Decoding-time Alignment for Large Language Models

Download a PDF of the paper titled DeAL: Decoding-time Alignment for Large Language Models, by James Y. Huang and 8 other authors

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Abstract:Large Language Models (LLMs) are nowadays expected to generate content aligned with human preferences. Current work focuses on alignment at model training time, through techniques such as Reinforcement Learning with Human Feedback (RLHF). However, it is unclear if such methods are an effective choice to teach alignment objectives to the model. First, the inability to incorporate multiple, custom rewards and reliance on a model developer’s view of universal and static principles are key limitations. Second, the residual gaps in model training and the reliability of such approaches are also questionable (e.g. susceptibility to jail-breaking even after safety training). To address these, we propose DeAL, a framework that allows the user to customize reward functions and enables Decoding-time Alignment of LLMs (DeAL). At its core, we view decoding as a heuristic-guided search process and facilitate the use of a wide variety of alignment objectives. Our experiments with programmatic constraints such as keyword and length constraints (studied widely in the pre-LLM era) and abstract objectives such as harmlessness and helpfulness (proposed in the post-LLM era) show that we can DeAL with fine-grained trade-offs, improve adherence to alignment objectives, and address residual gaps in LLMs. Lastly, while DeAL can be effectively paired with RLHF and prompting techniques, its generality makes decoding slower, an optimization we leave for future work.

Submission history

From: Sailik Sengupta [view email]
Mon, 5 Feb 2024 06:12:29 UTC (208 KB)
Wed, 21 Feb 2024 02:25:32 UTC (208 KB)

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