Ali Ghodsi


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When Chosen Wisely, More Data Is What You Need: A Universal Sample-Efficient Strategy For Data Augmentation
Ehsan Kamalloo | Mehdi Rezagholizadeh | Ali Ghodsi
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2022

Data Augmentation (DA) is known to improve the generalizability of deep neural networks. Most existing DA techniques naively add a certain number of augmented samples without considering the quality and the added computational cost of these samples. To tackle this problem, a common strategy, adopted by several state-of-the-art DA methods, is to adaptively generate or re-weight augmented samples with respect to the task objective during training. However, these adaptive DA methods: (1) are computationally expensive and not sample-efficient, and (2) are designed merely for a specific setting. In this work, we present a universal DA technique, called Glitter, to overcome both issues. Glitter can be plugged into any DA method, making training sample-efficient without sacrificing performance. From a pre-generated pool of augmented samples, Glitter adaptively selects a subset of worst-case samples with maximal loss, analogous to adversarial DA. Without altering the training strategy, the task objective can be optimized on the selected subset. Our thorough experiments on the GLUE benchmark, SQuAD, and HellaSwag in three widely used training setups including consistency training, self-distillation and knowledge distillation reveal that Glitter is substantially faster to train and achieves a competitive performance, compared to strong baselines.

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Pro-KD: Progressive Distillation by Following the Footsteps of the Teacher
Mehdi Rezagholizadeh | Aref Jafari | Puneeth S.M. Saladi | Pranav Sharma | Ali Saheb Pasand | Ali Ghodsi
Proceedings of the 29th International Conference on Computational Linguistics

With the ever growing scale of neural models, knowledge distillation (KD) attracts more attention as a prominent tool for neural model compression. However, there are counter intuitive observations in the literature showing some challenging limitations of KD. A case in point is that the best performing checkpoint of the teacher might not necessarily be the best teacher for training the student in KD. Therefore, one important question would be how to find the best checkpoint of the teacher for distillation? Searching through the checkpoints of the teacher would be a very tedious and computationally expensive process, which we refer to as the checkpoint-search problem. Moreover, another observation is that larger teachers might not necessarily be better teachers in KD, which is referred to as the capacity-gap problem. To address these challenging problems, in this work, we introduce our progressive knowledge distillation (Pro-KD) technique which defines a smoother training path for the student by following the training footprints of the teacher instead of solely relying on distilling from a single mature fully-trained teacher. We demonstrate that our technique is quite effective in mitigating the capacity-gap problem and the checkpoint search problem. We evaluate our technique using a comprehensive set of experiments on different tasks such as image classification (CIFAR-10 and CIFAR-100), natural language understanding tasks of the GLUE benchmark, and question answering (SQuAD 1.1 and 2.0) using BERT-based models and consistently got superior results over state-of-the-art techniques.

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KroneckerBERT: Significant Compression of Pre-trained Language Models Through Kronecker Decomposition and Knowledge Distillation
Marzieh Tahaei | Ella Charlaix | Vahid Nia | Ali Ghodsi | Mehdi Rezagholizadeh
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

The development of over-parameterized pre-trained language models has made a significant contribution toward the success of natural language processing. While over-parameterization of these models is the key to their generalization power, it makes them unsuitable for deployment on low-capacity devices. We push the limits of state-of-the-art Transformer-based pre-trained language model compression using Kronecker decomposition. We present our KroneckerBERT, a compressed version of the BERT_BASE model obtained by compressing the embedding layer and the linear mappings in the multi-head attention, and the feed-forward network modules in the Transformer layers. Our KroneckerBERT is trained via a very efficient two-stage knowledge distillation scheme using far fewer data samples than state-of-the-art models like MobileBERT and TinyBERT. We evaluate the performance of KroneckerBERT on well-known NLP benchmarks. We show that our KroneckerBERT with compression factors of 7.7x and 21x outperforms state-of-the-art compression methods on the GLUE and SQuAD benchmarks. In particular, using only 13% of the teacher model parameters, it retain more than 99% of the accuracy on the majority of GLUE tasks.


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Universal-KD: Attention-based Output-Grounded Intermediate Layer Knowledge Distillation
Yimeng Wu | Mehdi Rezagholizadeh | Abbas Ghaddar | Md Akmal Haidar | Ali Ghodsi
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Intermediate layer matching is shown as an effective approach for improving knowledge distillation (KD). However, this technique applies matching in the hidden spaces of two different networks (i.e. student and teacher), which lacks clear interpretability. Moreover, intermediate layer KD cannot easily deal with other problems such as layer mapping search and architecture mismatch (i.e. it requires the teacher and student to be of the same model type). To tackle the aforementioned problems all together, we propose Universal-KD to match intermediate layers of the teacher and the student in the output space (by adding pseudo classifiers on intermediate layers) via the attention-based layer projection. By doing this, our unified approach has three merits: (i) it can be flexibly combined with current intermediate layer distillation techniques to improve their results (ii) the pseudo classifiers of the teacher can be deployed instead of extra expensive teacher assistant networks to address the capacity gap problem in KD which is a common issue when the gap between the size of the teacher and student networks becomes too large; (iii) it can be used in cross-architecture intermediate layer KD. We did comprehensive experiments in distilling BERT-base into BERT-4, RoBERTa-large into DistilRoBERTa and BERT-base into CNN and LSTM-based models. Results on the GLUE tasks show that our approach is able to outperform other KD techniques.

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Not Far Away, Not So Close: Sample Efficient Nearest Neighbour Data Augmentation via MiniMax
Ehsan Kamalloo | Mehdi Rezagholizadeh | Peyman Passban | Ali Ghodsi
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL-IJCNLP 2021

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How to Select One Among All ? An Empirical Study Towards the Robustness of Knowledge Distillation in Natural Language Understanding
Tianda Li | Ahmad Rashid | Aref Jafari | Pranav Sharma | Ali Ghodsi | Mehdi Rezagholizadeh
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2021

Knowledge Distillation (KD) is a model compression algorithm that helps transfer the knowledge in a large neural network into a smaller one. Even though KD has shown promise on a wide range of Natural Language Processing (NLP) applications, little is understood about how one KD algorithm compares to another and whether these approaches can be complimentary to each other. In this work, we evaluate various KD algorithms on in-domain, out-of-domain and adversarial testing. We propose a framework to assess adversarial robustness of multiple KD algorithms. Moreover, we introduce a new KD algorithm, Combined-KD, which takes advantage of two promising approaches (better training scheme and more efficient data augmentation). Our extensive experimental results show that Combined-KD achieves state-of-the-art results on the GLUE benchmark, out-of-domain generalization, and adversarial robustness compared to competitive methods.

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RW-KD: Sample-wise Loss Terms Re-Weighting for Knowledge Distillation
Peng Lu | Abbas Ghaddar | Ahmad Rashid | Mehdi Rezagholizadeh | Ali Ghodsi | Philippe Langlais
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2021

Knowledge Distillation (KD) is extensively used in Natural Language Processing to compress the pre-training and task-specific fine-tuning phases of large neural language models. A student model is trained to minimize a convex combination of the prediction loss over the labels and another over the teacher output. However, most existing works either fix the interpolating weight between the two losses apriori or vary the weight using heuristics. In this work, we propose a novel sample-wise loss weighting method, RW-KD. A meta-learner, simultaneously trained with the student, adaptively re-weights the two losses for each sample. We demonstrate, on 7 datasets of the GLUE benchmark, that RW-KD outperforms other loss re-weighting methods for KD.

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Knowledge Distillation with Noisy Labels for Natural Language Understanding
Shivendra Bhardwaj | Abbas Ghaddar | Ahmad Rashid | Khalil Bibi | Chengyang Li | Ali Ghodsi | Phillippe Langlais | Mehdi Rezagholizadeh
Proceedings of the Seventh Workshop on Noisy User-generated Text (W-NUT 2021)

Knowledge Distillation (KD) is extensively used to compress and deploy large pre-trained language models on edge devices for real-world applications. However, one neglected area of research is the impact of noisy (corrupted) labels on KD. We present, to the best of our knowledge, the first study on KD with noisy labels in Natural Language Understanding (NLU). We document the scope of the problem and present two methods to mitigate the impact of label noise. Experiments on the GLUE benchmark show that our methods are effective even under high noise levels. Nevertheless, our results indicate that more research is necessary to cope with label noise under the KD.

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Annealing Knowledge Distillation
Aref Jafari | Mehdi Rezagholizadeh | Pranav Sharma | Ali Ghodsi
Proceedings of the 16th Conference of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Main Volume

Significant memory and computational requirements of large deep neural networks restricts their application on edge devices. Knowledge distillation (KD) is a prominent model compression technique for deep neural networks in which the knowledge of a trained large teacher model is transferred to a smaller student model. The success of knowledge distillation is mainly attributed to its training objective function, which exploits the soft-target information (also known as “dark knowledge”) besides the given regular hard labels in a training set. However, it is shown in the literature that the larger the gap between the teacher and the student networks, the more difficult is their training using knowledge distillation. To address this shortcoming, we propose an improved knowledge distillation method (called Annealing-KD) by feeding the rich information provided by teacher’s soft-targets incrementally and more efficiently. Our Annealing-KD technique is based on a gradual transition over annealed soft-targets generated by the teacher at different temperatures in an iterative process; and therefore, the student is trained to follow the annealed teacher output in a step-by-step manner. This paper includes theoretical and empirical evidence as well as practical experiments to support the effectiveness of our Annealing-KD method. We did a comprehensive set of experiments on different tasks such as image classification (CIFAR-10 and 100) and NLP language inference with BERT-based models on the GLUE benchmark and consistently got superior results.