BERT Explained In 3 Easy Points


With the advancement in the field of Machine learning, a new model has been come up to become state-of-the-art. BERT. BERT stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. It is developed by Google in 2019 and is a machine learning technique for natural language processing pre-training. BERT is designed for the pre-training of deep bi-directional representations. This is with unlabeled text on joint conditioning of both the left and right context in all the layers.

Because of this, the pre-trained BERT model can be fine-tuned with an extra output layer for numerous tasks without substantial modifications in the architecture. Under deeply bidirectional, BERT grabs the information from both the left and right side of the token’s context, unlike the earlier efforts to look at a text sequence either from the left or from the right or a combination from both. Because of a bidirectional model, language models have a deeper sense of language context. 

  1. Background
  2. How BERT works
  3. How to use a BERT

1) Background

Prior to BERT, the NLPs used to face difficulty in understanding and differentiating words based on the context. To outcome this hurdle, BERT has been brought into existence and is considered to have revolutionized NLP research. BERT has its roots laid from the pre-training contextual representations. The specialty of the BERT algorithm lies in its pre-trained in-depth bidirectional, unsupervised language. The previous context-free models were used to generate a single word embedding presentation of each word, whereas BERT differs in its approach by taking into account the context of each occurrence by conceptualized embedding. 

2) How BERT works

BERT uses a Transformer to generate a language model. Since BERT is bidirectional, it only requires the encoder mechanism and not the decoder. The in-depth working of the Transporter can be found in the paper of Google. A transformer is not a directional model but is bi-directional or non-directional as it lets the model learn the context of the word from all its surroundings- be it right or left. For removing the difficulty of context learning, BERT uses two training strategies- Masked LM (MLM) and Next Sentence Prediction (NSP).

  • Masked LM (MLM)

Under Masked LM, around 15% of words in every sequence are swapped with a token. Then a prediction session takes place to find out the original word of the masked word based on the structure provided by the rest of the unhidden words in a series. The technical process of this MLM is as follows:

  1. Above the encoder output, add a layer of classification.
  2. The next step involves transforming the output vectors into a vocabulary dimension. This is done by the multiplication of the output vectors by the embedding matrix.
  3. The final step calculates the probability of each word in the vocabulary.

Thus in this strategy, only the masked or the hidden values are predicted, and the unmasked or unhidden values are not left out. 

  • Next Sentence Prediction (NSP)

Unlike the first strategy, in NSP, the focus is on predicting the subsequent sentence from the primary pair of sentences provided as an input from the original document. In this approximately, 50% of the input sentences are matched with the next sentence as the subsequent ones in the primary document, while the remaining 50% are randomly chosen by the means that it is not in connection with the first sentence.

While using the BERT model, Masked LM (MLM) and Next Sentence Prediction (NSP) are used as a combination for minimizing the loss.

3) How to use a BERT

BERT helps in getting a wide variety of language tasks by following simple steps.

  1. Classification- In classification, a layer is added on the top of the Transformer output.
  2. Question Answer- In this step, the software gets a question on a text sequence and is supposed to answer in the sequence. This can also help in the training of extra vectors for marking the start and end of each answer.
  3. Named Entity Recognition (NER) – When software receives a text sequence, it is required to mark various entities. 

The efforts made by the BERT team aid in achieving state-of-the-arts on challenging natural language tasks.


BERT excels at resolving the problems relating to understanding and interpreting language by mapping the vectors onto the words after reading the sentence in contrast to the traditional methods. BERT is turning out to be a simple and empirical tool as it allows fast fine-tuning for a wide range of practical applications to be used widely in the future.

BERT was started to be used in October 2019 for search queries in the United States for the English language. As of December 2019, it is adopted in 70 languages, and in October 2020, almost every English query was processed by BERT. It is proving to be a breakthrough in Machine learning for BERT NLP. Thus, allowing the NLP to take huge data of the existing text with the links, data units to unmasking the hidden context. 

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