Although pretrained Transformers such as BERT achieve high accuracy on in-distribution examples, do they generalize to new distributions? We systematically measure out-of-distribution (OOD) generalization for various NLP tasks by constructing a new robustness benchmark with realistic distribution shifts. We measure the generalization of previous models including bag-of-words models, ConvNets, and LSTMs, and we show that pretrained Transformers' performance declines are substantially smaller. Pretrained transformers are also more effective at detecting anomalous or OOD examples, while many previous models are frequently worse than chance. We examine which factors affect robustness, finding that larger models are not necessarily more robust, distillation can be harmful, and more diverse pretraining data can enhance robustness. Finally, we show where future work can improve OOD robustness.
Since hardware resources are limited, the objective of training deep learning models is typically to maximize accuracy subject to the time and memory constraints of training and inference. We study the impact of model size in this setting, focusing on Transformer models for NLP tasks that are limited by compute: self-supervised pretraining and high-resource machine translation. We first show that even though smaller Transformer models execute faster per iteration, wider and deeper models converge in significantly fewer steps. Moreover, this acceleration in convergence typically outpaces the additional computational overhead of using larger models. Therefore, the most compute-efficient training strategy is to counterintuitively train extremely large models but stop after a small number of iterations. This leads to an apparent trade-off between the training efficiency of large Transformer models and the inference efficiency of small Transformer models. However, we show that large models are more robust to compression techniques such as quantization and pruning than small models. Consequently, one can get the best of both worlds: heavily compressed, large models achieve higher accuracy than lightly compressed, small models.
Recent work pre-training Transformers with self-supervised objectives on large text corpora has shown great success when fine-tuned on downstream NLP tasks including text summarization. However, pre-training objectives tailored for abstractive text summarization have not been explored. Furthermore there is a lack of systematic evaluation across diverse domains. In this work, we propose pre-training large Transformer-based encoder-decoder models on massive text corpora with a new self-supervised objective. In PEGASUS, important sentences are removed/masked from an input document and are generated together as one output sequence from the remaining sentences, similar to an extractive summary. We evaluated our best PEGASUS model on 12 downstream summarization tasks spanning news, science, stories, instructions, emails, patents, and legislative bills. Experiments demonstrate it achieves state-of-the-art performance on all 12 downstream datasets measured by ROUGE scores. Our model also shows surprising performance on low-resource summarization, surpassing previous state-of-the-art results on 6 datasets with only 1000 examples. Finally we validated our results using human evaluation and show that our model summaries achieve human performance on multiple datasets.
Language model based pre-trained models such as BERT have provided significant gains across different NLP tasks. In this paper, we study different types of pre-trained transformer based models such as auto-regressive models (GPT-2), auto-encoder models (BERT), and seq2seq models (BART) for conditional data augmentation. We show that prepending the class labels to text sequences provides a simple yet effective way to condition the pre-trained models for data augmentation. On three classification benchmarks, pre-trained Seq2Seq model outperforms other models. Further, we explore how different pre-trained model based data augmentation differs in-terms of data diversity, and how well such methods preserve the class-label information.
The current strive towards end-to-end trainable computer vision systems imposes major challenges for the task of visual tracking. In contrast to most other vision problems, tracking requires the learning of a robust target-specific appearance model online, during the inference stage. To be end-to-end trainable, the online learning of the target model thus needs to be embedded in the tracking architecture itself. Due to these difficulties, the popular Siamese paradigm simply predicts a target feature template. However, such a model possesses limited discriminative power due to its inability of integrating background information. We develop an end-to-end tracking architecture, capable of fully exploiting both target and background appearance information for target model prediction. Our architecture is derived from a discriminative learning loss by designing a dedicated optimization process that is capable of predicting a powerful model in only a few iterations. Furthermore, our approach is able to learn key aspects of the discriminative loss itself. The proposed tracker sets a new state-of-the-art on 6 tracking benchmarks, achieving an EAO score of 0.440 on VOT2018, while running at over 40 FPS.
We present a new approach for pretraining a bi-directional transformer model that provides significant performance gains across a variety of language understanding problems. Our model solves a cloze-style word reconstruction task, where each word is ablated and must be predicted given the rest of the text. Experiments demonstrate large performance gains on GLUE and new state of the art results on NER as well as constituency parsing benchmarks, consistent with the concurrently introduced BERT model. We also present a detailed analysis of a number of factors that contribute to effective pretraining, including data domain and size, model capacity, and variations on the cloze objective.
Recurrent neural networks (RNNs) sequentially process data by updating their state with each new data point, and have long been the de facto choice for sequence modeling tasks. However, their inherently sequential computation makes them slow to train. Feed-forward and convolutional architectures have recently been shown to achieve superior results on some sequence modeling tasks such as machine translation, with the added advantage that they concurrently process all inputs in the sequence, leading to easy parallelization and faster training times. Despite these successes, however, popular feed-forward sequence models like the Transformer fail to generalize in many simple tasks that recurrent models handle with ease, e.g. copying strings or even simple logical inference when the string or formula lengths exceed those observed at training time. We propose the Universal Transformer (UT), a parallel-in-time self-attentive recurrent sequence model which can be cast as a generalization of the Transformer model and which addresses these issues. UTs combine the parallelizability and global receptive field of feed-forward sequence models like the Transformer with the recurrent inductive bias of RNNs. We also add a dynamic per-position halting mechanism and find that it improves accuracy on several tasks. In contrast to the standard Transformer, under certain assumptions, UTs can be shown to be Turing-complete. Our experiments show that UTs outperform standard Transformers on a wide range of algorithmic and language understanding tasks, including the challenging LAMBADA language modeling task where UTs achieve a new state of the art, and machine translation where UTs achieve a 0.9 BLEU improvement over Transformers on the WMT14 En-De dataset.
Although neural network approaches achieve remarkable success on a variety of NLP tasks, many of them struggle to answer questions that require commonsense knowledge. We believe the main reason is the lack of commonsense connections between concepts. To remedy this, we provide a simple and effective method that leverages external commonsense knowledge base such as ConceptNet. We pre-train direct and indirect relational functions between concepts, and show that these pre-trained functions could be easily added to existing neural network models. Results show that incorporating commonsense-based function improves the state-of-the-art on two question answering tasks that require commonsense reasoning. Further analysis shows that our system discovers and leverages useful evidences from an external commonsense knowledge base, which is missing in existing neural network models and help derive the correct answer.
Developing classification algorithms that are fair with respect to sensitive attributes of the data has become an important problem due to the growing deployment of classification algorithms in various social contexts. Several recent works have focused on fairness with respect to a specific metric, modeled the corresponding fair classification problem as a constrained optimization problem, and developed tailored algorithms to solve them. Despite this, there still remain important metrics for which we do not have fair classifiers and many of the aforementioned algorithms do not come with theoretical guarantees; perhaps because the resulting optimization problem is non-convex. The main contribution of this paper is a new meta-algorithm for classification that takes as input a large class of fairness constraints, with respect to multiple non-disjoint sensitive attributes, and which comes with provable guarantees. This is achieved by first developing a meta-algorithm for a large family of classification problems with convex constraints, and then showing that classification problems with general types of fairness constraints can be reduced to those in this family. We present empirical results that show that our algorithm can achieve near-perfect fairness with respect to various fairness metrics, and that the loss in accuracy due to the imposed fairness constraints is often small. Overall, this work unifies several prior works on fair classification, presents a practical algorithm with theoretical guarantees, and can handle fairness metrics that were previously not possible.
Methods that align distributions by minimizing an adversarial distance between them have recently achieved impressive results. However, these approaches are difficult to optimize with gradient descent and they often do not converge well without careful hyperparameter tuning and proper initialization. We investigate whether turning the adversarial min-max problem into an optimization problem by replacing the maximization part with its dual improves the quality of the resulting alignment and explore its connections to Maximum Mean Discrepancy. Our empirical results suggest that using the dual formulation for the restricted family of linear discriminators results in a more stable convergence to a desirable solution when compared with the performance of a primal min-max GAN-like objective and an MMD objective under the same restrictions. We test our hypothesis on the problem of aligning two synthetic point clouds on a plane and on a real-image domain adaptation problem on digits. In both cases, the dual formulation yields an iterative procedure that gives more stable and monotonic improvement over time.
Despite of the success of Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) for image generation tasks, the trade-off between image diversity and visual quality are an well-known issue. Conventional techniques achieve either visual quality or image diversity; the improvement in one side is often the result of sacrificing the degradation in the other side. In this paper, we aim to achieve both simultaneously by improving the stability of training GANs. A key idea of the proposed approach is to implicitly regularizing the discriminator using a representative feature. For that, this representative feature is extracted from the data distribution, and then transferred to the discriminator for enforcing slow updates of the gradient. Consequently, the entire training process is stabilized because the learning curve of discriminator varies slowly. Based on extensive evaluation, we demonstrate that our approach improves the visual quality and diversity of state-of-the art GANs.