Keywords: interpretability, NLP, transformers, GPT
TL;DR: We locate and edit the mechanisms underlying factual association within the activations and weights of large pretrained GPT models.
Abstract: We analyze the storage and recall of factual associations in autoregressive transformer language models, finding evidence that these associations correspond to localized, directly-editable computations. We first develop a causal intervention for identifying neuron activations that are decisive in a model's factual predictions. This reveals a distinct set of steps in middle-layer feed-forward modules that mediate factual predictions while processing subject tokens. To test our hypothesis that these computations correspond to factual association recall, we modify feed-forward weights to update specific factual associations using Rank-One Model Editing (ROME). We find that ROME is effective on a standard zero-shot relation extraction (zsRE) model-editing task, comparable to existing methods. To perform a more sensitive evaluation, we also evaluate ROME on a new dataset of counterfactual assertions, on which it simultaneously maintains both specificity and generalization, whereas other methods sacrifice one or another. Our results confirm an important role for mid-layer feed-forward modules in storing factual associations and suggest that direct manipulation of computational mechanisms may be a feasible approach for model editing. The code, dataset, visualizations, and an interactive demo notebook are available in the supplemental materials.
Supplementary Material: pdf