On the Markov Property of Neural Algorithmic Reasoning: Analyses and Methods

Published: 16 Jan 2024, Last Modified: 15 Mar 2024ICLR 2024 spotlightEveryoneRevisionsBibTeX
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Keywords: Neural Algorithmic Reasoning
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TL;DR: This work reveals the importance of aligning model design with the Markov nature in neural algorithmic reasoning tasks.
Abstract: Neural algorithmic reasoning is an emerging research direction that endows neural networks with the ability to mimic algorithmic executions step-by-step. A common paradigm in existing designs involves the use of historical embeddings in predicting the results of future execution steps. Our observation in this work is that such historical dependence intrinsically contradicts the Markov nature of algorithmic reasoning tasks. Based on this motivation, we present our ForgetNet, which does not use historical embeddings and thus is consistent with the Markov nature of the tasks. To address challenges in training ForgetNet at early stages, we further introduce G-ForgetNet, which uses a gating mechanism to allow for the selective integration of historical embeddings. Such an enhanced capability provides valuable computational pathways during the model's early training phase. Our extensive experiments, based on the CLRS-30 algorithmic reasoning benchmark, demonstrate that both ForgetNet and G-ForgetNet achieve better generalization capability than existing methods. Furthermore, we investigate the behavior of the gating mechanism, highlighting its degree of alignment with our intuitions and its effectiveness for robust performance. Our code is publicly available at https://github.com/divelab/ForgetNet.
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Primary Area: learning on graphs and other geometries & topologies
Submission Number: 5854