Supersized pre-trained language models have pushed the accuracy of various natural language processing (NLP) tasks to a new state-of-the-art (SOTA). Rather than pursuing the reachless SOTA accuracy, more and more researchers start paying attention to model efficiency and usability. Different from accuracy, the metric for efficiency varies across different studies, making them hard to be fairly compared. To that end, this work presents ELUE (Efficient Language Understanding Evaluation), a standard evaluation, and a public leaderboard for efficient NLP models. ELUE is dedicated to depicting the Pareto Frontier for various language understanding tasks, such that it can tell whether and how much a method achieves Pareto improvement. Along with the benchmark, we also release a strong baseline, ElasticBERT, which allows BERT to exit at any layer in both static and dynamic ways. We demonstrate the ElasticBERT, despite its simplicity, outperforms or performs on par with SOTA compressed and early exiting models. With ElasticBERT, the proposed ELUE has a strong Pareto Frontier and makes a better evaluation for efficient NLP models.
To alleviate the data scarcity problem in training question answering systems, recent works propose additional intermediate pre-training for dense passage retrieval (DPR). However, there still remains a large discrepancy between the provided upstream signals and the downstream question-passage relevance, which leads to less improvement. To bridge this gap, we propose the HyperLink-induced Pre-training (HLP), a method to pre-train the dense retriever with the text relevance induced by hyperlink-based topology within Web documents. We demonstrate that the hyperlink-based structures of dual-link and co-mention can provide effective relevance signals for large-scale pre-training that better facilitate downstream passage retrieval. We investigate the effectiveness of our approach across a wide range of open-domain QA datasets under zero-shot, few-shot, multi-hop, and out-of-domain scenarios. The experiments show our HLP outperforms the BM25 by up to 7 points as well as other pre-training methods by more than 10 points in terms of top-20 retrieval accuracy under the zero-shot scenario. Furthermore, HLP significantly outperforms other pre-training methods under the other scenarios.
Despite pre-training’s progress in many important NLP tasks, it remains to explore effective pre-training strategies for dense retrieval. In this paper, we propose RetroMAE, a new retrieval oriented pre-training paradigm based on Masked Auto-Encoder (MAE). RetroMAE is highlighted by three critical designs. 1) A novel MAE workflow, where the input sentence is polluted for encoder and decoder with different masks. The sentence embedding is generated from the encoder’s masked input; then, the original sentence is recovered based on the sentence embedding and the decoder’s masked input via masked language modeling. 2) Asymmetric model structure, with a full-scale BERT like transformer as encoder, and a one-layer transformer as decoder. 3) Asymmetric masking ratios, with a moderate ratio for encoder: 15 30%, and an aggressive ratio for decoder: 50 70%. Our framework is simple to realize and empirically competitive: the pre-trained models dramatically improve the SOTA performances on a wide range of dense retrieval benchmarks, like BEIR and MS MARCO. The source code and pre-trained models are made publicly available at https://github.com/staoxiao/RetroMAE so as to inspire more interesting research.
Conversational search provides users with a natural and convenient new search experience. Recently, conversational dense retrieval has shown to be a promising technique for realizing conversational search. However, as conversational search systems have not been widely deployed, it is hard to get large-scale real conversational search sessions and relevance labels to support the training of conversational dense retrieval. To tackle this data scarcity problem, previous methods focus on developing better few-shot learning approaches or generating pseudo relevance labels, but the data they use for training still heavily rely on manual generation.In this paper, we present ConvTrans, a data augmentation method that can automatically transform easily-accessible web search sessions into conversational search sessions to fundamentally alleviate the data scarcity problem for conversational dense retrieval. ConvTrans eliminates the gaps between these two types of sessions in terms of session quality and query form to achieve effective session transformation. Extensive evaluations on two widely used conversational search benchmarks, i.e., CAsT-19 and CAsT-20, demonstrate that the same model trained on the data generated by ConvTrans can achieve comparable retrieval performance as it trained on high-quality but expensive artificial conversational search data.
Generalized text representations are the foundation of many natural language understanding tasks. To fully utilize the different corpus, it is inevitable that models need to understand the relevance among them. However, many methods ignore the relevance and adopt a single-channel model (a coarse paradigm) directly for all tasks, which lacks enough rationality and interpretation. In addition, some existing works learn downstream tasks by stitches skill block (a fine paradigm), which might cause irrational results due to its redundancy and noise. In this work, we first analyze the task correlation through three different perspectives, , data property, manual design, and model-based relevance, based on which the similar tasks are grouped together. Then, we propose a hierarchical framework with a coarse-to-fine paradigm, with the bottom level shared to all the tasks, the mid-level divided to different groups, and the top-level assigned to each of the tasks. This allows our model to learn basic language properties from all tasks, boost performance on relevant tasks, and reduce the negative impact from irrelevant tasks. Our experiments on 13 benchmark datasets across five natural language understanding tasks demonstrate the superiority of our method.
Deploying large-scale pre-trained models in the prompt-tuning paradigm has demonstrated promising performance in few-shot learning. Particularly, vision-language pre-training models (VL-PTMs) have been intensively explored in various few-shot downstream tasks. However, most existing works only apply VL-PTMs to visual tasks like image classification, with few attempts being made on language tasks like text classification. In few-shot text classification, a feasible paradigm for deploying VL-PTMs is to align the input samples and their category names via the text encoders. However, it leads to the waste of visual information learned by the image encoders of VL-PTMs. To overcome this drawback, we propose a novel method named Visual Prompt Tuning (VPT). To our best knowledge, this method is the first attempt to deploy VL-PTM in few-shot text classification task. The main idea is to generate the image embeddings w.r.t. category names as visual prompt and then add them to the aligning process. Extensive experiments show that our VPT can achieve significant improvements under both zero-shot and few-shot settings. Importantly, our VPT even outperforms the most recent prompt-tuning methods on five public text classification datasets.