Most large language models (LLMs) are trained once and never updated; thus, they lack the ability to dynamically adapt to our ever-changing world. In this work, we perform a detailed study of the factuality of LLM-generated text in the context of answering questions that test current world knowledge. Specifically, we introduce FreshQA, a novel dynamic QA benchmark encompassing a diverse range of question and answer types, including questions that require fast-changing world knowledge as well as questions with false premises that need to be debunked. We benchmark a diverse array of both closed and open-source LLMs under a two-mode evaluation procedure that allows us to measure both correctness and hallucination. Through human evaluations involving more than 50K judgments, we shed light on limitations of these models and demonstrate significant room for improvement: for instance, all models (regardless of model size) struggle on questions that involve fast-changing knowledge and false premises. Motivated by these results, we present FreshPrompt, a simple few-shot prompting method that substantially boosts the performance of an LLM on FreshQA by incorporating relevant and up-to-date information retrieved from a search engine into the prompt. Our experiments show that FreshPrompt outperforms both competing search engine-augmented prompting methods such as Self-Ask (Press et al., 2022) as well as commercial systems such as Perplexity.AI. Further analysis of FreshPrompt reveals that both the number of retrieved evidences and their order play a key role in influencing the correctness of LLM-generated answers. Additionally, instructing the LLM to generate concise and direct answers helps reduce hallucination compared to encouraging more verbose answers. To facilitate future work, we release FreshQA at github.com/freshllms/freshqa and commit to updating it at regular intervals.
The explosive growth of language models and their applications have led to an increased demand for efficient and scalable methods. In this paper, we introduce Flan-MoE, a set of Instruction-Finetuned Sparse Mixture-of-Expert (MoE) models. We show that naively finetuning MoE models on a task-specific dataset (in other words, no instruction-finetuning) often yield worse performance compared to dense models of the same computational complexity. However, our Flan-MoE outperforms dense models under multiple experiment settings: instruction-finetuning only and instruction-finetuning followed by task-specific finetuning. This shows that instruction-finetuning is an essential stage for MoE models. Specifically, our largest model, Flan-MoE-32B, surpasses the performance of Flan-PaLM-62B on four benchmarks, while utilizing only one-third of the FLOPs. The success of Flan-MoE encourages rethinking the design of large-scale, high-performance language models, under the setting of task-agnostic learning.
Pretraining is the preliminary and fundamental step in developing capable language models (LM). Despite this, pretraining data design is critically under-documented and often guided by empirically unsupported intuitions. To address this, we pretrain 28 1.5B parameter decoder-only models, training on data curated (1) at different times, (2) with varying toxicity and quality filters, and (3) with different domain compositions. First, we quantify the effect of pretraining data age. A temporal shift between evaluation data and pretraining data leads to performance degradation, which is not overcome by finetuning. Second, we explore the effect of quality and toxicity filters, showing a trade-off between performance on standard benchmarks and risk of toxic generations. Our findings indicate there does not exist a one-size-fits-all solution to filtering training data. We also find that the effects of different types of filtering are not predictable from text domain characteristics. Lastly, we empirically validate that the inclusion of heterogeneous data sources, like books and web, is broadly beneficial and warrants greater prioritization. These findings constitute the largest set of experiments to validate, quantify, and expose many undocumented intuitions about text pretraining, which we hope will help support more informed data-centric decisions in LM development.
We study how in-context learning (ICL) in language models is affected by semantic priors versus input-label mappings. We investigate two setups-ICL with flipped labels and ICL with semantically-unrelated labels-across various model families (GPT-3, InstructGPT, Codex, PaLM, and Flan-PaLM). First, experiments on ICL with flipped labels show that overriding semantic priors is an emergent ability of model scale. While small language models ignore flipped labels presented in-context and thus rely primarily on semantic priors from pretraining, large models can override semantic priors when presented with in-context exemplars that contradict priors, despite the stronger semantic priors that larger models may hold. We next study semantically-unrelated label ICL (SUL-ICL), in which labels are semantically unrelated to their inputs (e.g., foo/bar instead of negative/positive), thereby forcing language models to learn the input-label mappings shown in in-context exemplars in order to perform the task. The ability to do SUL-ICL also emerges primarily with scale, and large-enough language models can even perform linear classification in a SUL-ICL setting. Finally, we evaluate instruction-tuned models and find that instruction tuning strengthens both the use of semantic priors and the capacity to learn input-label mappings, but more of the former.
Foundation models pretrained on diverse data at scale have demonstrated extraordinary capabilities in a wide range of vision and language tasks. When such models are deployed in real world environments, they inevitably interface with other entities and agents. For example, language models are often used to interact with human beings through dialogue, and visual perception models are used to autonomously navigate neighborhood streets. In response to these developments, new paradigms are emerging for training foundation models to interact with other agents and perform long-term reasoning. These paradigms leverage the existence of ever-larger datasets curated for multimodal, multitask, and generalist interaction. Research at the intersection of foundation models and decision making holds tremendous promise for creating powerful new systems that can interact effectively across a diverse range of applications such as dialogue, autonomous driving, healthcare, education, and robotics. In this manuscript, we examine the scope of foundation models for decision making, and provide conceptual tools and technical background for understanding the problem space and exploring new research directions. We review recent approaches that ground foundation models in practical decision making applications through a variety of methods such as prompting, conditional generative modeling, planning, optimal control, and reinforcement learning, and discuss common challenges and open problems in the field.
We study the design decisions of publicly available instruction tuning methods, and break down the development of Flan 2022 (Chung et al., 2022). Through careful ablation studies on the Flan Collection of tasks and methods, we tease apart the effect of design decisions which enable Flan-T5 to outperform prior work by 3-17%+ across evaluation settings. We find task balancing and enrichment techniques are overlooked but critical to effective instruction tuning, and in particular, training with mixed prompt settings (zero-shot, few-shot, and chain-of-thought) actually yields stronger (2%+) performance in all settings. In further experiments, we show Flan-T5 requires less finetuning to converge higher and faster than T5 on single downstream tasks, motivating instruction-tuned models as more computationally-efficient starting checkpoints for new tasks. Finally, to accelerate research on instruction tuning, we make the Flan 2022 collection of datasets, templates, and methods publicly available at https://github.com/google-research/FLAN/tree/main/flan/v2.
Large language models (LLMs) have demonstrated impressive capabilities in natural language understanding and generation, but the quality bar for medical and clinical applications is high. Today, attempts to assess models' clinical knowledge typically rely on automated evaluations on limited benchmarks. There is no standard to evaluate model predictions and reasoning across a breadth of tasks. To address this, we present MultiMedQA, a benchmark combining six existing open question answering datasets spanning professional medical exams, research, and consumer queries; and HealthSearchQA, a new free-response dataset of medical questions searched online. We propose a framework for human evaluation of model answers along multiple axes including factuality, precision, possible harm, and bias. In addition, we evaluate PaLM (a 540-billion parameter LLM) and its instruction-tuned variant, Flan-PaLM, on MultiMedQA. Using a combination of prompting strategies, Flan-PaLM achieves state-of-the-art accuracy on every MultiMedQA multiple-choice dataset (MedQA, MedMCQA, PubMedQA, MMLU clinical topics), including 67.6% accuracy on MedQA (US Medical License Exam questions), surpassing prior state-of-the-art by over 17%. However, human evaluation reveals key gaps in Flan-PaLM responses. To resolve this we introduce instruction prompt tuning, a parameter-efficient approach for aligning LLMs to new domains using a few exemplars. The resulting model, Med-PaLM, performs encouragingly, but remains inferior to clinicians. We show that comprehension, recall of knowledge, and medical reasoning improve with model scale and instruction prompt tuning, suggesting the potential utility of LLMs in medicine. Our human evaluations reveal important limitations of today's models, reinforcing the importance of both evaluation frameworks and method development in creating safe, helpful LLM models for clinical applications.
Although scaling language models improves performance on a range of tasks, there are apparently some scenarios where scaling hurts performance. For instance, the Inverse Scaling Prize Round 1 (McKensie et al., 2022) identified four "inverse scaling" tasks, for which performance gets worse for larger models. These tasks were evaluated on models of up to 280B parameters, trained up to 500 zettaFLOPs of compute. This paper takes a closer look at these four tasks. We evaluate models of up to 540B parameters, trained on five times more compute than those evaluated in the Inverse Scaling Prize. With this increased range of model sizes and training compute, two out of the four tasks exhibit what we call "U-shaped scaling" -- performance decreases up to a certain model size, and then increases again up to the largest model evaluated. One hypothesis is that U-shaped scaling occurs when a task comprises a "true task" and a "distractor task". Medium-size models can do the distractor task, which hurts performance, while only large-enough models can ignore the distractor task and do the true task. The existence of U-shaped scaling implies that inverse scaling may not hold for larger models. Second, we evaluate the inverse scaling tasks using chain-of-thought (CoT) prompting, in addition to basic prompting without CoT. With CoT prompting, all four tasks show either U-shaped scaling or positive scaling, achieving perfect solve rates on two tasks and several sub-tasks. This suggests that the term "inverse scaling task" is under-specified -- a given task may be inverse scaling for one prompt but positive or U-shaped scaling for a different prompt.