Laura Nguyen


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Skim-Attention: Learning to Focus via Document Layout
Laura Nguyen | Thomas Scialom | Jacopo Staiano | Benjamin Piwowarski
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2021

Transformer-based pre-training techniques of text and layout have proven effective in a number of document understanding tasks. Despite this success, multimodal pre-training models suffer from very high computational and memory costs. Motivated by human reading strategies, this paper presents Skim-Attention, a new attention mechanism that takes advantage of the structure of the document and its layout. Skim-Attention only attends to the 2-dimensional position of the words in a document. Our experiments show that Skim-Attention obtains a lower perplexity than prior works, while being more computationally efficient. Skim-Attention can be further combined with long-range Transformers to efficiently process long documents. We also show how Skim-Attention can be used off-the-shelf as a mask for any Pre-trained Language Model, allowing to improve their performance while restricting attention. Finally, we show the emergence of a document structure representation in Skim-Attention.