Dhananjay Ram


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Efficient Long-Range Transformers: You Need to Attend More, but Not Necessarily at Every Layer
Qingru Zhang | Dhananjay Ram | Cole Hawkins | Sheng Zha | Tuo Zhao
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2023

Pretrained transformer models have demonstrated remarkable performance across various natural language processing tasks. These models leverage the attention mechanism to capture long- and short-range dependencies in the sequence. However, the (full) attention mechanism incurs high computational cost – quadratic in the sequence length, which is not affordable in tasks with long sequences, e.g., inputs with 8k tokens. Although sparse attention can be used to improve computational efficiency, as suggested in existing work, it has limited modeling capacity and often fails to capture complicated dependencies in long sequences. To tackle this challenge, we propose MASFormer, an easy-to-implement transformer variant with mixed attention spans. Specifically, MASFormer is equipped with full attention to capture long-range dependencies, but only at a small number of layers. For the remaining layers, MASformer only employs sparse attention to capture short-range dependencies. Our experiments on natural language modeling and generation tasks show that a decoder-only MASFormer model of 1.3B parameters can achieve competitive performance to vanilla transformers with full attention while significantly reducing computational cost (up to 75%). Additionally, we investigate the effectiveness of continual training with long sequence data and how sequence length impacts downstream generation performance, which may be of independent interest.


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Document-Level Neural Machine Translation with Hierarchical Attention Networks
Lesly Miculicich | Dhananjay Ram | Nikolaos Pappas | James Henderson
Proceedings of the 2018 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Neural Machine Translation (NMT) can be improved by including document-level contextual information. For this purpose, we propose a hierarchical attention model to capture the context in a structured and dynamic manner. The model is integrated in the original NMT architecture as another level of abstraction, conditioning on the NMT model’s own previous hidden states. Experiments show that hierarchical attention significantly improves the BLEU score over a strong NMT baseline with the state-of-the-art in context-aware methods, and that both the encoder and decoder benefit from context in complementary ways.

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Self-Attentive Residual Decoder for Neural Machine Translation
Lesly Miculicich Werlen | Nikolaos Pappas | Dhananjay Ram | Andrei Popescu-Belis
Proceedings of the 2018 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies, Volume 1 (Long Papers)

Neural sequence-to-sequence networks with attention have achieved remarkable performance for machine translation. One of the reasons for their effectiveness is their ability to capture relevant source-side contextual information at each time-step prediction through an attention mechanism. However, the target-side context is solely based on the sequence model which, in practice, is prone to a recency bias and lacks the ability to capture effectively non-sequential dependencies among words. To address this limitation, we propose a target-side-attentive residual recurrent network for decoding, where attention over previous words contributes directly to the prediction of the next word. The residual learning facilitates the flow of information from the distant past and is able to emphasize any of the previously translated words, hence it gains access to a wider context. The proposed model outperforms a neural MT baseline as well as a memory and self-attention network on three language pairs. The analysis of the attention learned by the decoder confirms that it emphasizes a wider context, and that it captures syntactic-like structures.