Fast and flexible: Human program induction in abstract reasoning tasks

Aysja Johnson, Wai Keen Vong, Brenden M. Lake, Todd M. Gureckis

The Abstraction and Reasoning Corpus (ARC) is a challenging program induction dataset that was recently proposed by Chollet (2019). Here, we report the first set of results collected from a behavioral study of humans solving a subset of tasks from ARC (40 out of 1000). Although this subset of tasks contains considerable variation, our results showed that humans were able to infer the underlying program and generate the correct test output for a novel test input example, with an average of 80% of tasks solved per participant, and with 65% of tasks being solved by more than 80% of participants. Additionally, we find interesting patterns of behavioral consistency and variability within the action sequences during the generation process, the natural language descriptions to describe the transformations for each task, and the errors people made. Our findings suggest that people can quickly and reliably determine the relevant features and properties of a task to compose a correct solution. Future modeling work could incorporate these findings, potentially by connecting the natural language descriptions we collected here to the underlying semantics of ARC.

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