More systematic than claimed: Insights on the SCAN tasks

Markus Kliegl, Wei Xu

Feb 08, 2018 ICLR 2018 Workshop Submission readers: everyone
  • Abstract: We show that some standard attention-based architectures widely used in Neural Machine Translation as well as a pointer-based variant achieve results on some of the compositional SCAN tasks that are far superior to those reported in Lake & Baroni (2018). We next show that there is high variance in the test accuracy across both random initialization and training duration. We show that ensembling can be used to take advantage of this variance and improve results but that, for many tasks, a large gap remains between ensemble performance and the performance of an oracularly selected single best model. Based on these insights, we suggest some possible directions for future research, emphasizing selection and regularization over the need for more compositional architectures.
  • TL;DR: We show NMT models do better than claimed on the SCAN tasks, but the high variance will require new techniques.
  • Keywords: sequence-to-sequence recurrent networks, pointer networks, compositionality, systematicity, generalization
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