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AD-DROP: Attribution-Driven Dropout for Robust Language Model Fine-Tuning

Tao Yang · JInghao Deng · Xiaojun Quan · Qifan Wang · Shaoliang Nie

Hall J (level 1) #902

Keywords: [ fine-tune ] [ Dropout ] [ attribution ] [ language model ] [ self-attention ]


Fine-tuning large pre-trained language models on downstream tasks is apt to suffer from overfitting when limited training data is available. While dropout proves to be an effective antidote by randomly dropping a proportion of units, existing research has not examined its effect on the self-attention mechanism. In this paper, we investigate this problem through self-attention attribution and find that dropping attention positions with low attribution scores can accelerate training and increase the risk of overfitting. Motivated by this observation, we propose Attribution-Driven Dropout (AD-DROP), which randomly discards some high-attribution positions to encourage the model to make predictions by relying more on low-attribution positions to reduce overfitting. We also develop a cross-tuning strategy to alternate fine-tuning and AD-DROP to avoid dropping high-attribution positions excessively. Extensive experiments on various benchmarks show that AD-DROP yields consistent improvements over baselines. Analysis further confirms that AD-DROP serves as a strategic regularizer to prevent overfitting during fine-tuning.

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