COMPOSITIONAL GENERALIZATION IN INSTRUCTION FOLLOWING TASKS

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Degree type
PhD
Graduate group
Computer and Information Science
Discipline
Computer Sciences
Subject
Artificial Intelligence
Machine Learning
Natural Language Processing
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Copyright date
01/01/2022
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Author
Dan, Soham
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Abstract

Understanding instructions expressed in natural language is a fundamental task in artificialintelligence. A key feature of natural language that humans use while giving and following instructions is compositionality: the capacity to understand and produce a potentially infinite number of novel combinations from familiar components. This ability is instrumental in being able to learn from limited data and is crucial for instruction following robots to function in the real-world. This dissertation studies the compositional generalization abilities of machine learning models in various instruction following tasks. We study the various dimensions of compositionality for a diverse set of instruction follow- ing tasks of varying complexity: semantic parsing in synthetic languages, natural language instruction following in blocks world and vision-and-language navigation in complex indoor environments. We demonstrate empirically that existing systems for these tasks, while performant on the standard iid test set requiring mere interpolation, do not compositionally generalize, which requires extrapolation. We then present different strategies to induce compositionality, ranging from data augmentation, to auxiliary tasks, to a simple neuro-symbolic algorithm. We present a compositional spatial representation language and discuss how using such a rich symbolic representation as auxiliary supervision can help generalization in complex, real-world, multi-modal instruction following tasks. Finally, we aim to develop a more foundational understanding of robust generalization by focusing on the task of learning regular languages, where we study the benefits of compositional models over end-to-end ones, from both theoretical and empirical perspectives.

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Roth, Dan
Date of degree
2022
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