Training good representations for items is critical in recommender models. Typically, an item is assigned a unique randomly generated ID, and is commonly represented by learning an embedding corresponding to the value of the random ID. Although widely used, this approach have limitations when the number of items are large and items are power-law distributed -- typical characteristics of real-world recommendation systems. This leads to the item cold-start problem, where the model is unable to make reliable inferences for tail and previously unseen items. Removing these ID features and their learned embeddings altogether to combat cold-start issue severely degrades the recommendation quality. Content-based item embeddings are more reliable, but they are expensive to store and use, particularly for users' past item interaction sequence. In this paper, we use Semantic IDs, a compact discrete item representations learned from content embeddings using RQ-VAE that captures hierarchy of concepts in items. We showcase how we use them as a replacement of item IDs in a resource-constrained ranking model used in an industrial-scale video sharing platform. Moreover, we show how Semantic IDs improves the generalization ability of our system, without sacrificing top-level metrics.
Effective exploration is believed to positively influence the long-term user experience on recommendation platforms. Determining its exact benefits, however, has been challenging. Regular A/B tests on exploration often measure neutral or even negative engagement metrics while failing to capture its long-term benefits. To address this, we present a systematic study to formally quantify the value of exploration by examining its effects on the content corpus, a key entity in the recommender system that directly affects user experiences. Specifically, we introduce new metrics and the associated experiment design to measure the benefit of exploration on the corpus change, and further connect the corpus change to the long-term user experience. Furthermore, we investigate the possibility of introducing the Neural Linear Bandit algorithm to build an exploration-based ranking system, and use it as the backbone algorithm for our case study. We conduct extensive live experiments on a large-scale commercial recommendation platform that serves billions of users to validate the new experiment designs, quantify the long-term values of exploration, and to verify the effectiveness of the adopted neural linear bandit algorithm for exploration.
Large Language Models (LLMs) have demonstrated exceptional capabilities in generalizing to new tasks in a zero-shot or few-shot manner. However, the extent to which LLMs can comprehend user preferences based on their previous behavior remains an emerging and still unclear research question. Traditionally, Collaborative Filtering (CF) has been the most effective method for these tasks, predominantly relying on the extensive volume of rating data. In contrast, LLMs typically demand considerably less data while maintaining an exhaustive world knowledge about each item, such as movies or products. In this paper, we conduct a thorough examination of both CF and LLMs within the classic task of user rating prediction, which involves predicting a user's rating for a candidate item based on their past ratings. We investigate various LLMs in different sizes, ranging from 250M to 540B parameters and evaluate their performance in zero-shot, few-shot, and fine-tuning scenarios. We conduct comprehensive analysis to compare between LLMs and strong CF methods, and find that zero-shot LLMs lag behind traditional recommender models that have the access to user interaction data, indicating the importance of user interaction data. However, through fine-tuning, LLMs achieve comparable or even better performance with only a small fraction of the training data, demonstrating their potential through data efficiency.
Large language models have achieved impressive performance on various natural language processing tasks. However, so far they have been evaluated primarily on benchmarks where all information in the input context is relevant for solving the task. In this work, we investigate the distractibility of large language models, i.e., how the model problem-solving accuracy can be influenced by irrelevant context. In particular, we introduce Grade-School Math with Irrelevant Context (GSM-IC), an arithmetic reasoning dataset with irrelevant information in the problem description. We use this benchmark to measure the distractibility of cutting-edge prompting techniques for large language models, and find that the model performance is dramatically decreased when irrelevant information is included. We also identify several approaches for mitigating this deficiency, such as decoding with self-consistency and adding to the prompt an instruction that tells the language model to ignore the irrelevant information.
Recent research has shown that rationales, or step-by-step chains of thought, can be used to improve performance in multi-step reasoning tasks. We reconsider rationale-augmented prompting for few-shot in-context learning, where (input -> output) prompts are expanded to (input, rationale -> output) prompts. For rationale-augmented prompting we demonstrate how existing approaches, which rely on manual prompt engineering, are subject to sub-optimal rationales that may harm performance. To mitigate this brittleness, we propose a unified framework of rationale-augmented ensembles, where we identify rationale sampling in the output space as the key component to robustly improve performance. This framework is general and can easily be extended to common natural language processing tasks, even those that do not traditionally leverage intermediate steps, such as question answering, word sense disambiguation, and sentiment analysis. We demonstrate that rationale-augmented ensembles achieve more accurate and interpretable results than existing prompting approaches--including standard prompting without rationales and rationale-based chain-of-thought prompting--while simultaneously improving interpretability of model predictions through the associated rationales.
We propose a novel prompting strategy, least-to-most prompting, that enables large language models to better perform multi-step reasoning tasks. Least-to-most prompting first reduces a complex problem into a list of subproblems, and then sequentially solves the subproblems, whereby solving a given subproblem is facilitated by the model's answers to previously solved subproblems. Experiments on symbolic manipulation, compositional generalization and numerical reasoning demonstrate that least-to-most prompting can generalize to examples that are harder than those seen in the prompt context, outperforming other prompting-based approaches by a large margin. A notable empirical result is that the GPT-3 code-davinci-002 model with least-to-most-prompting can solve the SCAN benchmark with an accuracy of 99.7% using 14 examples. As a comparison, the neural-symbolic models in the literature specialized for solving SCAN are trained with the full training set of more than 15,000 examples.
We explore a simple ensemble strategy, self-consistency, that significantly improves the reasoning accuracy of large language models. The idea is to sample a diverse set of reasoning paths from a language model via chain of thought prompting then return the most consistent final answer in the set. We evaluate self-consistency on a range of arithmetic and commonsense reasoning benchmarks, and find that it robustly improves accuracy across a variety of language models and model scales without the need for additional training or auxiliary models. When combined with a recent large language model, PaLM-540B, self-consistency increases performance to state-of-the-art levels across several benchmark reasoning tasks, including GSM8K (56.5% -> 74.4%), SVAMP (79.0% -> 86.6%), AQuA (35.8% -> 48.3%), StrategyQA (75.3% -> 81.6%) and ARC-challenge (85.2% -> 88.7%).
We present LaMDA: Language Models for Dialog Applications. LaMDA is a family of Transformer-based neural language models specialized for dialog, which have up to 137B parameters and are pre-trained on 1.56T words of public dialog data and web text. While model scaling alone can improve quality, it shows less improvements on safety and factual grounding. We demonstrate that fine-tuning with annotated data and enabling the model to consult external knowledge sources can lead to significant improvements towards the two key challenges of safety and factual grounding. The first challenge, safety, involves ensuring that the model's responses are consistent with a set of human values, such as preventing harmful suggestions and unfair bias. We quantify safety using a metric based on an illustrative set of human values, and we find that filtering candidate responses using a LaMDA classifier fine-tuned with a small amount of crowdworker-annotated data offers a promising approach to improving model safety. The second challenge, factual grounding, involves enabling the model to consult external knowledge sources, such as an information retrieval system, a language translator, and a calculator. We quantify factuality using a groundedness metric, and we find that our approach enables the model to generate responses grounded in known sources, rather than responses that merely sound plausible. Finally, we explore the use of LaMDA in the domains of education and content recommendations, and analyze their helpfulness and role consistency.
Although scaling up language model size has reliably improved performance on a range of NLP tasks, even the largest models currently struggle with certain reasoning tasks such as math word problems, symbolic manipulation, and commonsense reasoning. This paper explores the ability of language models to generate a coherent chain of thought -- a series of short sentences that mimic the reasoning process a person might have when responding to a question. Experiments show that inducing a chain of thought via prompting can enable sufficiently large language models to better perform reasoning tasks that otherwise have flat scaling curves.