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Xingchen Wan

Xingchen Wan

I am a Research Scientist at Google Cloud AI Research. My primary research interest at Google is on Large Language Models (LLMs), and my other research interests include automated machine learning (AutoML) and Bayesian optimization.
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    Preview abstract Prompting and in-context learning (ICL) have become efficient learning paradigms for large language models (LLMs). However, LLMs suffer from prompt brittleness and various bias factors in the prompt, including but not limited to the formatting, the choice verbalizers, and the ICL examples. To address this problem that results in unexpected performance degradation, calibration methods have been developed to mitigate the effects of these biases while recovering LLM performance. In this work, we first conduct a systematic analysis of the existing calibration methods, where we both provide a unified view and reveal the failure cases. Inspired by these analyses, we propose Batch Calibration (BC), a simple yet intuitive method that controls the contextual bias from the batched input, unifies various prior approaches, and effectively addresses the aforementioned issues. BC is zero-shot, inference-only, and incurs negligible additional costs. In the few-shot setup, we further extend BC to allow it to learn the contextual bias from labeled data. We validate the effectiveness of BC with PaLM 2-(S, M, L) and CLIP models and demonstrate state-of-the-art performance over previous calibration baselines across more than 10 natural language understanding and image classification tasks. View details
    Preview abstract A hallmark of modern large language models (LLMs) is their impressive general zero-shot and few-shot abilities, often elicited through in-context learning (ICL) via prompting. However, while highly coveted and being the most general, zero-shot performances in LLMs are still typically weaker due to the lack of guidance and the difficulty of applying existing automatic prompt design methods in general tasks when ground-truth labels are unavailable. In this study, we address this by presenting Universal Self-Adaptive Prompting (USP), an automatic prompt design approach specifically tailored for zero-shot learning (while compatible with few-shot). Requiring only a small amount of unlabeled data and an inference-only LLM, USP is highly versatile: to achieve universal prompting, USP categorizes a possible NLP task into one of the three possible task types and then uses a corresponding selector to select the most suitable queries and zero-shot model-generated responses as pseudo-demonstrations, thereby generalizing ICL to the zero-shot setup in a fully automated way. We evaluate USP with PaLM and PaLM 2 models and demonstrate performances that are considerably stronger than standard zero-shot baselines and often comparable to or even superior to few-shot baselines across more than 40 natural language understanding, natural language generation, and reasoning tasks. View details
    Preview abstract Modern large language models (LLMs) have demonstrated impressive capabilities at sophisticated tasks, often through step-by-step reasoning similar to humans. This is made possible by their strong few-shot and zero shot abilities: they either learn from a handful of handcrafted, completed responses (“in context examples”), or are prompted to reason spontaneously through specially designed triggers. Nonetheless, few-shot performance is sensitive to the choice of the examples, for which artisanal hand-crafted selection would require extensive effort, and in some cases, it might not even be possible to obtain relevant examples a-priori without expertise about the downstream tasks. On the other hand, most general and handcrafting-free, zero-shot performance is limited by the lack of guidance to the LLM. To address this, we propose Consistency-based Self-adaptive Prompting (COSP), a novel prompt design method for LLMs. Requiring neither handcrafted responses nor ground-truth labels, COSP selects & builds the set of examples from the LLM’s own zero-shot outputs via carefully designed criteria combining consistency, diversity and repetition. In zero-shot setting, with only LLM predictions, COSP significantly improves performance (up to 2× compared to zero-shot baselines and matching or exceeding few-shot baselines) in a range of reasoning tasks in 3 LLMs. Moreover, COSP can be generalized to few-shot setting and can take advantage of few labeled examples in an efficient way View details
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