Large-scale pre-trained models (PTMs) have been widely used in document-oriented NLP tasks, such as question answering. However, the encoding-task coupling requirement results in the repeated encoding of the same documents for different tasks and queries, which is highly computationally inefficient. To this end, we target to decouple document encoding from downstream tasks, and propose to represent each document as a plug-and-play document module, i.e., a document plugin, for PTMs (PlugD). By inserting document plugins into the backbone PTM for downstream tasks, we can encode a document one time to handle multiple tasks, which is more efficient than conventional encoding-task coupling methods that simultaneously encode documents and input queries using task-specific encoders. Extensive experiments on 8 datasets of 4 typical NLP tasks show that PlugD enables models to encode documents once and for all across different scenarios. Especially, PlugD can save 69% computational costs while achieving comparable performance to state-of-the-art encoding-task coupling methods. Additionally, we show that PlugD can serve as an effective post-processing way to inject knowledge into task-specific models, improving model performance without any additional model training. Our code and checkpoints can be found in https://github.com/thunlp/Document-Plugin.
Prompt tuning (PT) is a promising parameter-efficient method to utilize extremely large pre-trained language models (PLMs), which can achieve comparable performance to full-parameter fine-tuning by only tuning a few soft prompts. However, PT requires much more training time than fine-tuning. Intuitively, knowledge transfer can help to improve the efficiency. To explore whether we can improve PT via prompt transfer, we empirically investigate the transferability of soft prompts across different downstream tasks and PLMs in this work. We find that (1) in zero-shot setting, trained soft prompts can effectively transfer to similar tasks on the same PLM and also to other PLMs with a cross-model projector trained on similar tasks; (2) when used as initialization, trained soft prompts of similar tasks and projected prompts of other PLMs can significantly accelerate training and also improve the performance of PT. Moreover, to explore what decides prompt transferability, we investigate various transferability indicators and find that the overlapping rate of activated neurons strongly reflects the transferability, which suggests how the prompts stimulate PLMs is essential. Our findings show that prompt transfer is promising for improving PT, and further research shall focus more on prompts’ stimulation to PLMs. The source code can be obtained from https://github.com/thunlp/Prompt-Transferability.