Prompt Waywardness: The Curious Case of Discretized Interpretation of Continuous Prompts
Daniel Khashabi | Xinxi Lyu | Sewon Min | Lianhui Qin | Kyle Richardson | Sean Welleck | Hannaneh Hajishirzi | Tushar Khot | Ashish Sabharwal | Sameer Singh | Yejin Choi
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies
Fine-tuning continuous prompts for target tasks has recently emerged as a compact alternative to full model fine-tuning. Motivated by these promising results, we investigate the feasibility of extracting a discrete (textual) interpretation of continuous prompts that is faithful to the problem they solve. In practice, we observe a “wayward” behavior between the task solved by continuous prompts and their nearest neighbor discrete projections: We can find continuous prompts that solve a task while being projected to an arbitrary text (e.g., definition of a different or even a contradictory task), while being within a very small (2%) margin of the best continuous prompt of the same size for the task. We provide intuitions behind this odd and surprising behavior, as well as extensive empirical analyses quantifying the effect of various parameters. For instance, for larger model sizes we observe higher waywardness, i.e, we can find prompts that more closely map to any arbitrary text with a smaller drop in accuracy. These findings have important implications relating to the difficulty of faithfully interpreting continuous prompts and their generalization across models and tasks, providing guidance for future progress in prompting language models.
Rethinking the Role of Demonstrations: What Makes In-Context Learning Work?
Sewon Min | Xinxi Lyu | Ari Holtzman | Mikel Artetxe | Mike Lewis | Hannaneh Hajishirzi | Luke Zettlemoyer
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing
Large language models (LMs) are able to in-context learn—perform a new task via inference alone by conditioning on a few input-label pairs (demonstrations) and making predictions for new inputs. However, there has been little understanding of how the model learns and which aspects of the demonstrations contribute to end task performance. In this paper, we show that ground truth demonstrations are in fact not required—randomly replacing labels in the demonstrations barely hurts performance on a range of classification and multi-choce tasks, consistently over 12 different models including GPT-3. Instead, we find that other aspects of the demonstrations are the key drivers of endtask performance, including the fact that they provide a few examples of (1) the label space, (2) the distribution of the input text, and (3) the overall format of the sequence. Together, our analysis provides a new way of understanding how and why in-context learning works, while opening up new questions about how much can be learned from large language models through inference alone.
- Sewon Min 2
- Hannaneh Hajishirzi 2
- Daniel Khashabi 1
- Lianhui Qin 1
- Kyle Richardson 1
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