Thang Luong

Thang Luong

Thang Luong is currently a Senior Staff Research Scientist at Google DeepMind, ex Google Brain. He obtained his PhD in Computer Science from Stanford University in 2016, during which he pioneered the field of deep learning for machine translation. At Google DeepMind, Dr. Luong built state-of-the-art models in both language (QANet, ELECTRA) and vision (UDA, NoisyStudent). He is a co-founder the Meena project, which debuted the world’s best chatbot in 2020 (later became Google LaMDA, Bard, now Gemini) and an inventor of LuongAttention. Dr. Luong has been co-leading the development of Bard Multimodality since 2022 and is the lead of the AlphaGeometry project that solves Olympiad geometry problems at the IMO level (Nature, 2024).

Academically, Dr. Luong has served as area chairs at ACL & NeuRIPS conferences. He has published over 50 articles at top-tiered conferences, with over 30000 citations and 20 patents. All of his publications can be found at Google Scholar. Blogposts: AlphaGeometry, self-training & Google search, conversational chatbot, semi-supervised learning, language pretraining, and neural machine translation.
Authored Publications
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    Solving olympiad geometry without human demonstrations
    Trieu Trinh
    Yuhuai Tony Wu
    He He
    Nature, 625(2024), pp. 476-482
    Preview abstract Proving mathematical theorems at the olympiad level represents a notable milestone in human-level automated reasoning, owing to their reputed difficulty among the world’s best talents in pre-university mathematics. Current machine-learning approaches, however, are not applicable to most mathematical domains owing to the high cost of translating human proofs into machine-verifiable format. The problem is even worse for geometry because of its unique translation challenges, resulting in severe scarcity of training data. We propose AlphaGeometry, a theorem prover for Euclidean plane geometry that sidesteps the need for human demonstrations by synthesizing millions of theorems and proofs across different levels of complexity. AlphaGeometry is a neuro-symbolic system that uses a neural language model, trained from scratch on our large-scale synthetic data, to guide a symbolic deduction engine through infinite branching points in challenging problems. On a test set of 30 latest olympiad-level problems, AlphaGeometry solves 25, outperforming the previous best method that only solves ten problems and approaching the performance of an average International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) gold medallist. Notably, AlphaGeometry produces human-readable proofs, solves all geometry problems in the IMO 2000 and 2015 under human expert evaluation and discovers a generalized version of a translated IMO theorem in 2004. View details
    STraTA: Self-Training with Task Augmentation for Better Few-shot Learning
    Grady Simon
    Mohit Iyyer
    Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP), Association for Computational Linguistics
    Preview abstract Despite their recent successes in tackling many NLP tasks, large-scale pre-trained language models do not perform as well in few-shot settings where only a handful of training examples are available. To address this shortcoming, we propose STraTA, which stands for Self-Training with Task Augmentation, an approach that builds on two key ideas for effective leverage of unlabeled data. First, STraTA uses task augmentation, a novel technique that synthesizes a large amount of data for auxiliary-task fine-tuning from target-task unlabeled texts. Second, STraTA performs self-training by further fine-tuning the strong base model created by task augmentation on a broad distribution of pseudo-labeled data. Our experiments demonstrate that STraTA can substantially improve sample efficiency across 12 few-shot benchmarks. Remarkably, on the SST-2 sentiment dataset, STraTA, with only 8 training examples per class, achieves comparable results to standard fine-tuning with 67K training examples. Our analyses reveal that task augmentation and self-training are both complementary and independently effective. View details
    Meta Pseudo Labels
    Hieu Pham
    Zihang Dai
    Qizhe Xie
    IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition(2021)
    Preview abstract We present Meta Pseudo Labels, a semi-supervised learning method that achieves a new state-of-the-art top-1 accuracy of 90.2% on ImageNet, which is 1.6% better than the existing state-of-the-art. Like Pseudo Labels, Meta Pseudo Labels has a teacher networ View details
    Beyond Distillation: Task-level Mixture-of-Experts for Efficient Inference
    Dmitry (Dima) Lepikhin
    Maxim Krikun
    Beyond Distillation: Task-level Mixture-of-Experts for Efficient Inference(2021)
    Preview abstract Sparse Mixture-of-Experts (MoE) has been a successful approach for scaling multilingual translation models to billions of parameters without a proportional increase in training computation. However, MoE models are prohibitively large and practitioners often resort to methods such as distillation for serving. In this work, we investigate routing strategies at different granularity (token, sentence, task) in MoE models to bypass distillation. Experiments on WMT and a web-scale dataset suggest that task-level routing (task-MoE) enables us to extract smaller, ready-to-deploy sub-networks from large sparse models. On WMT, our task-MoE with 32 experts (533M parameters) outperforms the best performing token-level MoE model (token-MoE) by +1.0 BLEU on average across 30 language pairs. The peak inference throughput is also improved by a factor of 1.9x when we route by tasks instead of tokens. While distilling a token-MoE to a smaller dense model preserves only 32% of the BLEU gains, our sub-network task-MoE, by design, preserves all the gains with the same inference cost as the distilled student model. Finally, when scaling up to 200 language pairs, our 128-expert task-MoE (13B parameters) performs competitively with a token-level counterpart, while improving the peak inference throughput by a factor of 2.6x. View details
    Preview abstract Despite recent success, most contrastive self-supervised learning methods are domain-specific, relying heavily on data augmentation techniques that require knowledge about a particular domain, such as image cropping and rotation. To overcome such limitation, we propose a novel domain-agnostic approach to contrastive learning, named DACL, that is applicable to domains where invariances, and thus, data augmentation techniques, are not readily available. Key to our approach is the use of Mixup noise to create similar and dissimilar examples by mixing data samples differently either at the input or hidden-state levels.To demonstrate the effectiveness of DACL, we conduct experiments across various domains such as tabular data, images, and graphs. Our results show that DACL not only outperforms other domain-agnostic noising methods, such as Gaussian-noise, but also combines well with domain-specific methods, such as SimCLR, to improve self-supervised visual representation learning. Finally, we theoretically analyze our method and show advantages over the Gaussian-noise based contrastive learning approach. View details
    Preview abstract We introduce Electric, an energy-based cloze model for representation learning over text. Like BERT, it is a conditional generative model of tokens given their contexts. However, Electric does not use masking or output a full distribution over tokens that could occur in a context. Instead, it assigns a scalar energy score to each input token indicating how likely it is given its context. We train Electric using an algorithm based on noise-contrastive estimation and elucidate how this learning objective is closely related to the recently proposed ELECTRA pre-training method. Electric performs well when transferred to downstream tasks and is particularly effective at producing likelihood scores for text: it reranks speech recognition n-best lists better than language models and much faster than masked language models. Furthermore, it offers a clearer and more principled view of what ELECTRA learns during pre-training. View details
    Preview abstract Masked language modeling (MLM) pre-training methods such as BERT corrupt the input by replacing some tokens with [MASK] and then train a model to reconstruct the original tokens. While they produce good results when transferred to downstream NLP tasks, they generally require large amounts of compute to be effective. As an alternative, we propose a more sample-efficient pre-training task called replaced token detection. Instead of masking the input, our approach corrupts it by replacing some tokens with plausible alternatives sampled from a small generator network. Then, instead of training a model that predicts the original identities of the corrupted tokens, we train a discriminative model that predicts whether each token in the corrupted input was replaced by a generator sample or not. Thorough experiments demonstrate this new pre-training task is more efficient than MLM because the task is defined over all input tokens rather than just the small subset that was masked out. As a result, the contextual representations learned by our approach substantially outperform the ones learned by BERT given the same model size, data, and compute. The gains are particularly strong for small models; for example, we train a model on one GPU for 4 days that outperforms GPT (trained using 30x more compute) on the GLUE natural language understanding benchmark. Our approach also works well at scale, where it performs comparably to RoBERTa and XLNet while using less than 1/4 of their compute and outperforms them when using the same amount of compute. View details
    Preview abstract Semi-supervised learning lately has shown much promise in improving deep learning models when labeled data is scarce. Common among recent approaches is the use of consistency training on a large amount of unlabeled data to constrain model predictions to be invariant to input noise. In this work, we present a new perspective on how to effectively noise unlabeled examples and argue that the quality of noising, specifically those produced by advanced data augmentation methods, plays a crucial role in semi-supervised learning. By substituting simple noising operations with advanced data augmentation methods such as RandAugment and back-translation, our method brings substantial improvements across six language and three vision tasks under the same consistency training framework. On the IMDb text classification dataset, with only 20 labeled examples, our method achieves an error rate of 4.20, outperforming the state-of-the-art model trained on 25,000 labeled examples. On a standard semi-supervised learning benchmark, CIFAR-10, our method outperforms all previous approaches and achieves an error rate of 5.43 with only 250 examples. Our method also combines well with transfer learning, e.g., when finetuning from BERT, and yields improvements in high-data regime, such as ImageNet, whether when there is only 10% labeled data or when a full labeled set with 1.3M extra unlabeled examples is used. Code is available at https://github.com/google-research/uda. View details
    Preview abstract We present a simple self-training method that achieves 88.4% top-1 accuracy on ImageNet, which is 2.0% better than the state-of-the-art model that requires 3.5B weakly labeled Instagram images. On robustness test sets, it improves ImageNet-A top-1 accuracy from 61.0% to 83.7%, reduces ImageNet-C mean corruption error from 45.7 to 28.3, and reduces ImageNet-P mean flip rate from 27.8 to 12.2. To achieve this result, we first train an EfficientNet model on labeled ImageNet images and use it as a teacher to generate pseudo labels on 300M unlabeled images. We then train a larger EfficientNet as a student model on the combination of labeled and pseudo labeled images. We iterate this process by putting back the student as the teacher. During the generation of the pseudo labels, the teacher is not noised so that the pseudo labels are as accurate as possible. However, during the learning of the student, we inject noise such as dropout, stochastic depth and data augmentation via RandAugment to the student so that the student generalizes better than the teacher. View details
    Towards a Human-like Open-Domain Chatbot
    Apoorv Kulshreshtha
    Daniel De Freitas Adiwardana
    David Richard So
    Gaurav Nemade
    Jamie Hall
    Romal Thoppilan
    Yifeng Lu
    Zi Yang
    arXiv(2020)
    Preview abstract We present Meena, a multi-turn end-to-end open-domain chatbot trained on data mined from public social media and filtered. The model was trained to minimize perplexity of the next token, but we have found evidence that this metric correlates with human judgement of quality. We propose a human judgement metric called Sensibleness and Specificity Average (SSA) which captures key elements of good conversation. Extensive experiments show strong correlation between perplexity and SSA. The fact that Meena scores high on SSA, 72%, on multi-turn evaluation suggests that a human-like chatbot with SSA score of 82% is potentially within reach if we manage to optimize perplexity better. View details