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Few-Shot Recalibration of Language Models

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Recent work has uncovered promising ways to extract well-calibrated confidence estimates from language models (LMs), where the model's confidence score reflects how likely it is to be correct. However, while LMs may appear well-calibrated over broad distributions, this often hides significant miscalibration within narrower slices (e.g., systemic over-confidence in math can balance out systemic under-confidence in history, yielding perfect calibration in aggregate). To attain well-calibrated confidence estimates for any slice of a distribution, we propose a new framework for few-shot slice-specific recalibration. Specifically, we train a recalibration model that takes in a few unlabeled examples from any given slice and predicts a curve that remaps confidence scores to be more accurate for that slice. Our trained model can recalibrate for arbitrary new slices, without using any labeled data from that slice. This enables us to identify domain-specific confidence thresholds above which the LM's predictions can be trusted, and below which it should abstain. Experiments show that our few-shot recalibrator consistently outperforms existing calibration methods, for instance improving calibration error for PaLM2-Large on MMLU by 16%, as compared to temperature scaling.


Xiang Lisa Li, Urvashi Khandelwal, Kelvin Guu