Beyond Human Data: Scaling Self-Training for Problem-Solving with Language Models


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Fine-tuning language models~(LMs) on human-generated data remains a prevalent practice. However, the performance of such models is often limited by the quantity and diversity of high-quality human data. In this paper, we explore whether we can go beyond human data on tasks where we have access to scalar feedback, for example, on math problems where one can verify correctness. To do so, we investigate a simple self-training method based on expectation-maximization, which we call ReST$^{EM}$, where we (1) generate samples from the model and filter them using binary feedback, (2) fine-tune the model on these samples, and (3) repeat this process a few times. Testing on advanced MATH reasoning and APPS coding benchmarks using PaLM-2 models, we find that ReST$^{EM}$ scales favorably with model size and significantly surpasses fine-tuning only on human data. Overall, our findings suggest self-training with feedback can substantially reduce dependence on human-generated data.
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