CSC413/2516 Assignment 3 SOLVED

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Assignment 3

Submission: You must submit two files through MarkUs1
: (1) a PDF file containing your writeup,
titled a3-writeup.pdf, and (2) your code file nmt.ipynb, bert.ipynb, clip.ipynb. There will
be sections in the notebook for you to write your responses. Your writeup must be typed. Make
sure that the relevant outputs (e.g. print gradients() outputs, plots, etc.) are included and
clearly visible.
See the syllabus on the course website2
for detailed policies. You may ask questions about the
assignment on Piazza3
. Note that 10% of the assignment mark (worth 2 pts) may be removed for
lack of neatness.
You may notice that some questions are worth 0 pt, which means we will not mark them in this
Assignment. Feel free to skip them if you are busy. However, you are expected to see some of them
in the midterm. So, we won’t release the solution for those questions.
The teaching assistants for this assignment are Sheng Jia, Yongchao Zhou, Ke Zhao, and John
Giorgi. Send your email with subject “[CSC413] A3 …” to
or post on Piazza with the tag a1.
CSC413/2516 Winter 2023 with Professor Jimmy Ba & Professor Bo Wang Assignment 1
Important Instructions
Read the following before attempting the assignment.
Overview and Expectations
You will be completing this assignment with the aid of large language models (LLMs) such as
ChatGPT, text-davinci-003, or code-davinci-002. To alleviate the unnecessary steps related to
generating results and screenshotting, we have provided the GPT-generated solution with minimum
prompting effort in ChatGPT: clauses. The goal is to help you (i) develop a solid understanding
of the course materials, and (ii) gain some insight in problem-solving with LLMs. Think of this
as analogous to (i) understanding the rules of addition and multiplication, and (ii) learning how
to use a calculator. Note that LLMs may not be a reliable “calculator” (yet) — as you will see,
GPT-like models can generate incorrect and contradicting answers. It is, therefore important that
you have a good grasp of the lecture materials, so that you can evaluate the correctness of the
model output, and also prompt the model toward the correct solution.
Prompt engineering. In this assignment, we ask that you try to (i) solve the problems
yourself, and (ii) use LLMs to solve a selected subset of them. You will “guide” the LLMs toward
desired outcomes by typing text prompts into the models. There are a number of different ways to
prompt an LLM, including direct copy-pasting LATEX strings of a written question, copying function
docstrings, or interactively editing the previously generated results. Prompting offers a natural and
intuitive interface for humans to interact with and use LLMs. However, LLM-generated solutions
depend significantly on the quality of the prompt used to steer the model, and most effective
prompts come from a deep understanding of the task. You can decide how much time you want to
spend as a university student vs. a prompt engineer, but we’d say it’s probably not a good idea to
use more than 25% of your time on prompting LLMs. See Best Practices below for the basics of
prompt engineering.
What are LLMs good for? We have divided the assignment problems into the following
categories, based on our judgment of how difficult it is to obtain the correct answer using LLMs.
• [Type 1] LLMs can produce almost correct answers from rather straightforward prompts,
e.g., minor modification of the problem statement.
• [Type 2] LLMs can produce partially correct and useful answers, but you may have to use
a more sophisticated prompt (e.g., break down the problem into smaller pieces, then ask a
sequence of questions), and also generate multiple times and pick the most reasonable output.
• [Type 3] LLMs usually do not give the correct answer unless you try hard. This may
include problems with involved mathematical reasoning or numerical computation (many
GPT models do not have a built-in calculator).
• [Type 4] LLMs are not suitable for the problem (e.g., graph/figure-related questions).
CSC413/2516 Winter 2023 with Professor Jimmy Ba & Professor Bo Wang Assignment 1
Written Assignment
What you have to submit for this part
See the top of this handout for submission directions. Here are the requirements.
• The zero point questions (in black below) will not be graded, but you are more than welcome
to include your answers for these as well in the submission.
• For (nonzero-point) questions labeled [Type 1] [Type 2] you need to submit your own solution.
Your own solution can be a copy-paste of the LLM output (if you verify that it is correct),
but make sure you cite the model properly.
• For (nonzero-point) questions in [Type 3] [Type 4] you only need to submit your own written
solution, but we encourage you to experiment with LLMs on some of them.
For reference, here is everything you need to hand in for the first half of the PDF report
• Problem 1: 1.1.2[Type 2] , 1.2.2[Type 1]
• Problem 2: 2.1.1[Type 1] , 2.1.2[Type 4] , 2.2[Type 4]
1 Robustness and Regularization
Adversarial examples plague many machine learning models, and their existence makes the adoption
of ML for high-stakes applications undergo increasingly more regulatory scrutiny. The simplest
way to generate an adversarial examples is using the untargeted fast gradient sign method (FGSM)
from Goodfellow et al. [2014]:
′ ← x + ϵ sgn(∇xL(f(x ; w), y))
where x ∈ R
is some training example we want to perturb, y is the label for that example,
and ϵ is a positive scalar chosen to be small enough such that the ground truth class of x

the same as that of x according to human perception, yet large enough such that our classifier
f misclassifies x
′ while correctly classifying x. Read about how the sgn() function works here
Note that we are taking the gradient of L(f(x ; w), y) with respect to the input x instead of the
weights w, and that we are adding this gradient rather than subtracting it since the goal here is to
increase the loss on x

For the rest of the question, we assume we are dealing with a binary linear classifier that outputs
a scalar logit as follows:
f(x ; w) = w⊤x,
CSC413/2516 Winter 2023 with Professor Jimmy Ba & Professor Bo Wang Assignment 1
where w ∈ R
d where d is dimension of the input x, so f : R
d → R. For the remainder of the question, we ignore the loss function, and simply try to reduce the output predicted by the classifier f.
To simplify our analysis, assume that the linear classifier outputs a positive logit on the input x,
w⊤x > 0. The attack is performed on the outputted logits directly to change the model’s prediction
from positive to negative. The attack now becomes:
′ ← x − ϵ sgn(∇xf(x ; w)),
where we are trying to decrease the outputted logit.
1.1 Adversarial Examples
1.1.1 Bounding FGSM [0pt]
To understand why the sgn() function is used, compute the ℓ∞ norm of δ1 = ϵ sgn(∇xf(x ; w))
and δ2 = ϵ ∇xf(x ; w). Under what conditions does ||δ1||∞ = ||δ2||∞? What guarantee does the
sgn() function give us on the ℓ∞ norm of the perturbation?
The ℓ∞ norm of a vector δ is defined as ||δ||∞ = max i|[δ]i|, where [δ]i denotes the ith entry of
the vector. Using this definition, we can compute the norms of δ1 and δ2 as follows:
||δ1||∞ = max
|[ϵ sgn(∇xf(x ; w))]i
= ϵ max
|sgn([∇xf(x ; w)]i)|
= ϵ
||δ2||∞ = max
|[ϵ ∇xf(x ; w)]i
= ϵ max
|∇xf(x ; w)]i
The conditions under which ||δ1||∞ = ||δ2||∞ are when ∇xf(x ; w) has all its entries either
positive or negative. In this case, the sgn() function doesn’t change the signs of the entries, and
hence the magnitudes of the two vectors are equal. Otherwise, ||δ1||∞ is strictly less than ||δ2||∞.
The sgn() function gives us a guarantee on the ℓ∞ norm of the perturbation by ensuring that
it is bounded by ϵ. In other words, ||δ1||∞ ≤ ϵ, which means that the perturbation applied to the
input x is limited to a small range. This is important for ensuring that the adversarial example is
visually similar to the original example and is imperceptible to human eyes.
1.1.2 Prediction under Attack [1pt]
If we remove the sgn() function from the FGSM, we are left with just the FGM
′ ← x − ϵ ∇xf(x ; w)
Let us construct x
′ using the FGM. Write down the model output under the adversarial attack

; w) as a function of ϵ, x, w in a closed form.
ChatGPT: Using the FGM, we perturb x to obtain x

. The perturbation is given by ϵ∇xL(f(x ; w), y).
In our case, since we are simply trying to reduce the output predicted by the classifier, we can set
CSC413/2516 Winter 2023 with Professor Jimmy Ba & Professor Bo Wang Assignment 1
y to be the opposite of the true label of x, i.e., if x is classified as positive, we set y = −1, and if x
is classified as negative, we set y = 1. Thus, we have:
′ = x + ϵ∇xL(f(x ; w), y)
= x − ϵ∇xf(x ; w)y
= x − ϵyw
where we used the fact that the gradient of a linear function f(x ; w) with respect to x is simply
Now, to obtain the predicted output of the classifier f(x

; w), we substitute the expression for x


; w) = w⊤x

= w⊤(x − ϵyw)
= w⊤x − ϵyw⊤w
= f(x ; w) − ϵy||w||2
Thus, we obtain the closed-form expression for the predicted output of the classifier under the
adversarial attack x
′ as:

; w) = f(x ; w) − ϵy||w||2
1.2 Gradient Descent and Weight Decay
The most trivial though impractical way of making a classifier robust to adversarial examples is to
set w = 0 such that f(x ; w) = 0 for any x. However, this just computes a constant function, and
is not useful. Intuitively, it looks like the smaller the norm of w, then less the output will change
when changing x. We explore if this is always the case.
Suppose we have a design matrix X ∈ R
n×d where n is the number of samples and d is the
dimensionality, and a target vector t ∈ R
. We can define the objective of linear regression as
||Xw − t||2
If we penalize the squared ℓ
2 norm of the weights, we end up with ridge regression:
ridge = arg min
||Xw − t||2
2 + λ||w||2
where λ is the weight decay coefficient, λ > 0.
1.2.1 Toy Example [0pt]
Consider the following dataset D = {((1, 1)
| {z }
, 1
)((−1, −1)
| {z }
, −1
)} visualized in Figure 1 for your
convenience. Draw the set of optimal solutions w∗
(it’s a line) in weight space (which is different
from Figure 1 which is in data space) with w∗
on the x-axis, and w∗
on the y-axis. On the same
plot, draw the contours of w⊤w. Is there a contour value for which the intersection between the set
of optimal solutions and w⊤w is a single point? If so, provide the coorindate of the point. What
does this imply about the uniqueness of ridge regression solution for this dataset?
CSC413/2516 Winter 2023 with Professor Jimmy Ba & Professor Bo Wang Assignment 1
1.5 1.0 0.5 0.0 0.5 1.0 1.5
Figure 1: 2D plot of the training data.
1.2.2 Closed Form Ridge Regression Solution [1pt]
Recall the solution to plain regression is w∗ = (X⊤X)
−1X⊤t. Write down the closed-form solution
to ridge regression in matrix form, w∗
ridge. Show your work.
ChatGPT: The objective function of ridge regression can be written as
||Xw − t||2
2 + λ||w||2
2 =
(w⊤X⊤Xw − 2t
⊤Xw + t
⊤t) + λw⊤w
w⊤(X⊤X + nλI)w −
⊤Xw +
To find the optimal w that minimizes the objective function, we set the gradient with respect to
w to zero:

w⊤(X⊤X + nλI)w −

(X⊤X + nλI)w −
X⊤t = 0
⇒ w∗
ridge = (X⊤X + nλI)
Thus, the closed-form solution to ridge regression in matrix form is w∗
ridge = (X⊤X + nλI)
1.2.3 Adversarial Attack under Weight Decay [0pt]
Previously, we derived model output under the FGM adversarial attack f(x

; w) without the sign
function. Here, let us consider attacking the ridge regression solution. For any adversarial attacks,
we first need to choose the appropriate amount of adversarial perturbation added to the original
inputs. In FGM, the perturbation amount is decided by setting ϵ, larger ϵ corresponds to larger
perturbation. So, how much perturbation is necessary to fool the model to output zero, that is

; w∗
ridge) = 0, with weight decay?
To answer this question concretely, let us consider a 1-D model that takes a scalar input x ∈ R
and a scalar weight w

ridge ∈ R,
′ ← x − ϵ ∇xf(x ; w

CSC413/2516 Winter 2023 with Professor Jimmy Ba & Professor Bo Wang Assignment 1
Derive the analytical closed form of ϵ as a function of the weight decay coefficient λ such that

; w

ridge) = 0. Show your work. Does weight decay make the model more robust under FGM
attack? Why?
(Hint: Substitute your 1.2.2 solution into 1.1.2 final form then set the equation to zero. Simplify.)
To derive the closed form of ϵ, we start by writing out the expression for the adversarial example
using the update equation:
′ = x − ϵ; ∇xf(x ; w

= x − ϵ; ∇x(xwridge) − ϵ; ∇xλwridge2
= x − ϵwridge − 2ϵλw∗
= x − ϵ(1 + 2λ)w

Now, we want to find the value of ϵ that satisfies f(x

; w

ridge) = 0. Using the expression for x
′ and
the definition of the linear classifier, we have:

; w

ridge) = (x − ϵ(1 + 2λ)w

= xwridge − ϵ(1 + 2λ)w
Setting this expression to zero and solving for ϵ, we get:
xwridge = ϵ(1 + 2λ)w
ϵ =
(1 + 2λ)w∗2ridge.
This is the closed form expression for ϵ as a function of the weight decay coefficient λ that satisfies

; w

ridge) = 0.
Now, let us consider the impact of weight decay on the adversarial robustness of the model.
From the expression for ϵ, we see that the larger the value of λ, the smaller the value of ϵ for a
given input x and weight w

ridge. This means that weight decay is making the model more robust to
adversarial attacks under FGM, as it requires a smaller perturbation to fool the model. Intuitively,
this is because weight decay encourages the model to have smaller weights, which in turn makes
it less sensitive to small changes in the input. However, it is important to note that weight decay
is not a silver bullet for adversarial robustness, and other techniques such as adversarial training
may also be necessary to achieve robustness in practice.
1.2.4 The Adversary Strikes Back [0pt]
Now consider the 1-D case again under for the Fast Gradient Sign Method (FGSM) by including
the sign function in the perturbation:
′ ← x − ϵ sgn
∇xf(x ; w


Does weight decay make the model more robust under FGSM attack? Why?
2 Trading off Resources in Neural Net Training
2.1 Effect of batch size
When training neural networks, it is important to select an appropriate batch size. In this question,
we will investigate the effect of batch size on some important quantities in neural network training.

CSC413/2516 Winter 2023 with Professor Jimmy Ba & Professor Bo Wang Assignment 1
2.1.1 Batch size vs. learning rate
Batch size affects the stochasticity in optimization, and therefore affects the choice of learning rate.
We demonstrate this via a simple model called the noisy quadratic model (NQM). Despite the
simplicity, the NQM captures many essential features in realistic neural network training Zhang
et al. [2019].
For simplicity, we only consider the scalar version of the NQM. We have the quadratic loss
L(w) = 1
, where a > 0 and w ∈ R is the weight that we would like to optimize. Assume that
we only have access to a noisy version of the gradient — each time when we make a query for the
gradient, we obtain g(w), which is the true gradient ∇L(w) with additive Guassian noise:
g(w) = ∇L(w) + ϵ, ϵ ∼ N (0, σ2
One way to reduce noise in the gradient is to use minibatch training. Let B be the batch size,
and denote the minibatch gradient as gB(w):
gB(w) = 1
gi(w), where gi(w) = ∇L(w) + ϵi
, ϵi
i.i.d. ∼ N (0, σ2
(a) [1pt] As batch size increases, how do you expect the optimal learning rate to change? Briefly
explain in 2-3 sentences.
(Hint: Think about how the minibatch gradient noise change with B.)
As the batch size increases, the variance of the minibatch gradient decreases, which implies
that a larger learning rate can be used without the risk of overshooting the minimum. Therefore, as the batch size increases, the optimal learning rate tends to increase as well. However,
the relationship between batch size and learning rate can also be affected by other factors,
such as the curvature of the loss function and the specific optimization algorithm used.
2.1.2 Training steps vs. batch size
For most of neural network training in the real-world applications, we often observe the relationship
of training steps and batch size for reaching a certain validation loss as illustrated in Figure 2.
(a) [1pt] For the three points (A, B, C) on Figure 2, which one has the most efficient batch size (in
terms of best resource and training time trade-off)? Assume that you have access to scalable
(but not free) compute such that minibatches are parallelized efficiently. Briefly explain in
1-2 sentences.
(b) [1pt] Figure 2 demonstrates that there are often two regimes in neural network training: the noise
dominated regime and the curvature dominated regime. In the noise dominated regime,
the bottleneck for optimization is that there exists a large amount of gradient noise. In
the curvature dominated regime, the bottleneck of optimization is the ill-conditioned loss
landscape. For points A and B on Figure 2, which regimes do they belong to, and what
would you do to accelerate training? Fill each of the blanks with one best suited option.
Point A: Regime: . Potential way to accelerate training: .
Point B: Regime: . Potential way to accelerate training: .
CSC413/2516 Winter 2023 with Professor Jimmy Ba & Professor Bo Wang Assignment 1
Figure 2: A cartoon illustration of the typical relationship between training steps and the batch
size for reaching a certain validation loss (based on Shallue et al. [2018]). Learning rate and other
related hyperparameters are tuned for each point on the curve.
• Regimes: noise dominated / curvature dominated.
• Potential ways to accelerate training: use higher order optimizers / seek parallel compute
2.2 Model size, dataset size and compute
We have seen in the previous section that batch size is an important hyperparameter during training.
Besides efficiently minimizing the training loss, we are also interested in the test loss. Recently,
researchers have observed an intriguing relationship between the test loss and hyperparameters
such as the model size, dataset size and the amount of compute used. We explore this relationship
for neural language models in this section. The figures in this question are from Kaplan et al.
Figure 3: Test loss of language models of different sizes, plotted against the dataset size (tokens
processed) and the amount of compute (in petaflop/s-days).
CSC413/2516 Winter 2023 with Professor Jimmy Ba & Professor Bo Wang Assignment 1
Figure 4: Test loss for different sized models after the initial transient period, plotted against the
number of training steps (Smin) when using the critical batch sizes (the batch sizes that separate
the two regimes in Question 2.1.2).
(a) [1pt] Previously, you have trained a neural language model and obtained somewhat adequate performance. You have now secured more compute resources (in PF-days), and want to improve
the model test performance (assume you will train from scratch). Which of the following is
the best option? Give a brief explanation (2-3 sentences).
A. Train the same model with the same batch size for more steps.
B. Train the same model with a larger batch size (after tuning learning rate), for the same
number of steps.
C. Increase the model size.
CSC413/2516 Winter 2023 with Professor Jimmy Ba & Professor Bo Wang Assignment 1
Programming Assignment
What you have to submit for this part
For reference, here is everything you need to hand in:
• This is the second half of your PDF report a3-writeup.pdf. Please include the solutions to
the following problems. You may choose to export nmt.ipynb, bert.ipynb, clip.ipynb
as a PDF and attach it to the first half of a3-writeup.pdf.
– Question 3: 3.1[Type 2] , 3.2[Type 2] , 3.3[Type 2]
– Question 4: 4.1[Type 1] , 4.3[Type 4] , 4.4[Type 4] .
– Question 5: 5.2[Type 4]
• Your code file nmt.ipynb, bert.ipynb, clip.ipynb
In this assignment, you will explore common tasks and model architectures in Natural Language
Processing (NLP). Along the way, you will gain experience with important concepts like attention
mechanisms (Section 3), pretrained language models (Section 4) and multimodal vision and language
models (Section 5).
Setting Up
We recommend that you use Colab( for the assignment.
To setup the Colab environment, just open the notebooks for each part of the assignment and
make a copy in your own Google Drive account.
Each section is followed by a checklist of deliverables to add in the assignment writeup. To also give
a better sense of our expectations for the answers to the conceptual questions, we’ve put maximum
sentence limits. You will not be graded for any additional sentences.
CSC413/2516 Winter 2023 with Professor Jimmy Ba & Professor Bo Wang Assignment 1
3 Neural machine translation (NMT) [2pt]
Neural machine translation (NMT) is a subfield of NLP that aims to translate between languages
using neural networks. In this section, will we train a NMT model on the toy task of English →
Pig Latin. Please read the following background section carefully before attempting the questions.
The task
Pig Latin is a simple transformation of English based on the following rules:
1. If the first letter of a word is a consonant, then the letter is moved to the end of the word,
and the letters “ay” are added to the end: team → eamtay.
2. If the first letter is a vowel, then the word is left unchanged and the letters “way” are added
to the end: impress → impressway.
3. In addition, some consonant pairs, such as “sh”, are treated as a block and are moved to the
end of the string together: shopping → oppingshay.
To translate a sentence from English to Pig-Latin, we apply these rules to each word independently:
i went shopping → iway entway oppingshay
Our goal is to build a NMT model that can learn the rules of Pig-Latin implicitly from (English,
Pig-Latin) word pairs. Since the translation to Pig Latin involves moving characters around in a
string, we will use character-level transformer model. Because English and Pig-Latin are similar
in structure, the translation task is almost a copy task; the model must remember each character
in the input and recall the characters in a specific order to produce the output. This makes it an
ideal task for understanding the capacity of NMT models.
The data
The data for this task consists of pairs of words {(s
, t(i)
i=1 where the source s
is an English
word, and the target t
is its translation in Pig-Latin.4 The dataset contains 3198 unique (English,
Pig-Latin) pairs in total; the first few examples are:
{ (the, ethay), (family, amilyfay), (of, ofway), … }
In this assignment, you will investigate the effect of dataset size on generalization ability. We
provide a small and large dataset. The small dataset is composed of a subset of the unique words
from the book “Sense and Sensibility” by Jane Austen. The vocabulary consists of 29 tokens:
the 26 standard alphabet letters (all lowercase), the dash symbol -, and two special tokens <SOS>
and <EOS> that denote the start and end of a sequence, respectively.5 The second, larger dataset
is obtained from Peter Norvig’s natural language corpus.6
It contains the top 20,000 most used
English words, which is combined with the previous data set to obtain 22,402 unique words. This
dataset contains the same vocabulary as the previous dataset.
In order to simplify the processing of mini-batches of words, the word pairs are grouped based on the lengths of
the source and target. Thus, in each mini-batch, the source words are all the same length, and the target words are
all the same length. This simplifies the code, as we don’t have to worry about batches of variable-length sequences.
5Note that for the English-to-Pig-Latin task, the input and output sequences share the same vocabulary; this is
not always the case for other translation tasks (i.e., between languages that use different alphabets)
CSC413/2516 Winter 2023 with Professor Jimmy Ba & Professor Bo Wang Assignment 1
The model
Figure 5: The transformer architecture. Vaswani et al. [2017]
Translation is a sequence-to-sequence (seq2seq) problem. The goal is to train a model to transform
one sequence into another. A transformer model Vaswani et al. [2017] uses an encoder-decoder
architecture and relies entirely on an attention mechanism to draw global dependencies between
the input sequence and the output sequence. The encoder processes the input sequence in parallel
using stacked self-attention and point-wise fully connected layers, as shown in Figure 5. Given
the hidden representations of each input token processed through an encoder, the decoder then
generates an output sequence one at a time. The model is auto-regressive when generating the
output tokens.
Specifically, input characters are passed through an embedding layer before being fed into an
encoder model. If H is the dimension of the encoder hidden state, we learn a 29 × H embedding
matrix, where each of the 29 characters in the vocabulary is assigned a H-dimensional embedding.
At each time step, the decoder outputs a vector of unnormalized log probabilities given by a linear
transformation of the decoder hidden state. When these probabilities are normalized (i.e. by
passing them through a softmax), they define a distribution over the vocabulary, indicating the
most probable characters for that time step. The model is trained via a cross-entropy loss between
CSC413/2516 Winter 2023 with Professor Jimmy Ba & Professor Bo Wang Assignment 1
the decoder distribution and ground-truth at each time step.
3.1 Transformers for NMT (Attention Is All You Need) [4pt]
In order to answer the following questions correctly, please make sure that you have run the code
from nmt.ipynb, Part1, Training and evaluation code prior to answering the following
1. [0.5pt] In lecture, we learnt about Scaled Dot-product Attention used in the transformer
models. The function f is a dot product between the linearly transformed query and keys
using weight matrices Wq and Wk:
i = f(Qt
, Ki) = (WqQt)

i = softmax(˜α
ct =
i WvVi
where, d is the dimension of the query and the Wv denotes weight matrix project the value
to produce the final context vectors.
Implement the scaled dot-product attention mechanism. Fill in the forward methods of the ScaledDotAttention class. Use the PyTorch torch.bmm (or @) to compute the
dot product between the batched queries and the batched keys in the forward pass of the
ScaledDotAttention class for the unnormalized attention weights.
The following functions are useful in implementing models like this. You might find it useful
to get familiar with how they work. (click to jump to the PyTorch documentation):
• squeeze
• unsqueeze
• expand as
• cat
• view
• bmm (or @)
Your forward pass needs to work with both 2D query tensor (batch_size x (1) x hidden_size)
and 3D query tensor (batch_size x k x hidden_size).
2. [0.5pt] Implement the causal scaled dot-product attention mechanism. Fill in the
forward method in the CausalScaledDotAttention class. It will be mostly the same as
the ScaledDotAttention class. The additional computation is to mask out the attention
to the future time steps. You will need to add self.neg_inf to some of the entries in the
unnormalized attention weights. You may find torch.tril or torch.triu handy for this part.
3. [0.5pt] We will now use ScaledDotAttention as the building blocks for a simplified transformer Vaswani et al. [2017] encoder.
The encoder looks like the left half of Figure 5. The encoder consists of three components:
CSC413/2516 Winter 2023 with Professor Jimmy Ba & Professor Bo Wang Assignment 1
• Positional encoding: To encode the position of each word, we add to its embedding a
constant vector that depends on its position:
pth word embedding = input embedding + positional encoding(p)
We follow the same positional encoding methodology described in Vaswani et al. [2017].
That is we use sine and cosine functions:
PE(pos, 2i) = sin pos
PE(pos, 2i + 1) = cos pos
Since we always use the same positional encodings throughout the training, we pregenerate all those we’ll need while constructing this class (before training) and keep
reusing them throughout the training.
• A ScaledDotAttention operation.
• A following MLP.
For this question, describe why we need to represent the position of each word through this
positional encoding in one or two sentences. Additionally, describe the advantages of using
this positional encoding method, as opposed to other positional encoding methods such as a
one hot encoding in one or two sentences.
4. [1pt] In the code notebook, we have provided an experimental setup to evaluate the performance of the Transformer as a function of hidden size and data set size. Run the Transformer
model using hidden size 32 versus 64, and using the small versus large dataset (in total, 4
runs). We suggest using the provided hyper-parameters for this experiment.
Run these experiments, and report the effects of increasing model capacity via the hidden
size, and the effects of increasing dataset size. In particular, report your observations on how
loss as a function of gradient descent iterations is affected, and how changing model/dataset
size affects the generalization of the model. Are these results what you would expect?
In your report, include the two loss curves output by save_loss_comparison_by_hidden
and save_loss_comparison_by_dataset, the lowest attained validation loss for each run,
and your response to the above questions.
Create a section in your report called Scaled Dot Product Attention. Add the following:
• Screenshots of your ScaledDotProduct, CausalScaledDotProduct implementations. Highlight the lines you’ve added. [1pt]
• Your answer to question 3. [0.5pt]
• The two loss curves plots output by the experimental setup in question 4, and the lowest
validation loss for each run. [1pt]
• Your response to the written component of question 4. Your analysis should not exceed six
sentences. [1pt]
CSC413/2516 Winter 2023 with Professor Jimmy Ba & Professor Bo Wang Assignment 1
3.2 Decoder Only NMT
In this subsection, we will train a decoder-only NMT model using the CausalAttention mechanism.
The key difference between this approach and the previous encoder-decoder approach is that we
do not encode a hidden state of the input sequence first using an encoder. Instead, we feed both
the input sequence and the target sequence to a decoder simultaneously, as in Figure 6. The
input sequence and the target sequence will be separated using an end-of-prompt token (EOP). The
concatenated input to the decoder will have SOS token added at the beginning, and the concatenated
target will have EOS token added at the end. In our provided notebook, the decoder will process
this concatenated input using causal attention, but we compute the cross-entropy loss by using the
output tokens from the output of <EOP> only.
Figure 6: Training the decoder-only NMT model.
For test-time translations, we first feed the input sequence to a trained decoder, enclosed by a
SOS token and a EOP token, as shown in Figure 7. We obtain the first translated token a in this
case and concatenate the input sequence with the generated token. Then we feed the concatenated
sequence to the decoder and obtain two tokens a and t. This procedure is repeated until reaching
the maximum target length or generating a <EOS> token.
Figure 7: Translating a text using the decoder-only NMT model.
CSC413/2516 Winter 2023 with Professor Jimmy Ba & Professor Bo Wang Assignment 1
In order to answer the following questions correctly, please make sure that you have run the
code from nmt.ipynb, Part2, Training and evaluation code prior to answering the following questions.
1. [1pt] Construct the input tensors and the target tensors for training a decoder. For this question, we ask you to implement the function generate_tensors_for_training_decoder_nmt
that takes in an input sequence plus an end-of-prompt token and an output sequence plus an
end-of-sentence token and returns two concatenated sequences. One has the form
<SOS> input sequence <EOP> output sequence
, as in the input to the decoder shown in Figure 6, and the other has the form
input sequence <EOP> output sequence <EOS>
2. [1pt] Implement the forward function in DecoderOnlyTransformer.
3. [1pt] Train the model. Now, run the training and testing code block to see the generated
translation using a decoder-only model. Comment on the pros and cons of the decoderonly approach. How is the quality of your generated results compared to the ones using the
encoder-decoder model?
Create a section in your report called Decoder Only NMT. Add the following:
• Your answer to question 1. (Screenshots of your implementations) [1.0pt]
• Your answer to question 2. (Screenshots of your implementations) [1.0pt]
• Your written response to the question 3. [1.0pt]
3.3 Scaling Law and IsoFLOP Profiles
This section will give you hands-on experience charting scaling law curves to forecast neural network
performance. Scaling law is a fundamental concept that describes how the performance of a neural
network changes with its size. Specifically, it relates the number of parameters or computations
required by a neural network to achieve a certain level of performance, such as accuracy or loss.
The scaling law provides a useful tool for predicting the performance of neural networks as they
are scaled up or down.
IsoFLOP is a method proposed in the ”Training Compute-Optimal Large Language Models”
paper [Hoffmann et al., 2022] to study the scaling law of large language models. The authors of the
paper used IsoFLOP to study the effect of model size on the performance of large language models
and to determine the optimal model size that maximizes performance for a given computational
The motivation for using IsoFLOP to forecast neural network performance is twofold. Firstly, it
provides a more accurate and efficient way to explore the scaling law of large language models than
traditional methods, which involve training multiple models at different sizes. Secondly, IsoFLOP
allows for a better understanding of the trade-off between model size and training cost, which is
crucial for designing large-scale neural network architectures that are both efficient and effective. By
CSC413/2516 Winter 2023 with Professor Jimmy Ba & Professor Bo Wang Assignment 1
leveraging IsoFLOP, researchers can gain insights into the scaling properties of neural networks,
such as their accuracy and computational efficiency, and optimize their performance for specific
applications and computational resources.
In this question, we will plot the scaling law curve for the decoder-only translation models from
the previous section. The notebook provided trains six translation models with different model
sizes and varies the FLOP counts by training for different numbers of epochs. You are asked to
complete the functions to make the final IsoFLOP curve consisting of models ranging from 0.08
TFLOPs to 1.28 TFLOPs.
1. [0.5pt] Train six decoder-only translation models using the code provided and plot the validation loss as the function of FLOPs. Comment on any interesting thing you observe. Does
larger model always have a smaller validation loss? (Hint: See Question 2.2)
2. [1pt] IsoFLOP Profiles. For a given FLOPs, fit a quadratic function to the validation loss
and number of parameters in the log space. Find the optimal number of parameters using
the quadratic function. Specifically, you need to fill the “find optimal params” function.
3. [1pt] Complete the Compute Optimal Model plot by fitting a linear line to the target FLOPs
and the optimal model parameters. Based on the plot, estimate the optimal number of
parameters when we have a compute budget of 1e15.
4. [1pt] Plot Compute Optimal Token using the code provided. Now, given the Compute Optimal
Model plot and Compute Optimal Token plot, is the training setup in Section 3.2.3 compute
optimal? If not, how should we change it?
Create a section in your report called Scaling Law and IsoFLOP Profiles. Add the following:
• Your written response to the question 1. Your answer should not exceed 3 sentences. [0.5pt]
• Your answer to question 2. (Screenshots of your implementations) [1.0pt]
• Your answer to question 3. (Screenshots of your implementations). The optimal number of
parameters given 1e15 FLOPs and the process of how you estimate it. [1.0pt]
• Your written response to the question 4. Your answer should not exceed 3 sentences. [1.0pt]
CSC413/2516 Winter 2023 with Professor Jimmy Ba & Professor Bo Wang Assignment 1
4 Fine-tuning Pretrained Language Models (LMs) [2pt]
The previous sections had you train models from scratch. However, similar to computer vision
(CV), it is now very common in natural language processing (NLP) to fine-tune pretrained models.
Indeed, this has been described as “NLP’s ImageNet moment.”7
In this section, we will learn how
to fine-tune pretrained language models (LMs) on a new task. We will use a simple classification
task, where the goal is to determine whether a verbal numerical expression is negative (label 0),
zero (label 1), or positive (label 2). For example, “eight minus ten” is negative, so our classifier
should output label index 0. As our pretrained LM, we will use the popular BERT model, which
uses a transformer encoder architecture. More specifically, we will explore two versions of BERT:
MathBERT [Shen et al., 2021], which has been pretrained on a large mathematical corpus ranging
from pre-kindergarten to college graduate level mathematical content and BERTweet [Nguyen
et al., 2020], which has been pretrained on 100s of millions of tweets.
Most of the code is given to you in the notebook
github/uoft-csc413/2022/blob/master/assets/assignments/bert.ipynb. The starter code
uses the HuggingFace Transformers library8
, which has more than 50k stars on GitHub due to its
ease of use, and will be very useful for your NLP research or projects in the future. Your task is
to adapt BERT so that it can be fine-tuned on our downstream task. Before starting this section,
please carefully review the background for BERT and the verbal arithmetic dataset (below).
Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (BERT) [Devlin et al., 2019] is a LM
based on the Transformer [Vaswani et al., 2017] encoder architecture that has been pretrained on
a large dataset of unlabeled sentences from Wikipedia and BookCorpus [Zhu et al., 2015]. Given a
sequence of tokens, BERT outputs a “contextualized representation” vector for each token. Because
BERT is pretrained on a large amount of text, these contextualized representations encode useful
properties of the syntax and semantics of language.
BERT has 2 pretraining objectives: (1) Masked Language Modeling (MLM), and (2) Next
Sentence Prediction (NSP). The input to the model is a sequence of tokens of the form:
[CLS] Sentence A [SEP] Sentence B
where [CLS] (“class”) and [SEP] (“separator”) are special tokens. In MLM, some percentage of the
input tokens are randomly “masked” by replacing them with the [MASK] token, and the objective
is to use the final layer representation for that masked token to predict the correct word that was
masked out9
. In NSP, the task is to use the contextualized representation of the [CLS] token to
predict whether sentence A and sentence B are consecutive sentences in the unlabeled dataset. See
Figure 8 for the conceptual picture of BERT pretraining and fine-tuning.
Once pretrained, we can fine-tune BERT on a downstream task of interest, such as sentiment
analysis or question-answering, benefiting from its learned contextual representations. Typically,
this is done by adding a simple classifier, which maps BERTs outputs to the class labels for our
downstream task. Often, this classifier is a single linear layer + softmax. We can choose to train
9The actual training setup is slightly more complicated but conceptually similar. Notice, this is similar to one of
the models in Programming Assignment 1!
CSC413/2516 Winter 2023 with Professor Jimmy Ba & Professor Bo Wang Assignment 1
’ … EM

C T1 T[SEP] … TN
’ … TM

[CLS] Tok 1 [SEP] … Tok N Tok 1 … TokM
Question Paragraph
Start/End Span
’ … EM

C T1 T[SEP] … TN
’ … TM

[CLS] Tok 1 [SEP] … Tok N Tok 1 … TokM
Masked Sentence A Masked Sentence B
Pre-training Fine-Tuning
NSP Mask LM Mask LM
Unlabeled Sentence A and B Pair
Question Answer Pair
Figure 8: Overall pretraining and fine-tuning for BERT. Reproduced from BERT paper [Devlin
et al., 2019]
only the parameters of the classifier, or we can fine-tune both the classifier and BERT model jointly.
Because BERT has been pretrained on a large amount of data, we can get good performance by
fine-tuning for a few epochs with only a small amount of labelled data.
In this assignment, you will fine-tune BERT on a single sentence classification task.
Figure 9 illustrates the basic setup for fine-tuning BERT on this task. We prepend the tokenized
sentence with the [CLS] token, then feed the sequence into BERT. We then take the contextualized
[CLS] token representation at the last layer of BERT as input to a simple classifier, which will
learn to predict the probabilities for each of the possible output classes of our task. We will use
the pretrained weights of MathBERT, which uses the same architecture as BERT, but has been
pretrained on a large mathematical corpus, which more closely matches our task data (see below).
>6(3@ 1 7
¶  70¶
& 7 7
2 %3(5 2

(  >&/6@ ( (>6(3
 (1  7>6(3@  71 7  70¶
>&/6@ 7RN >&/6@ 7RN 7RN
  >6(3@ 7RN

Figune-tuning BERT for single sentence classification by adding a layer on top of the
contextualized [CLS] token representation. Reproduced from BERT paper [Devlin et al., 2019]
CSC413/2516 Winter 2023 with Professor Jimmy Ba & Professor Bo Wang Assignment 1
Verbal Arithmetic Dataset
The verbal arithmetic dataset contains pairs of input sentences and labels. The input sentences
express a simple addition or subtraction. Each input is labelled as 0, 1, or 2 if it evaluates to
negative, zero, or positive, respectively. There are 640 examples in the train set and 160 in the test
set. All inputs have only three tokens similar to the examples shown below:
Input expression Label Label meaning
four minus ten 0 “negative”
eighteen minus eighteen 1 “zero”
four plus seven 2 “positive”
1. [1pt] Add a classifier to BERT. Open the notebook
github/uoft-csc413/2022/blob/master/assets/assignments/bert.ipynb and complete
Question 1 by filling in the missing lines of code in BertForSentenceClassification.
2. [0pt] Fine-tune BERT. Open the notebook and run the cells under Question 2 to fine-tune
the BERT model on the verbal arithmetic dataset. If question 1 was completed correctly, the
model should train, and a plot of train loss and validation accuracy will be displayed.
3. [0.5pt] Freezing the pretrained weights. Open the notebook and run the cells under Question 3
to fine-tune only the classifiers weights, leaving BERTs weights frozen. After training, answer
the following questions (no more than four sentences total)
• Compared to fine-tuning (see Question 2), what is the effect on train time when BERTs
weights are frozen? Why? (1-2 sentences)
• Compared to fine-tuning (see Question 2), what is the effect on performance (i.e. validation accuracy) when BERTs weights are frozen? Why? (1-2 sentences)
4. [0.5pt] Effect of pretraining data. Open the notebook and run the cells under Question 4
in order to repeat the fine-tuning process using the pretrained weights of BERTweet. After
training, answer the following questions (no more than three sentences total).
• Compared to fine-tuning BERT with the pretrained weights from MathBERT (see Question 2), what is the effect on performance (i.e. validation accuracy) when we fine-tune
BERT with the pretrained weights from BERTweet? Why might this be the case? (2-3
5. [0pt] Inspect models predictions. Open the notebook and run the cells under Question 5.
We have provided a function that allows you to inspect a models predictions for a given
input. Can you find examples where one model clearly outperforms the others? Can you find
examples where all models perform poorly?
• The completed BertForSentenceClassification. Either the code or a screenshot of the
code. Make sure both the init and forward methods are clearly visible. [1pt]
• Answer to question 3. Your answer should not exceed 4 sentences. [0.5pt]
• Answer to question 4. Your answer should not exceed 3 sentences. [0.5pt]
CSC413/2516 Winter 2023 with Professor Jimmy Ba & Professor Bo Wang Assignment 1
5 Connecting Text and Images with CLIP [1pt]
Throughout this course, we have seen powerful image models and expressive language models. In
this section, we will connect the two modalities by exploring CLIP, a model trained to predict an
image’s caption to learn better image representations.
Figure 10: 1. Contrastive pre-training task that predicts the caption that corresponds to an image
out of many possible captions. 2. At test time, each class is converted to a caption. This is used
with 3. as a zero-shot classifier for a new image that predicts the best (image, caption) pair. Figure
taken from [Radford et al., 2021a]
Background for CLIP:
The motivation behind Contrastive Language-Image Pre-training (CLIP) [Radford et al., 2021b]
was to leverage information from natural language to improve zero-shot classification of images.
The model is pre-trained on 400 million (image, caption) pairs collected from the internet on the
following task: given the image, predict which caption was paired with it out of 32,768 randomly
sampled captions (Figure 10). This is done by first computing the feature embedding of the image
and feature embeddings of possible captions. The cosine similarity of the embeddings is computed
and converted into a probability distribution. The outcome is that the network learns many visual
concepts and associates them with a name.
At test time, the model is turned into a zero-shot classifier: all possible classes are converted
to a caption such as ”a photo of a (class)” and CLIP estimates the best (image, caption) pair
for a new image. Overall, CLIP offers many significant advantages: it does not require expensive
hand-labelling while achieving competitive results and offers greater flexibility and generalizability
over existing ImageNet models.
1. [0pt] Interacting with CLIP. Open the notebook
github/uoft-csc413/2022/blob/master/assets/assignments/clip.ipynb. Read through
Section I and run the code cells to get familiar with CLIP.
CSC413/2516 Winter 2023 with Professor Jimmy Ba & Professor Bo Wang Assignment 1
2. [1pt] Prompting CLIP. Complete Section II. Come up with a caption that will “prompt”
CLIP to select the following target image:
Figure 11: Image that should be selected by CLIP.
Comment on the process of finding the caption: was it easy, or were there any difficulties?
(no more than one sentence)
• The caption you wrote that causes CLIP to select the image in Figure 11, as well as a brief
(1 sentence) comment on the search process. [1pt]
What you need to submit
• The completed notebook files: nmt.ipynb, bert.ipynb, clip.ipynb.
• A PDF document titled a3-writeup.pdf containing your answers to the conceptual questions.
You may directly append the PDF exports of the notebooks into the final a3-writeup.pdf.
Ian J Goodfellow, Jonathon Shlens, and Christian Szegedy. Explaining and harnessing adversarial
examples. arXiv preprint arXiv:1412.6572, 2014.
Guodong Zhang, Lala Li, Zachary Nado, James Martens, Sushant Sachdeva, George E Dahl,
Christopher J Shallue, and Roger Grosse. Which algorithmic choices matter at which batch
sizes? insights from a noisy quadratic model. arXiv preprint arXiv:1907.04164, 2019.
Christopher J Shallue, Jaehoon Lee, Joseph Antognini, Jascha Sohl-Dickstein, Roy Frostig, and
George E Dahl. Measuring the effects of data parallelism on neural network training. arXiv
preprint arXiv:1811.03600, 2018.
Jared Kaplan, Sam McCandlish, Tom Henighan, Tom B Brown, Benjamin Chess, Rewon Child,
Scott Gray, Alec Radford, Jeffrey Wu, and Dario Amodei. Scaling laws for neural language
models. arXiv preprint arXiv:2001.08361, 2020.
CSC413/2516 Winter 2023 with Professor Jimmy Ba & Professor Bo Wang Assignment 1
Ashish Vaswani, Noam Shazeer, Niki Parmar, Jakob Uszkoreit, Llion Jones, Aidan N Gomez,
Lukasz Kaiser, and Illia Polosukhin. Attention is all you need. In Advances in Neural Information
Processing Systems, pages 5998–6008, 2017.
Jordan Hoffmann, Sebastian Borgeaud, Arthur Mensch, Elena Buchatskaya, Trevor Cai, Eliza
Rutherford, Diego de Las Casas, Lisa Anne Hendricks, Johannes Welbl, Aidan Clark, et al.
Training compute-optimal large language models. arXiv preprint arXiv:2203.15556, 2022.
Jia Tracy Shen, Michiharu Yamashita, Ethan Prihar, Neil Heffernan, Xintao Wu, Ben Graff, and
Dongwon Lee. Mathbert: A pre-trained language model for general nlp tasks in mathematics
education. arXiv preprint arXiv:2106.07340, 2021.
Dat Quoc Nguyen, Thanh Vu, and Anh Tuan Nguyen. Bertweet: A pre-trained language model
for english tweets. arXiv preprint arXiv:2005.10200, 2020.
Jacob Devlin, Ming-Wei Chang, Kenton Lee, and Kristina Toutanova. BERT: Pre-training of deep
bidirectional transformers for language understanding. In Proceedings of the 2019 Conference of
the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language
Technologies, Volume 1 (Long and Short Papers), pages 4171–4186, Minneapolis, Minnesota,
June 2019. Association for Computational Linguistics. doi: 10.18653/v1/N19-1423. URL https:
Yukun Zhu, Ryan Kiros, Rich Zemel, Ruslan Salakhutdinov, Raquel Urtasun, Antonio Torralba,
and Sanja Fidler. Aligning books and movies: Towards story-like visual explanations by watching
movies and reading books. In Proceedings of the IEEE international conference on computer
vision, pages 19–27, 2015.
Alec Radford, Ilya Sutskever, Jong Wook Kim, Gretchen Krueger, and Sandhini Agarwal. Clip:
Connecting text and images, Jan 2021a. URL
Alec Radford, Jong Wook Kim, Chris Hallacy, Aditya Ramesh, Gabriel Goh, Sandhini Agarwal, Girish Sastry, Amanda Askell, Pamela Mishkin, Jack Clark, Gretchen Krueger, and Ilya
Sutskever. Learning transferable visual models from natural language supervision, 2021b.
CSC413/2516 Winter 2023 with Professor Jimmy Ba & Professor Bo Wang Assignment 1
Figure 12: Question 1.1.1
CSC413/2516 Winter 2023 with Professor Jimmy Ba & Professor Bo Wang Assignment 1
Figure 13: Question 1.1.2
CSC413/2516 Winter 2023 with Professor Jimmy Ba & Professor Bo Wang Assignment 1
Figure 14: Question 1.2.2
CSC413/2516 Winter 2023 with Professor Jimmy Ba & Professor Bo Wang Assignment 1
Figure 15: Question 1.2.3
CSC413/2516 Winter 2023 with Professor Jimmy Ba & Professor Bo Wang Assignment 1
Figure 16: Question 2.1.1
CSC413/2516 Winter 2023 with Professor Jimmy Ba & Professor Bo Wang Assignment 1
Figure 17: Question 3.1
CSC413/2516 Winter 2023 with Professor Jimmy Ba & Professor Bo Wang Assignment 1
Figure 18: Question 3.2


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