Zhen Qin


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PaRaDe: Passage Ranking using Demonstrations with LLMs
Andrew Drozdov | Honglei Zhuang | Zhuyun Dai | Zhen Qin | Razieh Rahimi | Xuanhui Wang | Dana Alon | Mohit Iyyer | Andrew McCallum | Donald Metzler | Kai Hui
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2023

Recent studies show that large language models (LLMs) can be instructed to effectively perform zero-shot passage re-ranking, in which the results of a first stage retrieval method, such as BM25, are rated and reordered to improve relevance. In this work, we improve LLM-based re-ranking by algorithmically selecting few-shot demonstrations to include in the prompt. Our analysis investigates the conditions where demonstrations are most helpful, and shows that adding even one demonstration is significantly beneficial. We propose a novel demonstration selection strategy based on difficulty rather than the commonly used semantic similarity. Furthermore, we find that demonstrations helpful for ranking are also effective at question generation. We hope our work will spur more principled research into question generation and passage ranking.

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Accelerating Toeplitz Neural Network with Constant-time Inference Complexity
Zhen Qin | Yiran Zhong
Proceedings of the 2023 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Toeplitz Neural Networks (TNNs) have exhibited outstanding performance in various sequence modeling tasks. They outperform commonly used Transformer-based models while benefiting from log-linear space-time complexities. On the other hand, State Space Models (SSMs) achieve lower performance than TNNs in language modeling but offer the advantage of constant inference complexity. In this paper, we aim to combine the strengths of TNNs and SSMs by converting TNNs to SSMs during inference, thereby enabling TNNs to achieve the same constant inference complexities as SSMs. To accomplish this, we formulate the conversion process as an optimization problem and provide a closed-form solution. We demonstrate how to transform the target equation into a Vandermonde linear system problem, which can be efficiently solved using the Discrete Fourier Transform (DFT). Notably, our method requires no training and maintains numerical stability. It can be also applied to any LongConv-based model. To assess its effectiveness, we conduct extensive experiments on language modeling tasks across various settings. Additionally, we compare our method to other gradient-descent solutions, highlighting the superior numerical stability of our approach. The source code is available at https://github.com/OpenNLPLab/ETSC-Exact-Toeplitz-to-SSM-Conversion.


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ED2LM: Encoder-Decoder to Language Model for Faster Document Re-ranking Inference
Kai Hui | Honglei Zhuang | Tao Chen | Zhen Qin | Jing Lu | Dara Bahri | Ji Ma | Jai Gupta | Cicero Nogueira dos Santos | Yi Tay | Donald Metzler
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2022

State-of-the-art neural models typically encode document-query pairs using cross-attention for re-ranking. To this end, models generally utilize an encoder-only (like BERT) paradigm or an encoder-decoder (like T5) approach. These paradigms, however, are not without flaws, i.e., running the model on all query-document pairs at inference-time incurs a significant computational cost. This paper proposes a new training and inference paradigm for re-ranking. We propose to finetune a pretrained encoder-decoder model using in the form of document to query generation. Subsequently, we show that this encoder-decoder architecture can be decomposed into a decoder-only language model during inference. This results in significant inference time speedups since the decoder-only architecture only needs to learn to interpret static encoder embeddings during inference. Our experiments show that this new paradigm achieves results that are comparable to the more expensive cross-attention ranking approaches while being up to 6.8X faster. We believe this work paves the way for more efficient neural rankers that leverage large pretrained models.

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The Devil in Linear Transformer
Zhen Qin | Xiaodong Han | Weixuan Sun | Dongxu Li | Lingpeng Kong | Nick Barnes | Yiran Zhong
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Linear transformers aim to reduce the quadratic space-time complexity of vanilla transformers. However, they usually suffer from degraded performances on various tasks and corpus. In this paper, we examine existing kernel-based linear transformers and identify two key issues that lead to such performance gaps: 1) unbounded gradients in the attention computation adversely impact the convergence of linear transformer models; 2) attention dilution which trivially distributes attention scores over long sequences while neglecting neighbouring structures. To address these issues, we first identify that the scaling of attention matrices is the devil in unbounded gradients, which turns out unnecessary in linear attention as we show theoretically and empirically. To this end, we propose a new linear attention that replaces the scaling operation with a normalization to stabilize gradients. For the issue of attention dilution, we leverage a diagonal attention to confine attention to only neighbouring tokens in early layers. Benefiting from the stable gradients and improved attention, our new linear transformer model, transNormer, demonstrates superior performance on text classification and language modeling tasks, as well as on the challenging Long-Range Arena benchmark, surpassing vanilla transformer and existing linear variants by a clear margin while being significantly more space-time efficient. The code is available at https://github.com/OpenNLPLab/Transnormer .


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Are Pretrained Convolutions Better than Pretrained Transformers?
Yi Tay | Mostafa Dehghani | Jai Prakash Gupta | Vamsi Aribandi | Dara Bahri | Zhen Qin | Donald Metzler
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)

In the era of pre-trained language models, Transformers are the de facto choice of model architectures. While recent research has shown promise in entirely convolutional, or CNN, architectures, they have not been explored using the pre-train-fine-tune paradigm. In the context of language models, are convolutional models competitive to Transformers when pre-trained? This paper investigates this research question and presents several interesting findings. Across an extensive set of experiments on 8 datasets/tasks, we find that CNN-based pre-trained models are competitive and outperform their Transformer counterpart in certain scenarios, albeit with caveats. Overall, the findings outlined in this paper suggest that conflating pre-training and architectural advances is misguided and that both advances should be considered independently. We believe our research paves the way for a healthy amount of optimism in alternative architectures.


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Diversify Question Generation with Continuous Content Selectors and Question Type Modeling
Zhen Wang | Siwei Rao | Jie Zhang | Zhen Qin | Guangjian Tian | Jun Wang
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2020

Generating questions based on answers and relevant contexts is a challenging task. Recent work mainly pays attention to the quality of a single generated question. However, question generation is actually a one-to-many problem, as it is possible to raise questions with different focuses on contexts and various means of expression. In this paper, we explore the diversity of question generation and come up with methods from these two aspects. Specifically, we relate contextual focuses with content selectors, which are modeled by a continuous latent variable with the technique of conditional variational auto-encoder (CVAE). In the realization of CVAE, a multimodal prior distribution is adopted to allow for more diverse content selectors. To take into account various means of expression, question types are explicitly modeled and a diversity-promoting algorithm is proposed further. Experimental results on public datasets show that our proposed method can significantly improve the diversity of generated questions, especially from the perspective of using different question types. Overall, our proposed method achieves a better trade-off between generation quality and diversity compared with existing approaches.