# Review: Sparse Transformer

## Capture Long-Sequence Attentions

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G

enerating Long Sequences with Sparse TransformersSparse Transformer, by OpenAI2019 arXiv, Over 500 Citations(Sik-Ho Tsang @ Medium)

Image Generation, Text Generation, Music Generation, Transformer

- Conventional
**Transformer****memory usage grows quadratically**with the sequence length. **Sparse Transformer**is proposed, introducing**sparse factorizations of the attention matrix**which reduce from O(*n²*) to O(*n*√*n*), also with several other changes to the Transformer, so that it can**model sequences tens of thousands of timesteps**long using hundreds of layers.

- The aim of Sparse Transformer is to have the task of
**autoregressive sequence generation**, where the joint probability of a sequence*x*={*x*1,*x*2, …,*xn*} is modeled as the product of conditional probability distributions and parameterized by a network*θ*:

- e.g.: image/text/audio generation.

# Outline

**Factorized Self-Attention****Sparse Transformer****Some Other Details****Experimental Results**

**1. Factorized Self-Attention**

- The above figure shows which pixels are attended to the current pixels.
**White: Attended pixels**; Black: Masked pixels which are pixels that will not be used for attention for the current pixel since.**(a) & (b)**: Most layers had**sparse attention patterns**across most data points, suggesting that some form of sparsity could be introduced without significantly affecting performance.**(c)**: Several layers clearly exhibited**global patterns**, however, and**(d)**: others exhibited**data-dependent sparsity**.

- Sparse Transformers separate the full self-attention operation across
*p*steps of attention. (*p*=2) **(b)**The first version,, is roughly equivalent to*strided*attention**each position attending to its row and its column**, and is similar to the attention pattern learned by the network above. (Note that the column attention can be equivalently formulated as attending to the row of the transposed matrix).- This formulation is convenient if the data naturally has a structure that aligns with the stride, like images or some types of music.
**(c)**The second version,*fixed*attention**attends to a fixed column and the elements after the latest column element**, this pattern is found to be useful for when the data didn’t fit into a two-dimensional structure (like text).- Concretely, if the
**stride**, then*l*is 128 and length*c*=8**all future positions greater than 128**can**attend to positions 120–128, all positions greater than 256**can**attend to 248–256**, and so forth.

It is found that choosing

for typical values ofc∈ {8, 16, 32}to perform well.l∈ {128, 256}

- When using
**multiple heads**, having them attend to distinct subblocks of length*c*within the block of size*l*was preferable.

Sparsity in the connectivity matrix can lead to

significantly faster computation. In (b) and (c),full connectivity between elements is preserved when the two heads are computed sequentially.

# 2. Sparse Transformer

- Three approaches are mentioned to perform factorized self-attention.

**2.1. Interleave**

- The
**simplest**technique for**integrating factorized self-attention**is to use**one attention type per residual block**, and**interleave them sequentially or at a ratio**determined as a hyperparameter:

- where
*r***the index of the current residual block**andis*p***the number of factorized attention heads.**

**2.2. Merged Head**

- A
**second approach**is to have**a single head attend to the locations of the pixels that both factorized heads would attend to**, which called**a merged head**:

**2.3. Multi-Head**

- A
**third**approach is to use**multi-head attention**, where, then*nh*attention products are computed in parallel**concatenated along the feature dimension**:

In the experiment,

Strided versionis used forimageandmusic, andfixed versionis used fortext.

**3. Some Other Details**

## 3.1. Scaling to Hundreds of Layers

- The
**pre-activation residual block**is used, as in Pre-Activation ResNet.

- where
*embed*is a function described later. And resblock(h) normalizes the input to the attention block and a position-wise feedforward network in the following way:

- where
*norm*denotes Layer Normalization. - and
*ff*(*x*)=*W*2*f*(*W*1*x*+*b*1)+*b*2 where*f*is GELU activation. The output dimension of*W*1 is 4 times the input dimension.

## 3.2. Modeling Diverse Data Types

- Using learned embeddings which either encoded the structure of the data or the factorized attention patterns were important:

- where
is the*xi***one-hot encoded**in the sequence, and*i*th element*o*(*j*)*i***one-hot encoded position of***xi**j*th dimension. is the*We***token embedding**andis the*Wj***position embeddings**.*nemb*=*ddata*or*nemb*=*dattn*refers to the*ddata***number of dimensions of the data**, andis the*dattn***number of dimensions of the factorized attention**.- e.g.: For
**images**,**data embeddings**is used, wherefor the row, column, and channel location of each input byte. For*ddata*=3*text**and*, two-dimensional*audio***attention embeddings**are used, whereand the index corresponds to*dattn*=2**each position’s row and column index**in a matrix.

## 3.3. Saving Memory by Re-computing Attention Weights

- In the above figure, the
**shaded/grey background**indicates tensors which are**checkpointed**(Chen et al., 2016) and**stored in GPU memory**. **Gradient checkpointing**has been shown to be effective in**reducing the memory requirements**of training deep neural networks.- Using recomputation alone,
**dense attention networks**with**hundreds of layers**on**sequence lengths of 16,384**can already be trained. - And dropout is applied within the attention blocks, instead it is only applied at the end of each residual addition.
**The (b) strided and (c) fixed sparse attention masks can be efficiently computed by slicing out sub-blocks**from the query, key, and value matrices and computing the product in blocks.- The
**upper triangle**of the attention matrix is**never computed**. **A set of GPU kernels**is used which efficiently perform these operations.- The softmax operation is fused into a single kernel.

## 3.4. Mixed-Precision Training

**Network weights**are stored in**single-precision floating-point**while**computation**of network activations and gradients is in**half-precision**.

## 3.5. Others

**8 V100 GPUs**are used.- All embeddings are of a constant
**dimension**, usually one of*d***{256, 512, 1024}.** - All linear transforms are to the same dimension, with the exception of the
**feed-forward network**, which projects the input to**4**, unless it is denoted as*d***“half-size”**transformations, where it is**2**.*d*

**4. Experimental Results**

## 4.1. CIFAR-10 (Image)

**Strided Sparse Transformers**on CIFAR-10 images represented as sequences of 3072 bytes for 120 epochs. Models have 2 heads, 128 layers,*d*=256,**half-size**feedforward network.

The proposed model achieves

2.80 bits per dim versus the previous 2.85 state of the art.

- The strided attention
**reaches the lowest error in the shortest amount of time**, surpassing the error of dense attention at 2.82 bits per dim.

## 4.2. **EnWik8 (Text)**

- The
**EnWik8**dataset, which represents the first 108 bytes of Wikipedia, is used. - 30-layer
**fixed Sparse Transformers**with 8 heads,*d*=512, and a dropout rate of 0.40, is trained for 80 epochs. A stride of 128,*c*=32, and**merged the factorized attention heads**, are used. - The proposed best model
**reached 0.99 bits per dim**,**surpassing the 1.03 state-of-the-art**for a similarly-sized Transformer-XL. - It is noted that
**strided attention failed**to do well on this dataset.

With longer contexts used, the

Sparse Transformer can effectively incorporate long-term dependencies.

## 4.3. ImageNet 64×64 (Image)

- Downsampled ImageNet is used.
- A
**48 layer strided Sparse Transformer**with 16 attention heads and*d*=512, totaling 152 million parameters. A stride of 128, a dropout of 0.01, are used, and trained for 70 epochs, which took 7 days on 64 V100 GPUs.

The proposed model achieves a loss of

3.44 bits per dim, in comparison to the previous 3.52.

The proposed Sparse Transformer is

able to model the long-range dependenciesdirectly from pixels without using a multi-scale architecture.

## 4.4. Classical Music from Raw Audio (Audio)

- Authors attempted to train the largest model which could entirely fit into 16GB V100 accelerators without model parallelism.
- It is found that
**factorized self-attention can be used on sequences over 1 million timesteps long**, albeit with extremely few parameters (3 million). - However,
**sample quality quickly degrades for greater sequence lengths**due to reduced model capacity.

## Reference

[2019 arXiv] [Sparse Transformer]

Generating Long Sequences with Sparse Transformers

## Natural Language Processing (NLP)

**Language/Sequence Model: 2007 **[Bengio TNN’07] **2013 **[Word2Vec] [NCE] [Negative Sampling] **2014** [GloVe] [GRU] [Doc2Vec] **2015 **[Skip-Thought] **2016 **[GCNN/GLU] [context2vec] [Jozefowicz arXiv’16] [LSTM-Char-CNN] **2017 **[TagLM] [CoVe] [MoE] **2018 **[GLUE] [T-DMCA] [GPT] [ELMo] **2019** [T64] [Transformer-XL] [BERT] [RoBERTa] [GPT-2] [DistilBERT] [MT-DNN] [Sparse Transformer] **2020 **[ALBERT]