Compositional Generalization with Tree Stack Memory Units

Published in arXiv preprint, 2019


We study compositional generalization, viz., the problem of zero-shot generalization to novel compositions of concepts in a domain. Standard neural networks fail to a large extent on compositional learning. We propose Tree Stack Memory Units (Tree-SMU) to enable strong compositional generalization. Tree-SMU is a recursive neural network with Stack Memory Units (SMUs), a novel memory augmented neural network whose memory has a differentiable stack structure. Each SMU in the tree architecture learns to read from its stack and to write to it by combining the stacks and states of its children through gating. The stack helps capture long-range dependencies in the problem domain, thereby enabling compositional generalization. Additionally, the stack also preserves the ordering of each node’s descendants, thereby retaining locality on the tree. We demonstrate strong empirical results on two mathematical reasoning benchmarks. We use four compositionality tests to assess the generalization performance of Tree-SMU and show that it enables accurate compositional generalization compared to strong baselines such as Transformers and Tree-LSTMs.

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