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Poster
Staircase Attention for Recurrent Processing of Sequences
Da JU · Stephen Roller · Sainbayar Sukhbaatar · Jason E Weston

Wed Nov 30 09:00 AM -- 11:00 AM (PST) @ Hall J #300

Attention mechanisms have become a standard tool for sequence modeling tasks, in particular by stacking self-attention layers over the entire input sequence as in the Transformer architecture. In this work we introduce a novel attention procedure called staircase attention that, unlike self-attention, operates across the sequence (in time) recurrently processing the input by adding another step of processing. Astep in the staircase comprises of backward tokens (encoding the sequence so far seen) and forward tokens (ingesting a new part of the sequence). Thus our model can trade off performance and compute, by increasing the amount of recurrence through time and depth. Staircase attention is shown to be able to solve tasks that involve tracking that conventional Transformers cannot, due to this recurrence. Further, it is shown to provide improved modeling power for the same size model (number of parameters) compared to self-attentive Transformers on large language modeling and dialogue tasks, yielding significant perplexity gains.

Author Information

Da JU (Meta AI)
Stephen Roller (Facebook)
Sainbayar Sukhbaatar (Meta AI)
Jason E Weston (Meta AI)

Jason Weston received a PhD. (2000) from Royal Holloway, University of London under the supervision of Vladimir Vapnik. From 2000 to 2002, he was a researcher at Biowulf technologies, New York, applying machine learning to bioinformatics. From 2002 to 2003 he was a research scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Tuebingen, Germany. From 2004 to June 2009 he was a research staff member at NEC Labs America, Princeton. From July 2009 onwards he has been a research scientist at Google, New York. Jason Weston's current research focuses on various aspects of statistical machine learning and its applications, particularly in text and images.

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