Reinforcement-Enhanced Autoregressive Feature Transformation: Gradient-steered Search in Continuous Space for Postfix Expressions

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

Bibtex Paper Supplemental


Dongjie Wang, Meng Xiao, Min Wu, pengfei wang, Yuanchun Zhou, Yanjie Fu


Feature transformation aims to generate new pattern-discriminative feature space from original features to improve downstream machine learning (ML) task performances. However, the discrete search space for the optimal feature explosively grows on the basis of combinations of features and operations from low-order forms to high-order forms. Existing methods, such as exhaustive search, expansion reduction, evolutionary algorithms, reinforcement learning, and iterative greedy, suffer from large search space. Overly emphasizing efficiency in algorithm design usually sacrifice stability or robustness. To fundamentally fill this gap, we reformulate discrete feature transformation as a continuous space optimization task and develop an embedding-optimization-reconstruction framework. This framework includes four steps: 1) reinforcement-enhanced data preparation, aiming to prepare high-quality transformation-accuracy training data; 2) feature transformation operation sequence embedding, intending to encapsulate the knowledge of prepared training data within a continuous space; 3) gradient-steered optimal embedding search, dedicating to uncover potentially superior embeddings within the learned space; 4) transformation operation sequence reconstruction, striving to reproduce the feature transformation solution to pinpoint the optimal feature space. Finally, extensive experiments and case studies are performed to demonstrate the effectiveness and robustness of the proposed method. The code and data are publicly accessible