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LP-SparseMAP: Differentiable Relaxed Optimization for Sparse Structured Prediction

Vlad Niculae · Andre Filipe Torres Martins

Keywords: [ Structured Prediction ] [ Natural Language Processing / Dialogue ] [ Sequential, Network, and Time-Series Modeling ]


Structured predictors require solving a combinatorial optimization problem over a large number of structures, such as dependency trees or alignments. When embedded as structured hidden layers in a neural net, argmin differentiation and efficient gradient computation are further required. Recently, SparseMAP has been proposed as a differentiable, sparse alternative to maximum a posteriori (MAP) and marginal inference. SparseMAP returns an interpretable combination of a small number of structures; its sparsity being the key to efficient optimization. However, SparseMAP requires access to an exact MAP oracle in the structured model, excluding, e.g., loopy graphical models or logic constraints, which generally require approximate inference. In this paper, we introduce LP-SparseMAP, an extension of SparseMAP addressing this limitation via a local polytope relaxation. LP-SparseMAP uses the flexible and powerful language of factor graphs to define expressive hidden structures, supporting coarse decompositions, hard logic constraints, and higher-order correlations. We derive the forward and backward algorithms needed for using LP-SparseMAP as a structured hidden or output layer. Experiments in three structured tasks show benefits versus SparseMAP and Structured SVM.

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