Google DeepMind Researchers Introduce Promptbreeder: A Self-Referential and Self-Improving AI System that can Automatically Evolve Effective Domain-Specific Prompts in a Given Domain

Large Language Models (LLMs) have gained a lot of attention for their human-imitating properties. These models are capable of answering questions, generating content, summarizing long textual paragraphs, and whatnot. Prompts are essential for improving the performance of LLMs like GPT-3.5 and GPT-4. The way that prompts are created can have a big impact on an LLM’s abilities in a variety of areas, including reasoning, multimodal processing, tool use, and more. These techniques, which researchers designed, have shown promise in tasks like model distillation and agent behavior simulation.

The manual engineering of prompt approaches raises the question of whether this procedure can be automated. By producing a set of prompts based on input-output instances from a dataset, Automatic Prompt Engineer (APE) made an attempt to address this, but APE had diminishing returns in terms of prompt quality. Researchers have suggested a method based on a diversity-maintaining evolutionary algorithm for self-referential self-improvement of prompts for LLMs to overcome decreasing returns in prompt creation.

LLMs can alter their prompts to improve their capabilities, just as a neural network can change its weight matrix to improve performance. According to this comparison, LLMs may be created to enhance both their own capabilities and the processes by which they enhance them, thereby enabling Artificial Intelligence to continue improving indefinitely. In response to these ideas, a team of researchers from Google DeepMind has introduced PromptBreeder (PB) in recent research, which is a technique for LLMs to better themselves in a self-referential manner.

A domain-specific problem description, a set of initial mutation prompts, which are the instructions to modify a task prompt, and thinking styles, i.e., the generic cognitive heuristics in text form, are required by PB. By utilizing the LLM’s capacity to serve as mutation operators, it generates different task-prompts and mutation-prompts. The fitness of these evolved task-prompts is assessed on a training set, and a subset of evolutionary units comprising task-prompts and their associated mutation-prompts is selected for future generations.

The team has shared that PromptBreeder observes prompts adjusting to the particular domain across several generations. For instance, PB developed a task prompt with explicit instructions on how to tackle mathematical issues in the field of mathematics. In a variety of benchmark tasks, including common sense reasoning, arithmetic, and ethics, PB outperforms state-of-the-art prompt techniques. PB does not necessitate parameter updates for self-referential self-improvement, suggesting a potential future when more extensive and capable LLMs may profit from this strategy.

The working process of PromptBreeder can be summarized as follows โ€“

  1. Task-Prompt Mutation: Task-Prompts are prompts created for certain tasks or domains. PromptBreeder starts with a population of these prompts. The task prompts are then subjected to mutations, resulting in variants.
  1. Fitness Evaluation: Using a training dataset, the fitness of these modified task prompts is assessed. This evaluation measures how well the LLM responds to these variations when asked.
  1. Continual Evolution: Similar to biological evolution, the process of mutation and assessment is repeated over several generations. 

To sum up, PromptBreeder has been essentially touted as a unique and successful technique for autonomously evolving prompts for LLMs. It attempts to enhance the performance of LLMs across a variety of tasks and domains, ultimately outperforming manual prompt methods by iteratively improving both the task prompts and the mutation prompts.

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Tanya Malhotra is a final year undergrad from the University of Petroleum & Energy Studies, Dehradun, pursuing BTech in Computer Science Engineering with a specialization in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.
She is a Data Science enthusiast with good analytical and critical thinking, along with an ardent interest in acquiring new skills, leading groups, and managing work in an organized manner.

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