Best Natural Language Processing (NLP) Papers of 2022

Best Natural Language Processing (NLP) Papers of 2022

If you work in NLP, it's important to keep up to date with the latest research. In this post, we look at some of the best papers on NLP for 2022!


- For all you NLP enthusiasts out there, here is a list of awesome papers from the past few months!

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At Cohere, we're excited about natural language processing and all the amazing accomplishments it has made in recent years. Staying up to date with the latest research can be challenging, though, as new papers come out every month. That's why we put together this list of some of the best papers on NLP for 2022—so you don't have to miss a thing!

This collection features everything from advances in language models like those built by Cohere, to use cases such as text generation and summarization. We've gathered these resources from our Discord research community so that you can stay informed about cutting-edge developments in NLP technology.

All these advancements are making it possible for us to do more with natural language processing than ever before—and we couldn't be more thrilled about what's coming this year!

If you'd like to join Cohere For AI's Research community, consider applying.

Top Papers of 2022 Highlighted by Our Research Discord Community

These papers were highlighted by C4AI research discord community members. Thank you to EIFY#4102, Ujan#3046, bhavnicksm#8949, MajorMelancholy#1836, haryoaws#2090, hails#6601, Anirudh257#7609, and the rest of the Cohere For AI NLP research community for participating.

Intriguing Properties of Compression on Multilingual Models

Authors: Kelechi Ogueji, Orevaoghene Ahia, Gbemileke Onilude, Sebastian Gehrmann, Sara Hooker, Julia Kreutzer

Abstract: Multilingual models are often particularly dependent on scaling to generalize to a growing number of languages. Compression techniques are widely relied upon to reconcile the growth in model size with real-world resource constraints, but compression can have a disparate effect on model performance for low-resource languages. It is thus crucial to understand the trade-offs between scale, multilingualism, and compression. In this work, we propose an experimental framework to characterize the impact of sparsifying multilingual pre-trained language models during fine-tuning. Applying this framework to mBERT named entity recognition models across 40 languages, we find that compression confers several intriguing and previously unknown generalization properties. In contrast to prior findings, we find that compression may improve model robustness over dense models. We additionally observe that under certain sparsification regimes, compression may aid, rather than disproportionately impact the performance of low-resource languages.

Constitutional AI: Harmlessness from AI Feedback

Authors: Yuntao Bai, Saurav Kadavath, Sandipan Kundu, Amanda Askell, Jackson Kernion, et al.

Abstract: As AI systems become more capable, we would like to enlist their help to supervise other AIs. We experiment with methods for training a harmless AI assistant through self-improvement without any human labels identifying harmful outputs. The only human oversight is provided through a list of rules or principles, and so we refer to the method as 'Constitutional AI'. The process involves both a supervised learning and a reinforcement learning phase. In the supervised phase we sample from an initial model, then generate self-critiques and revisions, and then finetune the original model on revised responses. In the RL phase, we sample from the finetuned model, use a model to evaluate which of the two samples is better, and then train a preference model from this dataset of AI preferences. We then train with RL using the preference model as the reward signal, i.e., we use 'RL from AI Feedback' (RLAIF). As a result, we are able to train a harmless but nonevasive AI assistant that engages with harmful queries by explaining its objections to them. Both the SL and RL methods can leverage chain-of-thought style reasoning to improve the human-judged performance and transparency of AI decision-making. These methods make it possible to control AI behavior more precisely and with far fewer human labels.

The Geometry of Multilingual Language Model Representations

Authors: Tyler A. Chang, Zhuowen Tu, Benjamin K. Bergen

Abstract: We assess how multilingual language models maintain a shared multilingual representation space while still encoding language-sensitive information in each language. Using XLM-R as a case study, we show that languages occupy similar linear subspaces after mean-centering, evaluated based on causal effects on language modeling performance and direct comparisons between subspaces for 88 languages. The subspace means differ along language-sensitive axes that are relatively stable throughout middle layers, and these axes encode information such as token vocabularies. Shifting representations by language means is sufficient to induce token predictions in different languages. However, we also identify stable language-neutral axes that encode information such as token positions and part-of-speech. We visualize representations projected onto language-sensitive and language-neutral axes, identifying language family and part-of-speech clusters, along with spirals, toruses, and curves representing token position information. These results demonstrate that multilingual language models encode information along orthogonal language-sensitive and language-neutral axes, allowing the models to extract a variety of features for downstream tasks and cross-lingual transfer learning.

UL2: Unifying Language Learning Paradigms

Authors: Yi Tay, Mostafa Dehghani, Vinh Q. Tran, Xavier Garcia, Jason Wei, Xuezhi Wang, et al.

Abstract: Existing pre-trained models are generally geared towards a particular class of problems. To date, there seems to be still no consensus on what the right architecture and pre-training setup should be. This paper presents a unified framework for pre-training models that are universally effective across datasets and setups. We begin by disentangling architectural archetypes with pre-training objectives -- two concepts that are commonly conflated. Next, we present a generalized and unified perspective for self-supervision in NLP and show how different pre-training objectives can be cast as one another and how interpolating between different objectives can be effective. We then propose Mixture-of-Denoisers (MoD), a pre-training objective that combines diverse pre-training paradigms together. We furthermore introduce a notion of mode switching, wherein downstream fine-tuning is associated with specific pre-training schemes. We conduct extensive ablative experiments to compare multiple pre-training objectives and find that our method pushes the Pareto-frontier by outperforming T5 and/or GPT-like models across multiple diverse setups. Finally, by scaling our model up to 20B parameters, we achieve SOTA performance on 50 well-established supervised NLP tasks ranging from language generation (with automated and human evaluation), language understanding, text classification, question answering, commonsense reasoning, long text reasoning, structured knowledge grounding and information retrieval. Our model also achieves strong results at in-context learning, outperforming 175B GPT-3 on zero-shot SuperGLUE and tripling the performance of T5-XXL on one-shot summarization. Finally, we show that UL2 20B works well with chain-of-thought prompting and reasoning. We release Flax-based T5X model checkpoints for the 20B model at this url.

Training Compute-Optimal Large Language Models

Authors: Jordan Hoffmann, Sebastian Borgeaud, Arthur Mensch, Elena Buchatskaya, et al.

Abstract: We investigate the optimal model size and the number of tokens for training a transformer language model under a given compute budget. We find that current large language models are significantly undertrained, a consequence of the recent focus on scaling language models whilst keeping the amount of training data constant. By training over 400 language models ranging from 70 million to over 16 billion parameters on 5 to 500 billion tokens, we find that for compute-optimal training, the model size and the number of training tokens should be scaled equally: for every doubling of model size the number of training tokens should also be doubled. We test this hypothesis by training a predicted compute-optimal model, Chinchilla, that uses the same compute budget as Gopher but with 70B parameters and 4× more data. Chinchilla uniformly and significantly outperforms Gopher (280B), GPT-3 (175B), Jurassic-1 (178B), and Megatron-Turing NLG (530B) on a large range of downstream evaluation tasks. This also means that Chinchilla uses substantially less computing for fine-tuning and inference, greatly facilitating downstream usage. As a highlight, Chinchilla reaches a state-of-the-art average accuracy of 67.5% on the MMLU benchmark, greater than a 7% improvement over Gopher.

Image-and-Language Understanding from Pixels Only

Authors: Michael Tschannen, Basil Mustafa, Neil Houlsby

Abstract: Multimodal models are becoming increasingly effective, in part due to unified components, such as the Transformer architecture. However, multimodal models still often consist of many task- and modality-specific pieces and training procedures. For example, CLIP (Radford et al., 2021) trains independent text and image towers via a contrastive loss. We explore an additional unification: the use of a pure pixel-based model to perform image, text, and multimodal tasks. Our model is trained with contrastive loss alone, so we call it CLIP-Pixels Only (CLIPPO). CLIPPO uses a single encoder that processes both regular images and text rendered as images. CLIPPO performs image-based tasks such as retrieval and zero-shot image classification almost as well as CLIP, with half the number of parameters and no text-specific tower or embedding. When trained jointly via image-text contrastive learning and next-sentence contrastive learning, CLIPPO can perform well on natural language understanding tasks, without any word-level loss (language modeling or masked language modeling), outperforming pixel-based prior work. Surprisingly, CLIPPO can obtain good accuracy in visual question answering, simply by rendering the question and image together. Finally, we exploit the fact that CLIPPO does not require a tokenizer to show that it can achieve strong performance on multilingual multimodal retrieval without]

Interpreting Language Models with Contrastive Explanations

Authors: Kayo Yin, Graham Neubig

Abstract: Model interpretability methods are often used to explain NLP model decisions on tasks such as text classification, where the output space is relatively small. However, when applied to language generation, where the output space often consists of tens of thousands of tokens, these methods are unable to provide informative explanations. Language models must consider various features to predict a token, such as its part of speech, number, tense, or semantics. Existing explanation methods conflate evidence for all these features into a single explanation, which is less interpretable for human understanding. To disentangle the different decisions in language modeling, we focus on explaining language models contrastively: we look for salient input tokens that explain why the model predicted one token instead of another. We demonstrate that contrastive explanations are quantifiably better than non-contrastive explanations in verifying major grammatical phenomena and that they significantly improve contrastive model simulatability for human observers. We also identify groups of contrastive decisions where the model uses similar evidence, and we are able to characterize what input tokens models use during various language generation decisions.

In-context Examples Selection for Machine Translation

Authors: Sweta Agrawal, Chunting Zhou, Mike Lewis, Luke Zettlemoyer, Marjan Ghazvininejad

Abstract: Large-scale generative models show an impressive ability to perform a wide range of Natural Language Processing (NLP) tasks using in-context learning, where a few examples are used to describe a task to the model. For Machine Translation (MT), these examples are typically randomly sampled from the development dataset with a similar distribution as the evaluation set. However, it is unclear how the choice of these in-context examples and their ordering impacts the output translation quality. In this work, we aim to understand the properties of good in-context examples for MT in both in-domain and out-of-domain settings. We show that the translation quality and the domain of the in-context examples matter and that 1-shot noisy unrelated example can have a catastrophic impact on output quality. While concatenating multiple random examples reduces the effect of noise, a single good prompt optimized to maximize translation quality on the development dataset can elicit learned information from the pre-trained language model. Adding similar examples based on an n-gram overlap with the test source significantly and consistently improves the translation quality of the outputs, outperforming a strong kNN-MT baseline in 2 out of 4 out-of-domain datasets.

Structured Prompting: Scaling In-Context Learning to 1,000 Examples

Authors: Yaru Hao, Yutao Sun, Li Dong, Zhixiong Han, Yuxian Gu, Furu Wei

Abstract: Large language models have exhibited intriguing in-context learning capability, achieving promising zero- and few-shot performance without updating the parameters. However, conventional in-context learning is usually restricted by length constraints, rendering it ineffective to absorb supervision from a large number of examples. In order to go beyond few shots, we introduce structured prompting that breaks the length limit and scales in-context learning to thousands of examples. Specifically, demonstration examples are separately encoded with well-designed position embeddings, and then they are jointly attended by the test example using a rescaled attention mechanism. So we can scale the number of exemplars with linear complexity instead of quadratic complexity with respect to length. Experimental results on a diverse set of tasks show that our approach improves end-task performance and reduces evaluation variance over conventional in-context learning as the number of demonstration examples increases. Code has been released at this URL.

Parallel Context Windows Improve In-Context Learning of Large Language Models

Authors: Nir Ratner, Yoav Levine, Yonatan Belinkov, Ori Ram, Omri Abend, Ehud Karpas, Amnon Shashua, Kevin Leyton-Brown, Yoav Shoham

Abstract: For applications that require processing large amounts of text at inference time, Large Language Models (LLMs) are handicapped by their limited context windows, which are typically 2048 tokens. In-context learning, an emergent phenomenon in LLMs in sizes above a certain parameter threshold, constitutes one significant example because it can only leverage training examples that fit into the context window. Existing efforts to address the context window limitation involve training specialized architectures, which tend to be smaller than the sizes in which in-context learning manifests due to the memory footprint of processing long texts. We present Parallel Context Windows (PCW), a method that alleviates the context window restriction for any off-the-shelf LLM without further training. The key to the approach is to carve a long context into chunks ("windows") that fit within the architecture, restrict the attention mechanism to apply only within each window, and re-use the positional embeddings among the windows. We test the PCW approach on in-context learning with models that range in size between 750 million and 178 billion parameters, and show substantial improvements for tasks with diverse input and output spaces. Our results motivate further investigation of Parallel Context Windows as a method for applying off-the-shelf LLMs in other settings that require long text sequences.

A Length-Extrapolatable Transformer

Authors: Yutao Sun, Li Dong, Barun Patra, Shuming Ma, Shaohan Huang, Alon Benhaim, Vishrav Chaudhary, Xia Song, Furu Wei

Abstract: Position modeling plays a critical role in Transformers. In this paper, we focus on length extrapolation, i.e., training on short texts while evaluating longer sequences. We define attention resolution as an indicator of extrapolation. Then we propose two designs to improve the above metric of Transformers. Specifically, we introduce a relative position embedding to explicitly maximize attention resolution. Moreover, we use blockwise causal attention during inference for better resolution. We evaluate different Transformer variants with language modeling. Experimental results show that our model achieves strong performance in both interpolation and extrapolation settings. The code will be available at this https URL.


Advanced Natural Language Processing

Advanced Natural Language Processing is a hands-on proficient course that discusses the latest advancements and fundamentals of NLP offered by Carnegie Mellon University and taught by Graham Neubig and Robert Frederking. The awesome thing is that you don't need hardcore prerequisites to take the class, all you need are some programming experience in Python and some knowledge of probability and linear algebra. You can find all of the lectures on YouTube and everything you need on the course website.

Prompt Engineering Guide

This is not a paper but a guide on prompt engineering developed by DAIR AI. It contains a non-exhaustive set of learning guides and tools about prompt engineering. It includes several materials, guides, examples, papers, and much more. The repo is intended to be used as a research and educational reference for practitioners and developers.

Final Thoughts

We hope this list has been informative for you and will help you stay up to speed with the best research on NLP. Please feel free to share it with anyone who could benefit from it.

If you're working with large volumes of text, you can possibly benefit greatly by incorporating large language models into your workflow. It may take some experimentation and tweaking to get the model to do exactly what you want, but these papers should give you an idea of how others go about it.

Is there a paper we should include in our next issue? Let us know on our Discord community. To get started with Cohere, try out our NLP API on our playground and start building.