We introduce a new language representation model called BERT, which stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. Unlike recent language representation models (Peters et al., 2018a; Radford et al., 2018), BERT is designed to pretrain deep bidirectional representations from unlabeled text by jointly conditioning on both left and right context in all layers. As a result, the pre-trained BERT model can be finetuned with just one additional output layer to create state-of-the-art models for a wide range of tasks, such as question answering and language inference, without substantial taskspecific architecture modifications.
BERT is conceptually simple and empirically powerful. It obtains new state-of-the-art results on eleven natural language processing tasks, including pushing the GLUE score to 80.5% (7.7% point absolute improvement), MultiNLI accuracy to 86.7% (4.6% absolute improvement), SQuAD v1.1 question answering Test F1 to 93.2 (1.5 point absolute improvement) and SQuAD v2.0 Test F1 to 83.1 (5.1 point absolute improvement).
Language model pre-training has been shown to be effective for improving many natural language processing tasks (Dai and Le, 2015; Peters et al., 2018a; Radford et al., 2018; Howard and Ruder, 2018). These include sentence-level tasks such as natural language inference (Bowman et al., 2015; Williams et al., 2018) and paraphrasing (Dolan and Brockett, 2005), which aim to predict the relationships between sentences by analyzing them holistically, as well as token-level tasks such as named entity recognition and question answering, where models are required to produce fine-grained output at the token level (Tjong Kim Sang and De Meulder, 2003; Rajpurkar et al., 2016).
There are two existing strategies for applying pre-trained language representations to downstream tasks: feature-based and fine-tuning. The feature-based approach, such as ELMo (Peters et al., 2018a), uses task-specific architectures that include the pre-trained representations as additional features. The fine-tuning approach, such as the Generative Pre-trained Transformer (OpenAI GPT) (Radford et al., 2018), introduces minimal task-specific parameters, and is trained on the downstream tasks by simply fine-tuning all pretrained parameters. The two approaches share the same objective function during pre-training, where they use unidirectional language models to learn general language representations.