Take a Step Back: Evoking Reasoning via Abstraction in Large Language Models

Published: 16 Jan 2024, Last Modified: 12 Mar 2024ICLR 2024 posterEveryoneRevisionsBibTeX
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Keywords: Prompting, Large Language Models, Reasoning, Abstraction
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TL;DR: We show that using a simple prompting technique called Step-Back Prompting, LLMs are capable of doing abstractions to derive high-level concepts and first principles from specific examples which helps them in solving complex tasks.
Abstract: We present STEP-BACK PROMPTING, a simple prompting technique that enables LLMs to do abstractions to derive high-level concepts and first principles from instances containing specific details. Using the concepts and principles to guide reasoning, LLMs significantly improve their abilities in following a correct reasoning path towards the solution. We conduct experiments of STEP-BACK PROMPTING with PaLM-2L, GPT-4 and Llama2-70B models, and observe substantial performance gains on various challenging reasoning-intensive tasks including STEM, Knowledge QA, and Multi-Hop Reasoning. For instance, STEP-BACK PROMPTING improves PaLM-2L performance on MMLU (Physics and Chemistry) by 7% and 11% respectively, TimeQA by 27%, and MuSiQue by 7%.
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Primary Area: generative models
Submission Number: 2214