Scaling Sparse Fine-Tuning to Large Language Models

Published on Jan 29


Large Language Models (LLMs) are difficult to fully fine-tune (e.g., with instructions or human feedback) due to their sheer number of parameters. A family of parameter-efficient sparse fine-tuning (SFT) methods have proven promising in terms of performance but their memory requirements increase proportionally to the size of the LLMs. In this work, we scale sparse fine-tuning to state-of-the-art LLMs like LLaMA 2 7B and 13B. At any given time, for a desired density level, we maintain an array of parameter indices and the deltas of these parameters relative to their pretrained values. We iterate among: (a) updating the active deltas, (b) pruning indices (based on the change of magnitude of their deltas) and (c) regrowth of indices. For regrowth, we explore two criteria based on either the accumulated gradients of a few candidate parameters or their approximate momenta estimated using the efficient SM3 optimizer. We experiment with instruction-tuning of LLMs on standard dataset mixtures, finding that SFT is often superior to popular parameter-efficient fine-tuning methods like LoRA (low-rank adaptation) in terms of performance and comparable in terms of run time. We additionally show that SFT is compatible with both quantization and efficient optimizers, to facilitate scaling to ever-larger model sizes. We release the code for SFT at and for the instruction-tuning experiments at


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