Google Research

PLUR: A Unifying, Graph-Based View of Program Learning, Understanding, and Repair

Thirty-fifth Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems (NeurIPS 2021) (2021)


Machine learning for understanding and editing source code has recently attracted significant interest, with many developments in new models, new code representations, and new tasks. This proliferation can appear disparate and disconnected, making each approach seemingly unique and incompatible, thus obscuring the core machine learning challenges and contributions. In this work, we demonstrate that the landscape can be significantly simplified by taking a general approach of mapping a graph to a sequence of tokens and pointers. Our main result is to show that 16 recently published tasks of different shapes can be cast in this form, based on which a single model architecture achieves near or above state-of-the-art results on nearly all tasks, outperforming custom models like code2seq and alternative generic models like Transformers. This unification further enables multi-task learning and a series of cross-cutting experiments about the importance of different modeling choices for code understanding and repair tasks. The full framework, called PLUR, is easily extensible to more tasks, and will be open-sourced (link).

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