Emergent Mind

PAL: Program-aided Language Models

(2211.10435)
Published Nov 18, 2022 in cs.CL and cs.AI

Abstract

Large language models (LLMs) have recently demonstrated an impressive ability to perform arithmetic and symbolic reasoning tasks, when provided with a few examples at test time ("few-shot prompting"). Much of this success can be attributed to prompting methods such as "chain-of-thought'', which employ LLMs for both understanding the problem description by decomposing it into steps, as well as solving each step of the problem. While LLMs seem to be adept at this sort of step-by-step decomposition, LLMs often make logical and arithmetic mistakes in the solution part, even when the problem is decomposed correctly. In this paper, we present Program-Aided Language models (PAL): a novel approach that uses the LLM to read natural language problems and generate programs as the intermediate reasoning steps, but offloads the solution step to a runtime such as a Python interpreter. With PAL, decomposing the natural language problem into runnable steps remains the only learning task for the LLM, while solving is delegated to the interpreter. We demonstrate this synergy between a neural LLM and a symbolic interpreter across 13 mathematical, symbolic, and algorithmic reasoning tasks from BIG-Bench Hard and other benchmarks. In all these natural language reasoning tasks, generating code using an LLM and reasoning using a Python interpreter leads to more accurate results than much larger models. For example, PAL using Codex achieves state-of-the-art few-shot accuracy on the GSM8K benchmark of math word problems, surpassing PaLM-540B which uses chain-of-thought by absolute 15% top-1. Our code and data are publicly available at http://reasonwithpal.com/ .

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