Recent work has found that multi-task training with a large number of diverse tasks can uniformly improve downstream performance on unseen target tasks. In contrast, literature on task transferability has established that the choice of intermediate tasks can heavily affect downstream task performance. In this work, we aim to disentangle the effect of scale and relatedness of tasks in multi-task representation learning. We find that, on average, increasing the scale of multi-task learning, in terms of the number of tasks, indeed results in better learned representations than smaller multi-task setups. However, if the target tasks are known ahead of time, then training on a smaller set of related tasks is competitive to the large-scale multi-task training at a reduced computational cost.
The goal of meta-learning is to learn to adapt to a new task with only a few labeled examples. Inspired by the recent progress in large language models, we propose in-context tuning (ICT), which recasts task adaptation and prediction as a simple sequence prediction problem: to form the input sequence, we concatenate the task instruction, labeled in-context examples, and the target input to predict; to meta-train the model to learn from in-context examples, we fine-tune a pre-trained language model (LM) to predict the target label given the input sequence on a collection of tasks.We benchmark our method on two collections of text classification tasks: LAMA and BinaryClfs. Compared to MAML which adapts the model through gradient descent, our method leverages the inductive bias of pre-trained LMs to perform pattern matching, and outperforms MAML by an absolute 6% average AUC-ROC score on BinaryClfs, gaining more advantage with increasing model size. Compared to non-fine-tuned in-context learning (i.e. prompting a raw LM), in-context tuning meta-trains the model to learn from in-context examples. On BinaryClfs, ICT improves the average AUC-ROC score by an absolute 10%, and reduces the variance due to example ordering by 6x and example choices by 2x.
Knowledge Distillation (KD) offers a natural way to reduce the latency and memory/energy usage of massive pretrained models that have come to dominate Natural Language Processing (NLP) in recent years. While numerous sophisticated variants of KD algorithms have been proposed for NLP applications, the key factors underpinning the optimal distillation performance are often confounded and remain unclear. We aim to identify how different components in the KD pipeline affect the resulting performance and how much the optimal KD pipeline varies across different datasets/tasks, such as the data augmentation policy, the loss function, and the intermediate representation for transferring the knowledge between teacher and student. To tease apart their effects, we propose Distiller, a meta KD framework that systematically combines a broad range of techniques across different stages of the KD pipeline, which enables us to quantify each component’s contribution. Within Distiller, we unify commonly used objectives for distillation of intermediate representations under a universal mutual information (MI) objective and propose a class of MI-objective functions with better bias/variance trade-off for estimating the MI between the teacher and the student. On a diverse set of NLP datasets, the best Distiller configurations are identified via large-scale hyper-parameter optimization. Our experiments reveal the following: 1) the approach used to distill the intermediate representations is the most important factor in KD performance, 2) among different objectives for intermediate distillation, MI-performs the best, and 3) data augmentation provides a large boost for small training datasets or small student networks. Moreover, we find that different datasets/tasks prefer different KD algorithms, and thus propose a simple AutoDistiller algorithm that can recommend a good KD pipeline for a new dataset.
Deep learning has become the dominant approach to NLP problems, especially when applied on large scale corpora. Recent progress on unsupervised pre-training techniques such as BERT, ELMo, GPT-2, and language modeling in general, when applied on large corpora, is shown to be effective in improving a wide variety of downstream tasks. These techniques push the limits of available hardware, requiring specialized frameworks optimized for GPU, ASIC, and distributed cloud-based training.A few complexities pose challenges to scale these models and algorithms effectively. Compared to other areas where deep learning is applied, these NLP models contain a variety of moving parts: text normalization and tokenization, word representation at subword-level and word-level, variable-length models such as RNN and attention, and sequential decoder based on beam search, among others.In this hands-on tutorial, we take a closer look at the challenges from these complexities and see how with proper tooling with Apache MXNet and GluonNLP, we can overcome these challenges and achieve state-of-the-art results for real-world problems. GluonNLP is a powerful new toolkit that combines MXNet’s speed, the flexibility of Gluon, and an extensive new library automating the most laborious aspects of deep learning for NLP.
Statistical natural language inference (NLI) models are susceptible to learning dataset bias: superficial cues that happen to associate with the label on a particular dataset, but are not useful in general, e.g., negation words indicate contradiction. As exposed by several recent challenge datasets, these models perform poorly when such association is absent, e.g., predicting that “I love dogs.” contradicts “I don’t love cats.”. Our goal is to design learning algorithms that guard against known dataset bias. We formalize the concept of dataset bias under the framework of distribution shift and present a simple debiasing algorithm based on residual fitting, which we call DRiFt. We first learn a biased model that only uses features that are known to relate to dataset bias. Then, we train a debiased model that fits to the residual of the biased model, focusing on examples that cannot be predicted well by biased features only. We use DRiFt to train three high-performing NLI models on two benchmark datasets, SNLI and MNLI. Our debiased models achieve significant gains over baseline models on two challenge test sets, while maintaining reasonable performance on the original test sets.