Assessing SATNet's Ability to Solve the Symbol Grounding Problem

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 33 (NeurIPS 2020)

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Oscar Chang, Lampros Flokas, Hod Lipson, Michael Spranger


<p>SATNet is an award-winning MAXSAT solver that can be used to infer logical rules and integrated as a differentiable layer in a deep neural network. It had been shown to solve Sudoku puzzles visually from examples of puzzle digit images, and was heralded as an impressive achievement towards the longstanding AI goal of combining pattern recognition with logical reasoning. In this paper, we clarify SATNet's capabilities by showing that in the absence of intermediate labels that identify individual Sudoku digit images with their logical representations, SATNet completely fails at visual Sudoku (0% test accuracy). More generally, the failure can be pinpointed to its inability to learn to assign symbols to perceptual phenomena, also known as the symbol grounding problem, which has long been thought to be a prerequisite for intelligent agents to perform real-world logical reasoning. We propose an MNIST based test as an easy instance of the symbol grounding problem that can serve as a sanity check for differentiable symbolic solvers in general. Naive applications of SATNet on this test lead to performance worse than that of models without logical reasoning capabilities. We report on the causes of SATNet’s failure and how to prevent them.</p>