Keywords: [ Unsupervised Learning ] [ Generalisation ] [ Omniglot ] [ Neuro-Symbolic Models ]
Learning general-purpose representations from perceptual inputs is a hallmark of human intelligence. For example, people can write out numbers or characters, or even draw doodles, by characterizing these tasks as different instantiations of the same generic underlying process---compositional arrangements of different forms of pen strokes. Crucially, learning to do one task, say writing, implies reasonable competence at another, say drawing, on account of this shared process. We present Drawing out of Distribution (DooD), a neuro-symbolic generative model of stroke-based drawing that can learn such general-purpose representations. In contrast to prior work, DooD operates directly on images, requires no supervision or expensive test-time inference, and performs unsupervised amortized inference with a symbolic stroke model that better enables both interpretability and generalization. We evaluate DooD on its ability to generalize across both data and tasks. We first perform zero-shot transfer from one dataset (e.g. MNIST) to another (e.g. Quickdraw), across five different datasets, and show that DooD clearly outperforms different baselines. An analysis of the learnt representations further highlights the benefits of adopting a symbolic stroke model. We then adopt a subset of the Omniglot challenge tasks, and evaluate its ability to generate new exemplars (both unconditionally and conditionally), and perform one-shot classification, showing that DooD matches the state of the art. Taken together, we demonstrate that DooD does indeed capture general-purpose representations across both data and task, and takes a further step towards building general and robust concept-learning systems.