Knowledge Distillation (KD) is a commonly used technique for improving the generalization of compact Pre-trained Language Models (PLMs) on downstream tasks. However, such methods impose the additional burden of training a separate teacher model for every new dataset.Alternatively, one may directly work on the improvement of the optimization procedure of the compact model towards better generalization. Recent works observe that the flatness of the local minimum correlates well with better generalization.In this work, we adapt Stochastic Weight Averaging (SWA), a method encouraging convergence to a flatter minimum, to fine-tuning PLMs. We conduct extensive experiments on various NLP tasks (text classification, question answering, and generation) and different model architectures and demonstrate that our adaptation improves the generalization without extra computation cost. Moreover, we observe that this simple optimization technique is able to outperform the state-of-the-art KD methods for compact models.
Knowledge Distillation (KD) has been extensively used for natural language understanding (NLU) tasks to improve a small model’s (a student) generalization by transferring the knowledge from a larger model (a teacher). Although KD methods achieve state-of-the-art performance in numerous settings, they suffer from several problems limiting their performance. It is shown in the literature that the capacity gap between the teacher and the student networks can make KD ineffective. Additionally, existing KD techniques do not mitigate the noise in the teacher’s output: modeling the noisy behaviour of the teacher can distract the student from learning more useful features. We propose a new KD method that addresses these problems and facilitates the training compared to previous techniques. Inspired by continuation optimization, we design a training procedure that optimizes the highly non-convex KD objective by starting with the smoothed version of this objective and making it more complex as the training proceeds. Our method (Continuation-KD) achieves state-of-the-art performance across various compact architectures on NLU (GLUE benchmark) and computer vision tasks (CIFAR-10 and CIFAR-100).
Learning disentangled representations of realworld data is a challenging open problem. Most previous methods have focused on either supervised approaches which use attribute labels or unsupervised approaches that manipulate the factorization in the latent space of models such as the variational autoencoder (VAE) by training with task-specific losses. In this work, we propose polarized-VAE, an approach that disentangles select attributes in the latent space based on proximity measures reflecting the similarity between data points with respect to these attributes. We apply our method to disentangle the semantics and syntax of sentences and carry out transfer experiments. Polarized-VAE outperforms the VAE baseline and is competitive with state-of-the-art approaches, while being more a general framework that is applicable to other attribute disentanglement tasks.