. Bunel, Rishabh Singh, Matthew Hausknecht, Pushmeet Kohli


Most recently proposed methods for Neural Program induction work under the assumption of having a large set of input/output (I/O) examples for learning any given input-output mapping. This paper aims to address the problem of data and computation efficiency of program induction by leveraging information from related tasks. Specifically, we propose two novel approaches for cross-task knowledge transfer to improve program induction in limited-data scenarios. In our first proposal, portfolio adaptation, a set of induction models is pretrained on a set of related tasks, and the best model is adapted towards the new task using transfer learning. In our second approach, meta program induction, a $k$-shot learning approach is used to make a model generalize to new tasks without additional training. To test the efficacy of our methods, we constructed a new benchmark of programs written in the Karel programming language. Using an extensive experimental evaluation on the Karel benchmark, we demonstrate that our proposals dramatically outperform the baseline induction method that does not use knowledge transfer. We also analyze the relative performance of the two approaches and study conditions in which they perform best. In particular, meta induction outperforms all existing approaches under extreme data sparsity (when a very small number of examples are available), i.e., fewer than ten. As the number of available I/O examples increase (i.e. a thousand or more), portfolio adapted program induction becomes the best approach. For intermediate data sizes, we demonstrate that the combined method of adapted meta program induction has the strongest performance.