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Decoding Layer Saliency in Language Transformers

Elizabeth Hou · Gregory Castanon

Exhibit Hall 1 #128


In this paper, we introduce a strategy for identifying textual saliency in large-scale language models applied to classification tasks. In visual networks where saliency is more well-studied, saliency is naturally localized through the convolutional layers of the network; however, the same is not true in modern transformer-stack networks used to process natural language. We adapt gradient-based saliency methods for these networks, propose a method for evaluating the degree of semantic coherence of each layer, and demonstrate consistent improvement over numerous other methods for textual saliency on multiple benchmark classification datasets. Our approach requires no additional training or access to labelled data, and is comparatively very computationally efficient.

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