This is the very beginning of our experiments with TorchScript and we are still exploring its capabilities with variable-input-size models. It is a focus of interest to us and we will deepen our analysis in upcoming releases, with more code examples, a more flexible implementation, and benchmarks comparing python-based codes with compiled TorchScript.

According to Pytorch’s documentation: “TorchScript is a way to create serializable and optimizable models from PyTorch code”. Pytorch’s two modules JIT and TRACE allow the developer to export their model to be re-used in other programs, such as efficiency-oriented C++ programs.

We have provided an interface that allows the export of 🤗 Transformers models to TorchScript so that they can be reused in a different environment than a Pytorch-based python program. Here we explain how to use our models so that they can be exported, and what to be mindful of when using these models with TorchScript.

Exporting a model needs two things:

  • dummy inputs to execute a model forward pass.

  • the model needs to be instantiated with the torchscript flag.

These necessities imply several things developers should be careful about. These are detailed below.


TorchScript flag and tied weights

This flag is necessary because most of the language models in this repository have tied weights between their Embedding layer and their Decoding layer. TorchScript does not allow the export of models that have tied weights, it is therefore necessary to untie the weights beforehand.

This implies that models instantiated with the torchscript flag have their Embedding layer and Decoding layer separate, which means that they should not be trained down the line. Training would de-synchronize the two layers, leading to unexpected results.

This is not the case for models that do not have a Language Model head, as those do not have tied weights. These models can be safely exported without the torchscript flag.

Dummy inputs and standard lengths

The dummy inputs are used to do a model forward pass. While the inputs’ values are propagating through the layers, Pytorch keeps track of the different operations executed on each tensor. These recorded operations are then used to create the “trace” of the model.

The trace is created relatively to the inputs’ dimensions. It is therefore constrained by the dimensions of the dummy input, and will not work for any other sequence length or batch size. When trying with a different size, an error such as:

The expanded size of the tensor (3) must match the existing size (7) at non-singleton dimension 2

will be raised. It is therefore recommended to trace the model with a dummy input size at least as large as the largest input that will be fed to the model during inference. Padding can be performed to fill the missing values. As the model will have been traced with a large input size however, the dimensions of the different matrix will be large as well, resulting in more calculations.

It is recommended to be careful of the total number of operations done on each input and to follow performance closely when exporting varying sequence-length models.

Using TorchScript in Python

Below are examples of using the Python to save, load models as well as how to use the trace for inference.

Saving a model

This snippet shows how to use TorchScript to export a BertModel. Here the BertModel is instantiated according to a BertConfig class and then saved to disk under the filename

from transformers import BertModel, BertTokenizer, BertConfig
import torch

enc = BertTokenizer.from_pretrained("bert-base-uncased")

# Tokenizing input text
text = "[CLS] Who was Jim Henson ? [SEP] Jim Henson was a puppeteer [SEP]"
tokenized_text = enc.tokenize(text)

# Masking one of the input tokens
masked_index = 8
tokenized_text[masked_index] = '[MASK]'
indexed_tokens = enc.convert_tokens_to_ids(tokenized_text)
segments_ids = [0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1]

# Creating a dummy input
tokens_tensor = torch.tensor([indexed_tokens])
segments_tensors = torch.tensor([segments_ids])
dummy_input = [tokens_tensor, segments_tensors]

# Initializing the model with the torchscript flag
# Flag set to True even though it is not necessary as this model does not have an LM Head.
config = BertConfig(vocab_size_or_config_json_file=32000, hidden_size=768,
    num_hidden_layers=12, num_attention_heads=12, intermediate_size=3072, torchscript=True)

# Instantiating the model
model = BertModel(config)

# The model needs to be in evaluation mode

# If you are instantiating the model with `from_pretrained` you can also easily set the TorchScript flag
model = BertModel.from_pretrained("bert-base-uncased", torchscript=True)

# Creating the trace
traced_model = torch.jit.trace(model, [tokens_tensor, segments_tensors]), "")

Loading a model

This snippet shows how to load the BertModel that was previously saved to disk under the name We are re-using the previously initialised dummy_input.

loaded_model = torch.jit.load("")

all_encoder_layers, pooled_output = loaded_model(dummy_input)

Using a traced model for inference

Using the traced model for inference is as simple as using its __call__ dunder method:

traced_model(tokens_tensor, segments_tensors)