Unveiling the Mysteries of Adam Instability in Large-Scale Machine Learning

Unexplained Divergence in Language Model Training

Large language models have long been subject to unexplained divergent behavior during training. Researchers have struggled to understand the cause behind this phenomenon, hindering progress in the field. However, a new theory proposes an explanation for this mysterious behavior.

According to the theory, the Adam optimization algorithm, commonly used in training, plays a significant role in causing divergence. It suggests that Adam can enter a state where the parameter update vector has a large norm and is uncorrelated with the direction of descent on the training loss landscape, resulting in divergence.

This discovery is a significant breakthrough, as it demystifies the previously perplexing behavior observed in language model training. By identifying the root cause, researchers can now explore strategies to address this issue and improve the stability and performance of large-scale language models.

Supporting Evidence from Language Model Training

To validate the proposed theory, researchers conducted training runs on language models of varying scales. From models with 7 billion to 546 billion parameters, the observations consistently supported the theory's claims.

The researchers found that the divergence phenomenon was more prominent in the training of deep models with large batch sizes, which are typical in large-scale language model training. This correlation provides further evidence for the theory's validity and demonstrates its relevance to real-world scenarios.

The availability of supporting evidence strengthens the credibility of the theory, making it a valuable contribution to the field of AI learning. Researchers can now build upon this foundation to develop alternative optimization algorithms that mitigate the instability caused by Adam.

Implications for Large-Scale Machine Learning

The theory on Adam instability in large-scale machine learning carries significant implications for the field. By understanding the underlying cause of divergence, researchers can devise strategies to enhance the training stability and performance of language models.

Furthermore, this research emphasizes the need for alternative optimization algorithms that can handle the challenges posed by large-scale machine learning. While Adam has been widely adopted, its limitations, as highlighted by the theory, call for exploration of more robust and stable alternatives.

Addressing the issue of Adam instability will unlock new possibilities for AI learning, allowing for the development of more accurate and efficient language models. This could have far-reaching impacts across various domains, from natural language processing to virtual assistants.

Paper Revision and Author Contributions

The paper, 'A Theory on Adam Instability in Large-Scale Machine Learning,' has undergone two revisions before reaching its current version. The initial submission was made on April 19, 2023, and the revised version was completed on April 25, 2023.

The research paper was a collaborative effort by Igor Molybog and 16 other researchers. Their combined expertise and dedication led to the formulation of the theory and the supporting evidence presented in the paper.

The continuous refinement and improvement of the theory through multiple revisions demonstrate the authors' commitment to advancing the understanding of Adam instability in large-scale machine learning.

Researchers and professionals interested in delving deeper into the theory and its implications can access the PDF of the paper. This resource provides comprehensive insights into the subject matter and acts as a valuable reference for further studies.

Unlocking the Potential of Language Models

The theory on Adam instability marks a significant milestone in the journey of AI learning. It unveils the mysteries behind the previously unexplained divergence observed in large language model training.

By addressing the issue of Adam instability, researchers can harness the full potential of language models. These models have already revolutionized various fields, from natural language processing to automated translation. Now, with improved stability and performance, they can further push the boundaries of what AI can achieve.

Just like Alice in Wonderland ventured into a world of magic and fantasy, the theory on Adam instability allows researchers to explore uncharted territories in AI learning. It opens doors to advancements that seemed elusive before, paving the way for a brighter future powered by intelligent machines.


The theory on Adam instability in large-scale machine learning provides crucial insights into a long-standing mystery. It explains the divergence observed in the training of large language models, attributing it to the behavior of the widely used Adam optimization algorithm.

Supported by evidence from training runs on language models of different scales, the theory offers a solid foundation for further research and development. It highlights the need for alternative optimization algorithms to enhance training stability and performance in large-scale machine learning.

As researchers delve deeper into the implications of the theory, the field of AI learning is poised for significant advancements. By unraveling the secrets of Adam instability, they bring us closer to a world where intelligent machines master language understanding and communication, just like the enchanting tales of fairytales and magic.


arxiv.org. (July 18, 2023). A Theory on Adam Instability in Large-Scale Machine Learning. arxiv.org.

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