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Decay strategies

OpenNMT's training implements empirical learning rate decay strategies. Experiences showed that using a decay strategy systematically yield better performance.

When a decay condition is met, the following update rule is applied:

where -learning_rate and -learning_rate_decay.

Learning rate decay is applied when using SGD or Adam optimizers. For the latter, you can also set the -decay_method restart option to reset the optimizer state when the decay is applied to simulate "Adam with restarts" from Denkowski et al. 2017.

Learning rate updates are always computed at the end of an epoch. If this is a too large unit for your particular use case, consider using data sampling.

Additionally, it may be useful to set a minimum learning rate with -min_learning_rate to stop the training earlier when the learning rate is too small to make a difference.

Default

By default, the decay is applied when one of the following conditions is met:

  1. The validation score is not improving more than -start_decay_score_delta.
  2. The current epoch is past -start_decay_at.

Once one of the conditions is met, the learning rate is decayed after each remaining epoch.

Epoch-based

With the -decay epoch_only option, the learning rate is only decayed when the condition is met on the epoch:

  1. The current epoch is past -start_decay_at.

Score-based

With the -decay score_only option, the learning rate is only decayed when the condition is met on the validation score:

  1. The validation score is not improving more than -start_decay_score_delta.