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ZipLM: Inference-Aware Structured Pruning of Language Models

Eldar Kurtić · Elias Frantar · Dan Alistarh · Dan Alistarh

Great Hall & Hall B1+B2 (level 1) #513
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[ Paper [ Poster [ OpenReview
Wed 13 Dec 3 p.m. PST — 5 p.m. PST


The breakthrough performance of large language models (LLMs) comes with major computational footprints and high deployment costs. In this paper, we progress towards resolving this problem by proposing a novel structured compression approach for LLMs, called ZipLM. ZipLM achieves state-of-the-art accuracy-vs-speedup, while matching a set of desired target runtime speedups in any given inference environment. Specifically, given a model, a dataset, an inference environment, as well as a set of speedup targets, ZipLM iteratively identifies and removes components with the worst loss-runtime trade-off. Unlike prior methods that specialize in either the post-training/one-shot or the gradual compression setting, and only for specific families of models such as BERT (encoder) or GPT (decoder), ZipLM produces state-of-the-art compressed models across all these settings. Furthermore, ZipLM achieves superior results for a fraction of the computational cost relative to prior distillation and pruning techniques, making it a cost-effective approach for generating an entire family of smaller, faster, and highly accurate models, guaranteed to meet the desired inference specifications. In particular, ZipLM outperforms all prior BERT-base distillation and pruning techniques, such as CoFi, MiniLM, and TinyBERT. Moreover, it matches the performance of the heavily optimized MobileBERT model, obtained via extensive architecture search, by simply pruning the baseline BERT-large model. When compressing GPT2, ZipLM outperforms DistilGPT2 while being 60\% smaller and 30\% faster. Our code is available at:

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