Keywords: [ source code ] [ Incremental Tree Transformations ] [ edit ] [ Tree-structured Data ] [ imitation learning ] [ representation learning ]
While most neural generative models generate outputs in a single pass, the human creative process is usually one of iterative building and refinement. Recent work has proposed models of editing processes, but these mostly focus on editing sequential data and/or only model a single editing pass. In this paper, we present a generic model for incremental editing of structured data (i.e. ''structural edits''). Particularly, we focus on tree-structured data, taking abstract syntax trees of computer programs as our canonical example. Our editor learns to iteratively generate tree edits (e.g. deleting or adding a subtree) and applies them to the partially edited data, thereby the entire editing process can be formulated as consecutive, incremental tree transformations. To show the unique benefits of modeling tree edits directly, we further propose a novel edit encoder for learning to represent edits, as well as an imitation learning method that allows the editor to be more robust. We evaluate our proposed editor on two source code edit datasets, where results show that, with the proposed edit encoder, our editor significantly improves accuracy over previous approaches that generate the edited program directly in one pass. Finally, we demonstrate that training our editor to imitate experts and correct its mistakes dynamically can further improve its performance.