CombLM: Adapting Black-Box Language Models through Small Fine-Tuned Models.


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Methods for adapting language models (LMs) to new tasks and domains have traditionally assumed white-box access to the model, and work by modifying its parameters. However, this is incompatible with a recent trend in the field, where the highest quality models are only available as black-boxes through inference APIs. Even when the model weights are available, the computational cost of fine-tuning large LMs can be prohibitive for most practitioners. In this work, we present a lightweight method for adapting large LMs to new domains and tasks, assuming no access to their weights or intermediate activations. Our approach fine-tunes a small white-box LM and combines it with the large black-box LM at the probability level through a small network, learned on a small validation set. We validate our approach by adapting a large LM (OPT-30B) to several domains and a downstream task (machine translation), observing improved performance in all cases, of up to 9%, while using a domain expert 23x smaller.
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