Large Language Models are trained on vast amounts of text from the internet, which contains both factual and misleading information about the world. Can language models discern truth from falsehood in this contradicting data? Expanding on the view that LLMs can model different agents producing the corpora, we hypothesize that they can cluster truthful text by modeling a truthful persona: a group of agents that are likely to produce truthful text and share similar features. For example, trustworthy sources like Wikipedia and Science usually use formal writing styles and make consistent claims. By modeling this persona, LLMs can generalize truthfulness beyond the specific contexts in which each agent generated the training text. For example, the model can infer that the agent "Wikipedia" will behave truthfully on topics that were only generated by "Science" because they share a persona. We first show evidence for the persona hypothesis via two observations: (1) we can probe whether a model's answer will be truthful before it is generated; (2) finetuning a model on a set of facts improves its truthfulness on unseen topics. Next, using arithmetics as a synthetic environment, we show that language models can separate true and false statements, and generalize truthfulness across agents; but only if agents in the training data share a truthful generative process that enables the creation of a truthful persona. Overall, our findings suggest that models can exploit hierarchical structures in the data to learn abstract concepts like truthfulness.
Given the intractably large size of the space of proofs, any model that is capable of general deductive reasoning must generalize to proofs of greater complexity. Recent studies have shown that large language models (LLMs) possess some abstract deductive reasoning ability given chain-of-thought prompts. However, they have primarily been tested on proofs using modus ponens or of a specific size, and from the same distribution as the in-context examples. To measure the general deductive reasoning ability of LLMs, we test on a broad set of deduction rules and measure their ability to generalize to more complex proofs from simpler demonstrations from multiple angles: depth-, width-, and compositional generalization. To facilitate systematic exploration, we construct a new synthetic and programmable reasoning dataset that enables control over deduction rules and proof complexity. Our experiments on four LLMs of various sizes and training objectives show that they are able to generalize to longer and compositional proofs. However, they require explicit demonstrations to produce hypothetical subproofs, specifically in proof by cases and proof by contradiction.
In-context learning (ICL) is an important paradigm for adapting large language models (LLMs) to new tasks, but the generalization behavior of ICL remains poorly understood. We investigate the inductive biases of ICL from the perspective of feature bias: which feature ICL is more likely to use given a set of underspecified demonstrations in which two features are equally predictive of the labels. First, we characterize the feature biases of GPT-3 models by constructing underspecified demonstrations from a range of NLP datasets and feature combinations. We find that LLMs exhibit clear feature biases - for example, demonstrating a strong bias to predict labels according to sentiment rather than shallow lexical features, like punctuation. Second, we evaluate the effect of different interventions that are designed to impose an inductive bias in favor of a particular feature, such as adding a natural language instruction or using semantically relevant label words. We find that, while many interventions can influence the learner to prefer a particular feature, it can be difficult to overcome strong prior biases. Overall, our results provide a broader picture of the types of features that ICL may be more likely to exploit and how to impose inductive biases that are better aligned with the intended task.
The term `spurious correlations' has been used in NLP to informally denote any undesirable feature-label correlations. However, a correlation can be undesirable because (i) the feature is irrelevant to the label (e.g. punctuation in a review), or (ii) the feature's effect on the label depends on the context (e.g. negation words in a review), which is ubiquitous in language tasks. In case (i), we want the model to be invariant to the feature, which is neither necessary nor sufficient for prediction. But in case (ii), even an ideal model (e.g. humans) must rely on the feature, since it is necessary (but not sufficient) for prediction. Therefore, a more fine-grained treatment of spurious features is needed to specify the desired model behavior. We formalize this distinction using a causal model and probabilities of necessity and sufficiency, which delineates the causal relations between a feature and a label. We then show that this distinction helps explain results of existing debiasing methods on different spurious features, and demystifies surprising results such as the encoding of spurious features in model representations after debiasing.
There exist features that are related to the label in the same way across different settings for that task; these are semantic features or semantics. Features with varying relationships to the label are nuisances. For example, in detecting cows from natural images, the shape of the head is a semantic and because images of cows often have grass backgrounds but only in certain settings, the background is a nuisance. Relationships between a nuisance and the label are unstable across settings and, consequently, models that exploit nuisance-label relationships face performance degradation when these relationships change. Direct knowledge of a nuisance helps build models that are robust to such changes, but knowledge of a nuisance requires extra annotations beyond the label and the covariates. In this paper, we develop an alternative way to produce robust models by data augmentation. These data augmentations corrupt semantic information to produce models that identify and adjust for where nuisances drive predictions. We study semantic corruptions in powering different robust-modeling methods for multiple out-of distribution (OOD) tasks like classifying waterbirds, natural language inference, and detecting Cardiomegaly in chest X-rays.
To enable building and testing models on long-document comprehension, we introduce QuALITY, a multiple-choice QA dataset with context passages in English that have an average length of about 5,000 tokens, much longer than typical current models can process. Unlike in prior work with passages, our questions are written and validated by contributors who have read the entire passage, rather than relying on summaries or excerpts. In addition, only half of the questions are answerable by annotators working under tight time constraints, indicating that skimming and simple search are not enough to consistently perform well. Current models perform poorly on this task (55.4%) and significantly lag behind human performance (93.5%).
While pretrained language models achieve excellent performance on natural language understanding benchmarks, they tend to rely on spurious correlations and generalize poorly to out-of-distribution (OOD) data. Recent work has explored using counterfactually-augmented data (CAD) -- data generated by minimally perturbing examples to flip the ground-truth label -- to identify robust features that are invariant under distribution shift. However, empirical results using CAD for OOD generalization have been mixed. To explain this discrepancy, we draw insights from a linear Gaussian model and demonstrate the pitfalls of CAD. Specifically, we show that (a) while CAD is effective at identifying robust features, it may prevent the model from learning unperturbed robust features, and (b) CAD may exacerbate existing spurious correlations in the data. Our results show that the lack of perturbation diversity in current CAD datasets limits its effectiveness on OOD generalization, calling for innovative crowdsourcing procedures to elicit diverse perturbation of examples.
Multi-hop reading comprehension requires the model to explore and connect relevant information from multiple sentences/documents in order to answer the question about the context. To achieve this, we propose an interpretable 3-module system called Explore-Propose-Assemble reader (EPAr). First, the Document Explorer iteratively selects relevant documents and represents divergent reasoning chains in a tree structure so as to allow assimilating information from all chains. The Answer Proposer then proposes an answer from every root-to-leaf path in the reasoning tree. Finally, the Evidence Assembler extracts a key sentence containing the proposed answer from every path and combines them to predict the final answer. Intuitively, EPAr approximates the coarse-to-fine-grained comprehension behavior of human readers when facing multiple long documents. We jointly optimize our 3 modules by minimizing the sum of losses from each stage conditioned on the previous stage's output. On two multi-hop reading comprehension datasets WikiHop and MedHop, our EPAr model achieves significant improvements over the baseline and competitive results compared to the state-of-the-art model. We also present multiple reasoning-chain-recovery tests and ablation studies to demonstrate our system's ability to perform interpretable and accurate reasoning.
Automatic question generation (QG) is a challenging problem in natural language understanding. QG systems are typically built assuming access to a large number of training instances where each instance is a question and its corresponding answer. For a new language, such training instances are hard to obtain making the QG problem even more challenging. Using this as our motivation, we study the reuse of an available large QG dataset in a secondary language (e.g. English) to learn a QG model for a primary language (e.g. Hindi) of interest. For the primary language, we assume access to a large amount of monolingual text but only a small QG dataset. We propose a cross-lingual QG model which uses the following training regime: (i) Unsupervised pretraining of language models in both primary and secondary languages and (ii) joint supervised training for QG in both languages. We demonstrate the efficacy of our proposed approach using two different primary languages, Hindi and Chinese. We also create and release a new question answering dataset for Hindi consisting of 6555 sentences.