As large language models (LLMs) take on more complex tasks, their inputs incorporate longer contexts to respond to questions that require domain knowledge or user-specific conversational histories. Yet, using long contexts poses a challenge for responsive LLM systems, as nothing can be generated until all the contexts are fetched to and processed by the LLM. Existing systems optimize only the computation delay in context processing (e.g., by caching intermediate key-value features of the text context) but often cause longer network delays in context fetching (e.g., key-value features consume orders of magnitude larger bandwidth than the text context). This paper presents CacheGen to minimize the delays in fetching and processing contexts for LLMs. CacheGen reduces the bandwidth needed for transmitting long contexts' key-value (KV) features through a novel encoder that compresses KV features into more compact bitstream representations. The encoder combines adaptive quantization with a tailored arithmetic coder, taking advantage of the KV features' distributional properties, such as locality across tokens. Furthermore, CacheGen minimizes the total delay in fetching and processing a context by using a controller that determines when to load the context as compressed KV features or raw text and picks the appropriate compression level if loaded as KV features. We test CacheGen on three models of various sizes and three datasets of different context lengths. Compared to recent methods that handle long contexts, CacheGen reduces bandwidth usage by 3.7-4.3x and the total delay in fetching and processing contexts by 2.7-3x while maintaining similar LLM performance on various tasks as loading the text contexts.
"Thinking is for Doing." Humans can infer other people's mental states from observations--an ability called Theory-of-Mind (ToM)--and subsequently act pragmatically on those inferences. Existing question answering benchmarks such as ToMi ask models questions to make inferences about beliefs of characters in a story, but do not test whether models can then use these inferences to guide their actions. We propose a new evaluation paradigm for large language models (LLMs): Thinking for Doing (T4D), which requires models to connect inferences about others' mental states to actions in social scenarios. Experiments on T4D demonstrate that LLMs such as GPT-4 and PaLM 2 seemingly excel at tracking characters' beliefs in stories, but they struggle to translate this capability into strategic action. Our analysis reveals the core challenge for LLMs lies in identifying the implicit inferences about mental states without being explicitly asked about as in ToMi, that lead to choosing the correct action in T4D. To bridge this gap, we introduce a zero-shot prompting framework, Foresee and Reflect (FaR), which provides a reasoning structure that encourages LLMs to anticipate future challenges and reason about potential actions. FaR boosts GPT-4's performance from 50% to 71% on T4D, outperforming other prompting methods such as Chain-of-Thought and Self-Ask. Moreover, FaR generalizes to diverse out-of-distribution story structures and scenarios that also require ToM inferences to choose an action, consistently outperforming other methods including few-shot in-context learning.
Coaxing out desired behavior from pretrained models, while avoiding undesirable ones, has redefined NLP and is reshaping how we interact with computers. What was once a scientific engineering discipline-in which building blocks are stacked one on top of the other-is arguably already a complex systems science, in which emergent behaviors are sought out to support previously unimagined use cases. Despite the ever increasing number of benchmarks that measure task performance, we lack explanations of what behaviors language models exhibit that allow them to complete these tasks in the first place. We argue for a systematic effort to decompose language model behavior into categories that explain cross-task performance, to guide mechanistic explanations and help future-proof analytic research.
We present QLoRA, an efficient finetuning approach that reduces memory usage enough to finetune a 65B parameter model on a single 48GB GPU while preserving full 16-bit finetuning task performance. QLoRA backpropagates gradients through a frozen, 4-bit quantized pretrained language model into Low Rank Adapters~(LoRA). Our best model family, which we name Guanaco, outperforms all previous openly released models on the Vicuna benchmark, reaching 99.3% of the performance level of ChatGPT while only requiring 24 hours of finetuning on a single GPU. QLoRA introduces a number of innovations to save memory without sacrificing performance: (a) 4-bit NormalFloat (NF4), a new data type that is information theoretically optimal for normally distributed weights (b) double quantization to reduce the average memory footprint by quantizing the quantization constants, and (c) paged optimziers to manage memory spikes. We use QLoRA to finetune more than 1,000 models, providing a detailed analysis of instruction following and chatbot performance across 8 instruction datasets, multiple model types (LLaMA, T5), and model scales that would be infeasible to run with regular finetuning (e.g. 33B and 65B parameter models). Our results show that QLoRA finetuning on a small high-quality dataset leads to state-of-the-art results, even when using smaller models than the previous SoTA. We provide a detailed analysis of chatbot performance based on both human and GPT-4 evaluations showing that GPT-4 evaluations are a cheap and reasonable alternative to human evaluation. Furthermore, we find that current chatbot benchmarks are not trustworthy to accurately evaluate the performance levels of chatbots. A lemon-picked analysis demonstrates where Guanaco fails compared to ChatGPT. We release all of our models and code, including CUDA kernels for 4-bit training.
Large language models can perform new tasks in a zero-shot fashion, given natural language prompts that specify the desired behavior. Such prompts are typically hand engineered, but can also be learned with gradient-based methods from labeled data. However, it is underexplored what factors make the prompts effective, especially when the prompts are natural language. In this paper, we investigate common attributes shared by effective prompts. We first propose a human readable prompt tuning method (F LUENT P ROMPT) based on Langevin dynamics that incorporates a fluency constraint to find a diverse distribution of effective and fluent prompts. Our analysis reveals that effective prompts are topically related to the task domain and calibrate the prior probability of label words. Based on these findings, we also propose a method for generating prompts using only unlabeled data, outperforming strong baselines by an average of 7.0% accuracy across three tasks.
Likelihood, although useful as a training loss, is a poor search objective for guiding open-ended generation from language models (LMs). Existing generation algorithms must avoid both unlikely strings, which are incoherent, and highly likely ones, which are short and repetitive. We propose contrastive decoding (CD), a more reliable search objective that returns the difference between likelihood under a large LM (called the expert, e.g. OPT-13b) and a small LM (called the amateur, e.g. OPT-125m). CD is inspired by the fact that the failures of larger LMs are even more prevalent in smaller LMs, and that this difference signals exactly which texts should be preferred. CD requires zero training, and produces higher quality text than decoding from the larger LM alone. It also generalizes across model types (OPT and GPT2) and significantly outperforms four strong decoding algorithms in automatic and human evaluations.
We present the results of the NLP Community Metasurvey. Run from May to June 2022, the survey elicited opinions on controversial issues, including industry influence in the field, concerns about AGI, and ethics. Our results put concrete numbers to several controversies: For example, respondents are split almost exactly in half on questions about the importance of artificial general intelligence, whether language models understand language, and the necessity of linguistic structure and inductive bias for solving NLP problems. In addition, the survey posed meta-questions, asking respondents to predict the distribution of survey responses. This allows us not only to gain insight on the spectrum of beliefs held by NLP researchers, but also to uncover false sociological beliefs where the community's predictions don't match reality. We find such mismatches on a wide range of issues. Among other results, the community greatly overestimates its own belief in the usefulness of benchmarks and the potential for scaling to solve real-world problems, while underestimating its own belief in the importance of linguistic structure, inductive bias, and interdisciplinary science.
Large language models (LMs) are able to in-context learn -- perform a new task via inference alone by conditioning on a few input-label pairs (demonstrations) and making predictions for new inputs. However, there has been little understanding of how the model learns and which aspects of the demonstrations contribute to end task performance. In this paper, we show that ground truth demonstrations are in fact not required -- randomly replacing labels in the demonstrations barely hurts performance, consistently over 12 different models including GPT-3. Instead, we find that other aspects of the demonstrations are the key drivers of end task performance, including the fact that they provide a few examples of (1) the label space, (2) the distribution of the input text, and (3) the overall format of the sequence. Together, our analysis provides a new way of understanding how and why in-context learning works, while opening up new questions about how much can be learned from large language models through inference alone.
We introduce a new domain expert mixture (DEMix) layer that enables conditioning a language model (LM) on the domain of the input text. A DEMix layer is a collection of expert feedforward networks, each specialized to a domain, that makes the LM modular: experts can be mixed, added or removed after initial training. Extensive experiments with autoregressive transformer LMs (up to 1.3B parameters) show that DEMix layers reduce test-time perplexity, increase training efficiency, and enable rapid adaptation with little overhead. We show that mixing experts during inference, using a parameter-free weighted ensemble, allows the model to better generalize to heterogeneous or unseen domains. We also show that experts can be added to iteratively incorporate new domains without forgetting older ones, and that experts can be removed to restrict access to unwanted domains, without additional training. Overall, these results demonstrate benefits of explicitly conditioning on textual domains during language modeling.