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Pre-computed memory or on-the-fly encoding? A hybrid approach to retrieval augmentation makes the most of your compute

Michiel de Jong · Yury Zemlyanskiy · Nicholas FitzGerald · Joshua Ainslie · Sumit Sanghai · Fei Sha · William Cohen

Exhibit Hall 1 #306
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Retrieval-augmented language models such as Fusion-in-Decoder are powerful, setting the state of the art on a variety of knowledge-intensive tasks. However, they are also expensive, due to the need to encode a large number of retrieved passages. Some work avoids this cost by pre-encoding a text corpus into a memory and retrieving dense representations directly. However, pre-encoding memory incurs a severe quality penalty as the memory representations are not conditioned on the current input. We propose LUMEN, a hybrid between these two extremes, pre-computing the majority of the retrieval representation and completing the encoding on the fly using a live encoder that is conditioned on the question and fine-tuned for the task. We show that LUMEN significantly outperforms pure memory on multiple question-answering tasks while being much cheaper than FiD, and outperforms both for any given compute budget. Moreover, the advantage of LUMEN over FiD increases with model size.

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