- Keywords: symbolic regression, reinforcement learning, automated machine learning
- TL;DR: A deep learning approach to symbolic regression, in which an autoregressive RNN emits a distribution over expressions that is optimized using reinforcement learning
- Abstract: Discovering the underlying mathematical expressions describing a dataset is a core challenge for artificial intelligence. This is the problem of symbolic regression. Despite recent advances in training neural networks to solve complex tasks, deep learning approaches to symbolic regression are lacking. We propose a framework that combines deep learning with symbolic regression via a simple idea: use a large model to search the space of small models. More specifically, we use a recurrent neural network to emit a distribution over tractable mathematical expressions, and employ reinforcement learning to train the network to generate better-fitting expressions. Our algorithm significantly outperforms standard genetic programming-based symbolic regression in its ability to exactly recover symbolic expressions on a series of benchmark problems, both with and without added noise. More broadly, our contributions include a framework that can be applied to optimize hierarchical, variable-length objects under a black-box performance metric, with the ability to incorporate a priori constraints in situ.