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Oral Session

Oral 2A Efficient Learning

Hall C2 (level 1 gate 9 south of food court)
Tue 12 Dec 1:40 p.m. PST — 2:40 p.m. PST


Tue 12 Dec. 13:40 - 13:55 PST

Monarch Mixer: A Simple Sub-Quadratic GEMM-Based Architecture

Dan Fu · Simran Arora · Jessica Grogan · Isys Johnson · Evan Sabri Eyuboglu · Armin Thomas · Benjamin Spector · Michael Poli · Atri Rudra · Christopher Ré

Machine learning models are increasingly being scaled in both sequence length and model dimension to reach longer contexts and better performance. However, existing architectures such as Transformers scale quadratically along both these axes. We ask: are there performant architectures that can scale sub-quadratically along sequence length and model dimension? We introduce Monarch Mixer (M2), a new architecture that uses the same sub-quadratic primitive along both sequence length and model dimension: Monarch matrices, a simple class of expressive structured matrices that captures many linear transforms, achieves high hardware efficiency on GPUs, and scales sub-quadratically. As a proof of concept, we explore the performance of M2 in three domains: non-causal BERT-style language modeling, ViT-style image classification, and causal GPT-style language modeling. For non-causal BERT-style modeling, M2 matches BERT-base and BERT-large in downstream GLUE quality with up to 27% fewer parameters, and achieves up to 9.1$\times$ higher throughput at sequence length 4K. On ImageNet, M2 outperforms ViT-b by 1% in accuracy, with only half the parameters. Causal GPT-style models introduce a technical challenge: enforcing causality via masking introduces a quadratic bottleneck. To alleviate this bottleneck, we develop a novel theoretical view of Monarch matrices based on multivariate polynomial evaluation and interpolation, which lets us parameterize M2 to be causal while remaining sub-quadratic. Using this parameterization, M2 matches GPT-style Transformers at 360M parameters in pretraining perplexity on The PILE—showing for the first time that it may be possible to match Transformer quality without attention or MLPs.

Tue 12 Dec. 13:55 - 14:10 PST

QLoRA: Efficient Finetuning of Quantized LLMs

Tim Dettmers · Artidoro Pagnoni · Ari Holtzman · Luke Zettlemoyer

We present QLoRA, an efficient finetuning approach that reduces memory usage enough to finetune a 65B parameter model on a single 48GB GPU while preserving full 16-bit finetuning task performance. QLoRA backpropagates gradients through a frozen, 4-bit quantized pretrained language model into Low Rank Adapters~(LoRA). Our best model family, which we name Guanaco, outperforms all previous openly released models on the Vicuna benchmark, reaching 99.3% of the performance level of ChatGPT while only requiring 24 hours of finetuning on a single GPU. QLoRA introduces a number of innovations to save memory without sacrificing performance: (a) 4-bit NormalFloat (NF4), a new data type that is information-theoretically optimal for normally distributed weights (b) Double Quantization to reduce the average memory footprint by quantizing the quantization constants, and (c) Paged Optimziers to manage memory spikes. We use QLoRA to finetune more than 1,000 models, providing a detailed analysis of instruction following and chatbot performance across 8 instruction datasets, multiple model types (LLaMA, T5), and model scales that would be infeasible to run with regular finetuning (e.g. 33B and 65B parameter models). Our results show that QLoRA finetuning on a small, high-quality dataset leads to state-of-the-art results, even when using smaller models than the previous SoTA. We provide a detailed analysis of chatbot performance based on both human and GPT-4 evaluations, showing that GPT-4 evaluations are a cheap and reasonable alternative to human evaluation. Furthermore, we find that current chatbot benchmarks are not trustworthy to accurately evaluate the performance levels of chatbots. A lemon-picked analysis demonstrates where Guanaco fails compared to ChatGPT. We release all of our models and code, including CUDA kernels for 4-bit training.

Tue 12 Dec. 14:10 - 14:25 PST

Scaling Data-Constrained Language Models

Niklas Muennighoff · Alexander Rush · Boaz Barak · Teven Le Scao · Nouamane Tazi · Aleksandra Piktus · Sampo Pyysalo · Thomas Wolf · Colin Raffel

The current trend of scaling language models involves increasing both parameter count and training dataset size. Extrapolating this trend suggests that training dataset size may soon be limited by the amount of text data available on the internet. Motivated by this limit, we investigate scaling language models in data-constrained regimes. Specifically, we run a large set of experiments varying the extent of data repetition and compute budget, ranging up to 900 billion training tokens and 9 billion parameter models. We find that with constrained data for a fixed compute budget, training with up to 4 epochs of repeated data yields negligible changes to loss compared to having unique data. However, with more repetition, the value of adding compute eventually decays to zero. We propose and empirically validate a scaling law for compute optimality that accounts for the decreasing value of repeated tokens and excess parameters. Finally, we experiment with approaches mitigating data scarcity, including augmenting the training dataset with code data or removing commonly used filters. Models and datasets from our 400 training runs are freely available at

Tue 12 Dec. 14:25 - 14:40 PST

Bridging Discrete and Backpropagation: Straight-Through and Beyond

Liyuan Liu · Chengyu Dong · Xiaodong Liu · Bin Yu · Jianfeng Gao

Backpropagation, the cornerstone of deep learning, is limited to computing gradients for continuous variables. This limitation poses challenges for problems involving discrete latent variables. To address this issue, we propose a novel approach to approximate the gradient of parameters involved in generating discrete latent variables. First, we examine the widely used Straight-Through (ST) heuristic and demonstrate that it works as a first-order approximation of the gradient. Guided by our findings, we propose ReinMax, which achieves second-order accuracy by integrating Heun’s method, a second-order numerical method for solving ODEs. ReinMax does not require Hessian or other second-order derivatives, thus having negligible computation overheads. Extensive experimental results on various tasks demonstrate the superiority of ReinMax over the state of the art.