Knowledge distillation is often used to transfer knowledge from a strong teacher model to a relatively weak student model. Traditional knowledge distillation methods include response-based methods and feature-based methods. Response-based methods are used the most widely but suffer from lower upper limit of model performance, while feature-based methods have constraints on the vocabularies and tokenizers. In this paper, we propose a tokenizer-free method liberal feature-based distillation (LEAD). LEAD aligns the distribution between teacher model and student model, which is effective, extendable, portable and has no requirements on vocabularies, tokenizer, or model architecture. Extensive experiments show the effectiveness of LEAD on several widely-used benchmarks, including MS MARCO Passage, TREC Passage 19, TREC Passage 20, MS MARCO Document, TREC Document 19 and TREC Document 20.
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