A Deep Dive Into the Transformer Architecturesformer Models - KDnuggets

A Deep Dive Into the Transformer Architecturesformer Models - KDnuggets

Even though transformers for NLP were introduced only a few years ago, they have delivered major impacts to a variety of fields from reinforcement learning to chemistry. Now is the time to better understand the inner workings of transformer architectures to give you the intuition you need to effectively work with these powerful tools.

Even though transformers for NLP were introduced only a few years ago, they have delivered major impacts to a variety of fields from reinforcement learning to chemistry. Now is the time to better understand the inner workings of transformer architectures to give you the intuition you need to effectively work with these powerful tools.

Transformers for Natural Language Processing

It may seem like a long time since the world of natural language processing (NLP) was transformed by the seminal “Attention is All You Need” paper by Vaswani et al., but in fact, that was less than 3 years ago. The relative recency of the introduction of transformer architectures and the ubiquity with which they have upended language tasks speaks to the rapid rate of progress in machine learning and artificial intelligence. There’s no better time than now to gain a deep understanding of the inner workings of transformer architectures, especially with transformer models making big inroads into diverse new applications like predicting chemical reactions and reinforcement learning.

Whether you’re an old hand or you’re only paying attention to transformer style architecture for the first time, this article should offer something for you. First, we’ll dive deep into the fundamental concepts used to build the original 2017 Transformer. Then we’ll touch on some of the developments implemented in subsequent transformer models. Where appropriate, we’ll point out some limitations and how modern models inheriting ideas from the original Transformer are trying to overcome various shortcomings or improve performance.

What do Transformers do?

Transformers are the current state-of-the-art type of model for dealing with sequences. Perhaps the most prominent application of these models is in text processing tasks, and the most prominent of these is machine translation. In fact, transformers and their conceptual progeny have infiltrated just about every benchmark leaderboard in natural language processing (NLP), from question answering to grammar correction. In many ways, transformer architectures are undergoing a surge in development similar to what we saw with convolutional neural networks following the 2012 ImageNet competition, for better and for worse.

The Transformer represented as a black box. An entire sequence of (x’s in the diagram) is parsed simultaneously in a feed-forward manner, producing a transformed output tensor. In this diagram, the output sequence is more concise than the input sequence. For practical NLP tasks, word order and sentence length may vary substantially.

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