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Universal Transformers

arXiv.org Machine Learning

Self-attentive feed-forward sequence models have been shown to achieve impressive results on sequence modeling tasks, thereby presenting a compelling alternative to recurrent neural networks (RNNs) which has remained the de-facto standard architecture for many sequence modeling problems to date. Despite these successes, however, feed-forward sequence models like the Transformer fail to generalize in many tasks that recurrent models handle with ease (e.g. copying when the string lengths exceed those observed at training time). Moreover, and in contrast to RNNs, the Transformer model is not computationally universal, limiting its theoretical expressivity. In this paper we propose the Universal Transformer which addresses these practical and theoretical shortcomings and we show that it leads to improved performance on several tasks. Instead of recurring over the individual symbols of sequences like RNNs, the Universal Transformer repeatedly revises its representations of all symbols in the sequence with each recurrent step. In order to combine information from different parts of a sequence, it employs a self-attention mechanism in every recurrent step. Assuming sufficient memory, its recurrence makes the Universal Transformer computationally universal. We further employ an adaptive computation time (ACT) mechanism to allow the model to dynamically adjust the number of times the representation of each position in a sequence is revised. Beyond saving computation, we show that ACT can improve the accuracy of the model. Our experiments show that on various algorithmic tasks and a diverse set of large-scale language understanding tasks the Universal Transformer generalizes significantly better and outperforms both a vanilla Transformer and an LSTM in machine translation, and achieves a new state of the art on the bAbI linguistic reasoning task and the challenging LAMBADA language modeling task.


Accessing Higher-level Representations in Sequential Transformers with Feedback Memory

arXiv.org Machine Learning

Transformers are feedforward networks that can process input tokens in parallel. While this parallelization makes them computationally efficient, it restricts the model from fully exploiting the sequential nature of the input - the representation at a given layer can only access representations from lower layers, rather than the higher level representations already built in previous time steps. In this work, we propose the Feedback Transformer architecture that exposes all previous representations to all future representations, meaning the lowest representation of the current timestep is formed from the highest-level abstract representation of the past. We demonstrate on a variety of benchmarks in language modeling, neural machine translation, summarization, and reinforcement learning that the increased representation capacity can improve over Transformer baselines.


Injecting Hierarchy with U-Net Transformers

arXiv.org Machine Learning

The Transformer architecture has become increasingly popular over the past couple of years, owing to its impressive performance on a number of natural language processing (NLP) tasks. However, it may be argued that the Transformer architecture lacks an explicit hierarchical representation, as all computations occur on word-level representations alone, and therefore, learning structure poses a challenge for Transformer models. In the present work, we introduce hierarchical processing into the Transformer model, taking inspiration from the U-Net architecture, popular in computer vision for its hierarchical view of natural images. We propose a novel architecture that combines ideas from Transformer and U-Net models to incorporate hierarchy at multiple levels of abstraction. We empirically demonstrate that the proposed architecture outperforms the vanilla Transformer and strong baselines in the chit-chat dialogue and machine translation domains.


Generating Long Sequences with Sparse Transformers

arXiv.org Machine Learning

Transformers are powerful sequence models, but require time and memory that grows quadratically with the sequence length. In this paper we introduce sparse factorizations of the attention matrix which reduce this to $O(n \sqrt{n})$. We also introduce a) a variation on architecture and initialization to train deeper networks, b) the recomputation of attention matrices to save memory, and c) fast attention kernels for training. We call networks with these changes Sparse Transformers, and show they can model sequences tens of thousands of timesteps long using hundreds of layers. We use the same architecture to model images, audio, and text from raw bytes, setting a new state of the art for density modeling of Enwik8, CIFAR-10, and ImageNet-64. We generate unconditional samples that demonstrate global coherence and great diversity, and show it is possible in principle to use self-attention to model sequences of length one million or more.


Factorized Multimodal Transformer for Multimodal Sequential Learning

arXiv.org Machine Learning

The complex world around us is inherently multimodal and sequential (continuous). Information is scattered across different modalities and requires multiple continuous sensors to be captured. As machine learning leaps towards better generalization to real world, multimodal sequential learning becomes a fundamental research area. Arguably, modeling arbitrarily distributed spatio-temporal dynamics within and across modalities is the biggest challenge in this research area. In this paper, we present a new transformer model, called the Factorized Multimodal Transformer (FMT) for multimodal sequential learning. FMT inherently models the intramodal and intermodal (involving two or more modalities) dynamics within its multimodal input in a factorized manner. The proposed factorization allows for increasing the number of self-attentions to better model the multimodal phenomena at hand; without encountering difficulties during training (e.g. overfitting) even on relatively low-resource setups. All the attention mechanisms within FMT have a full time-domain receptive field which allows them to asynchronously capture long-range multimodal dynamics. In our experiments we focus on datasets that contain the three commonly studied modalities of language, vision and acoustic. We perform a wide range of experiments, spanning across 3 well-studied datasets and 21 distinct labels. FMT shows superior performance over previously proposed models, setting new state of the art in the studied datasets.