Improving Language Understanding With Unsupervised Learning

Improving Language Understanding with Unsupervised Learning

We’ve obtained state-of-the-art results on a suite of diverse language tasks with a scalable, task-agnostic system, which we’re also releasing. Our approach is a combination of two existing ideas: transformers and unsupervised pre-training. These results provide a convincing example that pairing supervised learning methods with unsupervised pre-training works very well; this is an idea that many have explored in the past, and we hope our result motivates further research into applying this idea on larger and more diverse datasets.

Our system works in two stages; first we train a transformer model on a very large amount of data in an unsupervised manner — using language modeling as a training signal — then we fine-tune this model on much smaller supervised datasets to help it solve specific tasks. We developed this approach following our sentiment neuron work, in which we noted that unsupervised learning techniques can yield surprisingly discriminative features when trained on enough data. Here, we wanted to further explore this idea: can we develop one model, train it in an unsupervised way on a large amount of data, and then fine-tune the model to achieve good performance on many different tasks?

Our results indicate that this approach works surprisingly well; the same core model can be fine-tuned for very different tasks with minimal adaptation.