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Vinh Q. Tran

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How Does Generative Retrieval Scale to Millions of Passages?

May 19, 2023
Ronak Pradeep, Kai Hui, Jai Gupta, Adam D. Lelkes, Honglei Zhuang, Jimmy Lin, Donald Metzler, Vinh Q. Tran

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Popularized by the Differentiable Search Index, the emerging paradigm of generative retrieval re-frames the classic information retrieval problem into a sequence-to-sequence modeling task, forgoing external indices and encoding an entire document corpus within a single Transformer. Although many different approaches have been proposed to improve the effectiveness of generative retrieval, they have only been evaluated on document corpora on the order of 100k in size. We conduct the first empirical study of generative retrieval techniques across various corpus scales, ultimately scaling up to the entire MS MARCO passage ranking task with a corpus of 8.8M passages and evaluating model sizes up to 11B parameters. We uncover several findings about scaling generative retrieval to millions of passages; notably, the central importance of using synthetic queries as document representations during indexing, the ineffectiveness of existing proposed architecture modifications when accounting for compute cost, and the limits of naively scaling model parameters with respect to retrieval performance. While we find that generative retrieval is competitive with state-of-the-art dual encoders on small corpora, scaling to millions of passages remains an important and unsolved challenge. We believe these findings will be valuable for the community to clarify the current state of generative retrieval, highlight the unique challenges, and inspire new research directions.

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Recommender Systems with Generative Retrieval

May 08, 2023
Shashank Rajput, Nikhil Mehta, Anima Singh, Raghunandan H. Keshavan, Trung Vu, Lukasz Heldt, Lichan Hong, Yi Tay, Vinh Q. Tran, Jonah Samost, Maciej Kula, Ed H. Chi, Maheswaran Sathiamoorthy

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Modern recommender systems leverage large-scale retrieval models consisting of two stages: training a dual-encoder model to embed queries and candidates in the same space, followed by an Approximate Nearest Neighbor (ANN) search to select top candidates given a query's embedding. In this paper, we propose a new single-stage paradigm: a generative retrieval model which autoregressively decodes the identifiers for the target candidates in one phase. To do this, instead of assigning randomly generated atomic IDs to each item, we generate Semantic IDs: a semantically meaningful tuple of codewords for each item that serves as its unique identifier. We use a hierarchical method called RQ-VAE to generate these codewords. Once we have the Semantic IDs for all the items, a Transformer based sequence-to-sequence model is trained to predict the Semantic ID of the next item. Since this model predicts the tuple of codewords identifying the next item directly in an autoregressive manner, it can be considered a generative retrieval model. We show that our recommender system trained in this new paradigm improves the results achieved by current SOTA models on the Amazon dataset. Moreover, we demonstrate that the sequence-to-sequence model coupled with hierarchical Semantic IDs offers better generalization and hence improves retrieval of cold-start items for recommendations.

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DSI++: Updating Transformer Memory with New Documents

Dec 19, 2022
Sanket Vaibhav Mehta, Jai Gupta, Yi Tay, Mostafa Dehghani, Vinh Q. Tran, Jinfeng Rao, Marc Najork, Emma Strubell, Donald Metzler

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Differentiable Search Indices (DSIs) encode a corpus of documents in the parameters of a model and use the same model to map queries directly to relevant document identifiers. Despite the strong performance of DSI models, deploying them in situations where the corpus changes over time is computationally expensive because reindexing the corpus requires re-training the model. In this work, we introduce DSI++, a continual learning challenge for DSI to incrementally index new documents while being able to answer queries related to both previously and newly indexed documents. Across different model scales and document identifier representations, we show that continual indexing of new documents leads to considerable forgetting of previously indexed documents. We also hypothesize and verify that the model experiences forgetting events during training, leading to unstable learning. To mitigate these issues, we investigate two approaches. The first focuses on modifying the training dynamics. Flatter minima implicitly alleviate forgetting, so we optimize for flatter loss basins and show that the model stably memorizes more documents (+12\%). Next, we introduce a generative memory to sample pseudo-queries for documents and supplement them during continual indexing to prevent forgetting for the retrieval task. Extensive experiments on novel continual indexing benchmarks based on Natural Questions (NQ) and MS MARCO demonstrate that our proposed solution mitigates forgetting by a significant margin. Concretely, it improves the average Hits@10 by $+21.1\%$ over competitive baselines for NQ and requires $6$ times fewer model updates compared to re-training the DSI model for incrementally indexing five corpora in a sequence.

* 17 pages 
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Dense Feature Memory Augmented Transformers for COVID-19 Vaccination Search Classification

Dec 16, 2022
Jai Gupta, Yi Tay, Chaitanya Kamath, Vinh Q. Tran, Donald Metzler, Shailesh Bavadekar, Mimi Sun, Evgeniy Gabrilovich

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With the devastating outbreak of COVID-19, vaccines are one of the crucial lines of defense against mass infection in this global pandemic. Given the protection they provide, vaccines are becoming mandatory in certain social and professional settings. This paper presents a classification model for detecting COVID-19 vaccination related search queries, a machine learning model that is used to generate search insights for COVID-19 vaccinations. The proposed method combines and leverages advancements from modern state-of-the-art (SOTA) natural language understanding (NLU) techniques such as pretrained Transformers with traditional dense features. We propose a novel approach of considering dense features as memory tokens that the model can attend to. We show that this new modeling approach enables a significant improvement to the Vaccine Search Insights (VSI) task, improving a strong well-established gradient-boosting baseline by relative +15% improvement in F1 score and +14% in precision.

* EMNLP 2022 
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Attributed Question Answering: Evaluation and Modeling for Attributed Large Language Models

Dec 15, 2022
Bernd Bohnet, Vinh Q. Tran, Pat Verga, Roee Aharoni, Daniel Andor, Livio Baldini Soares, Jacob Eisenstein, Kuzman Ganchev, Jonathan Herzig, Kai Hui, Tom Kwiatkowski, Ji Ma, Jianmo Ni, Tal Schuster, William W. Cohen, Michael Collins, Dipanjan Das, Donald Metzler, Slav Petrov, Kellie Webster

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Large language models (LLMs) have shown impressive results across a variety of tasks while requiring little or no direct supervision. Further, there is mounting evidence that LLMs may have potential in information-seeking scenarios. We believe the ability of an LLM to attribute the text that it generates is likely to be crucial for both system developers and users in this setting. We propose and study Attributed QA as a key first step in the development of attributed LLMs. We develop a reproducable evaluation framework for the task, using human annotations as a gold standard and a correlated automatic metric that we show is suitable for development settings. We describe and benchmark a broad set of architectures for the task. Our contributions give some concrete answers to two key questions (How to measure attribution?, and How well do current state-of-the-art methods perform on attribution?), and give some hints as to how to address a third key question (How to build LLMs with attribution?).

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Transcending Scaling Laws with 0.1% Extra Compute

Oct 20, 2022
Yi Tay, Jason Wei, Hyung Won Chung, Vinh Q. Tran, David R. So, Siamak Shakeri, Xavier Garcia, Huaixiu Steven Zheng, Jinfeng Rao, Aakanksha Chowdhery, Denny Zhou, Donald Metzler, Slav Petrov, Neil Houlsby, Quoc V. Le, Mostafa Dehghani

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Scaling language models improves performance but comes with significant computational costs. This paper proposes UL2R, a method that substantially improves existing language models and their scaling curves with a relatively tiny amount of extra compute. The key idea is to continue training a state-of-the-art large language model (e.g., PaLM) on a few more steps with UL2's mixture-of-denoiser objective. We show that, with almost negligible extra computational costs and no new sources of data, we are able to substantially improve the scaling properties of large language models on downstream metrics. In this paper, we continue training PaLM with UL2R, introducing a new set of models at 8B, 62B, and 540B scale which we call U-PaLM. Impressively, at 540B scale, we show an approximately 2x computational savings rate where U-PaLM achieves the same performance as the final PaLM 540B model at around half its computational budget (i.e., saving $\sim$4.4 million TPUv4 hours). We further show that this improved scaling curve leads to 'emergent abilities' on challenging BIG-Bench tasks -- for instance, U-PaLM does much better than PaLM on some tasks or demonstrates better quality at much smaller scale (62B as opposed to 540B). Overall, we show that U-PaLM outperforms PaLM on many few-shot setups, i.e., English NLP tasks (e.g., commonsense reasoning, question answering), reasoning tasks with chain-of-thought (e.g., GSM8K), multilingual tasks (MGSM, TydiQA), MMLU and challenging BIG-Bench tasks. Finally, we provide qualitative examples showing the new capabilities of U-PaLM for single and multi-span infilling.

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Scaling Laws vs Model Architectures: How does Inductive Bias Influence Scaling?

Jul 21, 2022
Yi Tay, Mostafa Dehghani, Samira Abnar, Hyung Won Chung, William Fedus, Jinfeng Rao, Sharan Narang, Vinh Q. Tran, Dani Yogatama, Donald Metzler

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There have been a lot of interest in the scaling properties of Transformer models. However, not much has been done on the front of investigating the effect of scaling properties of different inductive biases and model architectures. Do model architectures scale differently? If so, how does inductive bias affect scaling behaviour? How does this influence upstream (pretraining) and downstream (transfer)? This paper conducts a systematic study of scaling behaviour of ten diverse model architectures such as Transformers, Switch Transformers, Universal Transformers, Dynamic convolutions, Performers, and recently proposed MLP-Mixers. Via extensive experiments, we show that (1) architecture is an indeed an important consideration when performing scaling and (2) the best performing model can fluctuate at different scales. We believe that the findings outlined in this work has significant implications to how model architectures are currently evaluated in the community.

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Confident Adaptive Language Modeling

Jul 14, 2022
Tal Schuster, Adam Fisch, Jai Gupta, Mostafa Dehghani, Dara Bahri, Vinh Q. Tran, Yi Tay, Donald Metzler

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Recent advances in Transformer-based large language models (LLMs) have led to significant performance improvements across many tasks. These gains come with a drastic increase in the models' size, potentially leading to slow and costly use at inference time. In practice, however, the series of generations made by LLMs is composed of varying levels of difficulty. While certain predictions truly benefit from the models' full capacity, other continuations are more trivial and can be solved with reduced compute. In this work, we introduce Confident Adaptive Language Modeling (CALM), a framework for dynamically allocating different amounts of compute per input and generation timestep. Early exit decoding involves several challenges that we address here, such as: (1) what confidence measure to use; (2) connecting sequence-level constraints to local per-token exit decisions; and (3) attending back to missing hidden representations due to early exits in previous tokens. Through theoretical analysis and empirical experiments on three diverse text generation tasks, we demonstrate the efficacy of our framework in reducing compute -- potential speedup of up to $\times 3$ -- while provably maintaining high performance.

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Unifying Language Learning Paradigms

May 10, 2022
Yi Tay, Mostafa Dehghani, Vinh Q. Tran, Xavier Garcia, Dara Bahri, Tal Schuster, Huaixiu Steven Zheng, Neil Houlsby, Donald Metzler

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Existing pre-trained models are generally geared towards a particular class of problems. To date, there seems to be still no consensus on what the right architecture and pre-training setup should be. This paper presents a unified framework for pre-training models that are universally effective across datasets and setups. We begin by disentangling architectural archetypes with pre-training objectives -- two concepts that are commonly conflated. Next, we present a generalized and unified perspective for self-supervision in NLP and show how different pre-training objectives can be cast as one another and how interpolating between different objectives can be effective. We then propose Mixture-of-Denoisers (MoD), a pre-training objective that combines diverse pre-training paradigms together. We furthermore introduce a notion of mode switching, wherein downstream fine-tuning is associated with specific pre-training schemes. We conduct extensive ablative experiments to compare multiple pre-training objectives and find that our method pushes the Pareto-frontier by outperforming T5 and/or GPT-like models across multiple diverse setups. Finally, by scaling our model up to 20B parameters, we achieve SOTA performance on 50 well-established supervised NLP tasks ranging from language generation (with automated and human evaluation), language understanding, text classification, question answering, commonsense reasoning, long text reasoning, structured knowledge grounding and information retrieval. Our model also achieve strong results at in-context learning, outperforming 175B GPT-3 on zero-shot SuperGLUE and tripling the performance of T5-XXL on one-shot summarization. We release Flax-based T5X model checkpoints for the 20B model at \url{https://github.com/google-research/google-research/tree/master/ul2}.

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A New Generation of Perspective API: Efficient Multilingual Character-level Transformers

Feb 22, 2022
Alyssa Lees, Vinh Q. Tran, Yi Tay, Jeffrey Sorensen, Jai Gupta, Donald Metzler, Lucy Vasserman

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On the world wide web, toxic content detectors are a crucial line of defense against potentially hateful and offensive messages. As such, building highly effective classifiers that enable a safer internet is an important research area. Moreover, the web is a highly multilingual, cross-cultural community that develops its own lingo over time. As such, it is crucial to develop models that are effective across a diverse range of languages, usages, and styles. In this paper, we present the fundamentals behind the next version of the Perspective API from Google Jigsaw. At the heart of the approach is a single multilingual token-free Charformer model that is applicable across a range of languages, domains, and tasks. We demonstrate that by forgoing static vocabularies, we gain flexibility across a variety of settings. We additionally outline the techniques employed to make such a byte-level model efficient and feasible for productionization. Through extensive experiments on multilingual toxic comment classification benchmarks derived from real API traffic and evaluation on an array of code-switching, covert toxicity, emoji-based hate, human-readable obfuscation, distribution shift, and bias evaluation settings, we show that our proposed approach outperforms strong baselines. Finally, we present our findings from deploying this system in production.

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