HC-Search: A Learning Framework for Search-based Structured Prediction

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Structured prediction is the problem of learning a function that maps structured inputs to structured outputs. Prototypical examples of structured prediction include part-of-speech tagging and semantic segmentation of images. Inspired by the recent successes of search-based structured prediction, we introduce a new framework for structured prediction called HC-Search. Given a structured input, the framework uses a search procedure guided by a learned heuristic H to uncover high quality candidate outputs and then employs a separate learned cost function C to select a final prediction among those outputs. The overall loss of this prediction architecture decomposes into the loss due to H not leading to high quality outputs, and the loss due to C not selecting the best among the generated outputs. Guided by this decomposition, we minimize the overall loss in a greedy stage-wise manner by first training H to quickly uncover high quality outputs via imitation learning, and then training C to correctly rank the outputs generated via H according to their true losses. Importantly, this training procedure is sensitive to the particular loss function of interest and the time-bound allowed for predictions. Experiments on several benchmark domains show that our approach significantly outperforms several state-of-the-art methods.

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