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Brian Lester

Brian Lester

Brian Lester is interesting in Natural Language Processing (NLP), especially on how to leverage large scale pre-trained language models.
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    SPoT: Better Frozen Model Adaptation through Soft Prompt Transfer
    Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics, Association for Computational Linguistics (2022)
    Preview abstract There has been growing interest in parameter-efficient methods to apply pre-trained language models to downstream tasks. Building on the Prompt Tuning approach of Lester et al. (2021), which learns task-specific soft prompts to condition a frozen pre-trained model to perform different tasks, we propose a novel prompt-based transfer learning approach called SPoT: Soft Prompt Transfer. SPoT first learns a prompt on one or more source tasks and then uses it to initialize the prompt for a target task. We show that SPoT significantly boosts the performance of Prompt Tuning across many tasks. More remarkably, across all model sizes, SPoT matches or outperforms standard Model Tuning (which fine-tunes all model parameters) on the SuperGLUE benchmark, while using up to 27,000x fewer task-specific parameters. To understand where SPoT is most effective, we conduct a large-scale study on task transferability with 26 NLP tasks in 160 combinations, and demonstrate that many tasks can benefit each other via prompt transfer. Finally, we propose an efficient retrieval approach that interprets task prompts as task embeddings to identify similar tasks and predict the most transferable source tasks for a novel target task. View details
    Overcoming Catastrophic Forgetting in Zero-Shot Cross-Lingual Generation
    Aditya Barua
    Mohit Iyyer
    Proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)
    Preview abstract In this paper, we explore the challenging problem of performing a generative task in a target language when labeled data is only available in English, using summarization as a case study. We assume a strict setting with no access to parallel data or machine translation and find that common transfer learning approaches struggle in this setting, as a generative multilingual model fine-tuned purely on English catastrophically forgets how to generate non-English. Given the recent rise of parameter-efficient adaptation techniques, we conduct the first investigation into how one such method, prompt tuning (Lester et al., 2021), can overcome catastrophic forgetting to enable zero-shot cross-lingual generation. Our experiments show that parameter-efficient prompt tuning provides gains over standard fine-tuning when transferring between less-related languages, e.g., from English to Thai. However, a significant gap still remains between these methods and fully-supervised baselines. To improve cross-lingual transfer further, we explore several approaches, including: (1) mixing in unlabeled multilingual data, and (2) explicitly factoring prompts into recombinable language and task components. Our approaches can provide further quality gains, suggesting that robust zero-shot cross-lingual generation is within reach. View details
    Finetuned Language Models are Zero-Shot Learners
    Jason Wei
    Maarten Paul Bosma
    Vincent Zhao
    Nan Du
    International Conference on Learning Representations (2022)
    Preview abstract This paper explores a simple method for improving the zero-shot learning abilities of language models. We show that instruction tuning---finetuning language models on a collection of tasks described via instructions---substantially boosts zero-shot performance on unseen tasks. We take a 137B parameter pretrained language model and instruction-tune it on over 60 NLP tasks verbalized via natural language instruction templates. We evaluate this instruction-tuned model, which we call FLAN, on unseen task types. FLAN substantially improves the performance of its unmodified counterpart and surpasses zero-shot 175B GPT-3 on 20 of 25 tasks that we evaluate. FLAN even outperforms few-shot GPT-3 by a large margin on ANLI, RTE, BoolQ, AI2-ARC, OpenbookQA, and StoryCloze. Ablation studies reveal that number of tasks and model scale are key components to the success of instruction tuning. View details
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