When possible, CALM skips some compute effort for certain predictions. To demonstrate this, we use the popular encoder-decoder T5 architecture. The encoder reads the input text (e.g., a news article to summarize) and converts the text to dense representations. Then, the decoder outputs the summary by predicting it word by word. Both the encoder and decoder include a long sequence of Transformer layers. Each layer includes attention and feedforward modules with many matrix multiplications. These layers gradually modify the hidden representation that is ultimately used for predicting the next word.
Instead of waiting for all decoder layers to complete, CALM attempts to predict the next word earlier, after some intermediate layer. To decide whether to commit to a certain prediction or to postpone the prediction to a later layer, we measure the model’s confidence in its intermediate prediction. The rest of the computation is skipped only when the model is confident enough that the prediction won’t change. For quantifying what is “confident enough”, we calibrate a threshold that statistically satisfies arbitrary quality guarantees over the full output sequence.