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HyperAttention: Large-scale Attention in Linear Time

Amin Karbasi
Amir Zandieh
Insu Han
David Woodruff
HyperAttention: Long-context Attention in Near-Linear Time (2024) (to appear)


In this paper, we introduce a novel approximate attention mechanism dubbed ``HyperAttention``. Despite the rapidly increasing size and complexity of contexts used with Large Language Models (LLM), there is still a dire lack of computationally efficient attention mechanisms scaling better than the naive quadratic time. HyperAttention addresses this gap: it delivers provably linear time complexity with respect to the size of the context, while only incurring a negligible loss in downstream quality. Distinctively, it integrates the principles of Locality Sensitive Hashing (LSH), for efficient detection of heavy elements, along with uniform column sampling, allowing for a good approximation both of the heavy and light components of the attention matrix. HyperAttention provably approximates the attention layer in \textit{linear time}, making it the first practical linear time approximate attention mechanism. Crucially, HyperAttention has a highly-modular design, allowing seamless integration of other rapid low-level implementations, most notably FlashAttention. Empirical evaluations indicate that HyperAttention surpasses the existing methods, achieving orders of magnitude speed-up when compared to prevalent state-of-the-art solutions such as Flash Attention. This breakthrough presents significant implications for enabling the scalability of LLMs to significantly larger contexts.