Low-Rank Bottleneck in Multi-head Attention Models

Jul 12, 2020

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Attention based Transformer architecture has enabled significant advances in the field of natural language processing. In addition to new pre-training techniques, recent improvements crucially rely on working with a relatively larger embedding dimension for tokens. Unfortunately, this leads to models that are prohibitively large to be employed in the downstream tasks. In this paper we identify one of the important factors contributing to the large embedding size requirement. In particular, our analysis highlights that the scaling between the number of heads and the size of each head in the current architecture gives rise to a low-rank bottleneck in attention heads, causing this limitation, which we further validate with our experiments. As a solution we propose to set the head size of an attention unit to input sequence length, and independent of the number of heads, resulting in multi-head attention layers with provably more expressive power. We empirically show that this allows us to train models with a relatively smaller embedding dimension and with better performance scaling.

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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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