DRONE: Data-aware Low-rank Compression for Large NLP Models

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 34 pre-proceedings (NeurIPS 2021)

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Pei-Hung Chen, Hsiang-Fu Yu, Inderjit Dhillon, Cho-Jui Hsieh


The representations learned by large-scale NLP models such as BERT have been widely used in various tasks. However, the increasing model size of the pre-trained models also brings efficiency challenges, including inference speed and model size when deploying models on mobile devices. Specifically, most operations in BERT consist of matrix multiplications. These matrices are not low-rank and thus canonical matrix decomposition could not find an efficient approximation. In this paper, we observe that the learned representation of each layer lies in a low-dimensional space. Based on this observation, we propose DRONE (data-aware low-rank compression), a provably optimal low-rank decomposition of weight matrices, which has a simple closed form solution that can be efficiently computed. DRONE can be applied to both fully connected and self-attention layers appearing in the BERT model. In addition to compressing standard models, out method can also be used on distilled BERT models to further improve compression rate. Experimental results show that DRONE is able to improve both model size and inference speed with limited loss in accuracy. Specifically, DRONE alone achieves 1.92x speedup on the MRPC task with only 1.5% loss in accuracy, and when DRONE is combined with distillation, it further achieves over 12.3x speedup on various natural language inference tasks.