Recent approaches to Open-domain Question Answering refer to an external knowledge base using a retriever model, optionally rerank passages with a separate reranker model and generate an answer using another reader model. Despite performing related tasks, the models have separate parameters and are weakly-coupled during training. We propose casting the retriever and the reranker as internal passage-wise attention mechanisms applied sequentially within the transformer architecture and feeding computed representations to the reader, with the hidden representations progressively refined at each stage. This allows us to use a single question answering model trained end-to-end, which is a more efficient use of model capacity and also leads to better gradient flow. We present a pre-training method to effectively train this architecture and evaluate our model on the Natural Questions and TriviaQA open datasets. For a fixed parameter budget, our model outperforms the previous state-of-the-art model by 1.0 and 0.7 exact match scores.
Generative models have recently started to outperform extractive models in Open Domain Question Answering, largely by leveraging their decoder to attend over multiple encoded passages and combining their information. However, generative models tend to be larger than extractive models due to the need for a decoder, run slower during inference due to auto-regressive decoder beam search, and their generated output often suffers from hallucinations. We propose to extend transformer encoders with the ability to fuse information from multiple passages, using global representation to provide cross-sample attention over all tokens across samples. Furthermore, we propose an alternative answer span probability calculation to better aggregate answer scores in the global space of all samples. Using our proposed method, we outperform the current state-of-the-art method by 2.5 Exact Match score on the Natural Question dataset while using only 25% of parameters and 35% of the latency during inference, and 4.4 Exact Match on WebQuestions dataset. When coupled with synthetic data augmentation, we outperform larger models on the TriviaQA dataset as well. The latency and parameter savings of our method make it particularly attractive for open-domain question answering, as these models are often compute-intensive.
A common approach in many machine learning algorithms involves self-supervised learning on large unlabeled data before fine-tuning on downstream tasks to further improve performance. A new approach for language modelling, called dynamic evaluation, further fine-tunes a trained model during inference using trivially-present ground-truth labels, giving a large improvement in performance. However, this approach does not easily extend to classification tasks, where ground-truth labels are absent during inference. We propose to solve this issue by utilizing self-training and back-propagating the loss from the model’s own class-balanced predictions (pseudo-labels), adapting the Reptile algorithm from meta-learning, combined with an inductive bias towards pre-trained weights to improve generalization. Our method improves the performance of standard backbones such as BERT, Electra, and ResNet-50 on a wide variety of tasks, such as question answering on SQuAD and NewsQA, benchmark task SuperGLUE, conversation response selection on Ubuntu Dialog corpus v2.0, as well as image classification on MNIST and ImageNet without any changes to the underlying models. Our proposed method outperforms previous approaches, enables self-supervised fine-tuning during inference of any classifier model to better adapt to target domains, can be easily adapted to any model, and is also effective in online and transfer-learning settings.
Meta-learning algorithms such as MAML, Reptile, and FOMAML have led to improved performance of several neural models. The primary difference between standard gradient descent and these meta-learning approaches is that they contain as a small component the gradient for maximizing dot-product between gradients of batches, leading to improved generalization. Previous work has shown that aligned gradients are related to generalization, and have also used the Reptile algorithm in a single-task setting to improve generalization. Inspired by these approaches for a single task setting, this paper proposes to use the finite differences first-order algorithm to calculate this gradient from dot-product of gradients, allowing explicit control on the weightage of this component relative to standard gradients. We use this gradient as a regularization technique, leading to more aligned gradients between different batches. By using the finite differences approximation, our approach does not suffer from O(nˆ2) memory usage of naively calculating the Hessian and can be easily applied to large models with large batch sizes. Our approach achieves state-of-the-art performance on the Gigaword dataset, and shows performance improvements on several datasets such as SQuAD-v2.0, Quasar-T, NewsQA and all the SuperGLUE datasets, with a range of models such as BERT, RoBERTa and ELECTRA. Our method also outperforms previous approaches of Reptile and FOMAML when used as a regularization technique, in both single and multi-task settings. Our method is model agnostic, and introduces no extra trainable weights.