Alexis Chevalier


pdf bib
Adapting Language Models to Compress Contexts
Alexis Chevalier | Alexander Wettig | Anirudh Ajith | Danqi Chen
Proceedings of the 2023 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Transformer-based language models (LMs) are powerful and widely-applicable tools, but their usefulness is constrained by a finite context window and the expensive computational cost of processing long text documents. We propose to adapt pre-trained LMs into AutoCompressors. These language models are capable of compressing long contexts into summary vectors, which are then accessible to the model as soft prompts. Summary vectors are trained with an unsupervised objective, whereby long documents are processed in segments, and summary vectors from all previous segments are used in language modeling. We fine-tune OPT and Llama-2 models on sequences of up to 30,720 tokens and show that AutoCompressors can utilize long contexts to improve perplexity. We evaluate AutoCompressors on in-context learning by compressing task demonstrations and find that summary vectors are good substitutes for plain-text demonstrations, increasing accuracy while reducing inference costs. Finally, we explore the benefits of pre-computing summary vectors for large corpora by applying summary vectors to retrieval-augmented language modeling and a passage re-ranking task. Overall, AutoCompressors emerge as a simple and inexpensive solution to extend the context window of LMs while speeding up inference over long contexts.