Keywords: few-shot learning, language models, in-context learning, active learning
TL;DR: We propose a select-then-annotate framework to make large language models better few-shot learners. Our method, vote-k, greatly improves the task performance over classification, commonsense reasoning, dialogue, and text/code generation.
Abstract: Many recent approaches to natural language tasks are built on the remarkable abilities of large language models. Large language models can perform in-context learning, where they learn a new task from a few task demonstrations, without any parameter updates. This work examines the implications of in-context learning for the creation of datasets for new natural language tasks. Departing from recent in-context learning methods, we formulate an annotation-efficient, two-step framework: selective annotation that chooses a pool of examples to annotate from unlabeled data in advance, followed by prompt retrieval that retrieves task examples from the annotated pool at test time. Based on this framework, we propose an unsupervised, graph-based selective annotation method, voke-k, to select diverse, representative examples to annotate. Extensive experiments on 10 datasets (covering classification, commonsense reasoning, dialogue, and text/code generation) demonstrate that our selective annotation method improves the task performance by a large margin. On average, vote-k achieves a 12.9%/11.4% relative gain under an annotation budget of 18/100, as compared to randomly selecting examples to annotate. Compared to state-of-the-art supervised finetuning approaches, it yields similar performance with 10-100x less annotation cost across 10 tasks. We further analyze the effectiveness of our framework in various scenarios: language models with varying sizes, alternative selective annotation methods, and cases where there is a test data domain shift. We hope that our studies will serve as a basis for data annotations as large language models are increasingly applied to new tasks.
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