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Automatic Chain of Thought Prompting in Large Language Models

Zhang, Z., Zhang, A., Li, M. and Smola, A. (2022). Automatic Chain of Thought Prompting in Large Language Models. arXiv:2210.03493 [cs]. [online] Available at:

General Annotation #

The paper titled “Automatic Chain of Thought Prompting in Large Language Models” by Zhuosheng Zhang, Aston Zhang, Mu Li, and Alex Smola introduces a novel methodology for enhancing chain-of-thought (CoT) prompting in large language models (LLMs) called Auto-CoT. This methodology aims to automate the generation of reasoning chains needed for complex problem-solving tasks, thereby eliminating the need for manually crafted demonstrations. CoT prompting traditionally involves either a simple step-by-step prompt or manual demonstrations comprising questions and their reasoning chains. Auto-CoT leverages the former to generate diverse reasoning chains automatically, significantly improving LLMs’ performance on various reasoning tasks without the labor-intensive process of manual demonstration creation.

Methodologies Used #

  • Automatic Chain-of-Thought Prompting (Auto-CoT): Proposes an automatic method for generating diverse reasoning chains to construct demonstrations, addressing the challenge of manual demonstration creation.
  • Question Clustering and Demonstration Sampling: Implements a two-step process involving the clustering of questions to ensure diversity and the selection of representative questions from each cluster to generate reasoning chains.
  • Evaluation with GPT-3: Utilizes GPT-3 for evaluating the Auto-CoT methodology across ten public benchmark reasoning tasks, demonstrating its effectiveness in comparison to manual CoT approaches.

Key Contributions #

  • Innovative Automatic Prompting Technique: Introduces an automated approach to generate reasoning chains for CoT prompting, significantly reducing the need for manual intervention.
  • Diverse Reasoning Chain Generation: Employs question clustering to promote diversity in reasoning chains, addressing issues related to misleading similarities and frequent errors in reasoning.
  • Broad Evaluation: Validates the effectiveness of Auto-CoT across a wide range of reasoning tasks, showing its potential to match or surpass manual CoT prompting methods.

Main Arguments #

  • Need for Automation in CoT Prompting: Argues for the elimination of manual efforts in creating demonstrations for CoT prompting, highlighting the efficiency and scalability of the Auto-CoT method.
  • Importance of Diversity in Reasoning: Emphasizes the role of diversity in generating reasoning chains, which mitigates the effects of misleading similarities and enhances the robustness of LLMs in reasoning tasks.

Gaps #

  • Domain Specificity and Scalability: The research mainly focuses on reasoning tasks, leaving the exploration of Auto-CoT’s applicability to other domains and tasks for future work.
  • Integration with Different LLM Architectures: Further investigation is required to understand how Auto-CoT integrates with various LLM architectures and its scalability across different model sizes.

Relevance to Prompt Engineering & Architecture #

Auto-CoT signifies a critical advancement in prompt engineering, offering a scalable and efficient methodology for generating reasoning chains in CoT prompting. This approach highlights the potential for automation in prompt creation, paving the way for more dynamic and sophisticated interaction between LLMs and problem-solving tasks. The findings inspire future research in prompt engineering and the architecture of LLMs, suggesting directions for enhancing automatic prompting techniques and their application across a wider array of tasks and domains.

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Updated on March 31, 2024