Transformer-XL: Language Modeling with Longer-Term Dependency

Zihang Dai*, Zhilin Yang*, Yiming Yang, William W. Cohen, Jaime Carbonell, Quoc V. Le, Ruslan Salakhutdinov

Sep 27, 2018 ICLR 2019 Conference Blind Submission readers: everyone Show Bibtex
  • Abstract: We propose a novel neural architecture, Transformer-XL, for modeling longer-term dependency. To address the limitation of fixed-length contexts, we introduce a notion of recurrence by reusing the representations from the history. Empirically, we show state-of-the-art (SoTA) results on both word-level and character-level language modeling datasets, including WikiText-103, One Billion Word, Penn Treebank, and enwiki8. Notably, we improve the SoTA results from 1.06 to 0.99 in bpc on enwiki8, from 33.0 to 18.9 in perplexity on WikiText-103, and from 28.0 to 23.5 in perplexity on One Billion Word. Performance improves when the attention length increases during evaluation, and our best model attends to up to 1,600 words and 3,800 characters. To quantify the effective length of dependency, we devise a new metric and show that on WikiText-103 Transformer-XL manages to model dependency that is about 80% longer than recurrent networks and 450% longer than Transformer. Moreover, Transformer-XL is up to 1,800+ times faster than vanilla Transformer during evaluation.
  • Keywords: Language Modeling, Self-Attention
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