Recently introduced instruction-paradigm empowers non-expert users to leverage NLP resources by defining a new task in natural language. Instruction-tuned models have significantly outperformed multitask learning models (without instruction); however they are far from state-of-the-art task-specific models. Conventional approaches to improve model performance via creating datasets with large number of task instances or architectural changes in the model may not be feasible for non-expert users. However, they can write alternate instructions to represent an instruction task. Is Instruction-augmentation helpful? We augment a subset of tasks in the expanded version of NATURAL INSTRUCTIONS with additional instructions and find that it significantly improves model performance (up to 35%), especially in the low-data regime. Our results indicate that an additional instruction can be equivalent to ~200 data samples on average across tasks.
How well can NLP models generalize to a variety of unseen tasks when provided with task instructions? To address this question, we first introduce Super-NaturalInstructions, a benchmark of 1,616 diverse NLP tasks and their expert-written instructions. Our collection covers 76 distinct task types, including but not limited to classification, extraction, infilling, sequence tagging, text rewriting, and text composition. This large and diverse collection of tasks enables rigorous benchmarking of cross-task generalization under instructions—training models to follow instructions on a subset of tasks and evaluating them on the remaining unseen ones. Furthermore, we build Tk-Instruct, a transformer model trained to follow a variety of in-context instructions (plain language task definitions or k-shot examples). Our experiments show that Tk-Instruct outperforms existing instruction-following models such as InstructGPT by over 9% on our benchmark despite being an order of magnitude smaller. We further analyze generalization as a function of various scaling parameters, such as the number of observed tasks, the number of instances per task, and model sizes. We hope our dataset and model facilitate future progress towards more general-purpose NLP models.