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Generating Pragmatic Examples to Train Neural Program Synthesizers

Saujas Vaduguru · Daniel Fried · Yewen Pu

Halle B #55
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Tue 7 May 7:30 a.m. PDT — 9:30 a.m. PDT


Programming-by-example is the task of synthesizing a program that is consistent with a set of user-provided input-output examples. As examples are often an under-specification of one's intent, a good synthesizer must choose the intended program from the many that are consistent with the given set of examples. Prior work frames program synthesis as a cooperative game between a listener (that synthesizes programs) and a speaker (a user choosing examples), and shows that models of computational pragmatic inference are effective in choosing the user intended programs. However, these models require counterfactual reasoning over a large set of programs and examples, which is infeasible in realistic program spaces. In this paper, we propose PraX, a novel way to amortize this search with neural networks. We sample pairs of programs and examples via self-play between listener and speaker models, and use pragmatic inference to choose informative training examples from this sample. We then use the informative dataset to train models to improve the synthesizer's ability to disambiguate user-provided examples without human supervision. We validate PraX on the challenging task of synthesizing regular expressions from example strings, and find that our method (1) outperforms models trained without choosing pragmatic examples by 23% (a 51% relative increase) (2) matches the performance of supervised learning on a dataset of pragmatic examples provided by humans, despite using no human data in training.

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