Get our free extension to see links to code for papers anywhere online!Free add-on: code for papers everywhere!Free add-on: See code for papers anywhere!

Brian Lester, Jaehoon Lee, Alex Alemi, Jeffrey Pennington, Adam Roberts, Jascha Sohl-Dickstein, Noah Constant

In this paper, we explore the idea of training large language models (LLMs) over highly compressed text. While standard subword tokenizers compress text by a small factor, neural text compressors can achieve much higher rates of compression. If it were possible to train LLMs directly over neurally compressed text, this would confer advantages in training and serving efficiency, as well as easier handling of long text spans. The main obstacle to this goal is that strong compression tends to produce opaque outputs that are not well-suited for learning. In particular, we find that text na\"ively compressed via Arithmetic Coding is not readily learnable by LLMs. To overcome this, we propose Equal-Info Windows, a novel compression technique whereby text is segmented into blocks that each compress to the same bit length. Using this method, we demonstrate effective learning over neurally compressed text that improves with scale, and outperforms byte-level baselines by a wide margin on perplexity and inference speed benchmarks. While our method delivers worse perplexity than subword tokenizers for models trained with the same parameter count, it has the benefit of shorter sequence lengths. Shorter sequence lengths require fewer autoregressive generation steps, and reduce latency. Finally, we provide extensive analysis of the properties that contribute to learnability, and offer concrete suggestions for how to further improve the performance of high-compression tokenizers.

Via

Avi Singh, John D. Co-Reyes, Rishabh Agarwal, Ankesh Anand, Piyush Patil, Xavier Garcia, Peter J. Liu, James Harrison, Jaehoon Lee, Kelvin Xu, Aaron Parisi, Abhishek Kumar, Alex Alemi, Alex Rizkowsky, Azade Nova, Ben Adlam, Bernd Bohnet, Gamaleldin Elsayed, Hanie Sedghi, Igor Mordatch, Isabelle Simpson, Izzeddin Gur, Jasper Snoek, Jeffrey Pennington, Jiri Hron, Kathleen Kenealy, Kevin Swersky, Kshiteej Mahajan, Laura Culp, Lechao Xiao, Maxwell L. Bileschi, Noah Constant, Roman Novak, Rosanne Liu, Tris Warkentin, Yundi Qian, Yamini Bansal, Ethan Dyer, Behnam Neyshabur, Jascha Sohl-Dickstein, Noah Fiedel

Fine-tuning language models~(LMs) on human-generated data remains a prevalent practice. However, the performance of such models is often limited by the quantity and diversity of high-quality human data. In this paper, we explore whether we can go beyond human data on tasks where we have access to scalar feedback, for example, on math problems where one can verify correctness. To do so, we investigate a simple self-training method based on expectation-maximization, which we call ReST$^{EM}$, where we (1) generate samples from the model and filter them using binary feedback, (2) fine-tune the model on these samples, and (3) repeat this process a few times. Testing on advanced MATH reasoning and APPS coding benchmarks using PaLM-2 models, we find that ReST$^{EM}$ scales favorably with model size and significantly surpasses fine-tuning only on human data. Overall, our findings suggest self-training with feedback can substantially reduce dependence on human-generated data.

Via

C. Daniel Freeman, Laura Culp, Aaron Parisi, Maxwell L Bileschi, Gamaleldin F Elsayed, Alex Rizkowsky, Isabelle Simpson, Alex Alemi, Azade Nova, Ben Adlam, Bernd Bohnet, Gaurav Mishra, Hanie Sedghi, Igor Mordatch, Izzeddin Gur, Jaehoon Lee, JD Co-Reyes, Jeffrey Pennington, Kelvin Xu, Kevin Swersky, Kshiteej Mahajan, Lechao Xiao, Rosanne Liu, Simon Kornblith, Noah Constant, Peter J. Liu, Roman Novak, Yundi Qian, Noah Fiedel, Jascha Sohl-Dickstein

We introduce and study the problem of adversarial arithmetic, which provides a simple yet challenging testbed for language model alignment. This problem is comprised of arithmetic questions posed in natural language, with an arbitrary adversarial string inserted before the question is complete. Even in the simple setting of 1-digit addition problems, it is easy to find adversarial prompts that make all tested models (including PaLM2, GPT4, Claude2) misbehave, and even to steer models to a particular wrong answer. We additionally provide a simple algorithm for finding successful attacks by querying those same models, which we name "prompt inversion rejection sampling" (PIRS). We finally show that models can be partially hardened against these attacks via reinforcement learning and via agentic constitutional loops. However, we were not able to make a language model fully robust against adversarial arithmetic attacks.

Via

Mitchell Wortsman, Peter J. Liu, Lechao Xiao, Katie Everett, Alex Alemi, Ben Adlam, John D. Co-Reyes, Izzeddin Gur, Abhishek Kumar, Roman Novak, Jeffrey Pennington, Jascha Sohl-dickstein, Kelvin Xu, Jaehoon Lee, Justin Gilmer, Simon Kornblith

Teams that have trained large Transformer-based models have reported training instabilities at large scale that did not appear when training with the same hyperparameters at smaller scales. Although the causes of such instabilities are of scientific interest, the amount of resources required to reproduce them has made investigation difficult. In this work, we seek ways to reproduce and study training stability and instability at smaller scales. First, we focus on two sources of training instability described in previous work: the growth of logits in attention layers (Dehghani et al., 2023) and divergence of the output logits from the log probabilities (Chowdhery et al., 2022). By measuring the relationship between learning rate and loss across scales, we show that these instabilities also appear in small models when training at high learning rates, and that mitigations previously employed at large scales are equally effective in this regime. This prompts us to investigate the extent to which other known optimizer and model interventions influence the sensitivity of the final loss to changes in the learning rate. To this end, we study methods such as warm-up, weight decay, and the $\mu$Param (Yang et al., 2022), and combine techniques to train small models that achieve similar losses across orders of magnitude of learning rate variation. Finally, to conclude our exploration we study two cases where instabilities can be predicted before they emerge by examining the scaling behavior of model activation and gradient norms.

Via

Atish Agarwala, Fabian Pedregosa, Jeffrey Pennington

Recent studies of gradient descent with large step sizes have shown that there is often a regime with an initial increase in the largest eigenvalue of the loss Hessian (progressive sharpening), followed by a stabilization of the eigenvalue near the maximum value which allows convergence (edge of stability). These phenomena are intrinsically non-linear and do not happen for models in the constant Neural Tangent Kernel (NTK) regime, for which the predictive function is approximately linear in the parameters. As such, we consider the next simplest class of predictive models, namely those that are quadratic in the parameters, which we call second-order regression models. For quadratic objectives in two dimensions, we prove that this second-order regression model exhibits progressive sharpening of the NTK eigenvalue towards a value that differs slightly from the edge of stability, which we explicitly compute. In higher dimensions, the model generically shows similar behavior, even without the specific structure of a neural network, suggesting that progressive sharpening and edge-of-stability behavior aren't unique features of neural networks, and could be a more general property of discrete learning algorithms in high-dimensional non-linear models.

Via

Lechao Xiao, Jeffrey Pennington

Although learning in high dimensions is commonly believed to suffer from the curse of dimensionality, modern machine learning methods often exhibit an astonishing power to tackle a wide range of challenging real-world learning problems without using abundant amounts of data. How exactly these methods break this curse remains a fundamental open question in the theory of deep learning. While previous efforts have investigated this question by studying the data (D), model (M), and inference algorithm (I) as independent modules, in this paper, we analyze the triplet (D, M, I) as an integrated system and identify important synergies that help mitigate the curse of dimensionality. We first study the basic symmetries associated with various learning algorithms (M, I), focusing on four prototypical architectures in deep learning: fully-connected networks (FCN), locally-connected networks (LCN), and convolutional networks with and without pooling (GAP/VEC). We find that learning is most efficient when these symmetries are compatible with those of the data distribution and that performance significantly deteriorates when any member of the (D, M, I) triplet is inconsistent or suboptimal.

Via

Jiri Hron, Roman Novak, Jeffrey Pennington, Jascha Sohl-Dickstein

We introduce repriorisation, a data-dependent reparameterisation which transforms a Bayesian neural network (BNN) posterior to a distribution whose KL divergence to the BNN prior vanishes as layer widths grow. The repriorisation map acts directly on parameters, and its analytic simplicity complements the known neural network Gaussian process (NNGP) behaviour of wide BNNs in function space. Exploiting the repriorisation, we develop a Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) posterior sampling algorithm which mixes faster the wider the BNN. This contrasts with the typically poor performance of MCMC in high dimensions. We observe up to 50x higher effective sample size relative to no reparametrisation for both fully-connected and residual networks. Improvements are achieved at all widths, with the margin between reparametrised and standard BNNs growing with layer width.

Via

Courtney Paquette, Elliot Paquette, Ben Adlam, Jeffrey Pennington

Stochastic gradient descent (SGD) is a pillar of modern machine learning, serving as the go-to optimization algorithm for a diverse array of problems. While the empirical success of SGD is often attributed to its computational efficiency and favorable generalization behavior, neither effect is well understood and disentangling them remains an open problem. Even in the simple setting of convex quadratic problems, worst-case analyses give an asymptotic convergence rate for SGD that is no better than full-batch gradient descent (GD), and the purported implicit regularization effects of SGD lack a precise explanation. In this work, we study the dynamics of multi-pass SGD on high-dimensional convex quadratics and establish an asymptotic equivalence to a stochastic differential equation, which we call homogenized stochastic gradient descent (HSGD), whose solutions we characterize explicitly in terms of a Volterra integral equation. These results yield precise formulas for the learning and risk trajectories, which reveal a mechanism of implicit conditioning that explains the efficiency of SGD relative to GD. We also prove that the noise from SGD negatively impacts generalization performance, ruling out the possibility of any type of implicit regularization in this context. Finally, we show how to adapt the HSGD formalism to include streaming SGD, which allows us to produce an exact prediction for the excess risk of multi-pass SGD relative to that of streaming SGD (bootstrap risk).

Via

Lechao Xiao, Jeffrey Pennington

As modern machine learning models continue to advance the computational frontier, it has become increasingly important to develop precise estimates for expected performance improvements under different model and data scaling regimes. Currently, theoretical understanding of the learning curves that characterize how the prediction error depends on the number of samples is restricted to either large-sample asymptotics ($m\to\infty$) or, for certain simple data distributions, to the high-dimensional asymptotics in which the number of samples scales linearly with the dimension ($m\propto d$). There is a wide gulf between these two regimes, including all higher-order scaling relations $m\propto d^r$, which are the subject of the present paper. We focus on the problem of kernel ridge regression for dot-product kernels and present precise formulas for the test error, bias, and variance, for data drawn uniformly from the sphere in the $r$th-order asymptotic scaling regime $m\to\infty$ with $m/d^r$ held constant. We observe a peak in the learning curve whenever $m \approx d^r/r!$ for any integer $r$, leading to multiple sample-wise descent and nontrivial behavior at multiple scales.

Via

Courtney Paquette, Elliot Paquette, Ben Adlam, Jeffrey Pennington

We develop a stochastic differential equation, called homogenized SGD, for analyzing the dynamics of stochastic gradient descent (SGD) on a high-dimensional random least squares problem with $\ell^2$-regularization. We show that homogenized SGD is the high-dimensional equivalence of SGD -- for any quadratic statistic (e.g., population risk with quadratic loss), the statistic under the iterates of SGD converges to the statistic under homogenized SGD when the number of samples $n$ and number of features $d$ are polynomially related ($d^c < n < d^{1/c}$ for some $c > 0$). By analyzing homogenized SGD, we provide exact non-asymptotic high-dimensional expressions for the generalization performance of SGD in terms of a solution of a Volterra integral equation. Further we provide the exact value of the limiting excess risk in the case of quadratic losses when trained by SGD. The analysis is formulated for data matrices and target vectors that satisfy a family of resolvent conditions, which can roughly be viewed as a weak (non-quantitative) form of delocalization of sample-side singular vectors of the data. Several motivating applications are provided including sample covariance matrices with independent samples and random features with non-generative model targets.

Via