Attention in Natural Language Processing

4 Feb 2019  ·  Andrea Galassi, Marco Lippi, Paolo Torroni ·

Attention is an increasingly popular mechanism used in a wide range of neural architectures. The mechanism itself has been realized in a variety of formats. However, because of the fast-paced advances in this domain, a systematic overview of attention is still missing. In this article, we define a unified model for attention architectures in natural language processing, with a focus on those designed to work with vector representations of the textual data. We propose a taxonomy of attention models according to four dimensions: the representation of the input, the compatibility function, the distribution function, and the multiplicity of the input and/or output. We present the examples of how prior information can be exploited in attention models and discuss ongoing research efforts and open challenges in the area, providing the first extensive categorization of the vast body of literature in this exciting domain.

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