SimPO: Simple Preference Optimization with a Reference-Free Reward

Published on May 23


Direct Preference Optimization (DPO) is a widely used offline preference optimization algorithm that reparameterizes reward functions in reinforcement learning from human feedback (RLHF) to enhance simplicity and training stability. In this work, we propose SimPO, a simpler yet more effective approach. The effectiveness of SimPO is attributed to a key design: using the average log probability of a sequence as the implicit reward. This reward formulation better aligns with model generation and eliminates the need for a reference model, making it more compute and memory efficient. Additionally, we introduce a target reward margin to the Bradley-Terry objective to encourage a larger margin between the winning and losing responses, further enhancing the algorithm's performance. We compare SimPO to DPO and its latest variants across various state-of-the-art training setups, including both base and instruction-tuned models like Mistral and Llama3. We evaluated on extensive instruction-following benchmarks, including AlpacaEval 2, MT-Bench, and the recent challenging Arena-Hard benchmark. Our results demonstrate that SimPO consistently and significantly outperforms existing approaches without substantially increasing response length. Specifically, SimPO outperforms DPO by up to 6.4 points on AlpacaEval 2 and by up to 7.5 points on Arena-Hard. Our top-performing model, built on Llama3-8B-Instruct, achieves a remarkable 44.7 length-controlled win rate on AlpacaEval 2 -- surpassing Claude 3 Opus on the leaderboard, and a 33.8 win rate on Arena-Hard -- making it the strongest 8B open-source model.


The main loss seems to have a similar function to Equation (3) of 'Contrastive Preference Optimization: Pushing the Boundaries of LLM Performance in Machine Translation.'

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