Shuhuai Ren


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Dynamic Knowledge Distillation for Pre-trained Language Models
Lei Li | Yankai Lin | Shuhuai Ren | Peng Li | Jie Zhou | Xu Sun
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Knowledge distillation (KD) has been proved effective for compressing large-scale pre-trained language models. However, existing methods conduct KD statically, e.g., the student model aligns its output distribution to that of a selected teacher model on the pre-defined training dataset. In this paper, we explore whether a dynamic knowledge distillation that empowers the student to adjust the learning procedure according to its competency, regarding the student performance and learning efficiency. We explore the dynamical adjustments on three aspects: teacher model adoption, data selection, and KD objective adaptation. Experimental results show that (1) proper selection of teacher model can boost the performance of student model; (2) conducting KD with 10% informative instances achieves comparable performance while greatly accelerates the training; (3) the student performance can be boosted by adjusting the supervision contribution of different alignment objective. We find dynamic knowledge distillation is promising and provide discussions on potential future directions towards more efficient KD methods.

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Text AutoAugment: Learning Compositional Augmentation Policy for Text Classification
Shuhuai Ren | Jinchao Zhang | Lei Li | Xu Sun | Jie Zhou
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Data augmentation aims to enrich training samples for alleviating the overfitting issue in low-resource or class-imbalanced situations. Traditional methods first devise task-specific operations such as Synonym Substitute, then preset the corresponding parameters such as the substitution rate artificially, which require a lot of prior knowledge and are prone to fall into the sub-optimum. Besides, the number of editing operations is limited in the previous methods, which decreases the diversity of the augmented data and thus restricts the performance gain. To overcome the above limitations, we propose a framework named Text AutoAugment (TAA) to establish a compositional and learnable paradigm for data augmentation. We regard a combination of various operations as an augmentation policy and utilize an efficient Bayesian Optimization algorithm to automatically search for the best policy, which substantially improves the generalization capability of models. Experiments on six benchmark datasets show that TAA boosts classification accuracy in low-resource and class-imbalanced regimes by an average of 8.8% and 9.7%, respectively, outperforming strong baselines.

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Learning Relation Alignment for Calibrated Cross-modal Retrieval
Shuhuai Ren | Junyang Lin | Guangxiang Zhao | Rui Men | An Yang | Jingren Zhou | Xu Sun | Hongxia Yang
Proceedings of the 59th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 11th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Despite the achievements of large-scale multimodal pre-training approaches, cross-modal retrieval, e.g., image-text retrieval, remains a challenging task. To bridge the semantic gap between the two modalities, previous studies mainly focus on word-region alignment at the object level, lacking the matching between the linguistic relation among the words and the visual relation among the regions. The neglect of such relation consistency impairs the contextualized representation of image-text pairs and hinders the model performance and the interpretability. In this paper, we first propose a novel metric, Intra-modal Self-attention Distance (ISD), to quantify the relation consistency by measuring the semantic distance between linguistic and visual relations. In response, we present Inter-modal Alignment on Intra-modal Self-attentions (IAIS), a regularized training method to optimize the ISD and calibrate intra-modal self-attentions from the two modalities mutually via inter-modal alignment. The IAIS regularizer boosts the performance of prevailing models on Flickr30k and MS COCO datasets by a considerable margin, which demonstrates the superiority of our approach.

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CascadeBERT: Accelerating Inference of Pre-trained Language Models via Calibrated Complete Models Cascade
Lei Li | Yankai Lin | Deli Chen | Shuhuai Ren | Peng Li | Jie Zhou | Xu Sun
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2021

Dynamic early exiting aims to accelerate the inference of pre-trained language models (PLMs) by emitting predictions in internal layers without passing through the entire model. In this paper, we empirically analyze the working mechanism of dynamic early exiting and find that it faces a performance bottleneck under high speed-up ratios. On one hand, the PLMs’ representations in shallow layers lack high-level semantic information and thus are not sufficient for accurate predictions. On the other hand, the exiting decisions made by internal classifiers are unreliable, leading to wrongly emitted early predictions. We instead propose a new framework for accelerating the inference of PLMs, CascadeBERT, which dynamically selects proper-sized and complete models in a cascading manner, providing comprehensive representations for predictions. We further devise a difficulty-aware objective, encouraging the model to output the class probability that reflects the real difficulty of each instance for a more reliable cascading mechanism. Experimental results show that CascadeBERT can achieve an overall 15% improvement under 4x speed-up compared with existing dynamic early exiting methods on six classification tasks, yielding more calibrated and accurate predictions.


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Generating Natural Language Adversarial Examples through Probability Weighted Word Saliency
Shuhuai Ren | Yihe Deng | Kun He | Wanxiang Che
Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

We address the problem of adversarial attacks on text classification, which is rarely studied comparing to attacks on image classification. The challenge of this task is to generate adversarial examples that maintain lexical correctness, grammatical correctness and semantic similarity. Based on the synonyms substitution strategy, we introduce a new word replacement order determined by both the word saliency and the classification probability, and propose a greedy algorithm called probability weighted word saliency (PWWS) for text adversarial attack. Experiments on three popular datasets using convolutional as well as LSTM models show that PWWS reduces the classification accuracy to the most extent, and keeps a very low word substitution rate. A human evaluation study shows that our generated adversarial examples maintain the semantic similarity well and are hard for humans to perceive. Performing adversarial training using our perturbed datasets improves the robustness of the models. At last, our method also exhibits a good transferability on the generated adversarial examples.