This is the first year of the TREC Product search track. The focus this year was the creation of a reusable collection and evaluation of the impact of the use of metadata and multi-modal data on retrieval accuracy. This year we leverage the new product search corpus, which includes contextual metadata. Our analysis shows that in the product search domain, traditional retrieval systems are highly effective and commonly outperform general-purpose pretrained embedding models. Our analysis also evaluates the impact of using simplified and metadata-enhanced collections, finding no clear trend in the impact of the expanded collection. We also see some surprising outcomes; despite their widespread adoption and competitive performance on other tasks, we find single-stage dense retrieval runs can commonly be noncompetitive or generate low-quality results both in the zero-shot and fine-tuned domain.
In this paper, we consider the problem of improving the inference latency of language model-based dense retrieval systems by introducing structural compression and model size asymmetry between the context and query encoders. First, we investigate the impact of pre and post-training compression on the MSMARCO, Natural Questions, TriviaQA, SQUAD, and SCIFACT, finding that asymmetry in the dual encoders in dense retrieval can lead to improved inference efficiency. Knowing this, we introduce Kullback Leibler Alignment of Embeddings (KALE), an efficient and accurate method for increasing the inference efficiency of dense retrieval methods by pruning and aligning the query encoder after training. Specifically, KALE extends traditional Knowledge Distillation after bi-encoder training, allowing for effective query encoder compression without full retraining or index generation. Using KALE and asymmetric training, we can generate models which exceed the performance of DistilBERT despite having 3x faster inference.
The success of contextual word representations and advances in neural information retrieval have made dense vector-based retrieval a standard approach for passage and document ranking. While effective and efficient, dual-encoders are brittle to variations in query distributions and noisy queries. Data augmentation can make models more robust but introduces overhead to training set generation and requires retraining and index regeneration. We present Contrastive Alignment POst Training (CAPOT), a highly efficient finetuning method that improves model robustness without requiring index regeneration, the training set optimization, or alteration. CAPOT enables robust retrieval by freezing the document encoder while the query encoder learns to align noisy queries with their unaltered root. We evaluate CAPOT noisy variants of MSMARCO, Natural Questions, and Trivia QA passage retrieval, finding CAPOT has a similar impact as data augmentation with none of its overhead.
Sequence-to-sequence language models can be used to produce abstractive summaries which are coherent, relevant, and concise. Still, model sizes can make deployment in latency-sensitive or web-scale implementations difficult. This paper studies the relationship between model size, structured pruning, inference efficiency, and summarization accuracy on widely used summarization datasets. We show that model accuracy is tied to the encoder size while inference efficiency is connected to the decoder. Using asymmetric pruning can lead to nearly 3x improvement in inference latency with ~1 point loss in Rouge-2. Moreover, we find both the average degradation and the role of asymmetry to be consistent across model sizes and variations in datasets.
In this paper, we introduce the range of oBERTa language models, an easy-to-use set of language models which allows Natural Language Processing (NLP) practitioners to obtain between 3.8 and 24.3 times faster models without expertise in model compression. Specifically, oBERTa extends existing work on pruning, knowledge distillation, and quantization and leverages frozen embeddings improves distillation and model initialization to deliver higher accuracy on a broad range of transfer tasks. In generating oBERTa, we explore how the highly optimized RoBERTa differs from the BERT for pruning during pre-training and finetuning. We find it less amenable to compression during fine-tuning. We explore the use of oBERTa on seven representative NLP tasks and find that the improved compression techniques allow a pruned oBERTa model to match the performance of BERTbase and exceed the performance of Prune OFA Large on the SQUAD V1.1 Question Answering dataset, despite being 8x and 2x, respectively faster in inference. We release our code, training regimes, and associated model for broad usage to encourage usage and experimentation
Vector-based retrieval systems have become a common staple for academic and industrial search applications because they provide a simple and scalable way of extending the search to leverage contextual representations for documents and queries. As these vector-based systems rely on contextual language models, their usage commonly requires GPUs, which can be expensive and difficult to manage. Given recent advances in introducing sparsity into language models for improved inference efficiency, in this paper, we study how sparse language models can be used for dense retrieval to improve inference efficiency. Using the popular retrieval library Tevatron and the MSMARCO, NQ, and TriviaQA datasets, we find that sparse language models can be used as direct replacements with little to no drop in accuracy and up to 4.3x improved inference speeds
Experience management is an emerging business area where organizations focus on understanding the feedback of customers and employees in order to improve their end-to-end experiences. This results in a unique set of machine learning problems to help understand how people feel, discover issues they care about, and find which actions need to be taken on data that are different in content and distribution from traditional NLP domains. In this paper, we present a case study of building text analysis applications that perform multiple classification tasks efficiently in 12 languages in the nascent business area of experience management. In order to scale up modern ML methods on experience data, we leverage cross lingual and multi-task modeling techniques to consolidate our models into a single deployment to avoid overhead. We also make use of model compression and model distillation to reduce overall inference latency and hardware cost to the level acceptable for business needs while maintaining model prediction quality. Our findings show that multi-task modeling improves task performance for a subset of experience management tasks in both XLM-R and mBert architectures. Among the compressed architectures we explored, we found that MiniLM achieved the best compression/performance tradeoff. Our case study demonstrates a speedup of up to 15.61x with 2.60% average task degradation (or 3.29x speedup with 1.71% degradation) and estimated savings of 44% over using the original full-size model. These results demonstrate a successful scaling up of text classification for the challenging new area of ML for experience management.
Large Language Models have become the core architecture upon which most modern natural language processing (NLP) systems build. These models can consistently deliver impressive accuracy and robustness across tasks and domains, but their high computational overhead can make inference difficult and expensive. To make the usage of these models less costly recent work has explored leveraging structured and unstructured pruning, quantization, and distillation as ways to improve inference speed and decrease size. This paper studies how models pruned using Gradual Unstructured Magnitude Pruning can transfer between domains and tasks. Our experimentation shows that models that are pruned during pretraining using general domain masked language models can transfer to novel domains and tasks without extensive hyperparameter exploration or specialized approaches. We demonstrate that our general sparse model Sparse*BERT can become SparseBioBERT simply by pretraining the compressed architecture on unstructured biomedical text. Moreover, we show that SparseBioBERT can match the quality of BioBERT with only 10\% of the parameters.