Recognizing and Verifying Mathematical Equations using Multiplicative Differential Neural Units

Ankur Mali, Alexander G. Ororbia, Dan Kifer, C. Lee Giles

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

7 Scopus citations


Automated mathematical reasoning is a challenging problem that requires an agent to learn algebraic patterns that contain long-range dependencies. Two particular tasks that test this type of reasoning are (1) mathematical equation verification, which requires determining whether trigonometric and linear algebraic statements are valid identities or not, and (2) equation completion, which entails filling in a blank within an expression to make it true. Solving these tasks with deep learning requires that the neural model learn how to manipulate and compose various algebraic symbols, carrying this ability over to previously unseen expressions. Artificial neural networks, including recurrent networks and transformers, struggle to generalize on these kinds of difficult compositional problems, often exhibiting poor extrapolation performance. In contrast, recursive neural networks (recursive-NNs) are, theoretically, capable of achieving better extrapolation due to their tree-like design but are difficult to optimize as the depth of their underlying tree structure increases. To overcome this issue, we extend recursive-NNs to utilize multiplicative, higher-order synaptic connections and, furthermore, to learn to dynamically control and manipulate an external memory. We argue that this key modification gives the neural system the ability to capture powerful transition functions for each possible input. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our proposed higher-order, memory-augmented recursive-NN models on two challenging mathematical equation tasks, showing improved extrapolation, stable performance, and faster convergence. Our models achieve a 1.53% average improvement over current state-of-the-art methods in equation verification and achieve a 2.22% Top-1 average accuracy and 2.96% Top-5 average accuracy for equation completion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication35th AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, AAAI 2021
PublisherAssociation for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781713835974
StatePublished - 2021
Event35th AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, AAAI 2021 - Virtual, Online
Duration: Feb 2 2021Feb 9 2021

Publication series

Name35th AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, AAAI 2021


Conference35th AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, AAAI 2021
CityVirtual, Online

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Artificial Intelligence


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