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In-Person Poster presentation / poster accept

Selective Annotation Makes Language Models Better Few-Shot Learners

Hongjin SU · Jungo Kasai · Chen Henry Wu · Weijia Shi · Tianlu Wang · Jiayi Xin · Rui Zhang · Mari Ostendorf · Luke Zettlemoyer · Noah Smith · Tao Yu

MH1-2-3-4 #53

Keywords: [ few-shot learning ] [ in-context learning ] [ active learning ] [ language models ] [ Applications ]


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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