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NLP From Scratch Without Large-Scale Pretraining: A Simple and Efficient Framework

Xingcheng Yao · Yanan Zheng · Xiaocong Yang · Zhilin Yang

Hall E #407

Keywords: [ MISC: Supervised Learning ] [ MISC: General Machine Learning Techniques ] [ MISC: Representation Learning ] [ DL: Algorithms ] [ DL: Self-Supervised Learning ]


Pretrained language models have become the standard approach for many NLP tasks due to strong performance, but they are very expensive to train. We propose a simple and efficient learning framework, TLM, that does not rely on large-scale pretraining. Given some labeled task data and a large general corpus, TLM uses task data as queries to retrieve a tiny subset of the general corpus and jointly optimizes the task objective and the language modeling objective from scratch. On eight classification datasets in four domains, TLM achieves results better than or similar to pretrained language models (e.g., RoBERTa-Large) while reducing the training FLOPs by two orders of magnitude. With high accuracy and efficiency, we hope TLM will contribute to democratizing NLP and expediting its development.

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