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Sparsely Activated Language Models are Efficient In-Context Learners

Barret Richard Zoph
Dmitry (Dima) Lepikhin
Emma Wang
Kun Zhang
Liam B. Fedus
Maarten Paul Bosma
Marie Pellat
Maxim Krikun
Nan Du
Simon Tong
Tao Wang
Toju Duke
Yuanzhong Xu
Zongwei Zhou


Scaling language models with more data, compute and parameters has driven significant progress in natural language processing. For example, thanks to scaling, GPT-3 was able to achieve strong performance on few-shot learning. However, training these large dense models require significant amounts of computing resources. In this paper, we develop a family of sparsely activated mixture-of-expert language models named \glam (\textbf{G}eneralist \textbf{La}nguage \textbf{M}odel), which can have many more parameters but require significant less training cost than dense models. The largest \glam has 1.2 trillion parameters, which is approximately 7x larger than GPT-3 but can be trained more efficiently. With only 1/3 of energy consumption to train GPT-3, \glam achieves better overall performance on 29 zero-shot and one-shot NLP tasks. For example, \glam gets 75.0\% one-shot exact match accuracy on the TriviaQA test server, a significant improvement over 68.0\% obtained by GPT-3.