Some Math behind Neural Tangent Kernel

Neural networks are well known to be over-parameterized and can often easily fit data with near-zero training loss with decent generalization performance on test dataset. Although all these parameters are initialized at random, the optimization process can consistently lead to similarly good outcomes. And this is true even when the number of model parameters exceeds the number of training data points. Neural tangent kernel (NTK) (Jacot et al. 2018) is a kernel to explain the evolution of neural networks during training via gradient descent....

September 8, 2022 · 17 min · Lilian Weng

Generalized Visual Language Models

Processing images to generate text, such as image captioning and visual question-answering, has been studied for years. Traditionally such systems rely on an object detection network as a vision encoder to capture visual features and then produce text via a text decoder. Given a large amount of existing literature, in this post, I would like to only focus on one approach for solving vision language tasks, which is to extend pre-trained generalized language models to be capable of consuming visual signals....

June 9, 2022 · 25 min · Lilian Weng

Learning with not Enough Data Part 3: Data Generation

Here comes the Part 3 on learning with not enough data (Previous: Part 1 and Part 2). Let’s consider two approaches for generating synthetic data for training. Augmented data. Given a set of existing training samples, we can apply a variety of augmentation, distortion and transformation to derive new data points without losing the key attributes. We have covered a bunch of augmentation methods on text and images in a previous post on contrastive learning....

April 15, 2022 · 28 min · Lilian Weng

Learning with not Enough Data Part 2: Active Learning

This is part 2 of what to do when facing a limited amount of labeled data for supervised learning tasks. This time we will get some amount of human labeling work involved, but within a budget limit, and therefore we need to be smart when selecting which samples to label. Notations Symbol Meaning $K$ Number of unique class labels. $(\mathbf{x}^l, y) \sim \mathcal{X}, y \in \{0, 1\}^K$ Labeled dataset....

February 20, 2022 · 22 min · Lilian Weng

Learning with not Enough Data Part 1: Semi-Supervised Learning

When facing a limited amount of labeled data for supervised learning tasks, four approaches are commonly discussed. Pre-training + fine-tuning: Pre-train a powerful task-agnostic model on a large unsupervised data corpus, e.g. pre-training LMs on free text, or pre-training vision models on unlabelled images via self-supervised learning, and then fine-tune it on the downstream task with a small set of labeled samples. Semi-supervised learning: Learn from the labelled and unlabeled samples together....

December 5, 2021 · 26 min · Lilian Weng

How to Train Really Large Models on Many GPUs?

[Updated on 2022-03-13: add expert choice routing.] [Updated on 2022-06-10]: Greg and I wrote a shorted and upgraded version of this post, published on OpenAI Blog: “Techniques for Training Large Neural Networks” In recent years, we are seeing better results on many NLP benchmark tasks with larger pre-trained language models. How to train large and deep neural networks is challenging, as it demands a large amount of GPU memory and a long horizon of training time....

September 24, 2021 · 21 min · Lilian Weng

What are Diffusion Models?

[Updated on 2021-09-19: Highly recommend this blog post on score-based generative modeling by Yang Song (author of several key papers in the references)]. [Updated on 2022-08-27: Added classifier-free guidance, GLIDE, unCLIP and Imagen. [Updated on 2022-08-31: Added latent diffusion model. So far, I’ve written about three types of generative models, GAN, VAE, and Flow-based models. They have shown great success in generating high-quality samples, but each has some limitations of its own....

July 11, 2021 · 26 min · Lilian Weng

Contrastive Representation Learning

The goal of contrastive representation learning is to learn such an embedding space in which similar sample pairs stay close to each other while dissimilar ones are far apart. Contrastive learning can be applied to both supervised and unsupervised settings. When working with unsupervised data, contrastive learning is one of the most powerful approaches in self-supervised learning. Contrastive Training Objectives In early versions of loss functions for contrastive learning, only one positive and one negative sample are involved....

May 31, 2021 · 39 min · Lilian Weng

Reducing Toxicity in Language Models

Large pretrained language models are trained over a sizable collection of online data. They unavoidably acquire certain toxic behavior and biases from the Internet. Pretrained language models are very powerful and have shown great success in many NLP tasks. However, to safely deploy them for practical real-world applications demands a strong safety control over the model generation process. Many challenges are associated with the effort to diminish various types of unsafe content:...

March 21, 2021 · 23 min · Lilian Weng

Controllable Neural Text Generation

[Updated on 2021-02-01: Updated to version 2.0 with several work added and many typos fixed.] [Updated on 2021-05-26: Add P-tuning and Prompt Tuning in the “prompt design” section.] [Updated on 2021-09-19: Add “unlikelihood training”.] There is a gigantic amount of free text on the Web, several magnitude more than labelled benchmark datasets. The state-of-the-art language models (LM) are trained with unsupervised Web data in large scale. When generating samples from LM by iteratively sampling the next token, we do not have much control over attributes of the output text, such as the topic, the style, the sentiment, etc....

January 2, 2021 · 42 min · Lilian Weng

How to Build an Open-Domain Question Answering System?

[Updated on 2020-11-12: add an example on closed-book factual QA using OpenAI API (beta). A model that can answer any question with regard to factual knowledge can lead to many useful and practical applications, such as working as a chatbot or an AI assistant🤖. In this post, we will review several common approaches for building such an open-domain question answering system. Disclaimers given so many papers in the wild: Assume we have access to a powerful pretrained language model....

October 29, 2020 · 33 min · Lilian Weng

Neural Architecture Search

Although most popular and successful model architectures are designed by human experts, it doesn’t mean we have explored the entire network architecture space and settled down with the best option. We would have a better chance to find the optimal solution if we adopt a systematic and automatic way of learning high-performance model architectures. Automatically learning and evolving network topologies is not a new idea (Stanley & Miikkulainen, 2002). In recent years, the pioneering work by Zoph & Le 2017 and Baker et al....

August 6, 2020 · 32 min · Lilian Weng

Exploration Strategies in Deep Reinforcement Learning

[Updated on 2020-06-17: Add “exploration via disagreement” in the “Forward Dynamics” section. Exploitation versus exploration is a critical topic in Reinforcement Learning. We’d like the RL agent to find the best solution as fast as possible. However, in the meantime, committing to solutions too quickly without enough exploration sounds pretty bad, as it could lead to local minima or total failure. Modern RL algorithms that optimize for the best returns can achieve good exploitation quite efficiently, while exploration remains more like an open topic....

June 7, 2020 · 36 min · Lilian Weng

The Transformer Family

It has been almost two years since my last post on attention. Recent progress on new and enhanced versions of Transformer motivates me to write another post on this specific topic, focusing on how the vanilla Transformer can be improved for longer-term attention span, less memory and computation consumption, RL task solving and more. Notations Symbol Meaning $d$ The model size / hidden state dimension / positional encoding size....

April 7, 2020 · 25 min · Lilian Weng

Curriculum for Reinforcement Learning

[Updated on 2020-02-03: mentioning PCG in the “Task-Specific Curriculum” section. [Updated on 2020-02-04: Add a new “curriculum through distillation” section. It sounds like an impossible task if we want to teach integral or derivative to a 3-year-old who does not even know basic arithmetics. That’s why education is important, as it provides a systematic way to break down complex knowledge and a nice curriculum for teaching concepts from simple to hard....

January 29, 2020 · 24 min · Lilian Weng

Self-Supervised Representation Learning

[Updated on 2020-01-09: add a new section on Contrastive Predictive Coding]. [Updated on 2020-04-13: add a “Momentum Contrast” section on MoCo, SimCLR and CURL.] [Updated on 2020-07-08: add a “Bisimulation” section on DeepMDP and DBC.] [Updated on 2020-09-12: add MoCo V2 and BYOL in the “Momentum Contrast” section.] [Updated on 2021-05-31: remove section on “Momentum Contrast” and add a pointer to a full post on “Contrastive Representation Learning”]...

November 10, 2019 · 38 min · Lilian Weng

Evolution Strategies

Stochastic gradient descent is a universal choice for optimizing deep learning models. However, it is not the only option. With black-box optimization algorithms, you can evaluate a target function $f(x): \mathbb{R}^n \to \mathbb{R}$, even when you don’t know the precise analytic form of $f(x)$ and thus cannot compute gradients or the Hessian matrix. Examples of black-box optimization methods include Simulated Annealing, Hill Climbing and Nelder-Mead method. Evolution Strategies (ES) is one type of black-box optimization algorithms, born in the family of Evolutionary Algorithms (EA)....

September 5, 2019 · 22 min · Lilian Weng

Meta Reinforcement Learning

In my earlier post on meta-learning, the problem is mainly defined in the context of few-shot classification. Here I would like to explore more into cases when we try to “meta-learn” Reinforcement Learning (RL) tasks by developing an agent that can solve unseen tasks fast and efficiently. To recap, a good meta-learning model is expected to generalize to new tasks or new environments that have never been encountered during training. The adaptation process, essentially a mini learning session, happens at test with limited exposure to the new configurations....

June 23, 2019 · 22 min · Lilian Weng

Domain Randomization for Sim2Real Transfer

In Robotics, one of the hardest problems is how to make your model transfer to the real world. Due to the sample inefficiency of deep RL algorithms and the cost of data collection on real robots, we often need to train models in a simulator which theoretically provides an infinite amount of data. However, the reality gap between the simulator and the physical world often leads to failure when working with physical robots....

May 5, 2019 · 15 min · Lilian Weng

Are Deep Neural Networks Dramatically Overfitted?

[Updated on 2019-05-27: add the section on Lottery Ticket Hypothesis.] If you are like me, entering into the field of deep learning with experience in traditional machine learning, you may often ponder over this question: Since a typical deep neural network has so many parameters and training error can easily be perfect, it should surely suffer from substantial overfitting. How could it be ever generalized to out-of-sample data points? The effort in understanding why deep neural networks can generalize somehow reminds me of this interesting paper on System Biology — “Can a biologist fix a radio?...

March 14, 2019 · 22 min · Lilian Weng