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What is transfer learning in NLP?

October 11, 2022

Transfer learning in NLP

Natural language processing is a crucial topic in today's world since human-generated content contains a vast amount of information. The linguistic structure that a machine would need to understand a speech's intended meaning is frequently complicated by the colloquial usage and . From this vantage point, advances in deep learning for natural language processing have produced algorithms that are more adaptable and have handled ambiguous and unstructured material with more grace than prior methods.

social context of human speech. The early rule-based approach in NLP was strict and frequently had trouble recognizing the subtleties of human speech

What is transfer learning in NLP?

Now consider what might happen if the algorithms had a way to apply the knowledge they learned from solving one task to another that was similar but distinct. In NLP, pre-trained language models aid us in doing this, and in the realm of deep learning, this concept is referred to as transfer learning. These models give data scientists a base model to expand on in order to complete a specific NLP task, allowing them to work on new problems. The effectiveness of pre-trained models has already been established in the field of computer vision.

Where can transfer learning be applied? 

Machine learning models that deal with natural language processing can be strengthened in a variety of ways by using transfer learning. Examples include incorporating pre-trained layers that comprehend particular dialects or vocabulary or simultaneously training a model to recognize various linguistic components.

Models for translating between languages can also be modified via transfer learning. Aspects of models that were developed and trained using the English language can be modified for tasks or languages that are similar. Due to the prevalence of digitized English language materials, models can be trained on a sizable dataset before having their components translated to a model for a different language.

How do pre-trained models help in NLP tasks? 

Pre-trained models fundamentally deal with the deep learning problems connected to initial model building training. First off, these language models do not require the target task data set to be sufficiently large to train the model on the nuances of the language because they train on huge initial data sets that assist in capturing a language's nuances. Second, because the pre-trained model fully comprehends the nuances of the language and only requires minor adjustments to model the target task, the computational resource and time required to do an NLP task are decreased. Third, the datasets used to train these initial models adhere to the highest industry standards. Finally, since the majority of these pre-trained models are open source, the industry can use them as a foundation.

How transfer learning can be used in real life applications

1 . Image Classification:

Due to their extensive training on time-consuming datasets of labeled pictures, neural networks are skilled at identifying objects inside an image. By pre-training the model using ImageNet, which has millions of photos from various categories, transfer learning aids in speeding up the model training process.

2. Sentiment Classification:

Sentiment Analysis is a tool that helps companies better understand the feelings and polarity (positive or negative) that underlie customer feedback and product reviews. Building up sentiment analysis for a fresh text corpus is difficult since training the algorithms to recognize various emotions is challenging. Transfer learning can help solve this problem.

3. Zero Shot translation:

In zero shot translation, a more advanced form of supervised learning, the model's objective is to learn to predict new values from values that are absent from the training dataset. The widely used working example of zero shot translation is Google's Neural Translation model, which enables successful multilingual translations.

4. Real world simulations:

For real-world applications, digital simulation is preferable than making a physical prototype. It takes a lot of time and money to train a robot in real-world situations. Robots can now be trained through simulation in order to lessen this, and the skills they pick up can then be applied to a robot in real life. Progressive networks, which are perfect for simulating the transfer of policies in the actual world, are used for this.

Examples of some open source models 

  • ULMFiT ( Universal Language Model Fine-tuning ) 
  • BERT ( Bidirectional Encoder Representations )
  • ERNIE ( Enhanced Representation through kNowledge IntEgration)
  • BPT ( Binary Partitioning Transformer)
  • XLNet
  • T5 ( Text To Text Transfer Transformer )
  • ELMO ( Embeddings from Language Models )


Machine learning must be accessible and adaptive to each organization's unique local demands and requirements if it is to revolutionize businesses and operations. Getting vast amounts of labeled data for the supervised machine learning process is the key challenge. Data labeling may be a very labor-intensive operation, especially when dealing with big data sets. In order to resolve this problem, transfer learning will be essential. Powerful machine learning models created at scale will be able to be customized for particular applications and situations thanks to transfer learning techniques. The spread of machine learning models into new fields and sectors will be significantly accelerated via transfer learning.

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