Overcoming Barriers to Skill Injection in Language Modeling: Case Study in Arithmetic

3 Nov 2022  ·  Mandar Sharma, Nikhil Muralidhar, Naren Ramakrishnan ·

Through their transfer learning abilities, highly-parameterized large pre-trained language models have dominated the NLP landscape for a multitude of downstream language tasks. Though linguistically proficient, the inability of these models to incorporate the learning of non-linguistic entities (numerals and arithmetic reasoning) limits their usage for tasks that require numeric comprehension or strict mathematical reasoning. However, as we illustrate in this paper, building a general purpose language model that also happens to be proficient in mathematical reasoning is not as straight-forward as training it on a numeric dataset. In this work, we develop a novel framework that enables language models to be mathematically proficient while retaining their linguistic prowess. Specifically, we offer information-theoretic interventions to overcome the catastrophic forgetting of linguistic skills that occurs while injecting non-linguistic skills into language models.

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