Parameter-efficient fine-tuning of large-scale pre-trained language models

Nature Machine Intelligence(2023)

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With the prevalence of pre-trained language models (PLMs) and the pre-training–fine-tuning paradigm, it has been continuously shown that larger models tend to yield better performance. However, as PLMs scale up, fine-tuning and storing all the parameters is prohibitively costly and eventually becomes practically infeasible. This necessitates a new branch of research focusing on the parameter-efficient adaptation of PLMs, which optimizes a small portion of the model parameters while keeping the rest fixed, drastically cutting down computation and storage costs. In general, it demonstrates that large-scale models could be effectively stimulated by the optimization of a few parameters. Despite the various designs, here we discuss and analyse the approaches under a more consistent and accessible term ‘delta-tuning’, where ‘delta’ a mathematical notation often used to denote changes, is borrowed to refer to the portion of parameters that are ‘changed’ during training. We formally describe the problem and propose a unified categorization criterion for existing delta-tuning methods to explore their correlations and differences. We also discuss the theoretical principles underlying the effectiveness of delta-tuning and interpret them from the perspectives of optimization and optimal control. Furthermore, we provide a holistic empirical study on over 100 natural language processing tasks and investigate various aspects of delta-tuning. With comprehensive study and analysis, our research demonstrates the theoretical and practical properties of delta-tuning in the adaptation of PLMs.
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