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Yuandong Tian

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H-GAP: Humanoid Control with a Generalist Planner

Dec 05, 2023
Zhengyao Jiang, Yingchen Xu, Nolan Wagener, Yicheng Luo, Michael Janner, Edward Grefenstette, Tim Rocktäschel, Yuandong Tian

Humanoid control is an important research challenge offering avenues for integration into human-centric infrastructures and enabling physics-driven humanoid animations. The daunting challenges in this field stem from the difficulty of optimizing in high-dimensional action spaces and the instability introduced by the bipedal morphology of humanoids. However, the extensive collection of human motion-captured data and the derived datasets of humanoid trajectories, such as MoCapAct, paves the way to tackle these challenges. In this context, we present Humanoid Generalist Autoencoding Planner (H-GAP), a state-action trajectory generative model trained on humanoid trajectories derived from human motion-captured data, capable of adeptly handling downstream control tasks with Model Predictive Control (MPC). For 56 degrees of freedom humanoid, we empirically demonstrate that H-GAP learns to represent and generate a wide range of motor behaviours. Further, without any learning from online interactions, it can also flexibly transfer these behaviors to solve novel downstream control tasks via planning. Notably, H-GAP excels established MPC baselines that have access to the ground truth dynamics model, and is superior or comparable to offline RL methods trained for individual tasks. Finally, we do a series of empirical studies on the scaling properties of H-GAP, showing the potential for performance gains via additional data but not computing. Code and videos are available at

* 18 pages including appendix, 4 figures 
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Deja Vu: Contextual Sparsity for Efficient LLMs at Inference Time

Oct 26, 2023
Zichang Liu, Jue Wang, Tri Dao, Tianyi Zhou, Binhang Yuan, Zhao Song, Anshumali Shrivastava, Ce Zhang, Yuandong Tian, Christopher Re, Beidi Chen

Large language models (LLMs) with hundreds of billions of parameters have sparked a new wave of exciting AI applications. However, they are computationally expensive at inference time. Sparsity is a natural approach to reduce this cost, but existing methods either require costly retraining, have to forgo LLM's in-context learning ability, or do not yield wall-clock time speedup on modern hardware. We hypothesize that contextual sparsity, which are small, input-dependent sets of attention heads and MLP parameters that yield approximately the same output as the dense model for a given input, can address these issues. We show that contextual sparsity exists, that it can be accurately predicted, and that we can exploit it to speed up LLM inference in wall-clock time without compromising LLM's quality or in-context learning ability. Based on these insights, we propose DejaVu, a system that uses a low-cost algorithm to predict contextual sparsity on the fly given inputs to each layer, along with an asynchronous and hardware-aware implementation that speeds up LLM inference. We validate that DejaVu can reduce the inference latency of OPT-175B by over 2X compared to the state-of-the-art FasterTransformer, and over 6X compared to the widely used Hugging Face implementation, without compromising model quality. The code is available at

* Proceedings of the 40th International Conference on Machine Learning, 2023, 919  
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End-to-end Story Plot Generator

Oct 13, 2023
Hanlin Zhu, Andrew Cohen, Danqing Wang, Kevin Yang, Xiaomeng Yang, Jiantao Jiao, Yuandong Tian

Story plots, while short, carry most of the essential information of a full story that may contain tens of thousands of words. We study the problem of automatic generation of story plots, which includes story premise, character descriptions, plot outlines, etc. To generate a single engaging plot, existing plot generators (e.g., DOC (Yang et al., 2022a)) require hundreds to thousands of calls to LLMs (e.g., OpenAI API) in the planning stage of the story plot, which is costly and takes at least several minutes. Moreover, the hard-wired nature of the method makes the pipeline non-differentiable, blocking fast specialization and personalization of the plot generator. In this paper, we propose three models, $\texttt{OpenPlot}$, $\texttt{E2EPlot}$ and $\texttt{RLPlot}$, to address these challenges. $\texttt{OpenPlot}$ replaces expensive OpenAI API calls with LLaMA2 (Touvron et al., 2023) calls via careful prompt designs, which leads to inexpensive generation of high-quality training datasets of story plots. We then train an end-to-end story plot generator, $\texttt{E2EPlot}$, by supervised fine-tuning (SFT) using approximately 13000 story plots generated by $\texttt{OpenPlot}$. $\texttt{E2EPlot}$ generates story plots of comparable quality to $\texttt{OpenPlot}$, and is > 10$\times$ faster (1k tokens in only 30 seconds on average). Finally, we obtain $\texttt{RLPlot}$ that is further fine-tuned with RLHF on several different reward models for different aspects of story quality, which yields 60.0$\%$ winning rate against $\texttt{E2EPlot}$ along the aspect of suspense and surprise.

* 17 pages 
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Learning Personalized Story Evaluation

Oct 10, 2023
Danqing Wang, Kevin Yang, Hanlin Zhu, Xiaomeng Yang, Andrew Cohen, Lei Li, Yuandong Tian

While large language models (LLMs) have shown impressive results for more objective tasks such as QA and retrieval, it remains nontrivial to evaluate their performance on open-ended text generation for reasons including (1) data contamination; (2) multi-dimensional evaluation criteria; and (3) subjectiveness stemming from reviewers' personal preferences. To address such issues, we propose to model personalization in an uncontaminated open-ended generation assessment. We create two new datasets Per-MPST and Per-DOC for personalized story evaluation, by re-purposing existing datasets with proper anonymization and new personalized labels. We further develop a personalized story evaluation model PERSE to infer reviewer preferences and provide a personalized evaluation. Specifically, given a few exemplary reviews from a particular reviewer, PERSE predicts either a detailed review or fine-grained comparison in several aspects (such as interestingness and surprise) for that reviewer on a new text input. Experimental results show that PERSE outperforms GPT-4 by 15.8% on Kendall correlation of story ratings, and by 13.7% on pairwise preference prediction accuracy. Both datasets and code will be released.

* 19 pages 
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GenCO: Generating Diverse Solutions to Design Problems with Combinatorial Nature

Oct 03, 2023
Aaron Ferber, Arman Zharmagambetov, Taoan Huang, Bistra Dilkina, Yuandong Tian

Generating diverse objects (e.g., images) using generative models (such as GAN or VAE) has achieved impressive results in the recent years, to help solve many design problems that are traditionally done by humans. Going beyond image generation, we aim to find solutions to more general design problems, in which both the diversity of the design and conformity of constraints are important. Such a setting has applications in computer graphics, animation, industrial design, material science, etc, in which we may want the output of the generator to follow discrete/combinatorial constraints and penalize any deviation, which is non-trivial with existing generative models and optimization solvers. To address this, we propose GenCO, a novel framework that conducts end-to-end training of deep generative models integrated with embedded combinatorial solvers, aiming to uncover high-quality solutions aligned with nonlinear objectives. While structurally akin to conventional generative models, GenCO diverges in its role - it focuses on generating instances of combinatorial optimization problems rather than final objects (e.g., images). This shift allows finer control over the generated outputs, enabling assessments of their feasibility and introducing an additional combinatorial loss component. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach on a variety of generative tasks characterized by combinatorial intricacies, including game level generation and map creation for path planning, consistently demonstrating its capability to yield diverse, high-quality solutions that reliably adhere to user-specified combinatorial properties.

* 16 pages, 3 figures 
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JoMA: Demystifying Multilayer Transformers via JOint Dynamics of MLP and Attention

Oct 03, 2023
Yuandong Tian, Yiping Wang, Zhenyu Zhang, Beidi Chen, Simon Du

We propose Joint MLP/Attention (JoMA) dynamics, a novel mathematical framework to understand the training procedure of multilayer Transformer architectures. This is achieved by integrating out the self-attention layer in Transformers, producing a modified dynamics of MLP layers only. JoMA removes unrealistic assumptions in previous analysis (e.g., lack of residual connection) and predicts that the attention first becomes sparse (to learn salient tokens), then dense (to learn less salient tokens) in the presence of nonlinear activations, while in the linear case, it is consistent with existing works that show attention becomes sparse over time. We leverage JoMA to qualitatively explains how tokens are combined to form hierarchies in multilayer Transformers, when the input tokens are generated by a latent hierarchical generative model. Experiments on models trained from real-world dataset (Wikitext2/Wikitext103) and various pre-trained models (OPT, Pythia) verify our theoretical findings.

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Efficient Streaming Language Models with Attention Sinks

Sep 29, 2023
Guangxuan Xiao, Yuandong Tian, Beidi Chen, Song Han, Mike Lewis

Deploying Large Language Models (LLMs) in streaming applications such as multi-round dialogue, where long interactions are expected, is urgently needed but poses two major challenges. Firstly, during the decoding stage, caching previous tokens' Key and Value states (KV) consumes extensive memory. Secondly, popular LLMs cannot generalize to longer texts than the training sequence length. Window attention, where only the most recent KVs are cached, is a natural approach -- but we show that it fails when the text length surpasses the cache size. We observe an interesting phenomenon, namely attention sink, that keeping the KV of initial tokens will largely recover the performance of window attention. In this paper, we first demonstrate that the emergence of attention sink is due to the strong attention scores towards initial tokens as a ``sink'' even if they are not semantically important. Based on the above analysis, we introduce StreamingLLM, an efficient framework that enables LLMs trained with a finite length attention window to generalize to infinite sequence lengths without any fine-tuning. We show that StreamingLLM can enable Llama-2, MPT, Falcon, and Pythia to perform stable and efficient language modeling with up to 4 million tokens and more. In addition, we discover that adding a placeholder token as a dedicated attention sink during pre-training can further improve streaming deployment. In streaming settings, StreamingLLM outperforms the sliding window recomputation baseline by up to 22.2x speedup. Code and datasets are provided at

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RLCD: Reinforcement Learning from Contrast Distillation for Language Model Alignment

Jul 24, 2023
Kevin Yang, Dan Klein, Asli Celikyilmaz, Nanyun Peng, Yuandong Tian

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We propose Reinforcement Learning from Contrast Distillation (RLCD), a method for aligning language models to follow natural language principles without using human feedback. RLCD trains a preference model using simulated preference pairs that contain both a high-quality and low-quality example, generated using contrasting positive and negative prompts. The preference model is then used to improve a base unaligned language model via reinforcement learning. Empirically, RLCD outperforms RLAIF (Bai et al., 2022b) and context distillation (Huang et al., 2022) baselines across three diverse alignment tasks--harmlessness, helpfulness, and story outline generation--and on both 7B and 30B model scales for preference data simulation.

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H$_2$O: Heavy-Hitter Oracle for Efficient Generative Inference of Large Language Models

Jul 19, 2023
Zhenyu Zhang, Ying Sheng, Tianyi Zhou, Tianlong Chen, Lianmin Zheng, Ruisi Cai, Zhao Song, Yuandong Tian, Christopher Ré, Clark Barrett, Zhangyang Wang, Beidi Chen

Figure 1 for H$_2$O: Heavy-Hitter Oracle for Efficient Generative Inference of Large Language Models
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Large Language Models (LLMs), despite their recent impressive accomplishments, are notably cost-prohibitive to deploy, particularly for applications involving long-content generation, such as dialogue systems and story writing. Often, a large amount of transient state information, referred to as the KV cache, is stored in GPU memory in addition to model parameters, scaling linearly with the sequence length and batch size. In this paper, we introduce a novel approach for implementing the KV cache which significantly reduces its memory footprint. Our approach is based on the noteworthy observation that a small portion of tokens contributes most of the value when computing attention scores. We call these tokens Heavy Hitters (H$_2$). Through a comprehensive investigation, we find that (i) the emergence of H$_2$ is natural and strongly correlates with the frequent co-occurrence of tokens in the text, and (ii) removing them results in significant performance degradation. Based on these insights, we propose Heavy Hitter Oracle (H$_2$O), a KV cache eviction policy that dynamically retains a balance of recent and H$_2$ tokens. We formulate the KV cache eviction as a dynamic submodular problem and prove (under mild assumptions) a theoretical guarantee for our novel eviction algorithm which could help guide future work. We validate the accuracy of our algorithm with OPT, LLaMA, and GPT-NeoX across a wide range of tasks. Our implementation of H$_2$O with 20% heavy hitters improves the throughput over three leading inference systems DeepSpeed Zero-Inference, Hugging Face Accelerate, and FlexGen by up to 29$\times$, 29$\times$, and 3$\times$ on OPT-6.7B and OPT-30B. With the same batch size, H2O can reduce the latency by up to 1.9$\times$. The code is available at

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