The EarlyBIRD Catches the Bug: On Exploiting Early Layers of Encoder Models for More Efficient Code Classification
This program is tentative and subject to change.
The use of modern Natural Language Processing (NLP) techniques has shown to be beneficial for software engineering tasks, such as vulnerability detection and type inference. However, training deep NLP models requires significant computational resources. This paper explores techniques that aim at achieving the best usage of resources and available information in these models.
We propose a generic approach, EarlyBIRD, to build composite representations of code from the early layers of a pre-trained transformer model. We empirically investigate the viability of this approach on the CodeBERT model by comparing the performance of 12 strategies for creating composite representations with the standard practice of only using the last encoder layer.
Our evaluation on four datasets shows that several early layer combinations yield better performance on defect detection, and some combinations improve multi-class classification. More specifically, we obtain a +2 average improvement of detection accuracy on Devign with only 3 out of 12 layers of CodeBERT and a 3.3x speed-up of fine-tuning. These findings show that early layers can be used to obtain better results using the same resources, as well as to reduce resource usage during fine-tuning and inference.