skip to main content

Attention:

The NSF Public Access Repository (NSF-PAR) system and access will be unavailable from 11:00 PM ET on Thursday, May 23 until 2:00 AM ET on Friday, May 24 due to maintenance. We apologize for the inconvenience.


Title: Parameter-Efficient Tuning with Special Token Adaptation
Parameter-efficient tuning aims at updating only a small subset of parameters when adapting a pretrained model to downstream tasks. In this work, we introduce PASTA, in which we only modify the special token representations (e.g., [SEP] and [CLS] in BERT) before the self-attention module at each layer in Transformer-based models. PASTA achieves comparable performance to fine-tuning in natural language understanding tasks including text classification and NER with up to only 0.029% of total parameters trained. Our work not only provides a simple yet effective way of parameter-efficient tuning, which has a wide range of practical applications when deploying finetuned models for multiple tasks, but also demonstrates the pivotal role of special tokens in pretrained language models.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
2105329
NSF-PAR ID:
10418841
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ;
Editor(s):
Vlachos, Andreas; Augenstein, Isabelle
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Proceedings of the 17th Conference of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics (EACL)
Page Range / eLocation ID:
865–872
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Prompting has shown impressive success in enabling large pre-trained language models (LMs) to perform diverse NLP tasks, especially with only few downstream data. Automatically finding the optimal prompt for each task, however, is challenging. Most existing work resorts to tuning *soft* prompts (e.g., embeddings) which fall short of interpretability, reusability across LMs, and applicability when gradients are not accessible. *Discrete* prompts, on the other hand, are difficult to optimize, and are often created by “enumeration (e.g., paraphrasing)-then-selection” heuristics that do not explore the prompt space systematically. This paper proposes RLPrompt, an efficient discrete prompt optimization approach with reinforcement learning (RL). RLPrompt formulates a parameter-efficient policy network that generates the optimized discrete prompt after training with reward. To harness the complex and stochastic reward signals from the large LM environment, we incorporate effective reward stabilization that substantially enhances training efficiency. RLPrompt is flexibly applicable to different types of LMs, such as masked (e.g., BERT) and left-to-right models (e.g., GPTs), for both classification and generation tasks. Experiments on few-shot classification and unsupervised text style transfer show superior performance over a wide range of existing fine-tuning or prompting methods. Interestingly, the resulting optimized prompts are often ungrammatical gibberish text; and surprisingly, those gibberish prompts are transferrable between different LMs to retain significant performance, indicating that LM prompting may not follow human language patterns. 
    more » « less
  2. Abstract Background

    Natural language processing (NLP) tasks in the health domain often deal with limited amount of labeled data due to high annotation costs and naturally rare observations. To compensate for the lack of training data, health NLP researchers often have to leverage knowledge and resources external to a task at hand. Recently, pretrained large-scale language models such as the Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (BERT) have been proven to be a powerful way of learning rich linguistic knowledge from massive unlabeled text and transferring that knowledge to downstream tasks. However, previous downstream tasks often used training data at such a large scale that is unlikely to obtain in the health domain. In this work, we aim to study whether BERT can still benefit downstream tasks when training data are relatively small in the context of health NLP.

    Method

    We conducted a learning curve analysis to study the behavior of BERT and baseline models as training data size increases. We observed the classification performance of these models on two disease diagnosis data sets, where some diseases are naturally rare and have very limited observations (fewer than 2 out of 10,000). The baselines included commonly used text classification models such as sparse and dense bag-of-words models, long short-term memory networks, and their variants that leveraged external knowledge. To obtain learning curves, we incremented the amount of training examples per disease from small to large, and measured the classification performance in macro-averaged$$F_{1}$$F1score.

    Results

    On the task of classifying all diseases, the learning curves of BERT were consistently above all baselines, significantly outperforming them across the spectrum of training data sizes. But under extreme situations where only one or two training documents per disease were available, BERT was outperformed by linear classifiers with carefully engineered bag-of-words features.

    Conclusion

    As long as the amount of training documents is not extremely few, fine-tuning a pretrained BERT model is a highly effective approach to health NLP tasks like disease classification. However, in extreme cases where each class has only one or two training documents and no more will be available, simple linear models using bag-of-words features shall be considered.

     
    more » « less
  3. The current modus operandi in adapting pre-trained models involves updating all the backbone parameters, ie, full fine-tuning. This paper introduces Visual Prompt Tuning (VPT) as an efficient and effective alternative to full fine-tuning for large-scale Transformer models in vision. Taking inspiration from recent advances in efficiently tuning large language models, VPT introduces only a small amount (less than 1% of model parameters) of trainable parameters in the input space while keeping the model backbone frozen. Via extensive experiments on a wide variety of downstream recognition tasks, we show that VPT achieves significant performance gains compared to other parameter efficient tuning protocols. Most importantly, VPT even outperforms full fine-tuning in many cases across model capacities and training data scales, while reducing per-task storage cost. 
    more » « less
  4. It has become standard to solve NLP tasks by fine-tuning pre-trained language models (LMs), especially in low-data settings. There is minimal theoretical understanding of empirical success, e.g., why fine-tuning a model with $10^8$ or more parameters on a couple dozen training points does not result in overfitting. We investigate whether the Neural Tangent Kernel (NTK)—which originated as a model to study the gradient descent dynamics of infinitely wide networks with suitable random initialization—describes fine-tuning of pre-trained LMs. This study was inspired by the decent performance of NTK for computer vision tasks (Wei et al., 2022). We extend the NTK formalism to Adam and use Tensor Programs (Yang, 2020) to characterize conditions under which the NTK lens may describe fine-tuning updates to pre-trained language models. Extensive experiments on 14 NLP tasks validate our theory and show that formulating the downstream task as a masked word prediction problem through prompting often induces kernel-based dynamics during fine-tuning. Finally, we use this kernel view to propose an explanation for the success of parameter-efficient subspace-based fine-tuning methods. 
    more » « less
  5. null (Ed.)
    NLP is currently dominated by language models like RoBERTa which are pretrained on billions of words. But what exact knowledge or skills do Transformer LMs learn from large-scale pretraining that they cannot learn from less data? To explore this question, we adopt five styles of evaluation: classifier probing, information-theoretic probing, unsupervised relative acceptability judgments, unsupervised language model knowledge probing, and fine-tuning on NLU tasks. We then draw learning curves that track the growth of these different measures of model ability with respect to pretraining data volume using the MiniBERTas, a group of RoBERTa models pretrained on 1M, 10M, 100M and 1B words. We find that these LMs require only about 10M to 100M words to learn to reliably encode most syntactic and semantic features we test. They need a much larger quantity of data in order to acquire enough commonsense knowledge and other skills required to master typical downstream NLU tasks. The results suggest that, while the ability to encode linguistic features is almost certainly necessary for language understanding, it is likely that other, unidentified, forms of knowledge are the major drivers of recent improvements in language understanding among large pretrained models. 
    more » « less