James Lee-Thorp


FNet: Mixing Tokens with Fourier Transforms
James Lee-Thorp | Joshua Ainslie | Ilya Eckstein | Santiago Ontanon
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

We show that Transformer encoder architectures can be sped up, with limited accuracy costs, by replacing the self-attention sublayers with simple linear transformations that “mix” input tokens. Most surprisingly, we find that replacing the self-attention sublayer in a Transformer encoder with a standard, unparameterized Fourier Transform achieves 92-97% of the accuracy of BERT counterparts on the GLUE benchmark, but trains 80% faster on GPUs and 70% faster on TPUs at standard 512 input lengths. At longer input lengths, our FNet model is significantly faster: when compared to the “efficient Transformers” on the Long Range Arena benchmark, FNet matches the accuracy of the most accurate models, while outpacing the fastest models across all sequence lengths on GPUs (and across relatively shorter lengths on TPUs). Finally, FNet has a light memory footprint and is particularly efficient at smaller model sizes; for a fixed speed and accuracy budget, small FNet models outperform Transformer counterparts.

Sparse Mixers: Combining MoE and Mixing to build a more efficient BERT
James Lee-Thorp | Joshua Ainslie
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2022

We combine the capacity of sparsely gated Mixture-of-Experts (MoE) with the speed and stability of linear, mixing transformations to design the Sparse Mixer encoder model. Sparse Mixer slightly outperforms BERT on GLUE and SuperGLUE, but more importantly trains 65% faster and runs inference 61% faster. We also present a faster variant, prosaically named Fast Sparse Mixer, that marginally underperforms BERT on SuperGLUE, but trains and runs nearly twice as fast. We justify the design of these two models by carefully ablating through various mixing mechanisms, MoE configurations, and hyperparameters. Sparse Mixer overcomes many of the latency and stability concerns of MoE models and offers the prospect of serving sparse student models, without resorting to distilling them to dense variants.