Simple Self-Attention from Scratch

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This vignette describes how to implement the attention mechanism - which forms the basis of transformers - in the R language.

The code is translated from the Python original by Stefania Cristina (University of Malta) in her post The Attention Mechanism from Scratch.

We begin by generating encoder representations of four different words.

# encoder representations of four different words
word_1 = matrix(c(1,0,0), nrow=1)
word_2 = matrix(c(0,1,0), nrow=1)
word_3 = matrix(c(1,1,0), nrow=1)
word_4 = matrix(c(0,0,1), nrow=1)

Next, we stack the word embeddings into a single array (in this case a matrix) which we call words.

# stacking the word embeddings into a single array
words = rbind(word_1,

Let's see what this looks like.


Next, we generate random integers on the domain [0,3].

# initializing the weight matrices (with random values)
W_Q = matrix(floor(runif(9, min=0, max=3)),nrow=3,ncol=3)
W_K = matrix(floor(runif(9, min=0, max=3)),nrow=3,ncol=3)
W_V = matrix(floor(runif(9, min=0, max=3)),nrow=3,ncol=3)

Next, we generate the Queries (Q), Keys (K), and Values (V). The %*% operator performs the matrix multiplication. You can view the R help page using help('%*%') (or the online An Introduction to R).

# generating the queries, keys and values
Q = words %*% W_Q
K = words %*% W_K
V = words %*% W_V

Following this, we score the Queries (Q) against the Key (K) vectors (which are transposed for the multiplation using t(), see help('t') for more info).

# scoring the query vectors against all key vectors
scores = Q %*% t(K)

We now generate the weights matrix.

weights = ComputeWeights(scores)

Let's have a look at the weights matrix.


Finally, we compute the attention as a weighted sum of the value vectors (which are combined in the matrix V).

# computing the attention by a weighted sum of the value vectors
attention = weights %*% V

Now we can view the results using:


After working through this, have a look at the Complete Self-Attention from Scratch vignette.

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attention documentation built on Nov. 10, 2023, 9:09 a.m.