The Architectural Bottleneck Principle
In this paper, we seek to measure how much information a component in a neural network could extract from the representations fed into it. Our work stands in contrast to prior probing work, most of which investigates how much information a model’s representations contain. This shift in perspective leads us to propose a new principle for probing, the architectural bottleneck principle: In order to estimate how much information a given component could extract, a probe should look exactly like the component. Relying on this principle, we estimate how much syntactic information is available to transformers through our attentional probe, a probe that ex- actly resembles a transformer’s self-attention head. Experimentally, we find that, in three models (BERT, ALBERT, and RoBERTa), a sentence’s syntax tree is mostly extractable by our probe, suggesting these models have ac- cess to syntactic information while composing their contextual representations. Whether this information is actually used by these models, however, remains an open question.