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Isotropy in the Contextual Embedding Space: Clusters and Manifolds

Xingyu Cai · Jiaji Huang · Yuchen Bian · Kenneth Church

Keywords: [ manifolds ] [ Clusters ] [ Isotropy ] [ Contextual embedding space ]


The geometric properties of contextual embedding spaces for deep language models such as BERT and ERNIE, have attracted considerable attention in recent years. Investigations on the contextual embeddings demonstrate a strong anisotropic space such that most of the vectors fall within a narrow cone, leading to high cosine similarities. It is surprising that these LMs are as successful as they are, given that most of their embedding vectors are as similar to one another as they are. In this paper, we argue that the isotropy indeed exists in the space, from a different but more constructive perspective. We identify isolated clusters and low dimensional manifolds in the contextual embedding space, and introduce tools to both qualitatively and quantitatively analyze them. We hope the study in this paper could provide insights towards a better understanding of the deep language models.

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