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Workshop: Workshop on robustness of zero/few-shot learning in foundation models (R0-FoMo)

READ: Recurrent Adaptation of Large Transformers

Sid Wang · John Nguyen · Ke Li · Carole-Jean Wu


In the realm of Natural Language Processing (NLP), large-scale transformers have established themselves as pivotal, achieving unparalleled results across numerous tasks. The conventional approach involves pre-training these models on extensive web-scale data, followed by fine-tuning them for specific downstream tasks. However, the burgeoning size of these models, which has surged almost two orders of magnitude faster than GPU memory since 2018, has rendered their fine-tuning financially and computationally exorbitant, limiting this capability to a select few well-funded institutions. Parameter-efficient transfer learning (PETL) has emerged as a potential solution, aiming to efficiently adapt pre-trained model parameters to target tasks using smaller, task-specific models. Nonetheless, existing PETL methods either introduce additional inference latency or marginally reduce memory requirements during training, thus not fully addressing the primary motivation behind PETL. This paper introduces REcurrent ADaption (READ), a novel, lightweight, and memory-efficient fine-tuning method that incorporates a small RNN network alongside the backbone model. READ not only achieves comparable model quality to traditional fine-tuning, saving over 84\% in energy consumption, but also demonstrates scalability and independence from the backbone model size. Through extensive experiments on various NLP benchmarks, including the GLUE benchmark, READ showcases robust performance and high efficiency, reducing model training memory consumption by 56\% and GPU energy usage by 84\% relative to full-tuning, without significantly impacting inference latency and memory. We provide a theoretically justified, scalable solution for fine-tuning large transformers.

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