Emergent Mind

Small Language Models Improve Giants by Rewriting Their Outputs

Published May 22, 2023 in cs.CL and cs.LG


Large language models (LLMs) have demonstrated impressive few-shot learning capabilities, but they often underperform compared to fine-tuned models on challenging tasks. Furthermore, their large size and restricted access only through APIs make task-specific fine-tuning impractical. Moreover, LLMs are sensitive to different aspects of prompts (e.g., the selection and order of demonstrations) and can thus require time-consuming prompt engineering. In this light, we propose a method to correct LLM outputs without relying on their weights. First, we generate a pool of candidates by few-shot prompting an LLM. Second, we refine the LLM-generated outputs using a smaller model, the LM-corrector (LMCor), which is trained to rank, combine and rewrite the candidates to produce the final target output. Our experiments demonstrate that even a small LMCor model (250M) substantially improves the few-shot performance of LLMs (62B) across diverse tasks. Moreover, we illustrate that the LMCor exhibits robustness against different prompts, thereby minimizing the need for extensive prompt engineering. Finally, we showcase that the LMCor can be seamlessly integrated with different LLMs at inference time, serving as a plug-and-play module to improve their performance.

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