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Fine-Tuning Language Models for Factuality

Katherine Tian · Eric Mitchell · Huaxiu Yao · Christopher Manning · Chelsea Finn

Halle B #130
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Tue 7 May 7:30 a.m. PDT — 9:30 a.m. PDT


The fluency and creativity of large pre-trained language models (LLMs) have led to their widespread use, sometimes even as a replacement for traditional search engines. Yet language models are prone to making convincing but factually inaccurate claims, often referred to as `hallucinations.' These errors can inadvertently spread misinformation or harmfully perpetuate misconceptions. Further, manual fact-checking of model responses is a time-consuming process, making human factuality labels expensive to acquire. In this work, we fine-tune language models to be more factual, without human labeling and targeting more open-ended generation settings than past work. We leverage two key recent innovations in NLP to do so. First, several recent works have proposed methods for judging the factuality of open-ended text by measuring consistency with an external knowledge base or simply a large model's confidence scores. Second, the Direct Preference Optimization algorithm enables straightforward fine-tuning of language models on objectives other than supervised imitation, using a preference ranking over possible model responses. We show that learning from automatically generated factuality preference rankings, generated either through existing retrieval systems or our novel retrieval-free approach, significantly improves the factuality (percent of generated claims that are correct) of Llama-2 on held-out topics compared with RLHF or decoding strategies targeted at factuality. At 7B scale, compared to Llama-2-Chat, we observe 53% and 50% reduction in factual error rate when generating biographies and answering medical questions, respectively. A reference implementation can be found at

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