Language models demonstrate both quantitative improvement and new qualitative capabilities with increasing scale. Despite their potentially transformative impact, these new capabilities are as yet poorly characterized. In order to inform future research, prepare for disruptive new model capabilities, and ameliorate socially harmful effects, it is vital that we understand the present and near-future capabilities and limitations of language models. To address this challenge, we introduce the Beyond the Imitation Game benchmark (BIG-bench). BIG-bench currently consists of 204 tasks, contributed by 442 authors across 132 institutions. Task topics are diverse, drawing problems from linguistics, childhood development, math, common-sense reasoning, biology, physics, social bias, software development, and beyond. BIG-bench focuses on tasks that are believed to be beyond the capabilities of current language models. We evaluate the behavior of OpenAI's GPT models, Google-internal dense transformer architectures, and Switch-style sparse transformers on BIG-bench, across model sizes spanning millions to hundreds of billions of parameters. In addition, a team of human expert raters performed all tasks in order to provide a strong baseline. Findings include: model performance and calibration both improve with scale, but are poor in absolute terms (and when compared with rater performance); performance is remarkably similar across model classes, though with benefits from sparsity; tasks that improve gradually and predictably commonly involve a large knowledge or memorization component, whereas tasks that exhibit "breakthrough" behavior at a critical scale often involve multiple steps or components, or brittle metrics; social bias typically increases with scale in settings with ambiguous context, but this can be improved with prompting.
In this paper we propose to study generalization of neural networks on small algorithmically generated datasets. In this setting, questions about data efficiency, memorization, generalization, and speed of learning can be studied in great detail. In some situations we show that neural networks learn through a process of "grokking" a pattern in the data, improving generalization performance from random chance level to perfect generalization, and that this improvement in generalization can happen well past the point of overfitting. We also study generalization as a function of dataset size and find that smaller datasets require increasing amounts of optimization for generalization. We argue that these datasets provide a fertile ground for studying a poorly understood aspect of deep learning: generalization of overparametrized neural networks beyond memorization of the finite training dataset.
We introduce Codex, a GPT language model fine-tuned on publicly available code from GitHub, and study its Python code-writing capabilities. A distinct production version of Codex powers GitHub Copilot. On HumanEval, a new evaluation set we release to measure functional correctness for synthesizing programs from docstrings, our model solves 28.8% of the problems, while GPT-3 solves 0% and GPT-J solves 11.4%. Furthermore, we find that repeated sampling from the model is a surprisingly effective strategy for producing working solutions to difficult prompts. Using this method, we solve 70.2% of our problems with 100 samples per problem. Careful investigation of our model reveals its limitations, including difficulty with docstrings describing long chains of operations and with binding operations to variables. Finally, we discuss the potential broader impacts of deploying powerful code generation technologies, covering safety, security, and economics.