Towards generalizable neuro-symbolic reasoners


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Symbolic knowledge representation and reasoning and deep learning are fundamentally different approaches to artificial intelligence with complementary capabilities. The former are transparent and data-efficient, but they are sensitive to noise and cannot be applied to non-symbolic domains where the data is ambiguous. The latter can learn complex tasks from examples, are robust to noise, but are black boxes; require large amounts of --not necessarily easily obtained-- data, and are slow to learn and prone to adversarial examples. Either paradigm excels at certain types of problems where the other paradigm performs poorly. In order to develop stronger AI systems, integrated neuro-symbolic systems that combine artificial neural networks and symbolic reasoning are being sought. In this context, one of the fundamental open problems is how to perform logic-based deductive reasoning over knowledge bases by means of trainable artificial neural networks.

Over the course of this dissertation, we provide a brief summary of our recent efforts to bridge the neural and symbolic divide in the context of deep deductive reasoners. More specifically, We designed a novel way of conducting neuro-symbolic through pointing to the input elements. More importantly we showed that the proposed approach is generalizable across new domain and vocabulary demonstrating symbol-invariant zero-shot reasoning capability. Furthermore, We have demonstrated that a deep learning architecture based on memory networks and pre-embedding normalization is capable of learning how to perform deductive reason over previously unseen RDF KGs with high accuracy. We are applying these models on Resource Description Framework (RDF), first-order logic, and the description logic EL+ respectively. Throughout this dissertation we will discuss strengths and limitations of these models particularly in term of accuracy, scalability, transferability, and generalizabiliy. Based on our experimental results, pointer networks perform remarkably well across multiple reasoning tasks while outperforming the previously reported state of the art by a significant margin. We observe that the Pointer Networks preserve their performance even when challenged with knowledge graphs of the domain/vocabulary it has never encountered before. To our knowledge, this work is the first attempt to reveal the impressive power of pointer networks for conducting deductive reasoning. Similarly, we show that memory networks can be trained to perform deductive RDFS reasoning with high precision and recall. The trained memory network's capabilities in fact transfer to previously unseen knowledge bases. Finally will talk about possible modifications to enhance desirable capabilities. Altogether, these research topics, resulted in a methodology for symbol-invariant neuro-symbolic reasoning.



Neuro-symbolic reasoning, Deep deductive reasoning, Pointer networks, Memory networks, RDF reasoning, EL reasoning

Graduation Month



Doctor of Philosophy


Department of Computer Science

Major Professor

Pascal Hitzler