Transfer Learning for Text Diffusion Models

Published on Jan 30
· Featured in Daily Papers on Jan 31


In this report, we explore the potential for text diffusion to replace autoregressive (AR) decoding for the training and deployment of large language models (LLMs). We are particularly interested to see whether pretrained AR models can be transformed into text diffusion models through a lightweight adaptation procedure we call ``AR2Diff''. We begin by establishing a strong baseline setup for training text diffusion models. Comparing across multiple architectures and pretraining objectives, we find that training a decoder-only model with a prefix LM objective is best or near-best across several tasks. Building on this finding, we test various transfer learning setups for text diffusion models. On machine translation, we find that text diffusion underperforms the standard AR approach. However, on code synthesis and extractive QA, we find diffusion models trained from scratch outperform AR models in many cases. We also observe quality gains from AR2Diff -- adapting AR models to use diffusion decoding. These results are promising given that text diffusion is relatively underexplored and can be significantly faster than AR decoding for long text generation.


I get so excited thinking abouting the possibility of diffusion based long-context code generation. It seems like it could be a match made in heaven, with error detection built in to the denoising stages. Now add a control net in to the mix to add new features 🙏 Imagine how fast we could build software when this is a reality. The average programmer could build an entire operating system and a full stack from scratch in a few hours

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