NTK-approximating MLP Fusion for Efficient Language Model Fine-tuning

Tianxin Wei, Zeming Guo, Yifan Chen, Jingrui He

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Fine-tuning a pre-trained language model (PLM) emerges as the predominant strategy in many natural language processing applications. However, even fine-tuning the PLMs and doing inference are expensive, especially on edge devices with low computing power. Some general approaches (e.g. quantization and distillation) have been widely studied to reduce the compute/memory of PLM fine-tuning, while very few one-shot compression techniques are explored. In this paper, we investigate the neural tangent kernel (NTK)-which reveals the gradient descent dynamics of neural networks-of the multilayer perceptrons (MLP) modules in a PLM and propose to coin a lightweight PLM through NTK-approximating MLP fusion. To achieve this, we reconsider the MLP as a bundle of sub-MLPs, and cluster them into a given number of centroids, which can then be restored as a compressed MLP and surprisingly shown to well approximate the NTK of the original PLM. Extensive experiments of PLM fine-tuning on both natural language understanding (NLU) and generation (NLG) tasks are provided to verify the effectiveness of the proposed method MLP fusion. Our code is available at https://github.com/weitianxin/MLP_Fusion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)36821-36838
Number of pages18
JournalProceedings of Machine Learning Research
StatePublished - 2023
Event40th International Conference on Machine Learning, ICML 2023 - Honolulu, United States
Duration: Jul 23 2023Jul 29 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Software
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Statistics and Probability


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