Neural Status Registers
Proceedings of the 40th International Conference on Machine Learning, PMLR 202:9508-9522, 2023.
We study the problem of learning comparisons between numbers with neural networks. Despite comparisons being a seemingly simple problem, we find that both general-purpose models such as multilayer perceptrons (MLPs) as well as arithmetic architectures such as the Neural Arithmetic Logic Unit (NALU) struggle with learning comparisons. Neither architecture can extrapolate to much larger numbers than those seen in the training set. We propose a novel differentiable architecture, the Neural Status Register (NSR) to solve this problem. We experimentally validate the NSR in various settings. We can combine the NSR with other neural models to solve interesting problems such as piecewise-defined arithmetic, comparison of digit images, recurrent problems, or finding shortest paths in graphs. The NSR outperforms all baseline architectures, especially when it comes to extrapolating to larger numbers.