- Keywords: prompting, nlp, representational learning, priming
- Abstract: We introduce HTLM, a hyper-text language model trained on a large-scale web crawl. Modeling hyper-text has a number of advantages: (1) it is easily gathered at scale, (2) it provides rich document-level and end-task-adjacent supervision (e.g. 'class' and 'id' attributes often encode document category information), and (3) it allows for new structured prompting that follows the established semantics of HTML (e.g. to do zero-shot summarization by infilling '<title>' tags for a webpage that contains the input text). We show that pretraining with a BART-style denoising loss directly on simplified HTML provides highly effective transfer for a wide range of end tasks and supervision levels. HTLM matches or exceeds the performance of comparably sized text-only LMs for zero-shot prompting and fine-tuning for classification benchmarks, while also setting new state-of-the-art performance levels for zero-shot summarization. We also find that hyper-text prompts provide more value to HTLM, in terms of data efficiency, than plain text prompts do for existing LMs, and that HTLM is highly effective at auto-prompting itself, by simply generating the most likely hyper-text formatting for any available training data. We will release all code and models to support future HTLM research.
- One-sentence Summary: We unlock new state-of-the-art ways of priming and automatically generating prompts by pre-training on simplified HTML.