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Consistent Accelerated Inference via Confident Adaptive Transformers
Tal Schuster · Adam Fisch · Tommi Jaakkola · Regina Barzilay

We develop a novel approach for confidently accelerating inference in the large and expensive multilayer Transformers that are now ubiquitous in natural language processing (NLP). Amortized or approximate computational methods increase efficiency, but can come with unpredictable performance costs. In this work, we present CATs---Confident Adaptive Transformers---in which we simultaneously increase computational efficiency, while \emph{guaranteeing} a specifiable degree of consistency with the original model with high confidence. Our method trains additional prediction heads on top of intermediate layers, and dynamically decides when to stop allocating computational effort to each input using a meta consistency classifier. To calibrate our early prediction stopping rule, we formulate a unique extension of conformal prediction. We demonstrate the effectiveness of this approach on four classification and regression tasks.

Author Information

Tal Schuster (MIT CSAIL)
Adam Fisch (MIT)
Tommi Jaakkola (MIT)

Tommi Jaakkola is a professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT. He received an M.Sc. degree in theoretical physics from Helsinki University of Technology, and Ph.D. from MIT in computational neuroscience. Following a Sloan postdoctoral fellowship in computational molecular biology, he joined the MIT faculty in 1998. His research interests include statistical inference, graphical models, and large scale modern estimation problems with predominantly incomplete data.

Regina Barzilay (MIT CSAIL)

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