Meta-Interpretive Learning of Data Transformation Programs

  • Andrew CropperEmail author
  • Alireza Tamaddoni-Nezhad
  • Stephen H. Muggleton
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 9575)


Data transformation involves the manual construction of large numbers of special-purpose programs. Although typically small, such programs can be complex, involving problem decomposition, recursion, and recognition of context. Building such programs is common in commercial and academic data analytic projects and can be labour intensive and expensive, making it a suitable candidate for machine learning. In this paper, we use the meta-interpretive learning framework (MIL) to learn recursive data transformation programs from small numbers of examples. MIL is well suited to this task because it supports problem decomposition through predicate invention, learning recursive programs, learning from few examples, and learning from only positive examples. We apply Metagol, a MIL implementation, to both semi-structured and unstructured data. We conduct experiments on three real-world datasets: medical patient records, XML mondial records, and natural language taken from ecological papers. The experimental results suggest that high levels of predictive accuracy can be achieved in these tasks from small numbers of training examples, especially when learning with recursion.


Predictive Accuracy Transformation Rule Medical Patient Record Transformation Language Prolog Program 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The first author acknowledges the support of the BBSRC and Syngenta in funding his PhD Case studentship. The second author acknowledges the support from the IMI eTRIKS project. The third author would like to thank the Royal Academy of Engineering and Syngenta for funding his present 5 year Research Chair.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrew Cropper
    • 1
    Email author
  • Alireza Tamaddoni-Nezhad
    • 1
  • Stephen H. Muggleton
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ComputingImperial College LondonLondonUK

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