There is a growing body of work in recent years to develop pre-trained language models (PLMs) for the Arabic language. This work addresses two major problems in existing Arabic PLMs that limit the progress of the Arabic NLU and NLG fields. First, existing Arabic PLMs are not well-explored and their pre-training can be improved significantly using a more methodical approach. Second, there is a lack of systematic and reproducible evaluation of these models in the literature. We revisit both the pre-training and evaluation of Arabic PLMs. In terms of pre-training, we explore the impact of the quality of the pretraining data, the size of the model, and the incorporation of character-level information on Arabic PLM. As a result, we release three new Arabic BERT-style models ( JABER, Char-JABER, and SABER), and two T5-style models (AT5S and AT5B). In terms of evaluation, we conduct a comprehensive empirical study to systematically evaluate the performance of existing state-of-the-art models on ALUE, a leaderboard-powered benchmark for Arabic NLU tasks, and on a subset of the Arabic generative tasks. We show that our models significantly outperform existing Arabic PLMs and achieve a new state-of-the-art performance on discriminative and generative Arabic NLU and NLG tasks. Our models and source code to reproduce results will be made available upon acceptance.
Knowledge distillation (KD) is an efficient framework for compressing large-scale pre-trained language models. Recent years have seen a surge of research aiming to improve KD by leveraging Contrastive Learning, Intermediate Layer Distillation, Data Augmentation, and Adversarial Training. In this work, we propose a learning-based data augmentation technique tailored for knowledge distillation, called CILDA. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time that intermediate layer representations of the main task are used in improving the quality of augmented samples. More precisely, we introduce an augmentation technique for KD based on intermediate layer matching using contrastive loss to improve masked adversarial data augmentation. CILDA outperforms existing state-of-the-art KD approaches on the GLUE benchmark, as well as in an out-of-domain evaluation.
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.