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PoNet: Pooling Network for Efficient Token Mixing in Long Sequences

Chao-Hong Tan · Qian Chen · Wen Wang · Qinglin Zhang · Siqi Zheng · Zhen-Hua Ling

Keywords: [ BERT ] [ pooling ] [ glue ] [ linear ] [ transfer learning ] [ transformer ]


Transformer-based models have achieved great success in various NLP, vision, and speech tasks. However, the core of Transformer, the self-attention mechanism, has a quadratic time and memory complexity with respect to the sequence length, which hinders applications of Transformer-based models to long sequences. Many approaches have been proposed to mitigate this problem, such as sparse attention mechanisms, low-rank matrix approximations and scalable kernels, and token mixing alternatives to self-attention. We propose a novel Pooling Network (PoNet) for token mixing in long sequences with linear complexity. We design multi-granularity pooling and pooling fusion to capture different levels of contextual information and combine their interactions with tokens. On the Long Range Arena benchmark, PoNet significantly outperforms Transformer and achieves competitive accuracy, while being only slightly slower than the fastest model, FNet, across all sequence lengths measured on GPUs. We also conduct systematic studies on the transfer learning capability of PoNet and observe that PoNet achieves 95.7 percent of the accuracy of BERT on the GLUE benchmark, outperforming FNet by 4.5 percent relative. Comprehensive ablation analysis demonstrates effectiveness of the designed multi-granularity pooling and pooling fusion for token mixing in long sequences and efficacy of the designed pre-training tasks for PoNet to learn transferable contextualized language representations.

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