Amortizing intractable inference in large language models

Published: 16 Jan 2024, Last Modified: 08 Mar 2024ICLR 2024 oralEveryoneRevisionsBibTeX
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Keywords: large language models, LLMs, Bayesian inference, chain-of-thought reasoning, latent variable models, generative flow networks, GFlowNets
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TL;DR: We fine-tune LLMs to sample from intractable posteriors for tasks such as infilling, chain-of-thought reasoning, and tool-augmented inference.
Abstract: Autoregressive large language models (LLMs) compress knowledge from their training data through next-token conditional distributions. This limits tractable querying of this knowledge to start-to-end autoregressive sampling. However, many tasks of interest---including sequence continuation, infilling, and other forms of constrained generation---involve sampling from intractable posterior distributions. We address this limitation by using amortized Bayesian inference to sample from these intractable posteriors. Such amortization is algorithmically achieved by fine-tuning LLMs via diversity-seeking reinforcement learning algorithms: generative flow networks (GFlowNets). We empirically demonstrate that this distribution-matching paradigm of LLM fine-tuning can serve as an effective alternative to maximum-likelihood training and reward-maximizing policy optimization. As an important application, we interpret chain-of-thought reasoning as a latent variable modeling problem and demonstrate that our approach enables data-efficient adaptation of LLMs to tasks that require multi-step rationalization and tool use.
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Primary Area: probabilistic methods (Bayesian methods, variational inference, sampling, UQ, etc.)
Submission Number: 1391