How Can We Elevate the Quality of Large Language Models? Meet PIT: An Implicit Self-Improvement Framework

LLMs have achieved state-of-the-art results in various complex tasks, such as math reasoning, summarization, conversations, schema induction, and domain-specific problem-solving. The success of LLMs hinges on their ability to follow instructions and align with human preferences. However, they have limitations and can produce incorrect information, reasoning errors, or unhelpful content.  

Various approaches have been proposed to enhance the performance of LLMs, with a growing focus on enabling LLMs to self-improve their response quality. Improving LLMs’ performance traditionally involved collecting more diverse and high-quality training data through human annotation, a resource-intensive process, especially for specialized domains. Prompt-based methods have gained popularity due to their effectiveness, efficiency, and convenience. However, these methods typically require detailed rubrics as inputs, which can be challenging and expensive to create, especially for complex improvement goals.

In response to this issue, researchers from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and Google propose the “Implicit Self-Improvement (PIT) framework,” which allows LLMs to learn improvement goals from human preference data without needing explicit rubrics. PIT leverages preference data to train reward models, eliminating the need for additional human efforts or data collection. The core idea of PIT is to reformulate the training objective of reinforcement learning from human feedback (RLHF). Instead of maximizing response quality for a given input, PIT aims to maximize the quality gap between the response and a reference response, aligning more closely with human preferences.

The researchers conducted experiments on real-world and synthetic datasets to evaluate PIT’s performance against prompting-based methods. Their results demonstrate that PIT significantly outperforms prompting strategies in improving response quality.

PIT’s reformulation of the RLHF training objective focuses on closing the quality gap between model and reference responses. This approach allows PIT to iteratively improve responses without explicit rubrics. The experiments on real-world datasets and synthetic data demonstrate PIT’s superiority over prompting-based methods, highlighting its effectiveness in enhancing LLM response quality.

PIT outperforms the Self-Refine method, which relies on prompts for self-improvement. While the degree of improvement compared to Self-Refine varies depending on the evaluation method (e.g., human evaluation, third-party language models, reward models), PIT consistently performs better in the experiments.

The study also explores the impact of temperature settings on self-improvement methods, indicating that low temperatures yield better results with PIT. In contrast, high temperatures are more suitable for Self-Refine. Additionally, the research investigates the significance of curriculum reinforcement learning and the number of improvement iterations, emphasizing the need to carefully consider stop conditions in practical applications.

In conclusion, the Implicit Self-Improvement PIT framework offers a promising avenue for enhancing the performance of Large Language Models. By learning improvement goals from human preference data, PIT addresses the limitations of traditional prompting methods and showcases its effectiveness in improving LLM response quality across various datasets and conditions.


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Dhanshree Shenwai is a Computer Science Engineer and has a good experience in FinTech companies covering Financial, Cards & Payments and Banking domain with keen interest in applications of AI. She is enthusiastic about exploring new technologies and advancements in today’s evolving world making everyone's life easy.

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