Program Induction by Rationale Generation : Learning to Solve and Explain Algebraic Word Problems

Abstract

Solving algebraic word problems requires executing a series of arithmetic operations---a program---to obtain a final answer. However, since programs can be arbitrarily complicated, inducing them directly from question-answer pairs is a formidable challenge. To make this task more feasible, we solve these problems by generating answer rationales, sequences of natural language and human-readable mathematical expressions that derive the final answer through a series of small steps. Although rationales do not explicitly specify programs, they provide a scaffolding for their structure via intermediate milestones. To evaluate our approach, we have created a new 100,000-sample dataset of questions, answers and rationales. Experimental results show that indirect supervision of program learning via answer rationales is a promising strategy for inducing arithmetic programs.

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