Tatsunori B. Hashimoto, Kelvin Guu, Yonatan Oren, Percy S. Liang
For the task of generating complex outputs such as source code, editing existing outputs can be easier than generating complex outputs from scratch. With this motivation, we propose an approach that first retrieves a training example based on the input (e.g., natural language description) and then edits it to the desired output (e.g., code). Our contribution is a computationally efficient method for learning a retrieval model that embeds the input in a task-dependent way without relying on a hand-crafted metric or incurring the expense of jointly training the retriever with the editor. Our retrieve-and-edit framework can be applied on top of any base model. We show that on a new autocomplete task for GitHub Python code and the Hearthstone cards benchmark, retrieve-and-edit significantly boosts the performance of a vanilla sequence-to-sequence model on both tasks.