25 Sep 2019 (modified: 24 Dec 2019)ICLR 2020 Conference Blind SubmissionReaders: Everyone
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  • TL;DR: We propose neural execution engines (NEEs), which leverage a learned mask and supervised execution traces to mimic the functionality of subroutines and demonstrate strong generalization.
  • Abstract: Turing complete computation and reasoning are often regarded as necessary pre- cursors to general intelligence. There has been a significant body of work studying neural networks that mimic general computation, but these networks fail to generalize to data distributions that are outside of their training set. We study this problem through the lens of fundamental computer science problems: sorting and graph processing. We modify the masking mechanism of a transformer in order to allow them to implement rudimentary functions with strong generalization. We call this model the Neural Execution Engine, and show that it learns, through supervision, to numerically compute the basic subroutines comprising these algorithms with near perfect accuracy. Moreover, it retains this level of accuracy while generalizing to unseen data and long sequences outside of the training distribution.
  • Keywords: neural computation, strong generalization, numerical reasoning
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