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SMYRF: Efficient attention using asymmetric clustering

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We propose a novel type of balanced clustering algorithm to approximate attention. Attention complexity is reduced from O(N^2) to O(NlogN), where N is the sequence length. Our algorithm, SMYRF, uses Locality Sensitive Hashing (LSH) in a novel way by defining new Asymmetric transformations and an adaptive scheme that produces balanced clusters. The biggest advantage of SMYRF is that it can be used as a drop-in replacement for dense attention layers without any retraining. On the contrary, prior fast attention methods impose constraints (e.g. tight queries and keys) and require re-training from scratch. We apply our method to pre-trained state-of-the-art Natural Language Processing and Computer Vision models and we report significant memory and speed benefits. Notably, SMYRF-BERT outperforms (slightly) BERT on GLUE, while using $50%$ less memory. We also show that SMYRF can be used interchangeably with dense attention before and after training. Finally, we use SMYRF to train GANs with attention in high resolutions. Using a single TPU, we train BigGAN on Celeba-HQ, with attention at resolution 128x128 and 256x256, capable of generating realistic human faces.

Authors: Giannis Daras, Nikita Kitaev, Augustus Odena, Alexandros G. Dimakis


Memory-quality trade-off

GLUE benchmark

BERT128 82.69 1 1 57.83 84.43/84.68 88.41 91.31 89.70 65.70 93.46 88.73
SMYRF-BERT2x32 82.98 2 32 58.79 83.76/84.27 87.69 91.14 89.72 68.59 93.23 89.65
SMYRF-BERT2x16 81.74 2 16 58.90 82.86/83.49 85.72 89.53 89.33 64.98 93.12 87.75
BERT64 81.57 1 64 58.80 82.34/82.47 87.02 90.48 89.69 61.73 93.00 88.64
BERT32 73.56 1 32 56.40 64.51/63.41 77.89 79.81 88.59 55.23 92.66 83.53

Interchangeability of SMYRF and dense attention

Results on IMDB dataset. Using dense attention on inference consistently improves results, nearly matching dense attention perf.

Memory SMYRF Inference Accuracy
RoBERTa 100% 94.96%
SMYRF-RoBERTa 50% 93.72%
SMYRF-RoBERTa 50% 94.62%
BERT 100% 94.12%
SMYRF-BERT 50% 92.64%
SMYRF-BERT 50% 93.54%

Smyrf-BigGAN training on Celeba-HQ-128

Generated faces by a Smyrf-BigGAN trained on 128x128 resolution with attention at 128x128, using 50% of dense memory.

Results after 120k iterations:

Resolution Attention # C FID
BigGAN 128x128 64x64 1 4096 26.06
Smyrf-BigGAN 128x128 128x128 4 2048 25.03

where # denotes number of hashes and C number of queries per cluster.

What's here

The code hosted in this repository is the one we used to run all the experiments in the paper. Get started:


For a deeper dive, look at the examples/ folder where we have code for pre-training SMYRF-BigGAN, sampling from a pre-trained BigGAN with SMYRF, finetuning state-of-the-art NLP models with SMYRF and a lot more.


We would like to wholeheartedly thank the TensorFlow Research Cloud (TFRC) program that gave us access to Cloud TPUs and GCP credits to train our models.

The code for the NLP experiments is exclusively based on the HuggingFace transformers library. We are very grateful to the authors of the library for their work.

The code for the CV experiments is based on the PyTorch implementation of BigGAN available in this url. The code has been expanded to support training on TPUs. Again, we want to thank the author for open-sourcing this implementation.


[NeurIPS 2020] Official Implementation: "SMYRF: Efficient Attention using Asymmetric Clustering".




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