Residual networks are an Euler discretization of solutions to Ordinary Differential Equations (ODE). This paper explores a deeper relationship between Transformer and numerical ODE methods. We first show that a residual block of layers in Transformer can be described as a higher-order solution to ODE. Inspired by this, we design a new architecture, ODE Transformer, which is analogous to the Runge-Kutta method that is well motivated in ODE. As a natural extension to Transformer, ODE Transformer is easy to implement and efficient to use. Experimental results on the large-scale machine translation, abstractive summarization, and grammar error correction tasks demonstrate the high genericity of ODE Transformer. It can gain large improvements in model performance over strong baselines (e.g., 30.77 and 44.11 BLEU scores on the WMT’14 English-German and English-French benchmarks) at a slight cost in inference efficiency.
Knowledge distillation has been proven to be effective in model acceleration and compression. It transfers knowledge from a large neural network to a small one by using the large neural network predictions as targets of the small neural network. But this way ignores the knowledge inside the large neural networks, e.g., parameters. Our preliminary study as well as the recent success in pre-training suggests that transferring parameters are more effective in distilling knowledge. In this paper, we propose Weight Distillation to transfer the knowledge in parameters of a large neural network to a small neural network through a parameter generator. On the WMT16 En-Ro, NIST12 Zh-En, and WMT14 En-De machine translation tasks, our experiments show that weight distillation learns a small network that is 1.88 2.94x faster than the large network but with competitive BLEU performance. When fixing the size of small networks, weight distillation outperforms knowledge distillation by 0.51 1.82 BLEU points.
Deep encoders have been proven to be effective in improving neural machine translation (NMT) systems, but training an extremely deep encoder is time consuming. Moreover, why deep models help NMT is an open question. In this paper, we investigate the behavior of a well-tuned deep Transformer system. We find that stacking layers is helpful in improving the representation ability of NMT models and adjacent layers perform similarly. This inspires us to develop a shallow-to-deep training method that learns deep models by stacking shallow models. In this way, we successfully train a Transformer system with a 54-layer encoder. Experimental results on WMT’16 English-German and WMT’14 English-French translation tasks show that it is 1:4 faster than training from scratch, and achieves a BLEU score of 30:33 and 43:29 on two tasks. The code is publicly available at https://github.com/libeineu/SDT-Training
Unsupervised Bilingual Dictionary Induction methods based on the initialization and the self-learning have achieved great success in similar language pairs, e.g., English-Spanish. But they still fail and have an accuracy of 0% in many distant language pairs, e.g., English-Japanese. In this work, we show that this failure results from the gap between the actual initialization performance and the minimum initialization performance for the self-learning to succeed. We propose Iterative Dimension Reduction to bridge this gap. Our experiments show that this simple method does not hamper the performance of similar language pairs and achieves an accuracy of 13.64 55.53% between English and four distant languages, i.e., Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese and Thai.