Large language models (LMs) are currently trained to predict tokens given document prefixes, enabling them to directly perform long-form generation and prompting-style tasks which can be reduced to document completion. Existing pretraining pipelines train LMs by concatenating random sets of short documents to create input contexts but the prior documents provide no signal for predicting the next document. We instead present In-Context Pretraining, a new approach where language models are pretrained on a sequence of related documents, thereby explicitly encouraging them to read and reason across document boundaries. We can do In-Context Pretraining by simply changing the document ordering so that each context contains related documents, and directly applying existing pretraining pipelines. However, this document sorting problem is challenging. There are billions of documents and we would like the sort to maximize contextual similarity for every document without repeating any data. To do this, we introduce approximate algorithms for finding related documents with efficient nearest neighbor search and constructing coherent input contexts with a graph traversal algorithm. Our experiments show In-Context Pretraining offers a simple and scalable approach to significantly enhance LMs'performance: we see notable improvements in tasks that require more complex contextual reasoning, including in-context learning (+8%), reading comprehension (+15%), faithfulness to previous contexts (+16%), long-context reasoning (+5%), and retrieval augmentation (+9%).
Large language models are typically trained densely: all parameters are updated with respect to all inputs. This requires synchronization of billions of parameters across thousands of GPUs. We introduce a simple but effective method to asynchronously train large, sparse language models on arbitrary text corpora. Our method clusters a corpus into sets of related documents, trains a separate expert language model on each cluster, and combines them in a sparse ensemble for inference. This approach generalizes embarrassingly parallel training by automatically discovering the domains for each expert, and eliminates nearly all the communication overhead of existing sparse language models. Our technique outperforms dense baselines on multiple corpora and few-shot tasks, and our analysis shows that specializing experts to meaningful clusters is key to these gains. Performance also improves with the number of experts and size of training data, suggesting this is a highly efficient and accessible approach to training large language models.
We present Branch-Train-Merge (BTM), a communication-efficient algorithm for embarrassingly parallel training of large language models (LLMs). We show it is possible to independently train subparts of a new class of LLMs on different subsets of the data, eliminating the massive multi-node synchronization currently required to train LLMs. BTM learns a set of independent expert LMs (ELMs), each specialized to a different textual domain, such as scientific or legal text. These ELMs can be added and removed to update data coverage, ensembled to generalize to new domains, or averaged to collapse back to a single LM for efficient inference. New ELMs are learned by branching from (mixtures of) ELMs in the current set, further training the parameters on data for the new domain, and then merging the resulting model back into the set for future use. Experiments show that BTM improves in- and out-of-domain perplexities as compared to GPT-style Transformer LMs, when controlling for training cost. Through extensive analysis, we show that these results are robust to different ELM initialization schemes, but require expert domain specialization; LM ensembles with random data splits do not perform well. We also present a study of scaling BTM into a new corpus of 64 domains (192B whitespace-separated tokens in total); the resulting LM (22.4B total parameters) performs as well as a Transformer LM trained with 2.5 times more compute. These gains grow with the number of domains, suggesting more aggressive parallelism could be used to efficiently train larger models in future work.
Self-supervised pre-training of large-scale transformer models on text corpora followed by finetuning has achieved state-of-the-art on a number of natural language processing tasks. Recently, Lu et al. (2021, arXiv:2103.05247) claimed that frozen pretrained transformers (FPTs) match or outperform training from scratch as well as unfrozen (fine-tuned) pretrained transformers in a set of transfer tasks to other modalities. In our work, we find that this result is, in fact, an artifact of not tuning the learning rates. After carefully redesigning the empirical setup, we find that when tuning learning rates properly, pretrained transformers do outperform or match training from scratch in all of our tasks, but only as long as the entire model is finetuned. Thus, while transfer from pretrained language models to other modalities does indeed provide gains and hints at exciting possibilities for future work, properly tuning hyperparameters is important for arriving at robust findings.
Models trained on large unlabeled corpora of human interactions will learn patterns and mimic behaviors therein, which include offensive or otherwise toxic behavior and unwanted biases. We investigate a variety of methods to mitigate these issues in the context of open-domain generative dialogue models. We introduce a new human-and-model-in-the-loop framework for both training safer models and for evaluating them, as well as a novel method to distill safety considerations inside generative models without the use of an external classifier at deployment time. We conduct experiments comparing these methods and find our new techniques are (i) safer than existing models as measured by automatic and human evaluations while (ii) maintaining usability metrics such as engagingness relative to the state of the art. We then discuss the limitations of this work by analyzing failure cases of our models.
We seek to create agents that both act and communicate with other agents in pursuit of a goal. Towards this end, we extend LIGHT (Urbanek et al. 2019)---a large-scale crowd-sourced fantasy text-game---with a dataset of quests. These contain natural language motivations paired with in-game goals and human demonstrations; completing a quest might require dialogue or actions (or both). We introduce a reinforcement learning system that (1) incorporates large-scale language modeling-based and commonsense reasoning-based pre-training to imbue the agent with relevant priors; and (2) leverages a factorized action space of action commands and dialogue, balancing between the two. We conduct zero-shot evaluations using held-out human expert demonstrations, showing that our agents are able to act consistently and talk naturally with respect to their motivations.
We present our view of what is necessary to build an engaging open-domain conversational agent: covering the qualities of such an agent, the pieces of the puzzle that have been built so far, and the gaping holes we have not filled yet. We present a biased view, focusing on work done by our own group, while citing related work in each area. In particular, we discuss in detail the properties of continual learning, providing engaging content, and being well-behaved -- and how to measure success in providing them. We end with a discussion of our experience and learnings, and our recommendations to the community.