Autoregressive Modeling is Misspecified for Some Sequence Distributions

10/22/2020 ∙ by Chu-Cheng Lin, et al. ∙ 0

Should sequences be modeled autoregressively—one symbol at a time? How much computation is needed to predict the next symbol? While local normalization is cheap, this also limits its power. We point out that some probability distributions over discrete sequences cannot be well-approximated by any autoregressive model whose runtime and parameter size grow polynomially in the sequence length—even though their unnormalized sequence probabilities are efficient to compute exactly. Intuitively, the probability of the next symbol can be expensive to compute or approximate (even via randomized algorithms) when it marginalizes over exponentially many possible futures, which is in general NP-hard. Our result is conditional on the widely believed hypothesis that NP⊈P/poly (without which the polynomial hierarchy would collapse at the second level). This theoretical observation serves as a caution to the viewpoint that pumping up parameter size is a straightforward way to improve autoregressive models (e.g., in language modeling). It also suggests that globally normalized (energy-based) models may sometimes outperform locally normalized (autoregressive) models, as we demonstrate experimentally for language modeling.



There are no comments yet.


page 2

This week in AI

Get the week's most popular data science and artificial intelligence research sent straight to your inbox every Saturday.