Cherry on Top: Parameter Heterogeneity and Quantization in Large Language Models

3 Apr 2024  ·  Wanyun Cui, Qianle Wang ·

This paper reveals the phenomenon of parameter heterogeneity in large language models (LLMs). We find that a small subset of ``cherry'' parameters exhibit a disproportionately large influence on model performance, while the vast majority of parameters have minimal impact. This heterogeneity is found to be prevalent across different model families, scales, and types. Motivated by this observation, we propose CherryQ, a novel quantization method that unifies the optimization of mixed-precision parameters. CherryQ identifies and preserves the critical cherry parameters in high precision while aggressively quantizing the remaining parameters to low precision. Extensive experiments demonstrate the effectiveness of CherryQ. CherryQ outperforms existing quantization approaches in terms of perplexity and downstream task performance. Notably, our 3-bit quantized Vicuna-1.5 exhibits competitive performance compared to their 16-bit counterparts. These findings highlight the potential of CherryQ for enabling efficient deployment of LLMs by taking advantage of parameter heterogeneity.

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