Solving Math Word Problems by Combining Language Models With Symbolic Solvers

Published: 28 Oct 2023, Last Modified: 11 Nov 2023MATH-AI 23 PosterEveryoneRevisionsBibTeX
Keywords: mathematical reasoning, large language models, symbolic solvers
Abstract: Automatically generating high-quality step-by-step solutions to math word problems has many applications in education. Recently, combining large language models (LLMs) with external tools to perform complex reasoning and calculation has emerged as a promising direction for solving math word problems, but prior approaches such as Program-Aided Language model (PAL) are biased towards simple procedural problems and less effective for problems that require declarative reasoning. We propose an approach that combines an LLM that can incrementally formalize word problems as a set of variables and equations with an external symbolic solver that can solve the equations. Our approach achieves comparable accuracy to the original PAL on the GSM8K benchmark of math word problems and outperforms PAL by an absolute 20% on ALGEBRA, a new dataset of more challenging word problems extracted from Algebra textbooks. Our work highlights the benefits of using declarative and incremental representations when interfacing with an external tool for solving complex math word problems. Our data and prompts are publicly available at
Submission Number: 16