Deep Learning, Grammar Transfer, and Transportation Theory

Kaixuan Zhang, Qinglong Wang, C. Lee Giles

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Despite its widespread adoption and success, deep learning-based artificial intelligence is limited in providing an understandable decision-making process of what it does. This makes the “intelligence” part questionable since we expect real artificial intelligence to not only complete a given task but also perform in a way that is understandable. One way to approach this is to build a connection between artificial intelligence and human intelligence. Here, we use grammar transfer to demonstrate a paradigm that connects these two types of intelligence. Specifically, we define the action of transferring the knowledge learned by a recurrent neural network from one regular grammar to another grammar as grammar transfer. We are motivated by the theory that there is a natural correspondence between second-order recurrent neural networks and deterministic finite automata, which are uniquely associated with regular grammars. To study the process of grammar transfer, we propose a category based framework we denote as grammar transfer learning. Under this framework, we introduce three isomorphic categories and define ideal transfers by using transportation theory in operations research. By regarding the optimal transfer plan as a sensible operation from a human perspective, we then use it as a reference for examining whether a learning model behaves intelligently when performing the transfer task. Experiments under our framework demonstrate that this learning model can learn a grammar intelligently in general, but fails to follow the optimal way of learning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMachine Learning and Knowledge Discovery in Databases - European Conference, ECML PKDD 2020, Proceedings
EditorsFrank Hutter, Kristian Kersting, Jefrey Lijffijt, Isabel Valera
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media Deutschland GmbH
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)9783030676605
StatePublished - 2021
EventEuropean Conference on Machine Learning and Knowledge Discovery in Databases, ECML PKDD 2020 - Virtual, Online
Duration: Sep 14 2020Sep 18 2020

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume12458 LNAI
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


ConferenceEuropean Conference on Machine Learning and Knowledge Discovery in Databases, ECML PKDD 2020
CityVirtual, Online

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • General Computer Science


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