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arxiv:2310.16763

SuperHF: Supervised Iterative Learning from Human Feedback

Published on Oct 25, 2023
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Abstract

While large language models demonstrate remarkable capabilities, they often present challenges in terms of safety, alignment with human values, and stability during training. Here, we focus on two prevalent methods used to align these models, Supervised Fine-Tuning (SFT) and Reinforcement Learning from Human Feedback (RLHF). SFT is simple and robust, powering a host of open-source models, while RLHF is a more sophisticated method used in top-tier models like ChatGPT but also suffers from instability and susceptibility to reward hacking. We propose a novel approach, Supervised Iterative Learning from Human Feedback (SuperHF), which seeks to leverage the strengths of both methods. Our hypothesis is two-fold: that the reward model used in RLHF is critical for efficient data use and model generalization and that the use of Proximal Policy Optimization (PPO) in RLHF may not be necessary and could contribute to instability issues. SuperHF replaces PPO with a simple supervised loss and a Kullback-Leibler (KL) divergence prior. It creates its own training data by repeatedly sampling a batch of model outputs and filtering them through the reward model in an online learning regime. We then break down the reward optimization problem into three components: robustly optimizing the training rewards themselves, preventing reward hacking-exploitation of the reward model that degrades model performance-as measured by a novel METEOR similarity metric, and maintaining good performance on downstream evaluations. Our experimental results show SuperHF exceeds PPO-based RLHF on the training objective, easily and favorably trades off high reward with low reward hacking, improves downstream calibration, and performs the same on our GPT-4 based qualitative evaluation scheme all the while being significantly simpler to implement, highlighting SuperHF's potential as a competitive language model alignment technique.

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