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Transformers as Graph-to-Graph Models

James Henderson
Alireza Mohammadshahi
Andrei C. Coman
The Big Picture Workshop, ACL, (2023)


We argue that Transformers are essentially graph-to-graph models, with sequences just being a special case. Attention weights are functionally equivalent to graph edges. Our Graph-to-Graph Transformer architecture makes this ability explicit, by inputting graph edges into the attention weight computations and predicting graph edges with attention-like functions, thereby integrating explicit graphs into the latent graphs learned by pretrained Transformers. Adding iterative graph refinement provides a joint embedding of input, output, and latent graphs, allowing non-autoregressive graph prediction to optimise the complete graph without any bespoke pipeline or decoding strategy. Empirical results show that this architecture achieves state-of-the-art accuracies for modelling a variety of linguistic structures, integrating very effectively with the latent linguistic representations learned by pretraining.