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Activities Blog For Court Hearings

(without any proprietary source code)


For the last ~5 years I have been focusing on deep learning for NLP (natural language processing). The circumstantial reasons I chose this topic are eloquently described here. On a personal level, I described my choice here.

I have been particularly fascinated by the transformers idea. Since implemented deep learning could be summarized as “iterative addition and multiplication of grouped numbers," the attention mechanism of transformers cleverly emphasizes the desired effects of certain inputs over others throughout this process (more here).

I have no adequate computing resources to attempt to effectively train any non-trivial transformer. Fortunately, Hugging Face has collected and systematically catalogued a great wealth of already trained datasets. This initiative is now allowing access to datasets such as “Assessing Self-Supervised Learning for Law and the CaseHOLD Dataset.”

Open source implementations of the various transformer models are also provided in the Hugging Face git repositories (unlike the API-based approach here). Reading the well documented source code aids in any initial efforts to master the technology. Such exercises are no doubt worthwhile as “a neural network pre-trained on text and fine-tuned on code solves Mathematics problems by program synthesis.”

Once familiarity is established, however, patterns of usage, and specifically the differences between approaches, become essential. While feverishly experimenting with different ideas, I personally found distracting to look at the same algorithms written inconsistently, with differing naming conventions, etc. Scrolling through long function definitions also often broke my “flow.”

As an example, I can point to the slight differences in the sequence of operations for BART and its twin mBART. Through the years I found that my own summary implementations of the most fundamental “library” features greatly enhanced my understanding and, most importantly, my speed to achieve results.

Therefore, I have decided to spend the 2-3 months the courts are intently monitoring me on contributing to the open source transformers effort. My contribution is a consistent, significantly simplified and compact (to intently minimize cognitive overload) re-write of the open source transformers codebases. The ongoing results of this effort are here.

Once again, my objective has been to create easily recognizable “code patterns” for quick development feedback loops. What follows below is a step-by-step record of the same processes that I have been following through my own “deep learning” journey.


The objective of deep learning is to determine the optimal values of large blocks of numbers or parameters. The shape of these blocks (e.g. the number or rows and columns of two dimensional matrixes) is also parameterized, they are the hyperparameters. The Hugging Face, or simply “HF,” code base succeeded at categorizing the large number of algorithms through first defining uniform configurations for all the hyperparameters of their deep learning models.

Spotting the differences between identical sequences of operations in these is therefore a matter of comparing configurations. I have struggled with this simple task due to the redundantly repeated and dispersed nature of the many HF configurations. My first step was to introduce 2 fundamental Python classes, Hypers and Config, in order to encapsulate the most essential features of a hierarchical “configuration architecture” focused on storing the differences in values.

My objective throughout is to initially avoid the introduction of any “convenience” or “completeness” code (or, in fact, code that is not used immediately). One of the most differentiating features of Python is the rich support for providing arguments in function calls. Therefore, I rely on Python heavily in this regard due to the large numbers of arguments deep learning functions seem to always require.

Particularly, using Python’s named “keyword arguments” is a must. Nested function calls having to always list all arguments, including the ones that are merely passed through, increases the unnecessary cognitive load of function definitions. As deep learning code is usually structured along simple calling patterns, most of the pass-through arguments can be implied through the routine Python “**kw” keyword argument packing mechanism.

As a next step, I redefined the nn.Module from Pytorch, the base of all parameter encapsulating deep learning nodes. All modules receive their configurations either through “horizontal” keyword argument sequences, or through one “vertical” dictionary of packed keys and values. To greatly simplify access to the therefore stored hyperparameters, all modules consolidate their required keys and values into a single configuration object (cfg) upon construction.

This self.cfg object eliminates polluting the module’s namespace with entries that are not parameters nor submodules. As all Config objects convert keys and values entries into object attributes, access to hyperparameters is also protected from spelling errors, etc. Once the cfg object for a new module is built, it can be used as a source of hyperparameters for all subsequent submodules.

A unified self.cfg object for all modules has advantages in terms of providing uniform means for serializing modules. Comparing modules therefore can be done with standard Python functionality. Moreover, as cfg objects are built once from a list of available keys (and optionally default values) or already constructed configurations, a hierarchical piecemeal specification of hyperparameters becomes possible.

This satisfies the objective of constructing deep learning modules with a “what is different?” approach.


The sequencing patterns of deep learning operations on their parameters are simple. To establish uniformity across the implementations of various models, I have adopted the practice of naming the main input tensor with x and the corresponding output tensor with y in the forward methods.

Maintaining the visual simplicity of the code is a priority and a few significant arguments can be made positional. All the other, mostly optional, values are passed as keyword arguments.

The nesting of forward calls is static and therefore a given. Naming the pass-through keyword arguments in these calls becomes redundant and greatly increases the visual complexity of the forward method definitions. In the attached and thus re-written forward method, I present the high-level attention mechanism as implemented by the GPT2 model. It showcases the greatly reduced number of “important” arguments that the method accepts.

The HF codebase has introduced much desired flexibility in not just uniformly configuring the hyperparameters of a model, but also in specifying the returned results of the method calls. The set of controlling flags, that would need to be passed through the entire call-chain, are named as keyword arguments in all the original forward methods.

I have decided to eliminate this “noise” from the models’ code. The aptly named y_flags are all optional with default values, and are implicitly packed in the **kw arguments. The yo = self.get_y_opts(**kw) collects these into the yo object, once again eliminating namespace pollution. This object, that can be custom configured for each model, is then forwarded down the call chain.

Access to the flags is uniformly convenient, e.g. kv = (k, v) if yo.cache else None, where the returned kv value depends on the cache flag. This follows the same convention I have adopted for accessing the hyperparameters of a model per the cfg = self.cfgd = cfg.d_hidden pattern.

It is worth noting that the mechanism of supporting both positional and “keyword” aggregates as returned results is seamlessly supported. The large number of redundant @dataclass-es have been reduced nevertheless. The naming convention is now based on the content of the respective output class, instead of the model.

Applying these and other similar “unification” patterns to the existing HF codebase, I have been able to significantly reduce the visual complexity of the models. Adopting “universal” names for hyperparameters, function arguments and local variables, the essential methods have become textually similar, with algorithmic differences visually “popping”.


Deep learning models are presented with numerically encoded patterns or input features and they “learn” to recognize these patterns through iterative training processes. I find the case of convolutional neural networks (CNNs) particularly intuitive when thinking about the task of recognizing patterns.

“Convolutional networks were inspired by biological processes in that the connectivity pattern between neurons resembles the organization of the animal visual cortex“ here. Using the same weights and biases (the above mentioned parameters of a model), the kernel repeatedly scans the pixels of an image, literally “looking” for particular changes or transitions in their values.

The end result of such a “convolution” over a set of input features is a feature map. The obvious example is the CNN filter that extracts sharp transitions, e.g. lines, from the values of input pixels. By feeding these lines back into a second CNN filter, we can then extract maps of lines (instead of just pixels). By stacking a number of CNN filters on top of each other, we could then implement a deep network of filters recognizing the ever popular “cat eyes” in any image.

The most important characteristic of the mapping of features in a CNN is that the position of the input features are bounded and localized, or “physically” next to each other. Therefore, applying a CNN to a natural language processing task would allow recognizing word transitions in equal length lines of text. Changing the length of lines or reorganizing the words in the same text would, however, result in a different extracted “meaning.”

These restrictions in CNNs can be lifted when the inputs are not pixelated. RNNs allow for (theoretically) infinite sequences and the attention mechanism allows encoding not just the values of features but also the scoring of the position of the values relative to each other.

The transformer models build on this generalization of convolution to recognize patterns in textual inputs. And as the semantics or meaning of text is conveyed through the patterns of words, transformers can effectively help with either extracting or generating such textual patterns.


Engineering always entails optimizations, and an optimization is managing constraints or simply “making compromises.” Solving the “localized” restriction in CNNs ultimately gave us the attention mechanism. However, as text is variable in many dimensions, solving constraints in one opened problems in other dimensions. A good starting overview of the scope of endless obstacles is presented here.

The only practical method to approach complex problems, such as NLP, is through decomposition. Alternatively, the most promising strategy to build solutions in these contexts is to compose already proven successful steps into an ensemble of routines.

Deep learning models are these abstractions, they focus on a particular aspect of the overall NLP problem, and provide a concrete solution given the specific assumptions. This pattern of iterations is highlighted here.

As soon as a problem is decomposed, and piecemeal solutions are provided, it becomes crucial to be able to meaningfully compare how (relatively) “good” the components truly are. The most direct path to compare things is through numerical scores. However, “scoring” solutions relative to each other only makes sense if they both solve the same identical problems. In the case of NLP, scoring models is done using the same input datasets, see here.

While significantly reducing the visual complexity of the code, I also wanted to allow for quick comparisons of not just the results, but the actual steps encoded in the models. For convenience, I included the original pdf paper next to each model, and also altered the Python code of the models to use identical coding patterns and naming conventions. Conceptually explaining the individual models has not been my priority, as there are many excellent resources available (see here).


The above outlined objectives are being implented in the qnarre sources. This is az ongoing effort with additional models to be added to increase the breadth of the selections. A quick, high-level overview of the chosen models are listed below:


Increasing model size when pretraining natural language representations often results in improved performance on downstream tasks. However, at some point further model increases become harder due to GPU/TPU memory limitations, longer training times, and unexpected model degradation. To address these problems, we present two parameter-reduction techniques to lower memory consumption and increase the training speed of BERT. Comprehensive empirical evidence shows that our proposed methods lead to models that scale much better compared to the original BERT. We also use a self-supervised loss that focuses on modeling inter-sentence coherence, and show it consistently helps downstream tasks with multi-sentence inputs. As a result, our best model establishes new state-of-the-art results on the GLUE, RACE, and SQuAD benchmarks while having fewer parameters compared to BERT-large.

ALBERT is a model with absolute position embeddings so it’s usually advised to pad the inputs on the right rather than the left. ALBERT uses repeating layers which results in a small memory footprint, however the computational cost remains similar to a BERT-like architecture with the same number of hidden layers as it has to iterate through the same number of (repeating) layers.

ALBERT shares its layers across its Transformer: all layers have the same weights. Using repeating layers results in a small memory footprint, however, the computational cost remains similar to a BERT-like architecture with the same number of hidden layers as it has to iterate through the same number of (repeating) layers.

Objectives: Masked language modeling (MLM) and Sentence Ordering Prediction (SOP)


Bart uses a standard seq2seq/machine translation architecture with a bidirectional encoder (like BERT) and a left-to-right decoder (like GPT). The pretraining task involves randomly shuffling the order of the original sentences and a novel in-filling scheme, where spans of text are replaced with a single mask token. BART is particularly effective when fine tuned for text generation but also works well for comprehension tasks. It matches the performance of RoBERTa with comparable training resources on GLUE and SQuAD, achieves new state-of-the-art results on a range of abstractive dialogue, question answering, and summarization tasks, with gains of up to 6 ROUGE.


We introduce a new language representation model called BERT, which stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. Unlike recent language representation models, BERT is designed to pre-train deep bidirectional representations from unlabeled text by jointly conditioning on both left and right context in all layers. As a result, the pre-trained BERT model can be fine-tuned with just one additional output layer to create state-of-the-art models for a wide range of tasks, such as question answering and language inference, without substantial task-specific architecture modifications.

BERT is conceptually simple and empirically powerful. It obtains new state-of-the-art results on eleven natural language processing tasks, including pushing the GLUE score to 80.5% (7.7% point absolute improvement), MultiNLI accuracy to 86.7% (4.6% absolute improvement), SQuAD v1.1 question answering Test F1 to 93.2 (1.5 point absolute improvement) and SQuAD v2.0 Test F1 to 83.1 (5.1 point absolute improvement).

BERT is a model with absolute position embeddings so it’s usually advised to pad the inputs on the right rather than the left. BERT was trained with the masked language modeling (MLM) and next sentence prediction (NSP) objectives. It is efficient at predicting masked tokens and at NLU in general, but is not optimal for text generation.


Transformers-based models, such as BERT, have been one of the most successful deep learning models for NLP. Unfortunately, one of their core limitations is the quadratic dependency (mainly in terms of memory) on the sequence length due to their full attention mechanism. To remedy this, we propose, BigBird, a sparse attention mechanism that reduces this quadratic dependency to linear. We show that BigBird is a universal approximator of sequence functions and is Turing complete, thereby preserving these properties of the quadratic, full attention model. Along the way, our theoretical analysis reveals some of the benefits of having O(1) global tokens (such as CLS), that attend to the entire sequence as part of the sparse attention mechanism. The proposed sparse attention can handle sequences of length up to 8x of what was previously possible using similar hardware. As a consequence of the capability to handle longer context, BigBird drastically improves performance on various NLP tasks such as question answering and summarization. We also propose novel applications to genomics data.


Pipelined NLP systems have largely been superseded by end-to-end neural modeling, yet nearly all commonly-used models still require an explicit tokenization step. While recent tokenization approaches based on data-derived subword lexicons are less brittle than manually engineered tokenizers, these techniques are not equally suited to all languages, and the use of any fixed vocabulary may limit a model’s ability to adapt. In this paper, we present CANINE, a neural encoder that operates directly on character sequences, without explicit tokenization or vocabulary, and a pre-training strategy that operates either directly on characters or optionally uses subwords as a soft inductive bias. To use its finer-grained input effectively and efficiently, CANINE combines downsampling, which reduces the input sequence length, with a deep transformer stack, which encodes context. CANINE outperforms a comparable mBERT model by 2.8 F1 on TyDi QA, a challenging multilingual benchmark, despite having 28% fewer model parameters.

Classification can be done by placing a linear layer on top of the final hidden state of the special [CLS] token (which has a predefined Unicode code point). For token classification tasks however, the downsampled sequence of tokens needs to be upsampled again to match the length of the original character sequence (which is 2048). The details for this can be found in the paper.


Pre-trained language models like BERT and its variants have recently achieved impressive performance in various natural language understanding tasks. However, BERT heavily relies on the global self-attention block and thus suffers large memory footprint and computation cost. Although all its attention heads query on the whole input sequence for generating the attention map from a global perspective, we observe some heads only need to learn local dependencies, which means the existence of computation redundancy. We therefore propose a novel span-based dynamic convolution to replace these self-attention heads to directly model local dependencies. The novel convolution heads, together with the rest self-attention heads, form a new mixed attention block that is more efficient at both global and local context learning. We equip BERT with this mixed attention design and build a ConvBERT model. Experiments have shown that ConvBERT significantly outperforms BERT and its variants in various downstream tasks, with lower training cost and fewer model parameters. Remarkably, ConvBERTbase model achieves 86.4 GLUE score, 0.7 higher than ELECTRAbase, while using less than 1/4 training cost. Code and pre-trained models will be released.



Large-scale language models show promising text generation capabilities, but users cannot easily control particular aspects of the generated text. We release CTRL, a 1.63 billion-parameter conditional transformer language model, trained to condition on control codes that govern style, content, and task-specific behavior. Control codes were derived from structure that naturally co-occurs with raw text, preserving the advantages of unsupervised learning while providing more explicit control over text generation. These codes also allow CTRL to predict which parts of the training data are most likely given a sequence. This provides a potential method for analyzing large amounts of data via model-based source attribution.


While the general idea of self-supervised learning is identical across modalities, the actual algorithms and objectives differ widely because they were developed with a single modality in mind. To get us closer to general self-supervised learning, we present data2vec, a framework that uses the same learning method for either speech, NLP or computer vision. The core idea is to predict latent representations of the full input data based on a masked view of the input in a selfdistillation setup using a standard Transformer architecture. Instead of predicting modality-specific targets such as words, visual tokens or units of human speech which are local in nature, data2vec predicts contextualized latent representations that contain information from the entire input. Experiments on the major benchmarks of speech recognition, image classification, and natural language understanding demonstrate a new state of the art or competitive performance to predominant approaches. Models and code are available at


Recent progress in pre-trained neural language models has significantly improved the performance of many natural language processing (NLP) tasks. In this paper we propose a new model architecture DeBERTa (Decoding-enhanced BERT with disentangled attention) that improves the BERT and RoBERTa models using two novel techniques. The first is the disentangled attention mechanism, where each word is represented using two vectors that encode its content and position, respectively, and the attention weights among words are computed using disentangled matrices on their contents and relative positions. Second, an enhanced mask decoder is used to replace the output softmax layer to predict the masked tokens for model pretraining. We show that these two techniques significantly improve the efficiency of model pretraining and performance of downstream tasks. Compared to RoBERTa-Large, a DeBERTa model trained on half of the training data performs consistently better on a wide range of NLP tasks, achieving improvements on MNLI by +0.9% (90.2% vs. 91.1%), on SQuAD v2.0 by +2.3% (88.4% vs. 90.7%) and RACE by +3.6% (83.2% vs. 86.8%). The DeBERTa code and pre-trained models will be made publicly available at


Recent progress in pre-trained neural language models has significantly improved the performance of many natural language processing (NLP) tasks. In this paper we propose a new model architecture DeBERTa (Decoding-enhanced BERT with disentangled attention) that improves the BERT and RoBERTa models using two novel techniques. The first is the disentangled attention mechanism, where each word is represented using two vectors that encode its content and position, respectively, and the attention weights among words are computed using disentangled matrices on their contents and relative positions. Second, an enhanced mask decoder is used to replace the output softmax layer to predict the masked tokens for model pretraining. We show that these two techniques significantly improve the efficiency of model pretraining and performance of downstream tasks. Compared to RoBERTa-Large, a DeBERTa model trained on half of the training data performs consistently better on a wide range of NLP tasks, achieving improvements on MNLI by +0.9% (90.2% vs. 91.1%), on SQuAD v2.0 by +2.3% (88.4% vs. 90.7%) and RACE by +3.6% (83.2% vs. 86.8%). The DeBERTa code and pre-trained models will be made publicly available at

Decision Transformer

We introduce a framework that abstracts Reinforcement Learning (RL) as a sequence modeling problem. This allows us to draw upon the simplicity and scalability of the Transformer architecture, and associated advances in language modeling such as GPT-x and BERT. In particular, we present Decision Transformer, an architecture that casts the problem of RL as conditional sequence modeling. Unlike prior approaches to RL that fit value functions or compute policy gradients, Decision Transformer simply outputs the optimal actions by leveraging a causally masked Transformer. By conditioning an autoregressive model on the desired return (reward), past states, and actions, our Decision Transformer model can generate future actions that achieve the desired return. Despite its simplicity, Decision Transformer matches or exceeds the performance of state-of-the-art model-free offline RL baselines on Atari, OpenAI Gym, and Key-to-Door tasks.


As Transfer Learning from large-scale pre-trained models becomes more prevalent in Natural Language Processing (NLP), operating these large models in on-the-edge and/or under constrained computational training or inference budgets remains challenging. In this work, we propose a method to pre-train a smaller general-purpose language representation model, called DistilBERT, which can then be fine-tuned with good performances on a wide range of tasks like its larger counterparts. While most prior work investigated the use of distillation for building task-specific models, we leverage knowledge distillation during the pretraining phase and show that it is possible to reduce the size of a BERT model by 40%, while retaining 97% of its language understanding capabilities and being 60% faster. To leverage the inductive biases learned by larger models during pretraining, we introduce a triple loss combining language modeling, distillation and cosine-distance losses. Our smaller, faster and lighter model is cheaper to pre-train and we demonstrate its capabilities for on-device computations in a proof-of-concept experiment and a comparative on-device study.



Open-domain question answering relies on efficient passage retrieval to select candidate contexts, where traditional sparse vector space models, such as TF-IDF or BM25, are the de facto method. In this work, we show that retrieval can be practically implemented using dense representations alone, where embeddings are learned from a small number of questions and passages by a simple dual-encoder framework. When evaluated on a wide range of open-domain QA datasets, our dense retriever outperforms a strong Lucene-BM25 system largely by 9%-19% absolute in terms of top-20 passage retrieval accuracy, and helps our end-to-end QA system establish new state-of-the-art on multiple open-domain QA benchmarks.


Masked language modeling (MLM) pretraining methods such as BERT corrupt the input by replacing some tokens with [MASK] and then train a model to reconstruct the original tokens. While they produce good results when transferred to downstream NLP tasks, they generally require large amounts of compute to be effective. As an alternative, we propose a more sample-efficient pretraining task called replaced token detection. Instead of masking the input, our approach corrupts it by replacing some tokens with plausible alternatives sampled from a small generator network. Then, instead of training a model that predicts the original identities of the corrupted tokens, we train a discriminative model that predicts whether each token in the corrupted input was replaced by a generator sample or not. Thorough experiments demonstrate this new pretraining task is more efficient than MLM because the task is defined over all input tokens rather than just the small subset that was masked out. As a result, the contextual representations learned by our approach substantially outperform the ones learned by BERT given the same model size, data, and compute. The gains are particularly strong for small models; for example, we train a model on one GPU for 4 days that outperforms GPT (trained using 30x more compute) on the GLUE natural language understanding benchmark. Our approach also works well at scale, where it performs comparably to RoBERTa and XLNet while using less than 1/4 of their compute and outperforms them when using the same amount of compute.


We show that Transformer encoder architectures can be sped up, with limited accuracy costs, by replacing the self-attention sublayers with simple linear transformations that “mix” input tokens. These linear mixers, along with standard nonlinearities in feed-forward layers, prove competent at modeling semantic relationships in several text classification tasks. Most surprisingly, we find that replacing the self-attention sublayer in a Transformer encoder with a standard, unparameterized Fourier Transform achieves 92-97% of the accuracy of BERT counterparts on the GLUE benchmark, but trains 80% faster on GPUs and 70% faster on TPUs at standard 512 input lengths. At longer input lengths, our FNet model is significantly faster: when compared to the “efficient” Transformers on the Long Range Arena benchmark, FNet matches the accuracy of the most accurate models, while outpacing the fastest models across all sequence lengths on GPUs (and across relatively shorter lengths on TPUs). Finally, FNet has a light memory footprint and is particularly efficient at smaller model sizes; for a fixed speed and accuracy budget, small FNet models outperform Transformer counterparts.


This paper describes Facebook FAIR’s submission to the WMT19 shared news translation task. We participate in two language pairs and four language directions, English <-> German and English <-> Russian. Following our submission from last year, our baseline systems are large BPE-based transformer models trained with the Fairseq sequence modeling toolkit which rely on sampled back-translations. This year we experiment with different bitext data filtering schemes, as well as with adding filtered back-translated data. We also ensemble and fine-tune our models on domain-specific data, then decode using noisy channel model reranking. Our submissions are ranked first in all four directions of the human evaluation campaign. On En->De, our system significantly outperforms other systems as well as human translations. This system improves upon our WMT’18 submission by 4.5 BLEU points.


With the success of language pretraining, it is highly desirable to develop more efficient architectures of good scalability that can exploit the abundant unlabeled data at a lower cost. To improve the efficiency, we examine the much-overlooked redundancy in maintaining a full-length token-level presentation, especially for tasks that only require a single-vector presentation of the sequence. With this intuition, we propose Funnel-Transformer which gradually compresses the sequence of hidden states to a shorter one and hence reduces the computation cost. More importantly, by re-investing the saved FLOPs from length reduction in constructing a deeper or wider model, we further improve the model capacity. In addition, to perform token-level predictions as required by common pretraining objectives, Funnel-Transformer is able to recover a deep representation for each token from the reduced hidden sequence via a decoder. Empirically, with comparable or fewer FLOPs, Funnel-Transformer outperforms the standard Transformer on a wide variety of sequence-level prediction tasks, including text classification, language understanding, and reading comprehension.


Natural language understanding comprises a wide range of diverse tasks such as textual entailment, question answering, semantic similarity assessment, and document classification. Although large unlabeled text corpora are abundant, labeled data for learning these specific tasks is scarce, making it challenging for discriminatively trained models to perform adequately. We demonstrate that large gains on these tasks can be realized by generative pretraining of a language model on a diverse corpus of unlabeled text, followed by discriminative fine-tuning on each specific task. In contrast to previous approaches, we make use of task-aware input transformations during fine-tuning to achieve effective transfer while requiring minimal changes to the model architecture. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach on a wide range of benchmarks for natural language understanding. Our general task-agnostic model outperforms discriminatively trained models that use architectures specifically crafted for each task, significantly improving upon the state of the art in 9 out of the 12 tasks studied.



GPT-2 is a large transformer-based language model with 1.5 billion parameters, trained on a dataset[1] of 8 million web pages. GPT-2 is trained with a simple objective: predict the next word, given all of the previous words within some text. The diversity of the dataset causes this simple goal to contain naturally occurring demonstrations of many tasks across diverse domains. GPT-2 is a direct scale-up of GPT, with more than 10X the parameters and trained on more than 10X the amount of data.


The architecture is similar to GPT2 except that GPT Neo uses local attention in every other layer with a window size of 256 tokens.


Transformer based models, like BERT and RoBERTa, have achieved state-of-the-art results in many Natural Language Processing tasks. However, their memory footprint, inference latency, and power consumption are prohibitive for efficient inference at the edge, and even at the data center. While quantization can be a viable solution for this, previous work on quantizing Transformer based models use floating-point arithmetic during inference, which cannot efficiently utilize integer-only logical units such as the recent Turing Tensor Cores, or traditional integer-only ARM processors. In this work, we propose I-BERT, a novel quantization scheme for Transformer based models that quantizes the entire inference with integer-only arithmetic. Based on lightweight integer-only approximation methods for nonlinear operations, e.g., GELU, Softmax, and Layer Normalization, I-BERT performs an end-to-end integer-only BERT inference without any floating point calculation. We evaluate our approach on GLUE downstream tasks using RoBERTa-Base/Large. We show that for both cases, I-BERT achieves similar (and slightly higher) accuracy as compared to the full-precision baseline. Furthermore, our preliminary implementation of I-BERT shows a speedup of 2.4 - 4.0x for INT8 inference on a T4 GPU system as compared to FP32 inference. The framework has been developed in PyTorch and has been open-sourced.


Transformer-based models are unable to process long sequences due to their self-attention operation, which scales quadratically with the sequence length. To address this limitation, we introduce the Longformer with an attention mechanism that scales linearly with sequence length, making it easy to process documents of thousands of tokens or longer. Longformer’s attention mechanism is a drop-in replacement for the standard self-attention and combines a local windowed attention with a task motivated global attention. Following prior work on long-sequence transformers, we evaluate Longformer on character-level language modeling and achieve state-of-the-art results on text8 and enwik8. In contrast to most prior work, we also pretrain Longformer and finetune it on a variety of downstream tasks. Our pretrained Longformer consistently outperforms RoBERTa on long document tasks and sets new state-of-the-art results on WikiHop and TriviaQA. We finally introduce the Longformer-Encoder-Decoder (LED), a Longformer variant for supporting long document generative sequence-to-sequence tasks, and demonstrate its effectiveness on the arXiv summarization dataset.


Transformer-based models are unable to process long sequences due to their self-attention operation, which scales quadratically with the sequence length. To address this limitation, we introduce the Longformer with an attention mechanism that scales linearly with sequence length, making it easy to process documents of thousands of tokens or longer. Longformer’s attention mechanism is a drop-in replacement for the standard self-attention and combines a local windowed attention with a task motivated global attention. Following prior work on long-sequence transformers, we evaluate Longformer on character-level language modeling and achieve state-of-the-art results on text8 and enwik8. In contrast to most prior work, we also pretrain Longformer and finetune it on a variety of downstream tasks. Our pretrained Longformer consistently outperforms RoBERTa on long document tasks and sets new state-of-the-art results on WikiHop and TriviaQA.


Entity representations are useful in natural language tasks involving entities. In this paper, we propose new pretrained contextualized representations of words and entities based on the bidirectional transformer. The proposed model treats words and entities in a given text as independent tokens, and outputs contextualized representations of them. Our model is trained using a new pretraining task based on the masked language model of BERT. The task involves predicting randomly masked words and entities in a large entity-annotated corpus retrieved from Wikipedia. We also propose an entity-aware self-attention mechanism that is an extension of the self-attention mechanism of the transformer, and considers the types of tokens (words or entities) when computing attention scores. The proposed model achieves impressive empirical performance on a wide range of entity-related tasks. In particular, it obtains state-of-the-art results on five well-known datasets: Open Entity (entity typing), TACRED (relation classification), CoNLL-2003 (named entity recognition), ReCoRD (cloze-style question answering), and SQuAD 1.1 (extractive question answering).



According to the abstract, MBART is a sequence-to-sequence denoising auto-encoder pretrained on large-scale monolingual corpora in many languages using the BART objective. mBART is one of the first methods for pretraining a complete sequence-to-sequence model by denoising full texts in multiple languages, while previous approaches have focused only on the encoder, decoder, or reconstructing parts of the text.


Recent work in language modeling demonstrates that training large transformer models advances the state of the art in Natural Language Processing applications. However, very large models can be quite difficult to train due to memory constraints. In this work, we present our techniques for training very large transformer models and implement a simple, efficient intra-layer model parallel approach that enables training transformer models with billions of parameters. Our approach does not require a new compiler or library changes, is orthogonal and complimentary to pipeline model parallelism, and can be fully implemented with the insertion of a few communication operations in native PyTorch. We illustrate this approach by converging transformer based models up to 8.3 billion parameters using 512 GPUs. We sustain 15.1 PetaFLOPs across the entire application with 76% scaling efficiency when compared to a strong single GPU baseline that sustains 39 TeraFLOPs, which is 30% of peak FLOPs. To demonstrate that large language models can further advance the state of the art (SOTA), we train an 8.3 billion parameter transformer language model similar to GPT-2 and a 3.9 billion parameter model similar to BERT. We show that careful attention to the placement of layer normalization in BERT-like models is critical to achieving increased performance as the model size grows. Using the GPT-2 model we achieve SOTA results on the WikiText103 (10.8 compared to SOTA perplexity of 15.8) and LAMBADA (66.5% compared to SOTA accuracy of 63.2%) datasets. Our BERT model achieves SOTA results on the RACE dataset (90.9% compared to SOTA accuracy of 89.4%).


MPNet adopts a novel pre-training method, named masked and permuted language modeling, to inherit the advantages of masked language modeling and permuted language modeling for natural language understanding.

The abstract from the paper is the following:

BERT adopts masked language modeling (MLM) for pre-training and is one of the most successful pre-training models. Since BERT neglects dependency among predicted tokens, XLNet introduces permuted language modeling (PLM) for pre-training to address this problem. However, XLNet does not leverage the full position information of a sentence and thus suffers from position discrepancy between pre-training and fine-tuning. In this paper, we propose MPNet, a novel pre-training method that inherits the advantages of BERT and XLNet and avoids their limitations. MPNet leverages the dependency among predicted tokens through permuted language modeling (vs. MLM in BERT), and takes auxiliary position information as input to make the model see a full sentence and thus reducing the position discrepancy (vs. PLM in XLNet). We pre-train MPNet on a large-scale dataset (over 160GB text corpora) and fine-tune on a variety of down-streaming tasks (GLUE, SQuAD, etc). Experimental results show that MPNet outperforms MLM and PLM by a large margin, and achieves better results on these tasks compared with previous state-of-the-art pre-trained methods (e.g., BERT, XLNet, RoBERTa) under the same model setting.


Transformers have emerged as a powerful tool for a broad range of natural language processing tasks. A key component that drives the impressive performance of Transformers is the self-attention mechanism that encodes the influence or dependence of other tokens on each specific token. While beneficial, the quadratic complexity of self-attention on the input sequence length has limited its application to longer sequences — a topic being actively studied in the community. To address this limitation, we propose Nyströmformer — a model that exhibits favorable scalability as a function of sequence length. Our idea is based on adapting the Nyström method to approximate standard self-attention with O(n) complexity. The scalability of Nyströmformer enables application to longer sequences with thousands of tokens. We perform evaluations on multiple downstream tasks on the GLUE benchmark and IMDB reviews with standard sequence length, and find that our Nyströmformer performs comparably, or in a few cases, even slightly better, than standard self-attention. On longer sequence tasks in the Long Range Arena (LRA) benchmark, Nyströmformer performs favorably relative to other efficient self-attention methods. Our code is available at this https URL.


According to the abstract,

Pegasus’ pretraining task is intentionally similar to summarization: important sentences are removed/masked from an input document and are generated together as one output sequence from the remaining sentences, similar to an extractive summary. Pegasus achieves SOTA summarization performance on all 12 downstream tasks, as measured by ROUGE and human eval.


The main problem with the self-attention mechanism of the Transformer is that the time and memory requirements scale quadratically with the sequence length. Hence, models like BERT and RoBERTa are limited to a max sequence length of 512 tokens. Perceiver aims to solve this issue by, instead of performing self-attention on the inputs, perform it on a set of latent variables, and only use the inputs for cross-attention. In this way, the time and memory requirements don’t depend on the length of the inputs anymore, as one uses a fixed amount of latent variables, like 256 or 512. These are randomly initialized, after which they are trained end-to-end using backpropagation.



Code summarization and generation empower conversion between programming language (PL) and natural language (NL), while code translation avails the migration of legacy code from one PL to another. This paper introduces PLBART, a sequence-to-sequence model capable of performing a broad spectrum of program and language understanding and generation tasks. PLBART is pre-trained on an extensive collection of Java and Python functions and associated NL text via denoising autoencoding. Experiments on code summarization in the English language, code generation, and code translation in seven programming languages show that PLBART outperforms or rivals state-of-the-art models. Moreover, experiments on discriminative tasks, e.g., program repair, clone detection, and vulnerable code detection, demonstrate PLBART’s effectiveness in program understanding. Furthermore, analysis reveals that PLBART learns program syntax, style (e.g., identifier naming convention), logical flow (e.g., if block inside an else block is equivalent to else if block) that are crucial to program semantics and thus excels even with limited annotations.


In this paper, we present a new sequence-to-sequence pretraining model called ProphetNet, which introduces a novel self-supervised objective named future n-gram prediction and the proposed n-stream self-attention mechanism. Instead of the optimization of one-step ahead prediction in traditional sequence-to-sequence model, the ProphetNet is optimized by n-step ahead prediction which predicts the next n tokens simultaneously based on previous context tokens at each time step. The future n-gram prediction explicitly encourages the model to plan for the future tokens and prevent overfitting on strong local correlations. We pre-train ProphetNet using a base scale dataset (16GB) and a large scale dataset (160GB) respectively. Then we conduct experiments on CNN/DailyMail, Gigaword, and SQuAD 1.1 benchmarks for abstractive summarization and question generation tasks. Experimental results show that ProphetNet achieves new state-of-the-art results on all these datasets compared to the models using the same scale pretraining corpus.


Large pre-trained language models have been shown to store factual knowledge in their parameters, and achieve state-of-the-art results when fine-tuned on downstream NLP tasks. However, their ability to access and precisely manipulate knowledge is still limited, and hence on knowledge-intensive tasks, their performance lags behind task-specific architectures. Additionally, providing provenance for their decisions and updating their world knowledge remain open research problems. Pre-trained models with a differentiable access mechanism to explicit nonparametric memory can overcome this issue, but have so far been only investigated for extractive downstream tasks. We explore a general-purpose fine-tuning recipe for retrieval-augmented generation (RAG) — models which combine pre-trained parametric and non-parametric memory for language generation. We introduce RAG models where the parametric memory is a pre-trained seq2seq model and the non-parametric memory is a dense vector index of Wikipedia, accessed with a pre-trained neural retriever. We compare two RAG formulations, one which conditions on the same retrieved passages across the whole generated sequence, the other can use different passages per token. We fine-tune and evaluate our models on a wide range of knowledge-intensive NLP tasks and set the state-of-the-art on three open domain QA tasks, outperforming parametric seq2seq models and task-specific retrieve-and-extract architectures. For language generation tasks, we find that RAG models generate more specific, diverse and factual language than a state-of-the-art parametric-only seq2seq baseline.


Language model pre-training has been shown to capture a surprising amount of world knowledge, crucial for NLP tasks such as question answering. However, this knowledge is stored implicitly in the parameters of a neural network, requiring ever-larger networks to cover more facts. To capture knowledge in a more modular and interpretable way, we augment language model pre-training with a latent knowledge retriever, which allows the model to retrieve and attend over documents from a large corpus such as Wikipedia, used during pre-training, fine-tuning and inference. For the first time, we show how to pre-train such a knowledge retriever in an unsupervised manner, using masked language modeling as the learning signal and backpropagating through a retrieval step that considers millions of documents. We demonstrate the effectiveness of Retrieval-Augmented Language Model pre-training (REALM) by fine-tuning on the challenging task of Open-domain Question Answering (Open-QA). We compare against state-of-the-art models for both explicit and implicit knowledge storage on three popular Open-QA benchmarks, and find that we outperform all previous methods by a significant margin (4-16% absolute accuracy), while also providing qualitative benefits such as interpretability and modularity.


Large Transformer models routinely achieve state-of-the-art results on a number of tasks but training these models can be prohibitively costly, especially on long sequences. We introduce two techniques to improve the efficiency of Transformers. For one, we replace dot-product attention by one that uses locality-sensitive hashing, changing its complexity from O(L^2) to O(Llog(L)), where L is the length of the sequence. Furthermore, we use reversible residual layers instead of the standard residuals, which allows storing activations only once in the training process instead of N times, where N is the number of layers. The resulting model, the Reformer, performs on par with Transformer models while being much more memory-efficient and much faster on long sequences.


For fine-tuning, RemBERT can be thought of as a bigger version of mBERT with an ALBERT-like factorization of the embedding layer. The embeddings are not tied in pre-training, in contrast with BERT, which enables smaller input embeddings (preserved during fine-tuning) and bigger output embeddings (discarded at fine-tuning). The tokenizer is also similar to the Albert one rather than the BERT one.



Language model pretraining has led to significant performance gains but careful comparison between different approaches is challenging. Training is computationally expensive, often done on private datasets of different sizes, and, as we will show, hyperparameter choices have significant impact on the final results. We present a replication study of BERT pretraining (Devlin et al., 2019) that carefully measures the impact of many key hyperparameters and training data size. We find that BERT was significantly undertrained, and can match or exceed the performance of every model published after it. Our best model achieves state-of-the-art results on GLUE, RACE and SQuAD. These results highlight the importance of previously overlooked design choices, and raise questions about the source of recently reported improvements. We release our models and code.


Position encoding in transformer architecture provides supervision for dependency modeling between elements at different positions in the sequence. We investigate various methods to encode positional information in transformer-based language models and propose a novel implementation named Rotary Position Embedding(RoPE). The proposed RoPE encodes absolute positional information with rotation matrix and naturally incorporates explicit relative position dependency in self-attention formulation. Notably, RoPE comes with valuable properties such as flexibility of being expand to any sequence lengths, decaying inter-token dependency with increasing relative distances, and capability of equipping the linear self-attention with relative position encoding. As a result, the enhanced transformer with rotary position embedding, or RoFormer, achieves superior performance in tasks with long texts. We release the theoretical analysis along with some preliminary experiment results on Chinese data. The undergoing experiment for English benchmark will soon be updated.


RoFormer is a BERT-like autoencoding model with rotary position embeddings. Rotary position embeddings have shown improved performance on classification tasks with long texts.


We present SegFormer, a simple, efficient yet powerful semantic segmentation framework which unifies Transformers with lightweight multilayer perception (MLP) decoders. SegFormer has two appealing features: 1) SegFormer comprises a novel hierarchically structured Transformer encoder which outputs multiscale features. It does not need positional encoding, thereby avoiding the interpolation of positional codes which leads to decreased performance when the testing resolution differs from training. 2) SegFormer avoids complex decoders. The proposed MLP decoder aggregates information from different layers, and thus combining both local attention and global attention to render powerful representations. We show that this simple and lightweight design is the key to efficient segmentation on Transformers. We scale our approach up to obtain a series of models from SegFormer-B0 to SegFormer-B5, reaching significantly better performance and efficiency than previous counterparts. For example, SegFormer-B4 achieves 50.3% mIoU on ADE20K with 64M parameters, being 5x smaller and 2.2% better than the previous best method. Our best model, SegFormer-B5, achieves 84.0% mIoU on Cityscapes validation set and shows excellent zero-shot robustness on Cityscapes-C.


In several question answering benchmarks, pretrained models have reached human parity through fine-tuning on an order of 100,000 annotated questions and answers. We explore the more realistic few-shot setting, where only a few hundred training examples are available, and observe that standard models perform poorly, highlighting the discrepancy between current pretraining objectives and question answering. We propose a new pretraining scheme tailored for question answering: recurring span selection. Given a passage with multiple sets of recurring spans, we mask in each set all recurring spans but one, and ask the model to select the correct span in the passage for each masked span. Masked spans are replaced with a special token, viewed as a question representation, that is later used during fine-tuning to select the answer span. The resulting model obtains surprisingly good results on multiple benchmarks (e.g., 72.7 F1 on SQuAD with only 128 training examples), while maintaining competitive performance in the high-resource setting.


Transfer learning, where a model is first pre-trained on a data-rich task before being fine-tuned on a downstream task, has emerged as a powerful technique in natural language processing (NLP). The effectiveness of transfer learning has given rise to a diversity of approaches, methodology, and practice. In this paper, we explore the landscape of transfer learning techniques for NLP by introducing a unified framework that converts every language problem into a text-to-text format. Our systematic study compares pretraining objectives, architectures, unlabeled datasets, transfer approaches, and other factors on dozens of language understanding tasks. By combining the insights from our exploration with scale and our new “Colossal Clean Crawled Corpus”, we achieve state-of-the-art results on many benchmarks covering summarization, question answering, text classification, and more. To facilitate future work on transfer learning for NLP, we release our dataset, pre-trained models, and code.

Transformer XL

Transformers have a potential of learning longer-term dependency, but are limited by a fixed-length context in the setting of language modeling. We propose a novel neural architecture Transformer-XL that enables learning dependency beyond a fixed length without disrupting temporal coherence. It consists of a segment-level recurrence mechanism and a novel positional encoding scheme. Our method not only enables capturing longer-term dependency, but also resolves the context fragmentation problem. As a result, Transformer-XL learns dependency that is 80% longer than RNNs and 450% longer than vanilla Transformers, achieves better performance on both short and long sequences, and is up to 1,800+ times faster than vanilla Transformers during evaluation. Notably, we improve the state-of-the-art results of bpc/perplexity to 0.99 on enwiki8, 1.08 on text8, 18.3 on WikiText-103, 21.8 on One Billion Word, and 54.5 on Penn Treebank (without finetuning). When trained only on WikiText-103, Transformer-XL manages to generate reasonably coherent, novel text articles with thousands of tokens.



Recent studies have demonstrated the efficiency of generative pretraining for English natural language understanding. In this work, we extend this approach to multiple languages and show the effectiveness of cross-lingual pretraining. We propose two methods to learn cross-lingual language models (XLMs): one unsupervised that only relies on monolingual data, and one supervised that leverages parallel data with a new cross-lingual language model objective. We obtain state-of-the-art results on cross-lingual classification, unsupervised and supervised machine translation. On XNLI, our approach pushes the state of the art by an absolute gain of 4.9% accuracy. On unsupervised machine translation, we obtain 34.3 BLEU on WMT’16 German-English, improving the previous state of the art by more than 9 BLEU. On supervised machine translation, we obtain a new state of the art of 38.5 BLEU on WMT’16 Romanian-English, outperforming the previous best approach by more than 4 BLEU. Our code and pretrained models will be made publicly available.


With the capability of modeling bidirectional contexts, denoising autoencoding based pretraining like BERT achieves better performance than pretraining approaches based on autoregressive language modeling. However, relying on corrupting the input with masks, BERT neglects dependency between the masked positions and suffers from a pretrain-finetune discrepancy. In light of these pros and cons, we propose XLNet, a generalized autoregressive pretraining method that (1) enables learning bidirectional contexts by maximizing the expected likelihood over all permutations of the factorization order and (2) overcomes the limitations of BERT thanks to its autoregressive formulation. Furthermore, XLNet integrates ideas from Transformer-XL, the state-of-the-art autoregressive model, into pretraining. Empirically, under comparable experiment settings, XLNet outperforms BERT on 20 tasks, often by a large margin, including question answering, natural language inference, sentiment analysis, and document ranking.


Transformer-based models are widely used in natural language processing (NLP). Central to the transformer model is the self-attention mechanism, which captures the interactions of token pairs in the input sequences and depends quadratically on the sequence length. Training such models on longer sequences is expensive. In this paper, we show that a Bernoulli sampling attention mechanism based on Locality Sensitive Hashing (LSH), decreases the quadratic complexity of such models to linear. We bypass the quadratic cost by considering self-attention as a sum of individual tokens associated with Bernoulli random variables that can, in principle, be sampled at once by a single hash (although in practice, this number may be a small constant). This leads to an efficient sampling scheme to estimate self-attention which relies on specific modifications of LSH (to enable deployment on GPU architectures). We evaluate our algorithm on the GLUE benchmark with standard 512 sequence length where we see favorable performance relative to a standard pretrained Transformer. On the Long Range Arena (LRA) benchmark, for evaluating performance on long sequences, our method achieves results consistent with softmax self-attention but with sizable speed-ups and memory savings and often outperforms other efficient self-attention methods. Our code is available at this https URL