Bi-Directional Block Self-Attention for Fast and Memory-Efficient Sequence Modeling


Nov 03, 2017 (modified: Dec 12, 2017) ICLR 2018 Conference Blind Submission readers: everyone Show Bibtex
  • Abstract: Recurrent neural networks (RNN), convolutional neural networks (CNN) and self-attention networks (SAN) are commonly used to produce context-aware representations. RNN can capture long-range dependency but is hard to parallelize and not time-efficient. CNN focuses on local dependency but dose not perform well on some tasks. SAN can model both such dependencies via highly parallelizable computation, but memory requirement grows rapidly in line with sequence length. In this paper, we propose a model, called "bi-directional block self-attention network (Bi-BloSAN)", for RNN/CNN-free sequence encoding. It requires as little memory as RNN but with all the merits of SAN. Bi-BloSAN splits the entire sequence into blocks, and applies an intra-block SAN to each block for modeling local context, then applies an inter-block SAN to the outputs for all blocks to capture long-range dependency. Thus, each SAN only needs to process a short sequence, and only a small amount of memory is required. Additionally, we use feature-level attention to handle the variation of contexts around the same word, and use forward/backward masks to encode temporal order information. On nine benchmark datasets for different NLP tasks, Bi-BloSAN achieves or improves upon state-of-the-art accuracy, and shows better efficiency-memory trade-off than existing RNN/CNN/SAN.
  • TL;DR: A self-attention network for RNN/CNN-free sequence encoding with small memory consumption, highly parallelizable computation and state-of-the-art performance on several NLP tasks
  • Keywords: deep learning, attention mechanism, sequence modeling, natural language processing, sentence embedding