Deep Learning for Program Synthesis: Towards Human-like Reasoning

Xinyun Chen
11.01.2021 13:00 to 14:00

Deep neural networks have achieved remarkable success in natural language processing, especially with the advancement of pre-training techniques. Moreover, recent works show that by training on a large-scale code corpus, sometimes these language models could even generate moderately complicated code from text descriptions. In this talk, I will discuss my research on deep learning for program synthesis with two central goals: (1) developing program synthesizers that learn to infer the user intents for real-world deployment; and (2) improving the reasoning and generalization capabilities of existing language models via symbolic representations.
First, I will discuss my SpreadsheetCoder work, where we aim to predict spreadsheet formulas only from the user-written tabular data, without the requirements of any explicit specifications. The SpreadsheetCoder model was recently integrated into Google Sheets, and could potentially benefit hundreds of millions of users. In the second part of my talk, I will go beyond program synthesis applications, and discuss my work on neural-symbolic techniques for language understanding. Despite the tremendous achievements of pre-trained language models, large-scale training does not automatically result in the capability of complex reasoning beyond text pattern matching. By integrating a symbolic reasoning module that synthesizes and executes programs for the task of interest, our neural-symbolic models demonstrate superior compositional reasoning ability, including numerical reasoning and compositional generalization.