Building the simple AI language model using PyTorch and TensorFlow to demonstrate transformer operations

Learning guide about transformers in the context of large language models, and how to build a simple application using PyTorch and TensorFlow to demonstrate transformer operations.

Introduction to Transformers

Understanding the Transformer Architecture
Implementing a Transformer with PyTorch
Implementing a Transformer with TensorFlow
Building a Simple Application to Demonstrate Transformer Operations

1. Introduction to Transformers
What are transformers?
Origins of transformers: Attention is All You Need paper
Importance of transformers in natural language processing (NLP)
Overview of large language models (LLMs)
2. Understanding the Transformer Architecture
Deep dive into the architecture components
Encoder and decoder stacks
Self-attention mechanism
Positional encodings
Feed-forward neural networks
Layer normalization and residual connections
How transformers facilitate parallel processing of sequences
Importance of attention mechanism in capturing context
3. Implementing a Transformer with PyTorch
PyTorch introduction: Dynamic computation graph
Setting up the PyTorch environment
Building blocks of transformer in PyTorch
Defining the self-attention module
Implementing positional encoding
Composing the encoder and decoder
Constructing the complete transformer model
Training a transformer model with PyTorch on a simple task (e.g., language modeling)
4. Implementing a Transformer with TensorFlow
TensorFlow introduction: Static computation graph
Setting up the TensorFlow environment
Building blocks of transformer in TensorFlow
Defining the self-attention module with TensorFlow and Keras layers
Implementing positional encoding with TensorFlow operations
Composing the encoder and decoder with Keras
Constructing the complete transformer model
Training a transformer model with TensorFlow on a simple task (e.g., machine translation)
5. Building a Simple Application to Demonstrate Transformer Operations
Selecting a simple use case (e.g., sentiment analysis, text classification)
Preparing the dataset
Applying the previously built transformer models to the task
Evaluating the model's performance
Discussion on how the transformer's self-attention mechanism contributes to its predictions
Each section will contain explanations, diagrams, sample code, and exercises. It is important to include both explanations and practical hands-on activities to facilitate learning.
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word embeddings - how are they trained? How are they used? in and with transformers?

Understanding Word Embeddings

How they are trained

Their role in transformers.

Understanding Word Embeddings
What are word embeddings?
Why are word embeddings important in NLP?
Training word embeddings
Overview of techniques: Word2Vec, GloVe, FastText
Concept of context and dimensionality reduction
Training process and objective functions
Word embeddings in transformers
Role in the input layer of transformer models
Positional encodings combined with word embeddings
How transformers learn contextualized embeddings

What are Word Embeddings?

Word embeddings are dense vector representations of words in a continuous vector space where semantically similar words are mapped to nearby points.
They are fundamental to modern NLP tasks because they capture semantic meanings, syntactic roles, and even relationships among words.

To introduce students to word embeddings in R with no prior knowledge of the underlying math, let’s use a hands-on approach starting with a high-level understanding and then moving to coding exercises that leverage pre-trained word embeddings.

Since directly training word embeddings can involve complex concepts, using a pre-trained model helps to illustrate the idea without delving into the deeper math initially.

R offers a package called text that can be used to work with pre-trained word embeddings. Let's use the text package in R for these exercises, along with a pre-trained set of word embeddings such as the GloVe vectors.
Step 1: Installing and Loading Required Packages
Before starting the exercise, ensure you have R and the necessary packages installed.
They will need to install the text package if they haven’t already:
rinstall.packages("text") Open in:Code Editor
Now, load the text package:
rlibrary(text) Open in:Code Editor
Step 2: Loading Pre-trained Word Embeddings
The text package allows easy downloading and usage of pre-trained embeddings:
r# This will download the pre-trained word vectors and store them in an R object embeddings <- textEmbeddings() Open in:Code Editor
Step 3: Exploring Word Embeddings
Now, let's explore the word embeddings to see how words are represented as vectors:
# Get the vector representation of the word 'king' king_vector <- embeddings$word_vectors[rownames(embeddings$word_vectors) == "king",] print(king_vector)
# Get the vector representation for a few words
words <- c("queen", "man", "woman", "throne", "crown")
vectors <- embeddings$word_vectors[rownames(embeddings$word_vectors) %in% words,] print(vectors)
Step 4: Visualizing Word Embeddings
We might want to visualize these vectors in 2D space to get an intuitive sense of their relationships.
This requires dimension reduction which can be performed using methods like PCA (Principal Component Analysis).
Here we will use PCA to reduce dimensionality and subsequently plot these vectors:
# Apply PCA pca <- prcomp(embeddings$word_vectors) pca_vectors <-$x)
# Plot the first two PCA components of some words selected_words <- c("king", "queen", "man", "woman", "throne", "crown") selected_vectors <- pca_vectors[rownames(pca_vectors) %in% selected_words, 1:2] # Select first two components selected_vectors$word <- rownames(selected_vectors) # Add words as labels
ggplot(selected_vectors, aes(x = PC1, y = PC2, label = word)) + geom_text(aes(label = word)) + geom_point() + theme_minimal()
Step 5: Finding Similar Words
You can use word embeddings to find words that are semantically similar to a given word:
# Find words similar to 'king'
similar_words <- textSimilarity("king", embeddings = embeddings) print(similar_words)
Step 6: Analogies with Word Embeddings
Word embeddings can also capture relationships between words. Analogies like "Man is to King as Woman is to ?" can be explored using pre-trained embeddings:
# Solving the analogy Man is to King as Woman is to ?
result <- textAnalogies(c("man", "king", "woman"), embeddings = embeddings) print(result)
These exercises will give students a good foundation in understanding word embeddings before diving into the more complex mathematics and training processes.

Why are Word Embeddings Important in NLP?

Embeddings provide a way to convert categorical data (words) into numerical form that machine learning models can process.
They enable models to understand the semantic and syntactic nuances of language by creating a representation that reflects word usage in context.

Training Word Embeddings

Word embeddings are trained using large text corpora. Popular algorithms for training word embeddings include:
Word2Vec: Uses a neural network model to learn word associations from a large corpus of text.
GloVe (Global Vectors for Word Representation): Uses matrix factorization based on word co-occurrence within a corpus.
FastText: Extends Word2Vec to consider subword information, which is useful for understanding suffixes and prefixes and for better handling of rare words.
These methods involve looking at words in their context and capturing these contexts in the word embedding space using different objective functions such as predicting a word based on its context (Word2Vec's continuous bag-of-words, CBOW) or predicting context words given a target word (Word2Vec's skip-gram).

Word Embeddings in Transformers

In transformers, word embeddings are used as the initial representation of words and are the input to the encoder and decoder stacks. Unlike earlier methods that provide the same embedding for a word regardless of context, transformers can provide context-dependent embeddings.
Input Layer: The transformer takes word embeddings as part of its input layer; these embeddings are often initialized with pre-trained embeddings from models like Word2Vec or GloVe but are then further trained in the context of the specific task.
Positional Encodings: Since the self-attention mechanism in transformers does not have a notion of word order, positional encodings are added to the word embeddings to provide sequential information to the model.
Contextualized Embeddings: As the input passes through the transformer's layers with self-attention mechanisms, the model adjusts the embeddings, making them contextualized. This means that the representation of a word can change depending on the other words in the sentence, which allows the model to capture polysemy and other complex language features.
Transformers, such as BERT and its derivatives, have taken this a step further by aiming to pre-train deep bidirectional representations from unlabeled text by jointly conditioning on both left and right context in all layers.
This pre-training step results in embeddings that encapsulate a rich understanding of language and context, outperforming traditional embeddings in many tasks.

Next, we'll look at how to integrate these concepts into a practical application using PyTorch or TensorFlow models.

Let's start with a detailed walkthrough on implementing word embeddings and transformers using PyTorch, and then we'll do the same for TensorFlow.

Both implementations will be created with the intention that they could be run in Google Colab environments, which allow users to execute Python code through the browser.
We will implement a simple transformer model in PyTorch and TensorFlow that is capable of handling a sequence-to-sequence task, such as machine translation or sentiment analysis. Since machine translation is a classic demonstration for sequence-to-sequence models, we will use that for our examples.
Note: The code provided here will be concise and focused on important elements. For a complete lab workbook, additional explanations, comments, and data preprocessing steps would be necessary.

Implementing a Transformer with Word Embeddings in PyTorch

First, we install PyTorch in a Google Colab notebook with the following command:
python!pip install torch torchvision Open in:Code Editor
Now, here is a simplified example of how to define a transformer model with word embeddings in PyTorch:
In the code above, PAD_IDX is the token index used for padding. The masks ensure that the self-attention mechanism only attends to non-padded positions.
Note: Running a training loop and defining a complete dataset and dataloader would exceed the scope of this explanation. However, the main focus here is to provide a skeleton of the implementation.

Implementing a Transformer with Word Embeddings in TensorFlow

In a Google Colab notebook, you can install TensorFlow as follows:
!pip install tensorflow
Now, let's define a transformer model in TensorFlow:

import tensorflow as tf from tensorflow.keras.layers import Embedding, Dense

class TransformerModel(tf.keras.Model): def __init__(self, vocab_size, d_model, nhead, num_encoder_layers, num_decoder_layers, dim_feedforward, max_seq_length): super(TransformerModel, self).__init__() self.embedding = Embedding(vocab_size, d_model) self.positional_encoding = self.add_weight("positional_encoding", shape=[max_seq_length, d_model]) self.transformer = tf.keras.layers.Transformer(d_model, nhead, num_encoder_layers, num_decoder_layers, dim_feedforward) self.output_layer = Dense(vocab_size)
def call(self, src, tgt, training): src_emb = self.embedding(src) + self.positional_encoding[:tf.shape(src)[1], :] tgt_emb = self.embedding(tgt) + self.positional_encoding[:tf.shape(tgt)[1], :] output = self.transformer([src_emb, tgt_emb], training=training) output = self.output_layer(output) return output
TensorFlow's Model and Keras layers make it very convenient to define complex models such as transformers.
For training, you would use the fit method provided by Keras, or you can create a custom training loop using the GradientTape API.


# Assuming we have model, a dataset, and an optimizer defined for epoch in range(num_epochs): for src, tgt in dataset: with tf.GradientTape() as tape: predictions = model(src, tgt, training=True) loss = loss_function(tgt, predictions)

gradients = tape.gradient(loss, model.trainable_variables) optimizer.apply_gradients(zip(gradients, model.trainable_variables)) # Add code here for validation and printing out epoch loss ...
In this TensorFlow example, we have not explicitly defined the masks.
TensorFlow's transformer layers are designed to implicitly handle padding and look ahead mask creation.
You would need to create these masks if you want more control over the masking process.
By running these coding examples in Google Colab, students can observe the model training and actually see how word embeddings and transformers are implemented in practice.
Additional steps would involve loading data, preprocessing, and evaluation.

Let's take a closer look at the PyTorch example code for the Transformer model.

I'm going to go through each part of the TransformerModel class and the forward method.

import torch import torch.nn as nn

These lines import the necessary PyTorch modules. torch is the main PyTorch package, and torch.nn provides us with layers and utilities to build neural networks.
class TransformerModel(nn.Module):

Here, we define a class named TransformerModel that inherits from nn.Module, which is the base class for all neural network modules in PyTorch. All custom models should extend nn.Module.

def __init__(self, vocab_size, d_model, nhead, num_encoder_layers, num_decoder_layers, dim_feedforward, max_seq_length):
This line defines the constructor of our TransformerModel. It takes several important parameters:
vocab_size: The size of the vocabulary, or how many unique tokens we expect in our input.
d_model: The number of expected features in the transformer's input and output (also known as embedding dimension).
nhead: The number of attention heads in the multi-head attention models.
num_encoder_layers: The number of sub-encoder-layers in the encoder.
num_decoder_layers: The number of sub-decoder-layers in the decoder.
dim_feedforward: The dimension of the feedforward network model (often this is a larger number than d_model).
max_seq_length: The maximum length of input sequences, used for positional encodings.

super(TransformerModel, self).__init__()

This line initializes our model as a PyTorch module.
self.embedding = nn.Embedding(vocab_size, d_model)

We create an embedding layer which will learn to map tokens (integers) to high-dimensional vectors (d_model dimensions). vocab_size is the number of unique tokens that can be embedded.
self.positional_encoding = nn.Parameter(torch.zeros(max_seq_length, d_model))

This line initializes a learned parameter for positional encodings. Positional encodings are added to embeddings to give the model information about the relative or absolute position of the tokens in the sequence.
python self.transformer = nn.Transformer(d_model, nhead, num_encoder_layers, num_decoder_layers, dim_feedforward)
Here, we're creating an instance of the PyTorch transformer model according to the parameters we've passed in.

self.output_layer = nn.Linear(d_model, vocab_size) Open in:Code Editor
The output layer is a linear transformation which will map from the hidden state of the desired d_model size back to the vocabulary size, which is the output size we want (e.g., for generating probabilities of each token).
python def forward(self, src, tgt, src_mask, tgt_mask, src_padding_mask, tgt_padding_mask, memory_key_padding_mask):

Now we define the forward method, which is called when we run input data through the model.
This is where the actual processing of the input occurs.
Here's what the parameters represent:
src: Source sequence batch.
tgt: Target sequence batch. For training seq-to-seq models, this is often the target output shifted by one time step.
src_mask: The mask for source sequence batch; it's used to prevent attending to future positions.
tgt_mask: The mask for target sequence batch; similar to src_mask but also prevents the model from looking at future positions in target.
src_padding_mask: A mask to prevent the model from treating padding as part of the input.
tgt_padding_mask: A mask for padding in the target sequence batch.
memory_key_padding_mask: A mask for padding in the memory (encoder output when decoding).
python src_emb = self.embedding(src) + self.positional_encoding[:src.size(0), :] Open in:Code Editor
Here we are embedding the source sequence batch and adding positional encodings to it.
src.size(0) is used to slice the positional encoding to match the sequence length.
tgt_emb = self.embedding(tgt) + self.positional_encoding[:tgt.size(0), :] Open in:Code Editor

Similarly, we embed the target sequence batch and add positional encodings.

output = self.transformer(src_emb, tgt_emb, src_mask, tgt_mask, None, src_padding_mask, tgt_padding_mask, memory_key_padding_mask)

This line feeds the embedded source and target sequences, along with the masks, into the transformer model.
The output is the transformer's output.
output = self.output_layer(output) Open in:Code Editor
Finally, we apply the output layer to the transformer's output.
This projects the transformer outputs back to the vocabulary space.
return output

We return the final output, which, in a sequence-to-sequence task like translation, would correspond to the next-token predictions for each position in the target sequence.

This completes the line-by-line explanation of the TransformerModel in PyTorch. The training and evaluation code, which handles creating the masks, loss calculation, and optimizations, follow the forward method call.


Here's a summary of additional important points to consider when teaching about word embeddings and transformers in the context of large language models, especially when approaching the topic from a practical implementation perspective:

Data Preprocessing: Emphasize the importance of preprocessing text data before it's fed into a model for training or inference. Examples include tokenizing text, converting to lowercase, removing punctuation, dealing with out-of-vocabulary words, and padding sequences to a uniform length.
Underfitting and Overfitting: Teach the concepts of underfitting and overfitting, how to detect them, and strategies for prevention, such as regularization techniques, dropout, and data augmentation.
Evaluation Metrics: Explain how to assess the performance of models using appropriate metrics, such as BLEU scores for machine translation, and accuracy or F1 scores for classification tasks.
Ethics and Bias: Discuss ethical considerations, including how biases in training data can propagate through word embeddings and transformers, and impact the decisions made by large language models.
Model Interpretability: Touch upon the importance of understanding how models make decisions, which can be a challenge with complex models like transformers. Techniques such as attention visualization can provide some insights.
Transfer Learning: Introduce students to the concept of transfer learning, where pre-trained models on large datasets are fine-tuned on specific tasks, which is common practice with transformers in NLP.
Compute Resources: Make students aware of the computational resources needed to train large language models and the options available, from local GPUs to cloud services like Google Colab and AWS.
Version Control and Experiment Tracking: In a practical environment, using tools like Git for version control and MLflow or TensorBoard for experiment tracking is essential for managing and documenting machine learning projects.
Continuous Learning and Research Updates: Encourage students to keep up with the latest research, as the field of NLP and the technology around transformers are rapidly evolving.
Practical Applications: Discuss various real-world applications of transformers beyond the provided examples, such as summarization, question answering, and text generation.
Legal and Regulatory Aspects: Inform about the legal and regulatory considerations when deploying NLP models, especially related to user data, privacy, and content generation.
Limitations of Models: Acknowledge and explain the limitations of current models, including challenges with languages other than English, long-form document understanding, and the need for large amounts of training data.
By covering these areas, students will have a more comprehensive view of the field and be better prepared to work with and further study transformers and NLP.


Creating an R lab environment for doing R exercises.

In terms of accessibility and ease of use, Jupyter Notebook is an excellent choice, especially when you want to combine narrative instruction with executable code. Jupyter Notebooks support various languages, including R, using the IRkernel.

Here’s a guide on setting up an R environment using Jupyter Notebook:

Lab Workbook: Setting Up an R Environment in Jupyter Notebook

Introduction to Jupyter Notebooks
Begin by explaining what Jupyter Notebooks are and how they provide an interactive environment where you can mix text, code, and visualizations.
Setting Up the Environment
Installation of Jupyter Notebook
If students do not have Jupyter installed, guide them through the installation process using Anaconda, which simplifies package management and deployment. They can download and install Anaconda from the official website. Once installed, they can launch Jupyter Notebooks from the Anaconda Navigator.
Installing the IRkernel
After setting up Jupyter Notebook via Anaconda or another method, introduce students to the IRkernel, which provides R language support in Jupyter. Here are the steps to install it:
Start R from the terminal by typing R.
Install IRkernel by running the following commands in the R console:rinstall.packages('IRkernel') IRkernel::installspec(user = FALSE) # to install system-wide Open in:Code Editor
Once installed, students can select 'R' from the Jupyter Notebook 'New' dropdown menu to start a new R notebook.
Launching Jupyter Notebook
Explain how to launch Jupyter Notebook either from the Anaconda Navigator or the command line by typing jupyter notebook.
Getting Started with Jupyter Notebooks
Creating a New R Notebook
Show students how to create a new R notebook from within Jupyter by selecting R from the New dropdown menu.
Navigating the Jupyter Notebook Interface
Walk them through the Jupyter Notebook interface: the menu bar, toolbar, and cells. Explain that cells can contain code, markdown (for text), or raw text.
Writing and Executing R Code
Teach them to write R code in a cell and execute it by pressing Shift + Enter, and show them how the output appears right below the cell.
Using Markdown for Narrative
Discuss how to document the code and explain concepts using markdown cells, and give them essential markdown syntax to create headings, lists, and format text.
Adding Visualizations
Explain using R's plotting capabilities directly in the Jupyter Notebook. Showcase some quick examples using ggplot2 or built-in R plotting functions.
Saving and Sharing Notebooks
Saving Work
Instruct students on saving their notebook by clicking the save icon or using the File menu. Explain that Jupyter Notebooks are saved with a .ipynb file extension.
Exporting Notebooks
Explain how to export notebooks to different formats such as HTML, PDF, or Markdown using the Download As option in the File menu.
Practice Exercises
Provide a series of exercises that lead students through writing R code in Jupyter Notebook cells, including plotting and basic data analysis. Suggest that they add markdown cells to document their thought process and findings.
Collaborative Features
Mention any collaborative features or how their Jupyter Notebook environment might integrate with other tools, such as version control systems like Git.
Encourage students to explore more advanced features of Jupyter Notebooks on their own, such as extensions, widgets, and integration with other services.
Remind them that the Jupyter environment is a powerful tool for experimentation, learning, and collaboration.
This lab workbook will give students the groundwork they need to effectively utilize Jupyter Notebook for R programming exercises. It should be accompanied by step-by-step examples and screenshots for a clearer understanding. Additionally, consider including troubleshooting tips to help students navigate common issues they might encounter.


Jupyter notebooks can be cloud-hosted and shared in a way similar to Google Colab notebooks.

There are several platforms that provide cloud-hosted Jupyter environments which can be used for the purposes of teaching, collaboration, and submitting assignments.

Google Colaboratory (Colab): Google Colab is a free cloud service that hosts Jupyter notebooks and supports various languages through community-contributed kernels, including R. Colab also provides free access to GPU and TPU resources. You can share Colab notebooks with others by sharing the link and can set editable or view-only access. Students can submit assignments by sharing the link with appropriate access rights with teachers.
Microsoft Azure Notebooks: Similar to Google Colab, Microsoft Azure provides a free cloud-based Jupyter notebook service with support for multiple languages, including R. Notebooks can be shared, and the service integrates well with the Azure platform for those who may want to use other Azure resources.
JupyterHub: JupyterHub allows users to serve pre-configured Jupyter Notebook servers to multiple users. It is an ideal solution for classrooms and labs where users each need an isolated instance of the server. It can be self-hosted or run on cloud infrastructure.
Binder: Binder turns a Git repository into a collection of interactive Jupyter notebooks which can be shared via a URL. It's free to use and does not require any registration. It is particularly useful for sharing reproducible research.
IBM Watson Studio: IBM Watson Studio provides a cloud-based environment with Jupyter notebooks as one of the components, and it allows the sharing of notebooks between users.
When using these services for assignments, the general workflow would be as follows:
Creating the Notebook: Students create their Jupyter notebooks on any of these platforms.
Sharing the Notebook: Students use the platform's sharing capabilities to obtain a shareable link. For example, in Google Colab, they would use the 'Share' button and set the sharing settings to either view or edit mode, depending on the assignment’s requirement.
Submitting the Assignment: Students submit the shareable link to their instructors through the course management system or as specified by the instructor.

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