Introduction: Downstream NLP Tasks with Transformers

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Transformers reveal their full potential when we unleash pretrained models and watch them perform downstream Natural Language Understanding (NLU) tasks. It takes a lot of time and effort to pretrain and fine-tune a transformer model, but the effort is worthwhile when we see a multi-million parameter transformer model in action on a range of NLU tasks.

Chapter overview

We will begin this chapter with the quest of outperforming the human baseline. The human baseline represents the performance of humans on an NLU task. Humans learn transduction at an early age and quickly develop inductive thinking. We humans perceive the world directly with our senses. Machine intelligence relies entirely on our perceptions transcribed into words to make sense of our language.

We will then see how to measure the performance of transformers. Measuring Natural Language Processing (NLP) tasks remains a straightforward approach involving accuracy scores in various forms based on true and false results. These results are obtained through benchmark tasks and datasets. SuperGLUE, for example, is a wonderful example of how Google DeepMind, Facebook AI, the University of New York, the University of Washington, and others worked together to set high standards to measure NLP performances.

Finally, we will explore several downstream tasks, such as the Standard Sentiment TreeBank (SST-2), linguistic acceptability, and Winograd schemas.

Transformers are rapidly taking NLP to the next level by outperforming other models on well-designed benchmark tasks. Alternative transformer architectures will continue to emerge and evolve.

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