How Modular should Neural Module Networks Be for Systematic Generalization?

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 34 (NeurIPS 2021)

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Vanessa D'Amario, Tomotake Sasaki, Xavier Boix


Neural Module Networks (NMNs) aim at Visual Question Answering (VQA) via composition of modules that tackle a sub-task. NMNs are a promising strategy to achieve systematic generalization, i.e., overcoming biasing factors in the training distribution. However, the aspects of NMNs that facilitate systematic generalization are not fully understood. In this paper, we demonstrate that the degree of modularity of the NMN have large influence on systematic generalization. In a series of experiments on three VQA datasets (VQA-MNIST, SQOOP, and CLEVR-CoGenT), our results reveal that tuning the degree of modularity, especially at the image encoder stage, reaches substantially higher systematic generalization. These findings lead to new NMN architectures that outperform previous ones in terms of systematic generalization.