Conformal Language Modeling

Published: 16 Jan 2024, Last Modified: 15 Mar 2024ICLR 2024 posterEveryoneRevisionsBibTeX
Code Of Ethics: I acknowledge that I and all co-authors of this work have read and commit to adhering to the ICLR Code of Ethics.
Keywords: conformal prediction, uncertainty estimation, language models, generative models, confidence, prediction sets, sampling
Submission Guidelines: I certify that this submission complies with the submission instructions as described on
TL;DR: This paper introduces a new extension of conformal prediction that is tailored towards generating provably performant generations from large language models.
Abstract: In this paper, we propose a novel approach to conformal prediction for language models (LMs) in which we produce prediction sets with performance guarantees. LM responses are typically sampled from a predicted distribution over the large, combinatorial output space of language. Translating this to conformal prediction, we calibrate a stopping rule for sampling LM outputs that get added to a growing set of candidates until we are confident that the set covers at least one acceptable response. Since some samples may be low-quality, we also simultaneously calibrate a rejection rule for removing candidates from the output set to reduce noise. Similar to conformal prediction, we can prove that the final output set obeys certain desirable distribution-free guarantees. Within these sets of candidate responses, we also show that we can also identify subsets of individual components---such as phrases or sentences---that are each independently correct (e.g., that are not ``hallucinations''), again with guarantees. Our method can be applied to any LM API that supports sampling. Furthermore, we empirically demonstrate that we can achieve many desired coverage levels within a limited number of total samples when applying our method to multiple tasks in open-domain question answering, text summarization, and radiology report generation using different LM variants.
Anonymous Url: I certify that there is no URL (e.g., github page) that could be used to find authors' identity.
Supplementary Material: pdf
No Acknowledgement Section: I certify that there is no acknowledgement section in this submission for double blind review.
Primary Area: probabilistic methods (Bayesian methods, variational inference, sampling, UQ, etc.)
Submission Number: 3911