EvoPrompting: Language Models for Code-Level Neural Architecture Search

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 36 (NeurIPS 2023) Main Conference Track

Bibtex Paper


Angelica Chen, David Dohan, David So


Given the recent impressive accomplishments of language models (LMs) for code generation, we explore the use of LMs as general adaptive mutation and crossover operators for an evolutionary neural architecture search (NAS) algorithm.While NAS still proves too difficult a task for LMs to succeed at solely through prompting, we find that the combination of evolutionary prompt engineering with soft prompt-tuning, a method we term EvoPrompting, consistently finds diverse and high performing models. We first demonstrate that EvoPrompting is effective on the computationally efficient MNIST-1D dataset, where EvoPrompting produces convolutional architecture variants that outperform both those designed by human experts and naive few-shot prompting in terms of accuracy and model size. We then apply our method to searching for graph neural networks on the CLRS Algorithmic Reasoning Benchmark, where EvoPrompting is able to design novel architectures that outperform current state-of-the-art models on 21 out of 30 algorithmic reasoning tasks while maintaining similar model size. EvoPrompting is successful at designing accurate and efficient neural network architectures across a variety of machine learning tasks, while also being general enough for easy adaptation to other tasks beyond neural network design.