Transformers are RNNs: Fast Autoregressive Transformers with Linear Attention

Jul 12, 2020



Transformers achieve remarkable performance in several tasks but due to their quadratic complexity, with respect to the input's length, they are prohibitively slow for very long sequences. To address this limitation, we express the self-attention as a linear dot-product of kernel feature maps and make use of the associativity property of matrix products to reduce the complexity from N^2 to N, where N is the sequence length. We show that this formulation permits an iterative implementation that dramatically accelerates autoregressive transformers and reveals their relationship to recurrent neural networks. Our Linear Transformers achieve similar performance to vanilla Transformers and they are up to 4000x faster on autoregressive prediction of very long sequences.



About ICML 2020

The International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML) is the premier gathering of professionals dedicated to the advancement of the branch of artificial intelligence known as machine learning. ICML is globally renowned for presenting and publishing cutting-edge research on all aspects of machine learning used in closely related areas like artificial intelligence, statistics and data science, as well as important application areas such as machine vision, computational biology, speech recognition, and robotics. ICML is one of the fastest growing artificial intelligence conferences in the world. Participants at ICML span a wide range of backgrounds, from academic and industrial researchers, to entrepreneurs and engineers, to graduate students and postdocs.

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