Explain then Rank: Scale Calibration of Neural Rankers Using Natural Language Explanations from Large Language Models


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The process of scale calibration in ranking systems involves adjusting the outputs of rankers to correspond with significant qualities like click-through rates or relevance, crucial for mirroring real-world value and thereby boosting the system's effectiveness and reliability. Although there has been research on calibrated ranking losses within learning-to-rank models, the particular issue of adjusting the scale for neural rankers, which excel in handling textual information, has not been thoroughly examined. Neural ranking models are adept at processing text data, yet the application of existing scale calibration techniques to these models poses significant challenges due to their complexity and the intensive training they require, often resulting in suboptimal outcomes. This study delves into the potential of large language models (LLMs) to provide uncertainty measurements for a query and document pair that correlate with the scale-calibrated scores. By employing Monte Carlo sampling to gauge relevance probabilities from LLMs and incorporating natural language explanations (NLEs) to articulate this uncertainty, we carry out comprehensive tests on two major document ranking datasets. Our findings reveal that the approach leveraging NLEs outperforms existing calibration methods under various training scenarios, leading to better calibrated neural rankers.
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