As large language models (LLMs) perform more difficult tasks, it becomes harder to verify the correctness and safety of their behavior. One approach to help with this issue is to prompt LLMs to externalize their reasoning, e.g., by having them generate step-by-step reasoning as they answer a question (Chain-of-Thought; CoT). The reasoning may enable us to check the process that models use to perform tasks. However, this approach relies on the stated reasoning faithfully reflecting the model's actual reasoning, which is not always the case. To improve over the faithfulness of CoT reasoning, we have models generate reasoning by decomposing questions into subquestions. Decomposition-based methods achieve strong performance on question-answering tasks, sometimes approaching that of CoT while improving the faithfulness of the model's stated reasoning on several recently-proposed metrics. By forcing the model to answer simpler subquestions in separate contexts, we greatly increase the faithfulness of model-generated reasoning over CoT, while still achieving some of the performance gains of CoT. Our results show it is possible to improve the faithfulness of model-generated reasoning; continued improvements may lead to reasoning that enables us to verify the correctness and safety of LLM behavior.
Large language models (LLMs) perform better when they produce step-by-step, "Chain-of-Thought" (CoT) reasoning before answering a question, but it is unclear if the stated reasoning is a faithful explanation of the model's actual reasoning (i.e., its process for answering the question). We investigate hypotheses for how CoT reasoning may be unfaithful, by examining how the model predictions change when we intervene on the CoT (e.g., by adding mistakes or paraphrasing it). Models show large variation across tasks in how strongly they condition on the CoT when predicting their answer, sometimes relying heavily on the CoT and other times primarily ignoring it. CoT's performance boost does not seem to come from CoT's added test-time compute alone or from information encoded via the particular phrasing of the CoT. As models become larger and more capable, they produce less faithful reasoning on most tasks we study. Overall, our results suggest that CoT can be faithful if the circumstances such as the model size and task are carefully chosen.
ML models are ubiquitous in real world applications and are a constant focus of research. At the same time, the community has started to realize the importance of protecting the privacy of ML training data. Differential Privacy (DP) has become a gold standard for making formal statements about data anonymization. However, while some adoption of DP has happened in industry, attempts to apply DP to real world complex ML models are still few and far between. The adoption of DP is hindered by limited practical guidance of what DP protection entails, what privacy guarantees to aim for, and the difficulty of achieving good privacy-utility-computation trade-offs for ML models. Tricks for tuning and maximizing performance are scattered among papers or stored in the heads of practitioners. Furthermore, the literature seems to present conflicting evidence on how and whether to apply architectural adjustments and which components are "safe" to use with DP. This work is a self-contained guide that gives an in-depth overview of the field of DP ML and presents information about achieving the best possible DP ML model with rigorous privacy guarantees. Our target audience is both researchers and practitioners. Researchers interested in DP for ML will benefit from a clear overview of current advances and areas for improvement. We include theory-focused sections that highlight important topics such as privacy accounting and its assumptions, and convergence. For a practitioner, we provide a background in DP theory and a clear step-by-step guide for choosing an appropriate privacy definition and approach, implementing DP training, potentially updating the model architecture, and tuning hyperparameters. For both researchers and practitioners, consistently and fully reporting privacy guarantees is critical, and so we propose a set of specific best practices for stating guarantees.
A well-known algorithm in privacy-preserving ML is differentially private stochastic gradient descent (DP-SGD). While this algorithm has been evaluated on text and image data, it has not been previously applied to ads data, which are notorious for their high class imbalance and sparse gradient updates. In this work we apply DP-SGD to several ad modeling tasks including predicting click-through rates, conversion rates, and number of conversion events, and evaluate their privacy-utility trade-off on real-world datasets. Our work is the first to empirically demonstrate that DP-SGD can provide both privacy and utility for ad modeling tasks.