Zhengyan Zhang


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Sub-Character Tokenization for Chinese Pretrained Language Models
Chenglei Si | Zhengyan Zhang | Yingfa Chen | Fanchao Qi | Xiaozhi Wang | Zhiyuan Liu | Yasheng Wang | Qun Liu | Maosong Sun
Transactions of the Association for Computational Linguistics, Volume 11

Tokenization is fundamental to pretrained language models (PLMs). Existing tokenization methods for Chinese PLMs typically treat each character as an indivisible token. However, they ignore the unique feature of the Chinese writing system where additional linguistic information exists below the character level, i.e., at the sub-character level. To utilize such information, we propose sub-character (SubChar for short) tokenization. Specifically, we first encode the input text by converting each Chinese character into a short sequence based on its glyph or pronunciation, and then construct the vocabulary based on the encoded text with sub-word segmentation. Experimental results show that SubChar tokenizers have two main advantages over existing tokenizers: 1) They can tokenize inputs into much shorter sequences, thus improving the computational efficiency. 2) Pronunciation-based SubChar tokenizers can encode Chinese homophones into the same transliteration sequences and produce the same tokenization output, hence being robust to homophone typos. At the same time, models trained with SubChar tokenizers perform competitively on downstream tasks. We release our code and models at https://github.com/thunlp/SubCharTokenization to facilitate future work.

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Emergent Modularity in Pre-trained Transformers
Zhengyan Zhang | Zhiyuan Zeng | Yankai Lin | Chaojun Xiao | Xiaozhi Wang | Xu Han | Zhiyuan Liu | Ruobing Xie | Maosong Sun | Jie Zhou
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2023

This work examines the presence of modularity in pre-trained Transformers, a feature commonly found in human brains and thought to be vital for general intelligence. In analogy to human brains, we consider two main characteristics of modularity: (1) functional specialization of neurons: we evaluate whether each neuron is mainly specialized in a certain function, and find that the answer is yes. (2) function-based neuron grouping: we explore to find a structure that groups neurons into modules by function, and each module works for its corresponding function. Given the enormous amount of possible structures, we focus on Mixture-of-Experts as a promising candidate, which partitions neurons into experts and usually activates different experts for different inputs. Experimental results show that there are functional experts, where clustered are the neurons specialized in a certain function. Moreover, perturbing the activations of functional experts significantly affects the corresponding function. Finally, we study how modularity emerges during pre-training, and find that the modular structure is stabilized at the early stage, which is faster than neuron stabilization. It suggests that Transformer first constructs the modular structure and then learns fine-grained neuron functions. Our code and data are available at https://github.com/THUNLP/modularity-analysis.

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READIN: A Chinese Multi-Task Benchmark with Realistic and Diverse Input Noises
Chenglei Si | Zhengyan Zhang | Yingfa Chen | Xiaozhi Wang | Zhiyuan Liu | Maosong Sun
Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

For many real-world applications, the user-generated inputs usually contain various noises due to speech recognition errors caused by linguistic variations or typographical errors (typos). Thus, it is crucial to test model performance on data with realistic input noises to ensure robustness and fairness. However, little study has been done to construct such benchmarks for Chinese, where various language-specific input noises happen in the real world. In order to fill this important gap, we construct READIN: a Chinese multi-task benchmark with REalistic And Diverse Input Noises. READIN contains four diverse tasks and requests annotators to re-enter the original test data with two commonly used Chinese input methods: Pinyin input and speech input. We designed our annotation pipeline to maximize diversity, for example by instructing the annotators to use diverse input method editors (IMEs) for keyboard noises and recruiting speakers from diverse dialectical groups for speech noises. We experiment with a series of strong pretrained language models as well as robust training methods, we find that these models often suffer significant performance drops on READIN even with robustness methods like data augmentation. As the first large-scale attempt in creating a benchmark with noises geared towards user-generated inputs, we believe that READIN serves as an important complement to existing Chinese NLP benchmarks. The source code and dataset can be obtained from https://github.com/thunlp/READIN.

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Plug-and-Play Knowledge Injection for Pre-trained Language Models
Zhengyan Zhang | Zhiyuan Zeng | Yankai Lin | Huadong Wang | Deming Ye | Chaojun Xiao | Xu Han | Zhiyuan Liu | Peng Li | Maosong Sun | Jie Zhou
Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Injecting external knowledge can improve the performance of pre-trained language models (PLMs) on various downstream NLP tasks. However, massive retraining is required to deploy new knowledge injection methods or knowledge bases for downstream tasks. In this work, we are the first to study how to improve the flexibility and efficiency of knowledge injection by reusing existing downstream models. To this end, we explore a new paradigm plug-and-play knowledge injection, where knowledge bases are injected into frozen existing downstream models by a knowledge plugin. Correspondingly, we propose a plug-and-play injection method map-tuning, which trains a mapping of knowledge embeddings to enrich model inputs with mapped embeddings while keeping model parameters frozen. Experimental results on three knowledge-driven NLP tasks show that existing injection methods are not suitable for the new paradigm, while map-tuning effectively improves the performance of downstream models. Moreover, we show that a frozen downstream model can be well adapted to different domains with different mapping networks of domain knowledge. Our code and models are available at https://github.com/THUNLP/Knowledge-Plugin.

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Plug-and-Play Document Modules for Pre-trained Models
Chaojun Xiao | Zhengyan Zhang | Xu Han | Chi-Min Chan | Yankai Lin | Zhiyuan Liu | Xiangyang Li | Zhonghua Li | Zhao Cao | Maosong Sun
Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Large-scale pre-trained models (PTMs) have been widely used in document-oriented NLP tasks, such as question answering. However, the encoding-task coupling requirement results in the repeated encoding of the same documents for different tasks and queries, which is highly computationally inefficient. To this end, we target to decouple document encoding from downstream tasks, and propose to represent each document as a plug-and-play document module, i.e., a document plugin, for PTMs (PlugD). By inserting document plugins into the backbone PTM for downstream tasks, we can encode a document one time to handle multiple tasks, which is more efficient than conventional encoding-task coupling methods that simultaneously encode documents and input queries using task-specific encoders. Extensive experiments on 8 datasets of 4 typical NLP tasks show that PlugD enables models to encode documents once and for all across different scenarios. Especially, PlugD can save 69% computational costs while achieving comparable performance to state-of-the-art encoding-task coupling methods. Additionally, we show that PlugD can serve as an effective post-processing way to inject knowledge into task-specific models, improving model performance without any additional model training. Our code and checkpoints can be found in https://github.com/thunlp/Document-Plugin.


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Knowledge Inheritance for Pre-trained Language Models
Yujia Qin | Yankai Lin | Jing Yi | Jiajie Zhang | Xu Han | Zhengyan Zhang | Yusheng Su | Zhiyuan Liu | Peng Li | Maosong Sun | Jie Zhou
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Recent explorations of large-scale pre-trained language models (PLMs) have revealed the power of PLMs with huge amounts of parameters, setting off a wave of training ever-larger PLMs. However, it requires tremendous computational resources to train a large-scale PLM, which may be practically unaffordable. In addition, existing large-scale PLMs are mainly trained from scratch individually, ignoring that many well-trained PLMs are available. To this end, we explore the question how could existing PLMs benefit training large-scale PLMs in future. Specifically, we introduce a pre-training framework named “knowledge inheritance” (KI) and explore how could knowledge distillation serve as auxiliary supervision during pre-training to efficiently learn larger PLMs. Experimental results demonstrate the superiority of KI in training efficiency. We also conduct empirical analyses to explore the effects of teacher PLMs’ pre-training settings, including model architecture, pre-training data, etc. Finally, we show that KI could be applied to domain adaptation and knowledge transfer.

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Automatic Label Sequence Generation for Prompting Sequence-to-sequence Models
Zichun Yu | Tianyu Gao | Zhengyan Zhang | Yankai Lin | Zhiyuan Liu | Maosong Sun | Jie Zhou
Proceedings of the 29th International Conference on Computational Linguistics

Prompting, which casts downstream applications as language modeling tasks, has shown to be sample efficient compared to standard fine-tuning with pre-trained models. However, one pitfall of prompting is the need of manually-designed patterns, whose outcome can be unintuitive and requires large validation sets to tune. To tackle the challenge, we propose AutoSeq, a fully automatic prompting method: (1) We adopt natural language prompts on sequence-to-sequence models, enabling free-form generation and larger label search space; (2) We propose label sequences – phrases with indefinite lengths to verbalize the labels – which eliminate the need of manual templates and are more expressive than single label words; (3) We use beam search to automatically generate a large amount of label sequence candidates and propose contrastive re-ranking to get the best combinations. AutoSeq significantly outperforms other no-manual-design methods, such as soft prompt tuning, adapter tuning, and automatic search on single label words; the generated label sequences are even better than curated manual ones on a variety of tasks. Our method reveals the potential of sequence-to-sequence models in few-shot learning and sheds light on a path to generic and automatic prompting. The source code of this paper can be obtained from https://github.com/thunlp/Seq2Seq-Prompt.

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BMInf: An Efficient Toolkit for Big Model Inference and Tuning
Xu Han | Guoyang Zeng | Weilin Zhao | Zhiyuan Liu | Zhengyan Zhang | Jie Zhou | Jun Zhang | Jia Chao | Maosong Sun
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics: System Demonstrations

In recent years, large-scale pre-trained language models (PLMs) containing billions of parameters have achieved promising results on various NLP tasks. Although we can pre-train these big models by stacking computing clusters at any cost, it is impractical to use such huge computing resources to apply big models for each downstream task. To address the computation bottleneck encountered in deploying big models in real-world scenarios, we introduce an open-source toolkit for big model inference and tuning (BMInf), which can support big model inference and tuning at extremely low computation cost. More specifically, at the algorithm level, we introduce model quantization and parameter-efficient tuning for efficient model inference and tuning. At the implementation level, we apply model offloading, model checkpointing, and CPU-GPU scheduling optimization to further reduce the computation and memory cost of big models. Based on above efforts, we can efficiently perform big model inference and tuning with a single GPU (even a consumer-level GPU like GTX 1060) instead of computing clusters, which is difficult for existing distributed learning toolkits for PLMs. BMInf is publicly released at https://github.com/OpenBMB/BMInf.

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MoEfication: Transformer Feed-forward Layers are Mixtures of Experts
Zhengyan Zhang | Yankai Lin | Zhiyuan Liu | Peng Li | Maosong Sun | Jie Zhou
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2022

Recent work has shown that feed-forward networks (FFNs) in pre-trained Transformers are a key component, storing various linguistic and factual knowledge. However, the computational patterns of FFNs are still unclear. In this work, we study the computational patterns of FFNs and observe that most inputs only activate a tiny ratio of neurons of FFNs. This phenomenon is similar to the sparsity of the human brain, which drives research on functional partitions of the human brain. To verify whether functional partitions also emerge in FFNs, we propose to convert a model into its MoE version with the same parameters, namely MoEfication. Specifically, MoEfication consists of two phases: (1) splitting the parameters of FFNs into multiple functional partitions as experts, and (2) building expert routers to decide which experts will be used for each input. Experimental results show that MoEfication can conditionally use 10% to 30% of FFN parameters while maintaining over 95% original performance for different models on various downstream tasks. Besides, MoEfication brings two advantages: (1) it significantly reduces the FLOPS of inference, i.e., 2x speedup with 25% of FFN parameters, and (2) it provides a fine-grained perspective to study the inner mechanism of FFNs. The source code of this paper can be obtained from https://github.com/thunlp/MoEfication.

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Prompt Tuning for Discriminative Pre-trained Language Models
Yuan Yao | Bowen Dong | Ao Zhang | Zhengyan Zhang | Ruobing Xie | Zhiyuan Liu | Leyu Lin | Maosong Sun | Jianyong Wang
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2022

Recent works have shown promising results of prompt tuning in stimulating pre-trained language models (PLMs) for natural language processing (NLP) tasks. However, to the best of our knowledge, existing works focus on prompt-tuning generative PLMs that are pre-trained to generate target tokens, such as BERT. It is still unknown whether and how discriminative PLMs, e.g., ELECTRA, can be effectively prompt-tuned. In this work, we present DPT, the first prompt tuning framework for discriminative PLMs, which reformulates NLP tasks into a discriminative language modeling problem. Comprehensive experiments on text classification and question answering show that, compared with vanilla fine-tuning, DPT achieves significantly higher performance, and also prevents the unstable problem in tuning large PLMs in both full-set and low-resource settings.

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Finding Skill Neurons in Pre-trained Transformer-based Language Models
Xiaozhi Wang | Kaiyue Wen | Zhengyan Zhang | Lei Hou | Zhiyuan Liu | Juanzi Li
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Transformer-based pre-trained language models have demonstrated superior performance on various natural language processing tasks. However, it remains unclear how the skills required to handle these tasks distribute among model parameters. In this paper, we find that after prompt tuning for specific tasks, the activations of some neurons within pre-trained Transformers are highly predictive of the task labels. We dub these neurons skill neurons and confirm they encode task-specific skills by finding that: (1) Skill neurons are crucial for handling tasks. Performances of pre-trained Transformers on a task significantly drop when corresponding skill neurons are perturbed. (2) Skill neurons are task-specific. Similar tasks tend to have similar distributions of skill neurons. Furthermore, we demonstrate the skill neurons are most likely generated in pre-training rather than fine-tuning by showing that the skill neurons found with prompt tuning are also crucial for other fine-tuning methods freezing neuron weights, such as the adapter-based tuning and BitFit. We also explore the applications of skill neurons, including accelerating Transformers with network pruning and building better transferability indicators. These findings may promote further research on understanding Transformers. The source code can be obtained from https://github.com/THU-KEG/Skill-Neuron.

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BMCook: A Task-agnostic Compression Toolkit for Big Models
Zhengyan Zhang | Baitao Gong | Yingfa Chen | Xu Han | Guoyang Zeng | Weilin Zhao | Yanxu Chen | Zhiyuan Liu | Maosong Sun
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing: System Demonstrations

Recently, pre-trained language models (PLMs) have achieved great success on various NLP tasks and have shown a trend of exponential growth in model size. To alleviate the unaffordable computational costs brought by the size growth, model compression has been widely explored. Existing efforts have achieved promising results in compressing medium-sized models for specific tasks, while task-agnostic compression for big models with over billions of parameters is rarely studied. Task-agnostic compression can provide an efficient and versatile big model for both prompting and delta tuning, leading to a more general impact than task-specific compression. Hence, we introduce a task-agnostic compression toolkit BMCook for big models. In BMCook, we implement four representative compression methods, including quantization, pruning, distillation, and MoEfication. Developers can easily combine these methods towards better efficiency. To evaluate BMCook, we apply it to compress T5-3B (a PLM with 3 billion parameters). We achieve nearly 12x efficiency improvement while maintaining over 97% of the original T5-3B performance on three typical NLP benchmarks. Moreover, the final compressed model also significantly outperforms T5-base (a PLM with 220 million parameters), which has a similar computational cost. BMCook is publicly available at https://github.com/OpenBMB/BMCook.


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Better Robustness by More Coverage: Adversarial and Mixup Data Augmentation for Robust Finetuning
Chenglei Si | Zhengyan Zhang | Fanchao Qi | Zhiyuan Liu | Yasheng Wang | Qun Liu | Maosong Sun
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL-IJCNLP 2021

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KEPLER: A Unified Model for Knowledge Embedding and Pre-trained Language Representation
Xiaozhi Wang | Tianyu Gao | Zhaocheng Zhu | Zhengyan Zhang | Zhiyuan Liu | Juanzi Li | Jian Tang
Transactions of the Association for Computational Linguistics, Volume 9

Pre-trained language representation models (PLMs) cannot well capture factual knowledge from text. In contrast, knowledge embedding (KE) methods can effectively represent the relational facts in knowledge graphs (KGs) with informative entity embeddings, but conventional KE models cannot take full advantage of the abundant textual information. In this paper, we propose a unified model for Knowledge Embedding and Pre-trained LanguagERepresentation (KEPLER), which can not only better integrate factual knowledge into PLMs but also produce effective text-enhanced KE with the strong PLMs. In KEPLER, we encode textual entity descriptions with a PLM as their embeddings, and then jointly optimize the KE and language modeling objectives. Experimental results show that KEPLER achieves state-of-the-art performances on various NLP tasks, and also works remarkably well as an inductive KE model on KG link prediction. Furthermore, for pre-training and evaluating KEPLER, we construct Wikidata5M1 , a large-scale KG dataset with aligned entity descriptions, and benchmark state-of-the-art KE methods on it. It shall serve as a new KE benchmark and facilitate the research on large KG, inductive KE, and KG with text. The source code can be obtained from https://github.com/THU-KEG/KEPLER.

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Hidden Killer: Invisible Textual Backdoor Attacks with Syntactic Trigger
Fanchao Qi | Mukai Li | Yangyi Chen | Zhengyan Zhang | Zhiyuan Liu | Yasheng Wang | Maosong Sun
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)

Backdoor attacks are a kind of insidious security threat against machine learning models. After being injected with a backdoor in training, the victim model will produce adversary-specified outputs on the inputs embedded with predesigned triggers but behave properly on normal inputs during inference. As a sort of emergent attack, backdoor attacks in natural language processing (NLP) are investigated insufficiently. As far as we know, almost all existing textual backdoor attack methods insert additional contents into normal samples as triggers, which causes the trigger-embedded samples to be detected and the backdoor attacks to be blocked without much effort. In this paper, we propose to use the syntactic structure as the trigger in textual backdoor attacks. We conduct extensive experiments to demonstrate that the syntactic trigger-based attack method can achieve comparable attack performance (almost 100% success rate) to the insertion-based methods but possesses much higher invisibility and stronger resistance to defenses. These results also reveal the significant insidiousness and harmfulness of textual backdoor attacks. All the code and data of this paper can be obtained at https://github.com/thunlp/HiddenKiller.


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Train No Evil: Selective Masking for Task-Guided Pre-Training
Yuxian Gu | Zhengyan Zhang | Xiaozhi Wang | Zhiyuan Liu | Maosong Sun
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

Recently, pre-trained language models mostly follow the pre-train-then-fine-tuning paradigm and have achieved great performance on various downstream tasks. However, since the pre-training stage is typically task-agnostic and the fine-tuning stage usually suffers from insufficient supervised data, the models cannot always well capture the domain-specific and task-specific patterns. In this paper, we propose a three-stage framework by adding a task-guided pre-training stage with selective masking between general pre-training and fine-tuning. In this stage, the model is trained by masked language modeling on in-domain unsupervised data to learn domain-specific patterns and we propose a novel selective masking strategy to learn task-specific patterns. Specifically, we design a method to measure the importance of each token in sequences and selectively mask the important tokens. Experimental results on two sentiment analysis tasks show that our method can achieve comparable or even better performance with less than 50% of computation cost, which indicates our method is both effective and efficient. The source code of this paper can be obtained from https://github.com/thunlp/SelectiveMasking.


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ERNIE: Enhanced Language Representation with Informative Entities
Zhengyan Zhang | Xu Han | Zhiyuan Liu | Xin Jiang | Maosong Sun | Qun Liu
Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Neural language representation models such as BERT pre-trained on large-scale corpora can well capture rich semantic patterns from plain text, and be fine-tuned to consistently improve the performance of various NLP tasks. However, the existing pre-trained language models rarely consider incorporating knowledge graphs (KGs), which can provide rich structured knowledge facts for better language understanding. We argue that informative entities in KGs can enhance language representation with external knowledge. In this paper, we utilize both large-scale textual corpora and KGs to train an enhanced language representation model (ERNIE), which can take full advantage of lexical, syntactic, and knowledge information simultaneously. The experimental results have demonstrated that ERNIE achieves significant improvements on various knowledge-driven tasks, and meanwhile is comparable with the state-of-the-art model BERT on other common NLP tasks. The code and datasets will be available in the future.