Differentiable Synthesis of Program Architectures

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 34 pre-proceedings (NeurIPS 2021)

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Guofeng Cui, He Zhu


Differentiable programs have recently attracted much interest due to their interpretability, compositionality, and their efficiency to leverage differentiable training. However, synthesizing differentiable programs requires optimizing over a combinatorial, rapidly exploded space of program architectures. Despite the development of effective pruning heuristics, previous works essentially enumerate the discrete search space of program architectures, which is inefficient. We propose to encode program architecture search as learning the probability distribution over all possible program derivations induced by a context-free grammar. This allows the search algorithm to efficiently prune away unlikely program derivations to synthesize optimal program architectures. To this end, an efficient gradient-descent based method is developed to conduct program architecture search in a continuous relaxation of the discrete space of grammar rules. Experiment results on four sequence classification tasks demonstrate that our program synthesizer excels in discovering program architectures that lead to differentiable programs with higher F1 scores, while being more efficient than state-of-the-art program synthesis methods.