Abstract: Recently, transformer-based language models such as BERT have shown
tremendous performance improvement for a range of natural language processing
tasks. However, these language models usually are computation expensive and
memory intensive during inference. As a result, it is difficult to deploy them
on resource-restricted devices. To improve the inference performance, as well
as reduce the model size while maintaining the model accuracy, we propose a
novel quantization method named KDLSQ-BERT that combines knowledge distillation
(KD) with learned step size quantization (LSQ) for language model quantization.
The main idea of our method is that the KD technique is leveraged to transfer
the knowledge from a "teacher" model to a "student" model when exploiting LSQ
to quantize that "student" model during the quantization training process.
Extensive experiment results on GLUE benchmark and SQuAD demonstrate that our
proposed KDLSQ-BERT not only performs effectively when doing different bit
(e.g. 2-bit $\sim$ 8-bit) quantization, but also outperforms the existing BERT
quantization methods, and even achieves comparable performance as the
full-precision base-line model while obtaining 14.9x compression ratio. Our
code will be public available.