Lifelong Learning of Compositional StructuresDownload PDF

Published: 12 Jan 2021, Last Modified: 17 Sept 2023ICLR 2021 PosterReaders: Everyone
Keywords: lifelong learning, continual learning, compositional learning, modular networks
Abstract: A hallmark of human intelligence is the ability to construct self-contained chunks of knowledge and adequately reuse them in novel combinations for solving different yet structurally related problems. Learning such compositional structures has been a significant challenge for artificial systems, due to the combinatorial nature of the underlying search problem. To date, research into compositional learning has largely proceeded separately from work on lifelong or continual learning. We integrate these two lines of work to present a general-purpose framework for lifelong learning of compositional structures that can be used for solving a stream of related tasks. Our framework separates the learning process into two broad stages: learning how to best combine existing components in order to assimilate a novel problem, and learning how to adapt the set of existing components to accommodate the new problem. This separation explicitly handles the trade-off between the stability required to remember how to solve earlier tasks and the flexibility required to solve new tasks, as we show empirically in an extensive evaluation.
One-sentence Summary: We create a general-purpose framework for lifelong learning of compositional structures that splits the learning process into two stages: assimilation of new tasks with existing components, and accommodation of new knowledge into the components.
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