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In-Person Oral presentation / top 5% paper

Selection-Inference: Exploiting Large Language Models for Interpretable Logical Reasoning

Antonia Creswell · Murray Shanahan · Irina Higgins



Large language models (LLMs) have been shown to be capable of impressive few-shot generalisation to new tasks. However, they still tend to perform poorly on multi-step logical reasoning problems. Here we carry out a comprehensive evaluation of LLMs on 46 tasks that probe different aspects of logical reasoning. We show that language models tend to perform fairly well at single step inference or entailment tasks, but struggle to chain together multiple reasoning steps to solve more complex problems. In light of this, we propose a Selection-Inference (SI) framework that exploits pre-trained LLMs as general processing modules, and alternates between selection and inference to generate a series of interpretable, casual reasoning steps leading to the final answer. We show that a 7B parameter LLM used within the SI framework in a 5-shot generalisation setting, with no fine-tuning, yields a performance improvement of over 100% compared to an equivalent vanilla baseline on a suite of 10 logical reasoning tasks. The same model in the same setting even outperforms a significantly larger 280B parameter baseline on the same suite of tasks. Moreover, answers produced by the SI framework are accompanied by a causal natural-language-based reasoning trace, which has important implications for the safety and trustworthiness of the system.

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