Cheng Qian


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Recyclable Tuning for Continual Pre-training
Yujia Qin | Cheng Qian | Xu Han | Yankai Lin | Huadong Wang | Ruobing Xie | Zhiyuan Liu | Maosong Sun | Jie Zhou
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2023

Continual pre-training is the paradigm where pre-trained language models (PLMs) continually acquire fresh knowledge from growing data and gradually get upgraded. Before an upgraded PLM is released, we may have tuned the original PLM for various tasks and stored the adapted weights. However, when tuning the upgraded PLM, these outdated adapted weights will typically be ignored and discarded, causing a potential waste of resources. We bring this issue to the forefront and contend that proper algorithms for recycling outdated adapted weights should be developed. To this end, we formulate the task of recyclable tuning for continual pre-training. In pilot studies, we find that after continual pre-training, the upgraded PLM remains compatible with the outdated adapted weights to some extent. Motivated by this finding, we analyze the connection between continually pre-trained PLMs from two novel aspects, i.e., mode connectivity, and functional similarity. Based on the corresponding findings, we propose both an initialization-based method and a distillation-based method for our task. We demonstrate their feasibility in improving the convergence and performance for tuning the upgraded PLM. We also show that both methods can be combined to achieve better performance.


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Exploring Mode Connectivity for Pre-trained Language Models
Yujia Qin | Cheng Qian | Jing Yi | Weize Chen | Yankai Lin | Xu Han | Zhiyuan Liu | Maosong Sun | Jie Zhou
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Recent years have witnessed the prevalent application of pre-trained language models (PLMs) in NLP. From the perspective of parameter space, PLMs provide generic initialization, starting from which high-performance minima could be found. Although plenty of works have studied how to effectively and efficiently adapt PLMs to high-performance minima, little is known about the connection of various minima reached under different adaptation configurations. In this paper, we investigate the geometric connections of different minima through the lens of mode connectivity, which measures whether two minima can be connected with a low-loss path. We conduct empirical analyses to investigate three questions: (1) how could hyperparameters, specific tuning methods, and training data affect PLM’s mode connectivity? (2) How does mode connectivity change during pre-training? (3) How does the PLM’s task knowledge change along the path connecting two minima? In general, exploring the mode connectivity of PLMs conduces to understanding the geometric connection of different minima, which may help us fathom the inner workings of PLM downstream adaptation. The codes are publicly available at

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Distinguish Sense from Nonsense: Out-of-Scope Detection for Virtual Assistants
Cheng Qian | Haode Qi | Gengyu Wang | Ladislav Kunc | Saloni Potdar
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing: Industry Track

Out of Scope (OOS) detection in Conversational AI solutions enables a chatbot to handle a conversation gracefully when it is unable to make sense of the end-user query. Accurately tagging a query as out-of-domain is particularly hard in scenarios when the chatbot is not equipped to handle a topic which has semantic overlap with an existing topic it is trained on. We propose a simple yet effective OOS detection method that outperforms standard OOS detection methods in a real-world deployment of virtual assistants. We discuss the various design and deployment considerations for a cloud platform solution to train virtual assistants and deploy them at scale. Additionally, we propose a collection of datasets that replicates real-world scenarios and show comprehensive results in various settings using both offline and online evaluation metrics.

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Benchmarking Language-agnostic Intent Classification for Virtual Assistant Platforms
Gengyu Wang | Cheng Qian | Lin Pan | Haode Qi | Ladislav Kunc | Saloni Potdar
Proceedings of the Workshop on Multilingual Information Access (MIA)

Current virtual assistant (VA) platforms are beholden to the limited number of languages they support. Every component, such as the tokenizer and intent classifier, is engineered for specific languages in these intricate platforms. Thus, supporting a new language in such platforms is a resource-intensive operation requiring expensive re-training and re-designing. In this paper, we propose a benchmark for evaluating language-agnostic intent classification, the most critical component of VA platforms. To ensure the benchmarking is challenging and comprehensive, we include 29 public and internal datasets across 10 low-resource languages and evaluate various training and testing settings with consideration of both accuracy and training time. The benchmarking result shows that Watson Assistant, among 7 commercial VA platforms and pre-trained multilingual language models (LMs), demonstrates close-to-best accuracy with the best accuracy-training time trade-off.