Sentence Encoders on STILTs: Supplementary Training on Intermediate Labeled-data Tasks

Jason Phang, Thibault Févry, Samuel R. Bowman

Pretraining sentence encoders with language modeling and related unsupervised tasks has recently been shown to be very effective for language understanding tasks. By supplementing language model-style pretraining with further training on data-rich supervised tasks, such as natural language inference, we obtain additional performance improvements on the GLUE benchmark. Applying supplementary training on BERT (Devlin et al., 2018), we attain a GLUE score of 81.8---the state of the art (as of 02/24/2019) and a 1.4 point improvement over BERT. We also observe reduced variance across random restarts in this setting. Our approach yields similar improvements when applied to ELMo (Peters et al., 2018a) and Radford et al. (2018)'s model. In addition, the benefits of supplementary training are particularly pronounced in data-constrained regimes, as we show in experiments with artificially limited training data.

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