Improving Large Language Model Fine-tuning for Solving Math Problems

Yixin Liu, Avi Singh, C. Daniel Freeman,John D. Co-Reyes,Peter J. Liu


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Despite their success in many natural language tasks, solving math problems remains a significant challenge for large language models (LLMs). A large gap exists between LLMs' pass-at-one and pass-at-N performance in solving math problems, suggesting LLMs might be close to finding correct solutions, motivating our exploration of fine-tuning methods to unlock LLMs' performance. Using the challenging MATH dataset, we investigate three fine-tuning strategies: (1) solution fine-tuning, where we fine-tune to generate a detailed solution for a given math problem; (2) solution-cluster re-ranking, where the LLM is fine-tuned as a solution verifier/evaluator to choose among generated candidate solution clusters; (3) multi-task sequential fine-tuning, which integrates both solution generation and evaluation tasks together efficiently to enhance the LLM performance. With these methods, we present a thorough empirical study on a series of PaLM 2 models and find: (1) The quality and style of the step-by-step solutions used for fine-tuning can make a significant impact on the model performance; (2) While solution re-ranking and majority voting are both effective for improving the model performance when used separately, they can also be used together for an even greater performance boost; (3) Multi-task fine-tuning that sequentially separates the solution generation and evaluation tasks can offer improved performance compared with the solution fine-tuning baseline. Guided by these insights, we design a fine-tuning recipe that yields approximately 58.8% accuracy on the MATH dataset with fine-tuned PaLM 2-L models, an 11.2% accuracy improvement over the few-shot performance of pre-trained PaLM 2-L model with majority voting.
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