There has been growing interest in parameter-efficient methods to apply pre-trained language models to downstream tasks. Building on the Prompt Tuning approach of Lester et al. (2021), which learns task-specific soft prompts to condition a frozen pre-trained model to perform different tasks, we propose a novel prompt-based transfer learning approach called SPoT: Soft Prompt Transfer. SPoT first learns a prompt on one or more source tasks and then uses it to initialize the prompt for a target task. We show that SPoT significantly boosts the performance of Prompt Tuning across many tasks. More remarkably, across all model sizes, SPoT matches or outperforms standard Model Tuning (which fine-tunes all model parameters) on the SuperGLUE benchmark, while using up to 27,000× fewer task-specific parameters. To understand where SPoT is most effective, we conduct a large-scale study on task transferability with 26 NLP tasks in 160 combinations, and demonstrate that many tasks can benefit each other via prompt transfer. Finally, we propose an efficient retrieval approach that interprets task prompts as task embeddings to identify similar tasks and predict the most transferable source tasks for a novel target task.
In this paper, we explore the challenging problem of performing a generative task in a target language when labeled data is only available in English, using summarization as a case study. We assume a strict setting with no access to parallel data or machine translation and find that common transfer learning approaches struggle in this setting, as a generative multilingual model fine-tuned purely on English catastrophically forgets how to generate non-English. Given the recent rise of parameter-efficient adaptation techniques, we conduct the first investigation into how one such method, prompt tuning (Lester et al., 2021), can overcome catastrophic forgetting to enable zero-shot cross-lingual generation. Our experiments show that parameter-efficient prompt tuning provides gains over standard fine-tuning when transferring between less-related languages, e.g., from English to Thai. However, a significant gap still remains between these methods and fully-supervised baselines. To improve cross-lingual transfer further, we explore several approaches, including: (1) mixing in unlabeled multilingual data, and (2) explicitly factoring prompts into recombinable language and task components. Our approaches can provide further quality gains, suggesting that robust zero-shot cross-lingual generation is within reach.
The ability of generative language models (GLMs) to generate text has improved considerably in the last few years, enabling their use for generative data augmentation. In this work, we propose CONDA, an approach to further improve GLM’s ability to generate synthetic data by reformulating data generation as context generation for a given question-answer (QA) pair and leveraging QA datasets for training context generators. Then, we cast downstream tasks into the same question answering format and adapt the fine-tuned context generators to the target task domain. Finally, we use the fine-tuned GLM to generate relevant contexts, which are in turn used as synthetic training data for their corresponding tasks. We perform extensive experiments on multiple classification datasets and demonstrate substantial improvements in performance for both few- and zero-shot settings. Our analysis reveals that QA datasets that require high-level reasoning abilities (e.g., abstractive and common-sense QA datasets) tend to give the best boost in performance in both few-shot and zero-shot settings.
Despite their recent successes in tackling many NLP tasks, large-scale pre-trained language models do not perform as well in few-shot settings where only a handful of training examples are available. To address this shortcoming, we propose STraTA, which stands for Self-Training with Task Augmentation, an approach that builds on two key ideas for effective leverage of unlabeled data. First, STraTA uses task augmentation, a novel technique that synthesizes a large amount of data for auxiliary-task fine-tuning from target-task unlabeled texts. Second, STraTA performs self-training by further fine-tuning the strong base model created by task augmentation on a broad distribution of pseudo-labeled data. Our experiments demonstrate that STraTA can substantially improve sample efficiency across 12 few-shot benchmarks. Remarkably, on the SST-2 sentiment dataset, STraTA, with only 8 training examples per class, achieves comparable results to standard fine-tuning with 67K training examples. Our analyses reveal that task augmentation and self-training are both complementary and independently effective.
Recent advances in NLP demonstrate the effectiveness of training large-scale language models and transferring them to downstream tasks. Can fine-tuning these models on tasks other than language modeling further improve performance? In this paper, we conduct an extensive study of the transferability between 33 NLP tasks across three broad classes of problems (text classification, question answering, and sequence labeling). Our results show that transfer learning is more beneficial than previously thought, especially when target task data is scarce, and can improve performance even with low-data source tasks that differ substantially from the target task (e.g., part-of-speech tagging transfers well to the DROP QA dataset). We also develop task embeddings that can be used to predict the most transferable source tasks for a given target task, and we validate their effectiveness in experiments controlled for source and target data size. Overall, our experiments reveal that factors such as data size, task and domain similarity, and task complexity all play a role in determining transferability.
While paragraph embedding models are remarkably effective for downstream classification tasks, what they learn and encode into a single vector remains opaque. In this paper, we investigate a state-of-the-art paragraph embedding method proposed by Zhang et al. (2017) and discover that it cannot reliably tell whether a given sentence occurs in the input paragraph or not. We formulate a sentence content task to probe for this basic linguistic property and find that even a much simpler bag-of-words method has no trouble solving it. This result motivates us to replace the reconstruction-based objective of Zhang et al. (2017) with our sentence content probe objective in a semi-supervised setting. Despite its simplicity, our objective improves over paragraph reconstruction in terms of (1) downstream classification accuracies on benchmark datasets, (2) faster training, and (3) better generalization ability.
Supervised distributional methods are applied successfully in lexical entailment, but recent work questioned whether these methods actually learn a relation between two words. Specifically, Levy et al. (2015) claimed that linear classifiers learn only separate properties of each word. We suggest a cheap and easy way to boost the performance of these methods by integrating multiplicative features into commonly used representations. We provide an extensive evaluation with different classifiers and evaluation setups, and suggest a suitable evaluation setup for the task, eliminating biases existing in previous ones.
Sentence simplification aims to simplify the content and structure of complex sentences, and thus make them easier to interpret for human readers, and easier to process for downstream NLP applications. Recent advances in neural machine translation have paved the way for novel approaches to the task. In this paper, we adapt an architecture with augmented memory capacities called Neural Semantic Encoders (Munkhdalai and Yu, 2017) for sentence simplification. Our experiments demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach on different simplification datasets, both in terms of automatic evaluation measures and human judgments.