TL;DR: QRNNs, composed of convolutions and a recurrent pooling function, outperform LSTMs on a variety of sequence tasks and are up to 16 times faster.
Abstract: Recurrent neural networks are a powerful tool for modeling sequential data, but the dependence of each timestep’s computation on the previous timestep’s output limits parallelism and makes RNNs unwieldy for very long sequences. We introduce quasi-recurrent neural networks (QRNNs), an approach to neural sequence modeling that alternates convolutional layers, which apply in parallel across timesteps, and a minimalist recurrent pooling function that applies in parallel across channels. Despite lacking trainable recurrent layers, stacked QRNNs have better predictive accuracy than stacked LSTMs of the same hidden size. Due to their increased parallelism, they are up to 16 times faster at train and test time. Experiments on language modeling, sentiment classification, and character-level neural machine translation demonstrate these advantages and underline the viability of QRNNs as a basic building block for a variety of sequence tasks.
Keywords: Natural language processing, Deep learning
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