author: nilesh2797
score: 8 / 10

What is the core idea?

The authors study self attention based architectures and realize following key properties: 1) Self attention layers have strong bias towards “token uniformity” and it gets exponentially worse with depth 2) Skip-connection and MLP counteract the “token uniformity” bias and hence prevent model degeneration


Self-Attention Networks (SAN) path decomposition

The paper starts by studying self-attention networks (SANs) built exclusively out of multi-head self-attention layers.

They show that the ouput of SAN decomposes into the combination of simpler single-head networks, where each single-head corresponds to a unique path across H heads and L layers

Exponential degeneration of SANs

The output of SAN loses rank (moves towards uniform token representation) exponentially with depth

Skip connections and MLP help in avoiding rank collapse

Path effectiveness

Analysis of SAN with skip connections indicates that path expressivity decreases with path length, to test this hypothesis, authors isolate paths of different lengths and evaluate their predictive power

Transformer behaves like an ensemble of shallow networks, there is underutilized capacity in long paths