Exploring the Limits of Transfer Learning with a Unified Text-to-Text Transformer Exploring the Limits of Transfer Learning with a Unified Text-to-Text Transformer
Paper summary At a high level, this paper is a massive (34 pgs!) and highly-resourced study of many nuanced variations of language pretraining tasks, to see which of those variants produce models that transfer the best to new tasks. As a result, it doesn't lend itself *that* well to being summarized into a central kernel of understanding. So, I'm going to do my best to pull out some high-level insights, and recommend you read the paper in more depth if you're working particularly in language pretraining and want to get the details. The goals here are simple: create a standardized task structure and a big dataset, so that you can use the same architecture across a wide range of objectives and subsequent transfer tasks, and thus actually compare tasks on equal footing. To that end, the authors created a huge dataset by scraping internet text, and filtering it according to a few common sense criteria. This is an important and laudable task, but not one with a ton of conceptual nuance to it. https://i.imgur.com/5z6bN8d.png A more interesting structural choice was to adopt a unified text to text framework for all of the tasks they might want their pretrained model to transfer to. This means that the input to the model is always a sequence of tokens, and so is the output. If the task is translation, the input sequence might be "translate english to german: build a bed" and the the desired output would be that sentence in German. This gets particularly interesting as a change when it comes to tasks where you're predicting relationships of words within sentences, and would typically have a categorical classification loss, which is changed here to predicting the word of the correct class. This restructuring doesn't seem to hurt performance, and has the nice side effect that you can directly use the same model as a transfer starting point for all tasks, without having to add additional layers. Some of the transfer tasks include: translation, sentiment analysis, summarization, grammatical checking of a sentence, and checking the logical relationship between claims. All tested models followed a transformer (i.e. fully attentional) architecture. The authors tested performance along many different axes. A structural variation was the difference between an encoder-decoder architecture and a language model one. https://i.imgur.com/x4AOkLz.png In both cases, you take in text and predict text, but in an encoder-decoder, you have separate models that operate on the input and output, whereas in a language model, it's all seen as part of a single continuous sequence. They also tested variations in what pretraining objective is used. The most common is simple language modeling, where you predict words in a sentence given prior or surrounding ones, but, inspired by the success of BERT, they also tried a number of denoising objectives, where an original sentence was corrupted in some way (by dropping tokens and replacing them with either masks, nothing, or random tokens, dropping individual words vs contiguous spans of words) and then the model had to predict the actual original sentence. https://i.imgur.com/b5Eowl0.png Finally, they performed testing as to the effect of dataset size and number of training steps. Some interesting takeaways: - In almost all tests, the encoder-decoder architecture, where you separately build representations of your input and output text, performs better than a language model structure. This is still generally (though not as consistently) true if you halve the number of parameters in the encoder-decoder, suggesting that there's some structural advantage there beyond just additional parameter count. - A denoising, BERT-style objective works consistently better than a language modeling one. Within the set of different kinds of corruption, none work obviously and consistently better across tasks, though some have a particular advantage at a given task, and some are faster to train with due to different lengths of output text. - Unsurprisingly, more data and bigger models both lead to better performance. Somewhat interestingly, training with less data but the same number of training iterations (such that you see the same data multiple times) seems to be fine up to a point. This potentially gestures at an ability to train over a dataset a higher number of times without being as worried about overfitting. - Also somewhat unsurprisingly, training on a dataset that filters out HTML, random lorem-ipsum web text, and bad words performs meaningfully better than training on one that doesn't
arxiv.org
scholar.google.com
Exploring the Limits of Transfer Learning with a Unified Text-to-Text Transformer
Raffel, Colin and Shazeer, Noam and Roberts, Adam and Lee, Katherine and Narang, Sharan and Matena, Michael and Zhou, Yanqi and Li, Wei and Liu, Peter J.
arXiv e-Print archive - 2019 via Local Bibsonomy
Keywords: dblp


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