Leveraging Language to Learn Program Abstractions and Search Heuristics

Catherine Wong · Kevin Ellis · Josh Tenenbaum · Jacob Andreas

Keywords: [ Algorithms -> Multimodal Learning ]


Inductive program synthesis, or inferring programs from examples of desired behavior, offers a general paradigm for building interpretable, robust, andgeneralizable machine learning systems. Effective program synthesis depends on two key ingredients: a strong library of functions from which to build programs, and an efficient search strategy for finding programs that solve a given task. We introduce LAPS (Language for Abstraction and Program Search), a technique for using natural language annotations to guide joint learning of libraries and neurally-guided search models for synthesis. When integrated into a state-of-the-art library learning system (DreamCoder), LAPS produces higher-quality libraries and improves search efficiency and generalization on three domains – string editing, image composition, and abstract reasoning about scenes – even when no natural language hints are available at test time.

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