Speeding up program synthesis using specification discovery

Jaap de Jong

Date: Tue, July 04, 2023
Time: 10:30
Room: Room C, Building 29, Echo
Note: This is a Masters defense.

How convenient would it be to have an AI that relieves us programmers from the burden of coding? Program synthesis is a technique that achieves exactly that: it automatically generates simple programs that meet a given set of examples or adhere to a provided specification. This is often done by enumerating all programs in the search space and returning the first program that satisfies the requirements. However, these algorithms frequently enumerate redundant programs because of symmetries in the search space. We propose a new constraint discovery system that is able to detect these symmetries in a language and systematically generate symmetry-breaking constraints for them. To test these constraints, we implemented a novel, re-usable framework for program synthesis called Herb.jl. The generated constraints are shown to cut down search spaces to less than 25% of the original size and reduce the enumeration time by a factor of 3. Furthermore, this approach is extended to automatically discover semantic specifications without needing an expert. The effectiveness of these specifications is evaluated with an existing specification-based synthesizer, which shows that adding these specifications is an effective way to cut the synthesis time in half for domains where expert-defined specifications are not available. Together, these approaches demonstrate the effectiveness of extracting additional information from a language and applying it during enumeration.

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