Deep learning notes 08: Fastformer - additive or static (self)attention?

This post if from a series of quick notes written primarily for personal usage while reading random ML/SWE/CS papers. As such they might be incomprehensible and/or flat out wrong.

Fastformer - Additive attention can(not) be all you need

• Modeling pairwise interaction between all pairs of tokens is expensive
• Fastformer promises to use “additive attention” that’s linear in complexity via tokens-global aggregation
• Presented in terms of queries, keys, values but could be just in terms of n (in this case 3) columns: a, b, …, z
• Computation goes sequentially, starts with computing the output of the second column, then third, …, last
• For each column, create per-token input values, e.g. a1..an, b1…bn; the same way q,k,v are produced in transformer
• For computing the per-token outputs of second column Bi, start with Ai = ai
• For each Ai value, produce αi weight via softmax after transformation with learned wa, αi= exp(wa*Ai)/∑exp(wa*Aj)
• Produce global A as weighted average of Ai, A = ∑ αi * Ai
• The output of column b is then pointwise multiplication, Bi = bi x A
• In case there’s column c, we aggregate Bi to a single B, pointwise multiply with ci to get Ci
• Still essentially quadratic i=0..n: Bi = bi x A = bi x ∑ αi * Ai = ∑ bi x αi * Ai
• Given there’s no softmax -> global a can be computed first -> linear in computation
• The aggregation weights αi are essentially self-attention with per-column/layer static learned query wa
• Also could be viewed as soft classification according to learned static separation boundary vector wa
• No information sharing between tokens apart from pointwise multiplication between global aggregate of prev. column
• Not really a proper attention; sort-of static query self-attention in the aggregation step
• It is statically learned what sort of tokens each layer/column should globally attend to; not dynamic per each token
• Good for tasks with global information, e.g. topic classification
• Seems to just be framed in terms of the words of attention mechanism
• In practice fast and with relatively good results on certain NLP tasks
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