[Research 🤖] AlphaCode: competition-level code generation (by DeepMind)


… we created a system called AlphaCode that writes computer programs at a competitive level. AlphaCode achieved an estimated rank within the top 54% of participants in programming competitions by solving new problems that require a combination of critical thinking, logic, algorithms, coding, and natural language understanding.

Preprint: https://storage.googleapis.com/deepmind-media/AlphaCode/competition_level_code_generation_with_alphacode.pdf

… Recent large-scale language models have demonstrated an impressive ability to generate code, and are now able to complete simple programming tasks. However, these models still perform poorly when evaluated on more complex, unseen problems that require problem-solving skills beyond simply translating instructions into code. For example, competitive programming problems which require an understanding of algorithms and complex natural language remain extremely challenging. To address this gap, we introduce AlphaCode, a system for code generation that can create novel solutions to these problems that require deeper reasoning. Evaluated on recent programming competitions on the Codeforces platform, AlphaCode achieved on average a ranking of top 54.3% in programming competitions with more than 5,000 participants. We found that three key components were critical to achieve good and reliable performance: (1) an extensive and clean competitive programming dataset for training and evaluation, (2) large and efficient-to-sample transformer-based architectures, and (3) large-scale model sampling to explore the search space, followed by filtering based on program behavior to a small set of submissions.

7.2. Transformers for program synthesis

Recently, the successes of large transformers in natural language modelling … have created a surge of interest in using transformer models for code retrieval, translation and generation …, making significant progress on program synthesis challenges.

Transformers for program synthesis … However, the programming tasks these works address are simple compared to the full scope of competitive programming problems, where both the task specification and the solutions are more involved… Our work uses transformers but pushes model performance a significant step forward, from generating function completions to creating full solutions to held-out competitive programming problems.

7.3. Scaling sampling

Similar to our sampling and filtering, though on a much smaller scale, Chen et al. (2021), Austin et al. (2021), and Cobbe et al. (2021) found that repeated sampling on the same problem significantly increases the probability of finding a correct solution. Cobbe et al. (2021) further introduced a way of selecting a small number of final submissions from multiple samples by majority voting. They also demonstrate verifiers (value functions) used to judge the correctness of model samples as a way of reranking samples.


… a system applied to code generation for competitive programming that can generate novel solutions to unseen programming problems. Evaluated on Codeforces, AlphaCode performs roughly at the level of the median competitor. We find that massively scaling up sampling and then filtering and clustering samples to a small set, together with new sampling-efficient transformer architectures to support large scale sampling, are essential to achieving good performance.


This is so cool!!
Given how fast they evolve their Alpha models, pretty soon the model will be able to win coding competitions!!

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