SMART: Robust and Efficient Fine-Tuning for Pre-trained Natural Language Models through Principled Regularized Optimization

Haoming Jiang, Pengcheng He, Weizhu Chen, Xiaodong Liu, Jianfeng Gao, Tuo Zhao

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Machine Learning for NLP Long Paper

Session 4A: Jul 6 (17:00-18:00 GMT)
Session 5A: Jul 6 (20:00-21:00 GMT)
Abstract: Transfer learning has fundamentally changed the landscape of natural language processing (NLP). Many state-of-the-art models are first pre-trained on a large text corpus and then fine-tuned on downstream tasks. However, due to limited data resources from downstream tasks and the extremely high complexity of pre-trained models, aggressive fine-tuning often causes the fine-tuned model to overfit the training data of downstream tasks and fail to generalize to unseen data. To address such an issue in a principled manner, we propose a new learning framework for robust and efficient fine-tuning for pre-trained models to attain better generalization performance. The proposed framework contains two important ingredients: 1. Smoothness-inducing regularization, which effectively manages the complexity of the model; 2. Bregman proximal point optimization, which is an instance of trust-region methods and can prevent aggressive updating. Our experiments show that the proposed framework achieves new state-of-the-art performance on a number of NLP tasks including GLUE, SNLI, SciTail and ANLI. Moreover, it also outperforms the state-of-the-art T5 model, which is the largest pre-trained model containing 11 billion parameters, on GLUE.
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