Embroid: Unsupervised Prediction Smoothing Can Improve Few-Shot Classification

Published: 21 Sept 2023, Last Modified: 02 Nov 2023NeurIPS 2023 posterEveryoneRevisionsBibTeX
Keywords: language models, prompting, embeddings, weak supervision
TL;DR: We use the embedding spaces of small language models (e.g. BERT) to identify and correct errors in the few-shot predictions of larger language models.
Abstract: Recent work has shown that language models' (LMs) prompt-based learning capabilities make them well suited for automating data labeling in domains where manual annotation is expensive. The challenge is that while writing an initial prompt is cheap, improving a prompt is costly---practitioners often require significant labeled data in order to evaluate the impact of prompt modifications. Our work asks whether it is possible to improve prompt-based learning _without_ additional labeled data. We approach this problem by attempting to modify the predictions of a prompt, rather than the prompt itself. Our intuition is that accurate predictions should also be consistent: samples which are similar under some feature representation should receive the same prompt prediction. We propose Embroid, a method which computes multiple representations of a dataset under different embedding functions, and uses the consistency between the LM predictions for neighboring samples to identify mispredictions. Embroid then uses these neighborhoods to create additional predictions for each sample, and combines these predictions with a simple latent variable graphical model in order to generate a final corrected prediction. In addition to providing a theoretical analysis of Embroid, we conduct a rigorous empirical evaluation across six different LMs and up to 95 different tasks. We find that (1) Embroid substantially improves performance over original prompts (e.g., by an average of 7.3 points on GPT-JT), (2) also realizes improvements for more sophisticated prompting strategies (e.g., chain-of-thought), and (3) can be specialized to domains like law through the embedding functions.
Supplementary Material: zip
Submission Number: 5621