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Escape Sky-high Cost: Early-stopping Self-Consistency for Multi-step Reasoning

Yiwei Li · Peiwen Yuan · Shaoxiong Feng · Boyuan Pan · Xinglin Wang · Bin Sun · Heda Wang · Kan Li

Halle B #348
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Wed 8 May 1:45 a.m. PDT — 3:45 a.m. PDT


Self-consistency (SC) has been a widely used decoding strategy for chain-of-thought reasoning. Despite bringing significant performance improvements across a variety of multi-step reasoning tasks, it is a high-cost method that requires multiple sampling with the preset size. In this paper, we propose a simple and scalable sampling process, Early-Stopping Self-Consistency (ESC), to greatly reduce the cost of SC without sacrificing performance. On this basis, one control scheme for ESC is further derivated to dynamically choose the performance-cost balance for different tasks and models. To demonstrate ESC's effectiveness, we conducted extensive experiments on three popular categories of reasoning tasks: arithmetic, commonsense and symbolic reasoning over language models with varying scales. The empirical results show that ESC reduces the average number of sampling of chain-of-thought reasoning by a significant margin on six benchmarks, including MATH (-33.8%), GSM8K (-80.1%), StrategyQA (-76.8%), CommonsenseQA (-78.5%), Coin Flip (-84.2%) and Last Letters (-67.4%), while attaining comparable performances.

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